"School" Isn't Enough

Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.
— John Dewey

As we come back to school this year, students, parents, and teachers at UAGC know that "school" - as it has been for the past 100 years - isn't enough. It isn't enough to learn how to sit still in a classroom, write down what the teacher says at you, and every once in awhile turn-and-talk to a partner until you write something that you maybe learned on an exit ticket in order to get out of the classroom.

It isn't enough to just do what you're told to do - complete a worksheet, learn about Napoleon, complete a practice problem - unless you actually care about what you're doing.

It’s so deeply cynical to ask the question, how is it that what kids are doing in their real world lives pays off in classrooms. Because classrooms were intended originally to pay off in the real world.
— - Is School Enough?

At UAGC, students are given as much choice as possible in what they want to learn, when they want to learn it, and how they want to learn it, even though the state and the city still say that "school" (as measured by Regents exams) should still be enough.

We pay attention to the interest and motivation of every person - Elliott Washer asks "Are you getting real choices in your school about what you want to learn? Are you getting time to practice what you want to get better at?"

At UAGC, if a student like Sierra, who cares about India, wants to pursue that curiosity, she has the freedom and space in all her classes to explore that curiosity - to ask her own questions about culture, math, geography, sustainability, and to create real genres that allow her to really answer that curiosity.

In all our classes, students are given power to decide what direction they want to go. It's one reason our school shot from a 30% to an 80% graduation rate in just a couple of years.

There’s no better time to learn something than when you intend to learn it.
— Is School Enough?

Let's challenge the status quo of "school" - students, find your passion and UAGC teachers won't get in your way. Instead, your teachers will help you figure out how to pursue that passion. We've committed time (lots of work time in class), structures (Unison Reading and Conferences to discuss and investigate your passions) and resources (find anything you need for learning on Amazon and we'll get it for you ASAP!).

Check out this show, or check out the incredible learning students are doing at Green Careers!

Selected Quotes

"Say, hey, I want to do whatever [my] interest is . . . leverage a community or even start your own and organize that community to get where you want to go. Those people who can do that are going to have an enormous leg up!"

"The number one biggest problem with school is not facing up to the problem of relevance, how to find a real and relevant problem that students can get engaged in, and then, in a way, once you do that, you can just take the shackles off and let them run, because they're going to do all kinds of amazing things and they're going to start feeling their way through this knowledge machine that's all around them."

"That doesn't mean more homework, that means the school has to respond to the learning that is taking place at home and in the community"

"We've got a standards-driven educational system, sort of treats every kid exactly the same, at a time in fact when we should be encouraging kids to develop individual expertise, we instead want to hold everyone accountable to knowing exactly the same things . . . we've locked down school content and cut if off from their learning and school suffers for that, as much as the outside world suffers from disrupting the kind of connection that the learning ecology should represent."

"It's critical that we tell young people that what they care about is just as important as what we want them to care about."