Google has a unique idea, called the 80/20 rule. Google engineers are encouraged to take 20 percent of their time to work on something company-related that interests them personally. It is a great idea and has spawned many of Google's apps and resources and made Google very successful, and a very good place to work.
Last week, I read an article on Converge Magazine's site entitled "Google's 80/20 Principle Adopted at New Jersey School". The article details how a principal has created the same kind of atmosphere for the teachers, giving them time each week to come up with interdisciplinary projects, new assessments and ways to integrate technology into their students' learning . Teachers get two or three 48-minute periods a week to work on what they want to work on, instead of being stuck in meeting's or duty assignments. They can work with other teachers, do research, work on creative lessons, enrich themselves, and more.
It's a great idea that I hope spreads to other schools. Too much time in school is wasted on irrelevant meetings. Teachers need time to work on things that will help them in their classroom.
I'd also like to see it applied to students. Students should get time each week, in school, to explore what interests them. I try to give students some time to do this with some assignments I give them on applying physics to things they like, but I'd love to expand it to every week. Students, in a room with a teacher to offer help and support when needed, would be able to explore anything they are interested in. Imagine how that would appeal to a student!
It could be incorporated into each class, or set up as a scheduled time each week. Give students time each week to explore anything they want to. I can see students going well beyond their grade level and curriculum to explore and create things that are interesting to them. I think it would also encourage more students to stay in school, explore things that interest them to help them focus on career ideas and college/trades, and would help them learn.
What do you think?
Homework and project ideas I'm using in my classes that are authentic
Making School Relevant for Students
10 Important Skills Students Need for the Future
Project Based Learning
Science of Everyday Life
Create a Personal Learning Network
Should we force students to learn? or How can we change schools to engage students?
Differentiating with Web 2.0 Technologies