Studio Schools in the UK?

Dear Readers,

Do any of my readers know anything about the Studio Schools movement?

It’s not something I’m hugely familiar with, yet, but I’d be interested in knowing more.  It sounds like exactly the sort of thing that the Design Thinking movement is trying to encourage here in the US.

It’s hard to know how seriously to take a school system that takes the bottom quartile of students, and helps them turn around to perform in the top quartile (“in many cases, in the top decile”, as Geoff Mulgan says), without knowing if the claims are mostly marketing to grow the movement.  How scalable is it, as well?  But it remains the case that even if it’s only partly true, it’s a major accomplishment.

What really grabs me, though, is how this is the normal way that teaching is done throughout human history.  Learn by doing, in groups, on real-world problems.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a scribe in Sumeria or a Renaissance engineer or a Roman shoe-maker, the essence of the educational process is the same: see, hear, and do, repeat as necessary until the ideas and process of the profession sink in; teach social and emotional issues as they arise; grow organization and personal capacity in the context of the work.

How then do we build a 21st-century American citizen?  What are the new awarenesses?  Can we design a… not a grade, but a year-long course, a mini-school, maybe… to teach students the Constitution of the US, the history of our country, the basics of economics, the basics of world current events, and a group of methodologies for the learning of logic, scientific method, and problem-solving?

No, probably not.  Nor do I wish to sound or be that reactionary.

But I’ve been reading pseudo-Cicero’s Ad Herennium in my not very copious free time, and I have to say, it encapsulates pretty much all you ever need to know about rhetoric and public speaking into around a hundred carefully-planned pages.  Do we really need to teach the same subjects in not quite the same way, eleven times between five and eighteen years of age?

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