In an interesting TED talk, Daphne Koller discusses Coursera and its platform for free, online course from the best universities in the world. In fact, they recently announced that they would be offering four core classes from the first year curriculum at Wharton School of Business. MIT, Harvard and others are already on board with Daphne's company. Coursera and companies like it, coupled with Khan Academy's deliberate and effective move to use BIG Data to inform personalized learning, issue this challenge to independent schools:
Why pay a premium for an independent school?
Our answer....The value-added of an independent school is in the preparation of a whole child who will be fully prepared to engage in and for their greater community.
First, I still believe our teachers and curriculum are as good, if not better, than anything you will find online. And they're present in real time. Your children will be incredibly well prepared academically.
Second, independent schools, and Canterbury specifically, cultivate a sense of cooperation and partnership among students, students and teachers, and teachers and parents that develops in students highly valued and effective interpersonal skills necessary for the 21st century. You can't get that online.
Third, independent schools, and Canterbury specifically, incorporate experiences outside of the classroom that expose our students to the larger world, outline ways to engage that larger world, and encourage students to serve that world in a leadership role. This comes from the doing - the active and outward engagement through leadership and service opportunities.
I could go on, and much smarter people than me have - particularly the former president of NAIS, Pat Bassett - but I will leave the rest for later blog posts. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting a series of posts outlining the programs in the middle school which provide this "value-added" and discuss how we are working to shape whole children to lead our community and beyond.