Excerpted from "Schools on Trial: How Creativity and Freedom Can Fix Our Educational Malpractice" by Nikhil Goyal.
Enrolling in the Real World
Innovative models of education are not just limited to primary and secondary education, they are also scattered throughout higher education. There are a handful of institutions offering their students transformative, purposeful learning experiences.
For instance, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts, has a unique approach to engineering education. There are no formal academic departments. Classes are taught in a studio setting, and the curriculum is interdisciplinary and grounded in real-world projects, from designing the AutoFrost automatic cake decorator to devising a weather balloon system.
There’s also Goddard College, a small liberal arts college in Vermont that shares much of its philosophy with one of the pioneers of progressive education, John Dewey. I am currently an undergraduate student there. About six hundred students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs in fields like individualized studies, education, creative writing, and fine arts. The cornerstone of the institution is its unique low-residency model, where each semester students participate in an eight-day residency on campus and then spend sixteen weeks off campus working independently on their learning goals with direct communication with faculty members. The learning is based on the student’s individual interests. Evaluations, instead of traditional grades, are given by the faculty. Several other colleges also offer narrative evaluations instead of grades: Evergreen State College in Washington, Hampshire College in Massachusetts, New College of Florida, and Prescott College in Arizona.