A Catholic school in the Parramatta Diocese is being billed as a school for the 21st century, where students design their own lessons and there are no academic grades. Source: ABC News.
St Luke’s Catholic College in Western Sydney said it was overturning the mainstream “industrial model” of schooling, rejecting top-down teacher instruction in favour of students directing their own learning.
Critics claim the approach – broadly known as inquiry-based learning – is a modern fad that would not improve academic results.
But if the recommendations of the recent government-commissioned Gonski review into educational excellence are implemented, this model could eventually be replicated in schools around the country.
St Luke’s College opened its doors two years ago with a promise to do education differently.
“The current model of schooling was designed in the 1800s for a world that was built for manufacturing,” principal Greg Miller said.
“We set learning by year, not by ability, and basically it ends up becoming a production line that results in one number on one day at the end of 13 years.
“But ultimately, our world has changed dramatically.”
Students at St Luke’s undertake personalised lessons. They work with motivational coaches to identify their strengths, interests, motivations and “life purpose”.
From year 9, the core curriculum is condensed into three days per week, and students are free to use the rest of the time to develop their own interests. They undertake projects in anything from piano composition, to video game development, to BMX riding.
The school also rejects tests, saying they’re unhelpful.
“Studying for a test where content changes dramatically, in today’s world, will not help the students to respond to real-world challenges and problems as they arise,” Mr Miller said.
“Their ability and capability to ask and pose questions to collaboratively work with each other is what’s needed.”
The Gonski review recommended schools move away from teaching by year levels and instead focus on achieving one year’s growth for every student in every school year.
It also highlighted the importance of personalised learning and a new approach to assessment.