“I don’t want to go to school!” If there’s a universal sentiment everyone has felt at least once, it’s the Sunday night blues as the week ahead looms.
Traditional school instruction, with its conventional and rigid structure, didn’t work well for far too many of us — or even most of us, some experts say. Sure, we got by, but we weren’t engaged in a manner that inspired our efforts.
Kids today are no less disappointed. Whether it’s the antiquated, memorization-centered curriculum, imbalanced student/teacher ratio, or lack of skill-based learning, many facets of traditional education fail to spark students’ imaginations — and leave them failing to fulfill their true potential.
The pandemic interrupted our lives in a way that challenged us to identify the parts of daily life that serve us well, and nix the parts that don’t. As a result, American society has seen a wider consideration for accessibility, inclusivity, and adaptability in all our institutions. Innovation in the U.S. education system — designed, almost unbelievably, back in the 1800’s — is the latest frontier in adopting new approaches.
ModSchool was created as an answer to this fundamental change in American culture. It helps students master social-emotional and career-readiness skills through academically rigorous projects.
The modern path to education “will foster equity by igniting a bold, new approach to cultivating and educating the whole student,” said Lyndie Dubbs, ModSchool cofounder and director of curriculum. “It transforms students as they transform their communities.”
Developed as a response to the pitfalls of traditional education, educators and researchers have worked over the years to establish a modern form of education known as project-based learning (PBL), based on the proven tenets of design thinking. How does it work? Students at ModSchool gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge.
At its best, PBL has students solve real world problems.
A ModSchool science class can look like students learning about the individual effects of climate change through a long term water erosion study at a local creek. ModSchool students can hone communication and organizational skills while learning about foreign exchange rates and inflation through the creation of a profitable business or product prototype. And sustainability issues here on Earth can be re-examined through the lens of planning a colony on Mars, which will inevitably create waste on the now-pristine red planet.
ModSchool has a unique story. Cofounder Colin McCarthy, of the education-focused nonprofit Avalon Foundation, helped create the East Coast’s most successful PBL program in a public school setting with his 2016 partnership with the Cheltenham School District in Montgomery County.
The project-based learning structure allowed all students in a school district that was growing more and more racially and soci-economically diverse, to equally thrive. Cofounder Lyndie Dubbs is a world class educator with 18
years of experience who joined McCarthy to help pilot the PBL initiative with the Cheltenham School District. Dubbs now works as the curriculum head for ModSchool and operates both a sustainable market garden and horsemanship boarding facility.
Our kids not only deserve better, but they want better, and they’re vocalizing that everyday — online and in the classroom.
Friendly to the students with different learning styles, to those who see the future happening in real time, and to anyone looking for a positive change in their learning or that of their children, ModSchool is a breath of fresh air.
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