Geoff Mulgan gave a talk earlier this year in Edinburgh, Scotland about his new initiative for education. His group, the creators of Open University and the School of Everything, attempted to tackle a troubling problem with English education: Dropout rates. More kids were not completing their secondary education, and Mulgan feels it is due to the way we have set up the system. The public schools prepare kids for university study, but many students who drop out had no interest to go to a university in the first place. Why spend years training for something that was not in their interests?
He took this idea and synthesized it with a common complaint he heard from the business world: Kids come out of school, but have no experience or practical skills for a trade job. Thus, the Studio School was born.
Taking up the old idea of apprenticeship, Mulgan invited skilled professionals to come teach at his schools, which resemble studio spaces more so than a traditional classroom. Through project based curricula, students would complete projects in their trade of choice while fulfilling the needs of their education: Mathematics, Language, History, and so forth. Each student has an instructor and a coach, and working in this cooperative environment, they complete real projects for the business community, building their CV/resumé, gaining practical skills, and, most importantly, keeping them engaged in the learning process.
Results have been amazing, according to Mulgan. Recently, the UK started a new education reform initiative targeting schools that have shown to be effective, and investing more into those succeeding ideas. Perhaps Mr. Mulgan and his schools will benefit from this new initiative, and the UK could see an even larger expanse of Studio Schools in their country.
Geoff Mulgan is the former CEO of the Young Foundation, and is now the Chief Executive of NESTA (National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts).
Reminds me as well of High Tech High: http://www.hightechhigh.org/projects/
Some of their videos about what PBL is (and isn’t) http://howtovideos.hightechhigh.org/category/video/16/Project+Based+Learning as well as Edutopia’s interview with director Larry Rosenstock touch on similar themes and ideas (http://howtovideos.hightechhigh.org/video/3/Edutopia%3A+Interview+with+Larry+Rosenstock)