How Would You Change School?

Question: What lessons can public schools learn from your organization?

Gerald Chertavian: All right, see, I would argue that you can find proxies for those incentives. I ask every one of our students: how would you change high school? You know, you're now in Year Up, you've seen a different way, you've seen a kind of professional learning environment. How would you change high school? And clearly, three things come out time and time and time again. One is relevance -- I need what I'm learning to be relevant to my future. And if you look at some of our great vocational technical schools, students are doing exceptionally well there because the learning is very relevant to them. They're learning something they know how that will apply. So relevance is critical. Relationships are deeply critical. Many of our students say, we wish we had a mentor in high school. We wish we had someone we could spend more time with, who paid more attention to us, who I could sit down with and talk to when I had a problem. So relationships are critical.

And last is being rigorous. So our students say, I wish they had higher standards for us in high school; I wish they expected more from us. I wish we had a dress code so we didn't have to worry about what each other wore every day. So I think our young adults know what they need to be successful and are willing to be held accountable. I often think our adults are failing our children in certain parts of our public education system. But if you go to a well-run public school, a well-run charter school or a well-run program like Year Up, I will guarantee you, you will find relevance, rigor and relationships at the core of the culture of that organization and how they serve young people. So we -- look, we know what works in education. What is hard is replicating that systemically across millions of children, tens of thousand of schools and millions of teachers. So we do know what works, but it's been very hard in education to find a way to replicate that system across a wide swathe of schools.

Recorded on: October 29, 2009

 

For the founder of Year Up, asking this question of his students has yielded three concrete principles that are proving to work.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less

Physicists puzzled by strange numbers that could explain reality

Eight-dimensional octonions may hold the clues to solve fundamental mysteries.

Surprising Science
  • Physicists discover complex numbers called octonions that work in 8 dimensions.
  • The numbers have been found linked to fundamental forces of reality.
  • Understanding octonions can lead to a new model of physics.
Keep reading Show less

Why 'upgrading' humanity is a transhumanist myth

Upload your mind? Here's a reality check on the Singularity.

Videos
  • Though computer engineers claim to know what human consciousness is, many neuroscientists say that we're nowhere close to understanding what it is, or its source.
  • Scientists are currently trying to upload human minds to silicon chips, or re-create consciousness with algorithms, but this may be hubristic because we still know so little about what it means to be human.
  • Is transhumanism a journey forward or an escape from reality?
Keep reading Show less