When I close my eyes, I imagine

by hergit11

By Hergit Penzo Llenas
National Director of Latino Outreach
American Federation for Children

When I close my eyes, I imagen tomorrow’s schools.
I see them as knowledge centers located in every corner of every city or rural town. This space, in my head, looks more like one of those boutique stores where one buys the latest phones and computers, rather than a prison. It is well lit, glossy, glassy, fluid, attended by enthusiastic experts happy to be doing what they love to do every day.

In this safe, free environment, students come and go with ease throughout the day. Some of them get there to explore a particular area of interest on their own time. Some, the older ones, have scheduled an appointment to meet with one (or many tutors) responsible for the progress made on each Individualized Education Program (IEP).
Grades, tests, wrong answers, segregation by date of birth, arbitrary schedules that are leaving children idle for months, or makes them wake up before their brain is completely awake, among other not so brilliant practices, are now things of the past.
Instead, the students set their own goals, at their own speed, on their own schedule and motivated by their own curiosity. They are cared for by educators who had been freed from the shackles of teaching to a test and following a rigid curriculum, unable to go too fast or too slow to meet the needs of some of the children in their classroom; forced to focus only on of those capable of “moving on” within the time frame imposed by a system.
In addition; the children enjoy 3-D voyages into molecules and/or universes, which are delivered by state of the art technology that engages as many senses as possible, profiting from a vast library of e-books, videos, and tutorials taught by artificial intelligence such as Watson.
In my imagination, all parents have learned the active role they play in the academic success of their children; understanding that the more they get involved, the greater the chances are for their sons and daughters to achieve everything they put their mind to do. In fact, these parents will decide on the best educational model for their children in collaboration with the teachers. These teachers in turn will be able to design a pathway to take every single student to a place where they can flourish. In this brave new world social promotion, disciplinary disproportionality, achievement gaps, lack of latitude to innovate, among other damaging (yet quite ubiquitous) phenomena will be a thing of the past too.
The concept of one-on-one counseling, coupled with an implementation strategy that responds to the personal needs of each student will be the rule of thumb. This concept I am sure you’ve heard is present everywhere in today’s world; from financial advisors, personalized computer builders to customized nutritional plans. However, in the realm of education an individualized program is reserved to address a “problem.” Shouldn’t every student’s learning experience be as unique as he or she is?… When I close my eyes, I imagine it is.