How would you rebuild school for adolescents?

How would you rebuild school for adolescents?

Suppose you were utterly unencumbered by all convention, tradition, state requirements, parent expectations, costs, etc, and you had the opportunity to build “school” for adolescents from scratch. What would you do differently?
The first thing I would do is change the start time from 8:30 or 9:00 to 10:30. After all the research done on the adolescent brain, it is ridiculous to force them into class so early.



5 thoughts on “How would you rebuild school for adolescents?”

  1. patrickandrachelnard

    I’d make it much more like community college the closer you get to…community college.

    Actual breaks for socializing in between classes. It is part of their job and their life. 10 minute minimum passing periods. Nice places to sit and relax and be safe and goof off.

    Every student expected to regularly meet with an advisor over academic matters.

    Ban point-based grading. Competency or standards based are fine. I’m willing to hear other suggestions. But arbitrary points are worse than foolish.

    They must be involved in running the school. Student government needs to be required and it needs official powers to start things like handbook reviews, sponsor changes and improvements, mediate and advocate for other students, etc. Being a glorified prom committee is fucking pointless and well under the developmental level of a high schooler. It’s about right for junior high, I suppose. Student rep required at all school board meetings. I would support a 0.5 (breaking) vote but some might not and I won’t die on that hill.

    Students perform jobs at colleges for the college. Why not do that in high school? It is much safer. We should have student positions for custodian, food staff, office intern (paid), teacher assistant. Etc. Having a safe good job is part of learning to be an adult. Let them learn that on campus. I would recommend paying decently for strictly limited hours. These are not even proper half time positions, really. An hour after school every day or something like that. If there needs to be a special tax law to make this easier, I’d be willing to hear about it.

    Sexual development is not part of adolescence. It is one of the defining features of it. Students need K-12 sex ed but 5-12 is vitally important. If this doesn’t happen in the US before 2035 we are fucked as a society beyond repair. The science is clear. And we need to realize this and have policies in place to deal with inappropriate sexual behaviors.. There have been dozens of posts about kids moaning this year. That happens because we are too prudish to talk to them when they do stupid things like that.

    Lots of others.

  2. My school would have a cooking class. This week we are making an Alfredo sauce. Next week we are making different versions of chicken noodle soup.

  3. I’d say reform the school system to have less focus on “core classes” and a more diverse array of electives, specifically in high school. Example: there’s only a select few jobs requiring pre- calculus. Instead of forcing every student to learn it, have it be optional so some students who know they’re going in to a career using higher level math skills can still take it but others who know they won’t need it don’t have to take it. Also add more electives for more practical issues (like budgeting etc)

  4. Eliminate grades and have students work toward mastery instead. At every point, they should be able to see what they’ve learned and demonstrated, and what remains. If they think they’ve mastered something and turn out to be mistaken, it should just mean an extra few days of circling back, not a bad score averaged into some final grade. Teachers should be partners and cheerleaders, not judges. Kids should be free to experiment and fail with new writing styles, new mathematical ideas, new science inquiries, new philosophical arguments without seeing their efforts reduced to a mediocre letter grade because they strayed from an assignment.

  5. At least 25% of the day would be community building through group/team activities. Ping pong, running, theater, chess, fashion, cooking, soccer, volleyball, gaming, etc.. Students choose programs that they are interested in and participation is pending students meeting expectations related to academic effort and being a decent human being.
    I am a big believer in the power of belonging to a team for adolescents, and this would result in many more students participating in what are currently extracurricular activities.

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