(Interview) Science Leadership Academy's Chris Lehmann on School 2.0

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Steve Hargadon

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Jan 2, 2007, 11:23:25 PM1/2/07
to k12ope...@googlegroups.com
http://www.edtechlive.com/audio/Lehmann.mp3 or
http://www.edtechlive.com/audio/Lehmann.ogg

"We need to stop thinking that the job of schools is to create the
21st century workforce, it's not. The job of our schools is nothing
less than to help co-create the 21st-century citizen. We want our kids
to be active, engaged citizens of the world. They'll be workers if
they are that, too... that part will take care of itself. We want them
to be able to engage in the world around them and to make it better.
Nothing less than that is our task as educators."

Chris Lehman is the principal of the Science Leadership Academy (SLA)
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and a proponent of "School 2.0." Here
is his description of SLA:

"The Science Leadership Academy is a new high school that opened in
September 2006 in partnership with The Franklin Institute and the
School District of Philadelphia. Opening with a powerful School 2.0
vision and a 1:1 laptop ratio, SLA looks to redefine the learning
spaces and tools our students, parents and teachers use. The school
uses open source tools such as Moodle, Elgg, Gallery and homegrown
school information system software to create a robust school-web
portal to support the learning that happens in classrooms. Our goal is
to create 24/7/365 learning environment for all members of the
community." (From his accepted proposal to speak at NECC this year.)

(We'll be holding open workshops on Moodle, Drupal, and Web 2.0 (with
Will Richardson) at SLA in Philadelphia the week of January 29 -
February 3. For more information, please visit the www.EdTechLive.com
workshop page. To join in the discussion on School 2.0, please
visit www.School20.net.)

Notes:

* Chris spent 9 years at the Beacon School in New York as a
teacher, coach, technology coordinator, and administrator. The
experience was amazing. Has come home to Philadelphia to start SLA--"a
small progressive public high school with a focus on technology
infusion across the curriculum."
* While SLA is a public school, their first class of 110 students
(the 9th grade) have had to apply for admission and each applicant had
a personal interview. Future classes will have current students on
their admissions committees.
* Microsoft's School of the Future also opened in Philadelphia
this year ("they have a nicer gym than we do"). If SLA is reinventing
the wheel, School of the Future is "blowing up the car." Both have a
focus on project-based learning and re-imagining what a school can
look like, but SLA is based on more familiar pedagogies (sounds like
it would be really interesting to interview someone from School of the
Future!).
* They are using Linux, Moodle, and Elgg and consider themselves
an "open source" school.
* "At the end of the day, it isn't about what computer you use,
it's about the pedagogy and how the teachers implement it, and what
your goals are for how your teachers and students use it." Technology
doesn't change the classroom, pedagogy changes the classroom. The new
tools make it affordable to integrate the technology and support the
pedagogy, but the pedagogy comes first. If you put the technology
first, the tail will wag the dog. "SLA was never a laptop school
first, it was an inquiry-drive, project-based school with five very
strong core values, and the technology we use supports those core
values."
* The five values are: inquiry, research, collaboration,
presentation and reflection.
* Blogging has helped him be a better teacher and administrator
through "reflective practice." It has also helped them through the
starting of SLA by allowing for "transparent" dialog by blogging
during the planning process--which also produced a very involved
community. He feels that this made the SLA very "School 2.o" by doing
this from the start.
* "We've got to teach kids to be powerful, careful, and critical
consumers and producers of information and content." "The fundamental
jobs of our schools as we move forward in this new era is to teach
wisdom... unless we realize that our job is to teach kids what to make
sense of this world, how to critically analyze what they see out
there, and how to do something with it, then it doesn't matter what we
do with the technology."
* "We can't be complacent in education--the stakes are too high...
the fear of what could go wrong can't stop me from doing what is
right."
* All of the students went nuts when they first got instant
messaging on their laptops--and the parents were really worried about
their children having access to instant messaging during school.
Chris's response was: the kids are going to figure out how to have
access to these tools even if we try to block them, and they will need
them in college and in the workplace eventually... so let's help them
to figure out how to use them responsibly now.
* They did have a problem with misusing instant messaging
(including bullying)... and the students started solving the problems
themselves, as they wanted there to be consequences so that they could
keep their laptops.
* Chris's definition of School 2.0: School 2.0 starts with a
progressive pedagogy that recognizes that the role of schools has
changed, and that the role now is to help students navigate an
ever-changing world, and to help them have the skills they need to
adapt, to create, to judge, to synthesize, and to analyze. It has to
be about teaching kids to become critical consumers and producers of
the information around them... We can't assume that we have all the
answers--we've got to teach the kids to take a core set of skills and
find rich, powerful answers that are out there in the world for
themselves... School 2.0 doesn't have walls to it--it recognizes that
this happens all day every day. When we invite the world in rather
than shut it out, we create communities and institutions that are real
and authentic and caring, and that kids recognize as valuable in their
own lives.
* School 2.0 isn't about letting students do anything they want.
It's about rigor and passion--keeping students engaged, but also
helping them understand the need to work even when we don't want to.
* "We actually do know how to fix what's wrong in education.
Because the fact of the matter is that there are lots of places in
this country where schools are doing just fine... they are good,
healthy places where kids are doing well. We know, sadly, that most of
those places are not in cities, and when we talk about the crisis in
education, what we are really talking about... is urban education...
It's not just schools size, it's teaching load... We want to change
education?... Let's have teachers teaching fewer classes and planning
more... Do that and we will change education."

--
Steve Hargadon
st...@hargadon.com
916-899-1400 direct

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