Along with the Project Happiness team consisting of its founder Randy Taran, Maria Linegar, Marsha Clark, and teacher Ward Mailliard, I recently spoke with Paul Curtis, who is Chief Academic and Innovation Officer for the New Technology Foundation in Napa, California. This may be interesting to you if you’re an educator or someone involved with students today. Project-based learning isn’t exactly new, but making it the model for an entire curriculum is certainly not a widespread practice.
New Technology Foundation’s mission is to “Support, refine and build on New Technology High School – a national model of project based learning in a technology rich environment. Disseminate the model – methodology, tools and resources – through replication, subscription and other means. Create and support a network of schools based on the Napa NTHS model that continues to innovate, identify and share best practices.”
Learning for the 21st century includes speaking and writing well – communicating. Critical thinking. And collaboration. They’re modeled more on what the workplace looks like and less on what traditional educational institutions look like. The Foundation disseminates the work – they don’t actually run schools – but they have seeded dozens of schools! And the number is growing rapidly.
In my opinion, “preparing for a career” (in the classical sense) is an almost impossible task today. Years ago, one might prepare for a career as a doctor, or a musician. But today it’s hard to imagine that a career, if viewed as a profession, would even exist longer than 10 or 20 years – let alone for an individual’s productive lifetime. The information learned by engineers graduating from universities today, for instance, has a half-life of 3 years. During an average individual’s lifetime, he or she will have to “retread” several times!
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