21st Century Schools
The need to know in our society grows at a continually accelerated pace. Eighty percent of occupations in this country already are information-based. We live in a world in which information and knowledge are increasingly important commodities. Yet, levels of education within the general public already are inadequate. By the 21st century, we will face a knowledge crisis of epidemic proportion. Simply put, more people will need to know more than ever before.
Public education, for all its remarkable achievements in this country, still is largely unable to accommodate individual student learning needs and to achieve acceptable levels of individual student mastery, proficiency and expertise. We have provided educational opportunities for all students but have failed yet to adequately secure the education of each.
New learning technologies have proven to be educationally effective. Recent learning research suggests there are more effective ways for students to learn, to become empowered learners: those who have learned how to learn. Yet neither technology nor research plays a major role in today's group-based, lecture-oriented classrooms. Researcher John Goodlad found that, currently, 88% of classroom time is spent on teacher lecture and assigned seat work. The tragic irony is that we know how to make learning more effective for more students, we have powerful, new learning tools to assist us, we have ample research paradigms that suggest effective new learning techniques. Yet, to a large degree, we continue to teach as our grandparents were taught.
Major change in education require a sense of "ownership" from its participant "shareholders": students, parents, teachers, administrators, community, the private sector. Ownership is a lesson learned late by our auto industry as we scramble to compete with Japanese manufacturers. Since learning is our business, there is all the more reason that educators must learn that same, hard lesson sooner than later. If we do not, the private sector will do it for us and the sacred, altruisitic trust of "the passing on of our culture" will give way to the bottom line and competitive advertising. The health profession today, is an example of a competitive struggle to provide affordable, effective service and where the best interests of the consumer come into question.
What is imperative, then, is an innovative proposal for change, a significant departure from current practice, a re-direction of education for the 21st century. As the Saturn Project was the auto industry's response to needed change, we have chosen to call this new learning proposal the Saturn School of Tomorrow.
The St. Paul Public Schools, in collaboration with the St. Paul Federation of Teachers, the Graduate Education Department of the College of St. Thomas and the Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation (MECC), propose to develop a Saturn School of Tomorrow. Other agencies, institutions and representatives from the private sector also must be involved if this project is to succeed.
The Saturn School will be characterized by its focus on a Personal Learning Plan for each child-- a plan designed and implemented by each student with assistance from the parent and educational professional. Learning technology will play a major role in student learning. Microcomputers and video-based instruction will replace certain lecture and group activities, particularly in basic skills learning. Teachers and other professionals will concentrate their efforts to work with individual students and small groups. A Personal Learning Plan will map each student's progress toward mastery. Sufficient time and resources will be able available to allow each student every opportunity to succeed. Areas of study will not necessarily conclude at the end of quarters, semesters or the year.
Students will progress to new topics as they reach acceptable, agreed-upon levels of proficiency in such areas as reading, writing, computational and problem solving skills. They will demonstrate knowledge and mastery in other areas such as world languages, science, health and fitness, the fine and practical arts, computers and technology. Naturally, some students will complete some areas of study more rapidly than others. Time is an acceptable variable in the Saturn School. Student proficiency must be a constant.
Faculty in the Saturn School will participate in intensive, ongoing staff development. New, more complex teacher skills will require 20-30 days of staff inservice, three times more than normal allotments. The school schedule will be reorganized to promote a learning program based upon student mastery. Each of the named participants in the Saturn School project will contribute their respective expertise toward these goals.
Some of the essential differences between the Saturn School and other, more conventional school settings are described below:
THE SATURN SCHOOL:WHAT'S ALIKE AND WHAT'S DIFFERENT?"
We envision the Saturn School appropriately situated in the downtown St. Paul area, close to the state Capitol, near the World Trade Center site. Location in urban St. Paul recognizes the international importance of innovative education, as well as Minnesota's preeminence as a high-tech, brainpower state. Initially, the Saturn program will operate as a K-6 school with later extension to other groups and ages.
Below is a matrix of needed participants and activities to make the Saturn project successful. An empty cell (dash) indicates an area where additional assistance is needed and an invitation to participate is extended by The Prospectus.
ST. PAUL PUBLIC SCHOOLS FEDERATION CST MECC OTHERS 1. PLANNING STAFF X X X X - 2. TEACHING STAFF X X X X - 3. INTERNS - X X - - 4. TRAINING X X X X - 5. TECHNOLOGY X - - X - 6. SOFTWARE X - - X - 7. CURRICULUM X X X X - 8. RESEARCH X - X - - 9. DEVELOPMENT X X X X - 10. IMPLEMENTATION X X X X - 11. DISSEMINATION X X X X - 12. FUNDING X X X X - Several cooperative projects beween the district and the St. Paul Federation of Teachers already are in effect which relate to various aspects of the Saturn Project: 1. CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT TRAINING: St. Paul teachers trained in the AFT Classroom Management Program are conducting six days of workshops for up to 40 elementary teachers. 2. TEACHER RECRUITMENT AND INTERNSHIP PLANNING: a planning grant in collaboration with the University of Minnesota is enabling the design a mentorship project for prospective teachers. 3. DIAL-A-TEACHER: The AFT and the district are collaborating on a teacher phone bank to assist public school students late afternoon and evenings with homework. Both MECC and the College of St. Thomas also have participated in collaborative activities with the St. Paul Schools in the past. It should be noted that areas 5,6,7,8,11 and 12, in the matrix above, require additional partners.The complete success of this project, in fact, depends on more extensive collaboration. This Prospectus solicits inquiries from other colleges, universities, agencies, corporations, developers, vendors, the private sector-at-large, any group with an interest in innovative educational reform.ACTIVITIES AND ESTIMATED BUDGET (NOTE: the major costs of this project, once established, are the usual per pupil expenditures allocated to each school. Additional startup costs are listed below).
ACTIVITY COST TIMELINE Initial Planning assumed To February 1, 1988 Staff Development $150,000 est. Ongoing (25-30 days per year) Intern Selection and Training $10,000 est. Three months, ongoing Mastery-based Curriculum and Learning Activities $100,000 est. Six months, ongoing Hardware Purchase (includes microcomputers, video systems and other technologies) $400,000 est. Summer Software Procurement $25,000 est. Six months, ongoing Capital expenditures $500,000 est. Summer (including furniture, wiring,etc) Project Coordinator budget $150,000 est. Ongoing (including Consultant assistance) Research $100,000 est. Ongoing BUDGET TOTAL: $1,435,000 est.
The Saturn School of Tomorrow is a bold and innovative blueprint for for the future. We propose developing a new schooling process for the 21st century. We envision continuous learning to promote student mastery and competence, more effective involvement of professional staff, new and participatory staff roles, student and parent involvement, employment of new learning tools and technologies, flexible school calendars, and community and private sector participation.
Our focus is the total, academic success of each student. Of equal concern is the affective growth and physical wellness of every student we serve. The Saturn School of Tomorrow will capitalize on the best of what we know about learning and on the many ways to bring about a new excellence in learning. The future demands no less from each person than becoming all that he or she can be. The problems we face now are demanding ones; our solutions for the future must be enabling and empowering.
Success in what we do here will require our best, collective efforts. Those who wish to assist with this innovative, educational endeavor for the future are invited to contact us.
* Originally posted at the Penn State College
of Education's former special website section on the Saturn School of Tomorrow