Open Hour in Schools

2 Nov

photo by dachadesig at sxc.hu

Brilliant idea–I was reading a discussion on this forum and someone suggested a perfect school would include an “Open Hour”: one class a day where you choose what classroom to be in and what to learn, even things like archeology, blacksmithing, and martial arts.

Genius. When I was in New Zealand, the school I went to had that sort of thing, though the subjects weren’t as nontraditional. Can you imagine a school where the students choose what topics to learn and get to learn them? The potential is huge: how interesting could school be? How excited could teachers/administration make students to come to school and learn? In many cases, it’s education, not necessarily the specific topics you’re studying, that makes the biggest difference.

Of course, that’s the general idea behind Hacking High School. You can take an hour and learn whatever off-the-wall subjects you wanted. I think I’d want to learn Mandarin, sword fighting, marketing, and astronomy.

What would you learn?

Update: I just realized this concept is building steam in the business world, too. I read lots of business books (no reason, I just enjoy them) and several* have mentioned the idea of letting employees have time–a day, a week, whatever–to do whatever they want. At the end of the time, there’s a meeting and you tell everyone what you worked on. Google does this. So does Twitter. The results? More engaged employees who work harder and better.

It’s a no brainer here: work it into your school day. What if 20% of your classes, of your assignments were to just do whatever you wanted. No pressure to do anything in particular, you just report what you worked on at the end. Just as in the business world, you’d be more engaged in school and would work harder and better.

*Most notably, Dan Pink.
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