Less than a year from now, Laurene Powell Jobs will give away $US50 million.
The widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Powell Jobs is now spearheading a major campaign to rethink high school.
The initiative tasks educators, innovators, business leaders, and even students to come up with imaginative ways to redesign the high school experience.
“The system was created for the work force we needed 100 years ago,” Powell Jobs told The New York Times. “Things are not working the way we want it to be working.”
The campaign is part of her larger focus on education; she also finances College Track, a company designed to help underprivileged kids graduate from college.
In both cases, her overarching mission is the same: to liberate students from an educational system that continues to live and die by standardised testing, instead of actual learning.
Powell Jobs is encouraging people to rethink every aspect of the traditional experience, from the curriculum and schoolday scheduling to extracurriculars and the technology used in the classroom.
Sir Ken Robinson, the beloved education theorist and man behind the most-watched TED talk of all time “Do Schools Kill Creativity?,” points to the over-emphasis on academic subjects in his latest book, “Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education.”
“Our education systems are still very much locked into this narrow idea of supply and demand, and a particular view of intelligence that underpins it,” he said in a recent interview with Tech Insider.
The new XQ project hopes these concerns can be crowd-sourced away, relying on the hashtag #RethinkHighSchool to spread the word about its ongoing competition.
The deadline for submissions will be later this fall. By next March, entrants will outline their plans to make the concept a reality, and by next August, winners will be announced.
Between five and 10 finalists will split the $US50 million prize money, which is funded by Powell Jobs’ social justice and innovation philanthropy organisation Emerson Collective.
For years, standardised test scores have been used to show that America is a C-student at best. XQ could signal that people are finally realising how using test scores to judge educational success may have been the real failure all along.
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