The Studio School

In his 2011 TED talk on “the studio school”, Geoff Mulgan explains the inspiration for this school model. Mulgan introduces his talk by invoking the familiar image of bored high school students who are not meaningfully engaged in their work. He uses this platform to describe a new school model based on the Renaissance craftsman’s studio. The idea is that most students learn by doing and benefit from mentor relationships in addition to traditional teachers.

After reviewing the short descriptions of about three dozen TED podcasts available, I chose to listen the Mulgan’s podcast because of my interest in advocating for unique learning styles and alternative school models. Podcasts such as this one are clearly designed to introduce a possible solution to a perceived problem and the rationale for it’s implementation. The speakers are expected to be articulate and concise.

I was interested in Mulgan’s assertion that students are more motivated to work when they have more opportunities for full engagement of the material presented. In this way, the studio school model intends to support a certain style of learning. Unfortunately, I feel that he misses the larger picture in that some students learn most of the time by doing and some students need specific subjects to be engaged by doing. The studio school is a partial answer for some students but cannot (as he readily admits) speak to the needs of all children.

Furthermore, my main criticism rests on his conclusion that since many students learn by doing, the function of the studio school would be to give them skills to go into specific jobs. He states that there would be schools that focus on “healthcare, tourism, engineering and other fields”. Where the student might gain a sense of increased motivation toward learning because of the environment, the motivation is focused on making them marketable workers.

Education, in my mind, shortchanges its potential affect when it makes the goal of the classroom to be a training ground for the workplace. Students do deserve to have opportunities to engage their learning process through all of their senses, including taking meaningful action. I also believe students have the right to use educational opportunities to develop their full selves independent of the forces of the market (Engel, p.32).

Engel, M. (2000). The struggle for control of public education: Market ideology vs. democratic values. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

Mulgan, G. (2011, July). A short intro to the Studio School. Retrieved fromĀ http://blog.ted.com/2011/09/27/a-short-intro-to-the-studio-school-geoff-mulgan-on-ted-com/

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