Education has changed over the years, and is no longer what I remember it being when I was a student. No longer is it enough to have updated textbooks and a computer for internet research. Nor is it sufficient for us to write lab reports and create poster board exhibits for parent open house day. Education has become so much more than students sitting behind their desks, facing a teacher equipped with nothing but a white board, an overhead projector, and some lecture notes recycled four years in a row. Today, education is not only relevant and innovative, but it fosters creativity, self-sufficiency, and a strong sense of identity in our children.
Stepping into a modern school makes me green with envy–if only my school had been like this! Why couldn’t I, who never sits behind a desk at home, work on the floor or on bean bags like students here? Why couldn’t I work independently on research projects fueled by my own curiosity? Why couldn’t I have had a nice teacher, or teachers, who wouldn’t demand my full attention for 45 minute stretches and then admonish me for doodling, scribbling, and daydreaming? If only education had been what it is now when I was young!
But such is life: a continuous evolvement towards a better future, and consequently, a better version of a human being, a person, a student.
Such were my thoughts when I visited International School of Beijing’s (ISB) One Day, short for “One Day, One Goal, One Project” on project day, which is when the middle school students prepare their exhibits for Innovation Day, March 25. Students were scattered about the hallways, huddled in small groups in classrooms, or sprawled on the floors with their MacBook Pros. I saw students making skateboards, building robots, painting, carving, sewing, and even playing Minecraft on a homemade computer! Best. School. Tour. Ever.
So what were the teachers doing, you might ask? They were obviously giving me the school tour—-or actually, they explained what each student was doing as they were primarily observers and facilitators who merely guided the students if and when guidance was necessary.
The purpose of One Day is for students to have free reign to produce a public project in a single day, whether individually or in groups, while allowed to utilize unique spaces outside the traditional classroom environment, which is in line with the overall purpose of Innovation Day, to foster creativity and global-mindedness.
I personally saw One Day as an opportunity for all ISB middle school students to experience the learning model of their Futures Academy, which is a modern educational model that uses experience, also called integrated learning, and project based learning to “inspire creativity, develop problem-solving skills and effective communication,” while encouraging flexibility and cooperation. Students at the Futures Academy have flexible schedules and working spaces, “facilitators” instead of teachers, and wholesome reports on student progress. I had the chance to walk through the Futures Academy two-story learning space, and am looking forward to the new space that the school will build over the summer to accommodate 9th grade. Although the Futures Academy students also participated in One Day–creating apps for learning Chinese characters and a rooftop garden among other projects–they were visibly more calm than the rest of their grade. For them, every day is a One Day.