While these flagship pieces of legislation relied on components of a capitalist market supply and demand model to produce innovation, they ultimately fostered a climate of toxic competitiveness and anxiety.
Yep, got it. School exams.
In the meantime, there are pedagogies that utilize multi-disciplinary approaches to solving human-centered problems with empathy—something our age cries out for. One of the most exciting is known as Design Thinking, and it has moved into educational spaces as a modern form of pedagogy that can build critical thinking skills organically, naturally capitalizing on the power of collaboration, creativity, and innovation. Design Thinking challenges students to address problems in a creative, empathic, and cooperative manner. Along the way, they can develop the practical and intellectual skills to act effectively in a complex world.
There’s also the pedagogy of “democratic schools,” which give power to students in the form of self-directed learning and participation in school governance. This method prepares students for engagement in the democratic process, as adults, and is very different from the testing-focused culture perpetuated by NCLB, RTTT, and ESSA. Schools such as Summerhill in the U.K. have been operating as a democracy for over a century. In the U.S., the Sudbury Valley School, which took inspiration from Summerhill, was launched in 1968 in Framingham, MA. Others like it have followed.
In 2014-15, I experimented with both of these pedagogies and applied it in a community-based school setting. Students cultivated their gifts and talents, while learning about history, art, science, math, literature, social studies, and developing critical thinking.
Just don’t test anyone on any of that.