As school systems scramble valiantly to respond to the current COVID-19 crisis, the question of what and how kids learn in today’s world has never been more pressing. It is quickly becoming evident that we cannot simply transfer existing teaching and learning approaches to online platforms. No one wants kids sitting in front of screens six hours a day in virtual classrooms, just absorbing content delivered by their teachers. This goes for our classrooms, too. As schools review priorities in this context, there is an unprecedented opportunity — and impetus — to remake learning for a rapidly changing world.
Here are three ways schools can emerge from this crisis stronger than before by taking lessons from the invention and maker education movement:
Ensure all classrooms are hands-on, engaging, and experiential:
For years, there has been a growing drumbeat of support to re-center education on an evolving set of skills and aptitudes critical for success in a global, tech-infused economy. The basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic are simply not enough to prepare youth for success in today’s world and fast-evolving future. We know this knowledge base must be coupled with building capacity for creative problem-solving, with tech and engineering skills, and with the capability to communicate and collaborate across diverse teams.
Put students in the driver’s seat of their own learning:
We must equip students with the skills they need to be self-guided, confident learners. These “Mind of a Maker” skills will ultimately drive innovation and economic impact, locally and globally, and are desperately needed to help prevent future public health disasters such as the current pandemic. Now more than ever, there is an urgent need to bring students front-and-center into the fabric of our education system’s goals and accountabilities.
Design for equity:
This crisis is revealing just how inequity works and continues to perpetuate advantages for some students, while leaving others farther and farther behind. It shouldn’t require a crisis for corporations, philanthropists, and leaders to work together to equip every young person with the digital tools and learning experiences they need to keep pace with our changing world. Students need reliable internet access, laptops, and high-quality instruction all the time — now, and beyond the current moment.
Schools will emerge from the immediacy of this crisis, and as they do so, they will have a unique opportunity to reestablish priorities for teaching and learning that can accelerate these much-needed innovations. COVID-19 has disrupted our lives in a myriad of ways. Let’s use this disruption of the education status quo to exponentially improve outcomes for our kids, and for our community. In this new world where nothing is normal, let’s finally give school the makeover our kids deserve.