Today’s world has a variety of available technology such as computers, mobile devices, and video games and the children who are growing up in this world often have ready access and years of experience using such devices. The benefits to such access to technology is the access to the answer of virtually any questions at everybody’s fingertips and instant interactions with people at distant locations, but is all of this instant gratification healthy for developing minds (Mischel, Ebbesen, & Zeiss, 1972)? The charter school that I would design will emphasize interpersonal interactions between the students and teachers in the learning process, it will implement learning activities that will be hands-on and interactive between students and the subject of study, and it will be traditionally structured making minimal use of technological aids in areas where technology isn’t the subject of study.
According to Vygotsky, social interactions play an important role in cognitive development (Vygotsky, 1978). These social aspects will be emphasized by classrooms of no more than 10 to 12 students in which group projects and assignments are encouraged. These activities are encouraged so students can help each other learn as they also develop interpersonal skills that assist them in making friends and conflict resolution. The teacher plays an important role in facilitating these interpersonal interactions to encourage positive relations and to mediate conflicts.
In this interpersonal educational environment, parents would be required to be involved in the education process. This will include participating in classroom activities at regular intervals and engaging the children at home to reinforce the subjects taught. This open and transparent classroom environment will also give teachers and parents opportunities to collaborate which will equip the teacher with valuable information about the individual talents and challenges of the children they teach, as a result, the teachers will be able to adjust classroom interactions with more guided decisions.
Problem-based and experiential learning (Savery, 2016) principles will guide the interactive nature of the learning experiences at this school. Efforts will be made to provide activities and experiences in learning that will contextualize the subject in the problems that they are asked to solve. I believe that this will answer the concern expressed by many students that they can’t see how these subjects are relevant to their lives. Also, I believe that the ability for students to construct solutions to subject-related questions that have some application to their personal interests will aid in building important cognitive scaffolding for future learning and will cultivate independent thinking and original thought.
There is a trend in modern education to implement 1:1 classroom situations (Kimmons, 2013). In the context of this school, however, there will be an effort to instill students with more traditional learning skills, which include the use of paper, pencils, physical books, libraries, and other tools that are easily supplanted by digital access. The goals in taking this approach are to build foundational skills with manual devices before introducing tools that automate such processes, thus giving students the ability to accomplish learning tasks in a variety of situations of technological access. This is also to remove the distractions associated with devices such as smart phones or tablets where students may access social media or sites with other extracurricular interests that detract from the subject of the classroom (Andersson, Hatakka, Grönlund, & Wiklund, 2016).
An additional benefit to instilling in students more traditional study skills and tools is to improve their ability and patience with delayed gratification (Mischel, Ebbesen, & Zeiss, 1972). The thought here is that increasing the time between the generation of a question and the effort it takes to investigate and wait for the answer will improve the cognitive registration of the information retrieved.
Where relevant, however, digital technology will be available in subjects related to it, such as media, programming, and design classes geared toward teaching specific skills in the use of technology, as well as teaching office skills such as typing and computer use. There will also be taught the importance of professional presentation in writing which will involve properly formatting papers and reports on academic subjects.
As formulated, this school will need to be very small with parents, teachers, and students interpersonally involved as students are guided through interactive experiences with traditional tools. The expected outcome of this educational experience is that students will leave with relatively better social skills, appreciation for the relevance of the subjects they are studying, and the ability to find answers to educational questions independently without the aid of digital technology assistance.
Andersson, A., Hatakka, M., Grönlund, Å., & Wiklund, M. (2016). Reclaiming the students – coping with social media in 1:1 schools. Learning, Media and Technology 39(1). 37-52.
Kimmons, R. (2013). 1-to-1 Evidence: Evaluation Guidelines for Schools, Districts, & Leaders. Moscow, ID: Doceo Center for Innovation + Learning, University of Idaho.
Mischel, W., Ebbesen, E., & Zeiss, A. R. (1972). Cognitive and attentional mechanisms in delay of gratification. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 21(2), 204-218.
Savery, J. R. (2016). Overview of problem-based learning: definitions and distinctions. In R. E. West (Ed.), Foundations of Learning and Instructional Design Technology. Retrieved from https://lidtfoundations.pressbooks.com/chapter/problem-based-learning/
Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.