By: K12 Lab Network

America’s high school model is long past its sell-by date. It was designed over 100 years ago to create and manage a skilled workforce for the Industrial Revolution. It predates Ford’s Model T, Edison’s light bulb and Marconi’s radio. And yet, as those innovations have evolved into self-driving cars, LEDs, WiFi, and virtual reality, the high school model is stuck in time—as segregated, myopic and inflexible as ever. That’s is where the K12 Lab comes in. We make experiments happen.

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High School Experiments

Over the past three years, we’ve prototyped and developed three sets of high schools experiments. The first is an up-and-running public charter called Design Tech High School. The second is an inspirational model for community-focused education slated to open in 2018. The third has grown into a set of tools and curriculum for implementing purpose-based learning with high schoolers. We’re also running a nation-wide professional development program for principals called School Retool.

Extreme Personalization Meets Design Thinking

Design Tech High School (aka d.tech) is an up-and-running high school modeled around extreme personalization. D.tech puts student knowledge into action by teaching students to solve real-world problems using design thinking. Students learn an adaptable process they can use throughout their whole lives to contribute in a constantly changing world. From the outset, the d.school collaborated with d.tech to create a solution-based culture in which faculty and students support each other and resolve challenges effectively. As a product of our longstanding relationship with d.tech, we have created curriculum, tools and resources to integrate design thinking and school culture.

 
https://www.fastcompany.com/3063140/most-innovative-companies/why-this-silicon-valley-high-school-let-students-design-its-new-ca
We believe that students are most successful when their education is personalized to their needs, and they are asked to use their knowledge to improve the world around them
— Dr. Ken Montgomery

Designing for Equity

Forged in the practice of deep equity consciousness and design thinking, Design School X (DSX) is a new high school model designed for belonging and becoming for all students, not simply the privileged few with easy access to innovation. Imagined by maker, teacher and social justice advocate David Clifford, DSX was developed and prototyped during David's fellowship year. What emerged from his approach is a radical new lens through which to see whole and authentic X-shaped students, forcing a revolutionary makeover for how we teach, what we teach, who is teaching, and the time and space in which it happens. DSX is slated to open in 2018.

 
https://whiteboard.stanford.edu/blog/2015/7/14/rqi0zyaahsg3ric6cz5hq91f0fuplb

Helping Young People Find their Purpose

Project Wayfinder designs purpose-provoking experiences, trainings, and content for students and educators. We do this in three ways:  through our Wayfinder Programs with high school students, our Educator Trainings, and our thoughtfully designed Wayfinder Navigation Toolkit (a collection of tools, exercises, and activities) which engage students on a level beyond a typical curriculum. In fall 2017, Project Wayfinder will be rolling out our tools and programs into 10 schools worldwide.

 
https://ssir.org/articles/entry/re_designing_american_high_schools_for_the_21st_century

In addition to these experiments with high school models, the K12 Lab team is actively scaling School Retool, a professional development fellowship for sitting high school principals ready to embark on school culture design with an emphasis on deeper learning.

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