This week, THS held the Future of Education Conference, the capstone project for our 25 Sixth-grade students.
Towards the end of the third term, students reflected on their educational experiences through primary school and speculate on what they felt was missing, or what could have been enhanced, and research ways to make education better at school. With a major emphasis on public speaking, the conference also aligns with the learning outcomes in the research and persuasive writing process. The process culminates with the conference itself, where students deliver speeches to their peers, parents, and teachers about where they would like to see education go in future years.
This year, students began this project with an interview of their parents, discussing their educational journeys and understanding more deeply what they felt were the most important aspects in their experiences. This interview gave students insight into different educational experiences and helped them to conceptualize improvements that could be made in school in the future.
Students then researched and drafted their speeches and spent countless hours and class sessions deep in conversation with their peers, defending their topics, their research and having their work peer reviewed and edited for presenting.
Through this conference, students share their reflections on best practices and intergenerational feelings about education with their peers, families and THS leadership in attendance, with hopes that their passions for these topics provide a foundation for personal success in their coming years at THS. In past years, school leadership has looked to this conference for ideas of what they could implement in the future, such as schedule changes, a new healthier school lunch program, as well as a student to teacher feedback process.
Highlights of this year’s conference include students presenting on the use of AR/VR technologies in the classroom, opposing viewpoints on the length of a school day, support for more (and varied) physical education options in school, the importance of learning life skills, and making schools resemble the workplace. Students also shared alarming statistics in support of their topics. We learned that more than half of Americans are at risk of drowning as they do not know how to swim (and that number is closer to 70% for African and Hispanic Americans), that over 60% of young adults do not know how to cook their own meals when they enter college, and that research on the project-based learning approach in the classroom has consistently shown an increase in the development of 21st Century learning skills such as creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication.
In all, students were resilient, innovative, and reflective throughout this whole process and were able to put together an event that educated and inspired everyone in attendance.
We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you from THS to you for trusting us with your children, and for being such an engaged, caring, and understanding group of parents over the past school year. We often tell the students that things are only as special as we make them, and this year was quite a special one for all of us sixth-grade teachers because you and your children made it so. So, thank you all for that.