I attended a screening of Most Likely to Succeed this past Tuesday at a local high school. I left the film indifferent. I wasn’t inspired by the film, but I didn’t hate it either. The main idea for the film is how education is outdated and shows a school called High Tech High which is trying to address this by completely changing the way they teach students. The effort to change the curriculum was to help get kids engaged and prepared for a quickly evolving work environment where many jobs are becoming obsolete due to robotics and automation. The point was made that most of the jobs that kids currently in the education system will get after they graduate from college have not even been created yet.
To that point, I liked how they encouraged hands on and collaborative learning at High Tech High. These are skills I see as being very necessary right now in the work environment and will continue to be important in the future. The students they followed in the film definitely grew from their experiences. I couldn’t dispute that. I guess I was just a little worried looking back on my experience. Sure these kids were growing from their experiences, but is this the only way it can be done?
The main emphasis seemed to be on STEM education and this bothered me. I look at where I came from (a small town high school without much opportunities) and where I am at now (a data scientist) and I think to myself, I got here with traditional teaching and learning. I attribute a lot of my success to the support of my parents. They got me into piano lessons. I also played clarinet in the band and then switched to the bassoon. When I started excelling in the arts that is when I started doing well in math and science. Being in band was all about figuring out how to work as a group. Everyone was depending on each other to do their best. I also had great teachers in math and science that forced me to think. I got into debate which forced me to get out of my shell even though I was an introvert. I learned how to talk to other people and look at problems from many different angles. I am a sum of all this experience. Looking back, the arts were very instrumental in my success. I didn’t see any music education at High Tech High.
There was a discussion after the film screening ended. It was disheartening to hear several parents say the school system was broken. I was a little defensive reflecting back on my experience. I thought to myself, I was able to succeed. To me it seems like we are expecting a little too much from the school system. I wonder what would happen if parents started thinking about how they could augment their children’s learning in the home beyond what they are being taught in school?
There were many statistics cited which seemed to show that High Tech High is working. I wonder how much of that is attributable to the parents of the students? Would the students have succeeded anywhere they went to school because of the support of the parents?
I would be curious to know what others think about this topic. Please feel free to put your comments in the space provided below.