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Approaching Learning From a New Angle

by Rebecca Mead

The New Yorker

Article excerpt

Learn Different

The curriculum is roughly aligned with the Common Core, the government standards that establish topics which students should master by the end of each grade. But AltSchool’s ethos is fundamentally opposed to the paradigm of standardization that has dominated public education in recent decades, and reflects a growing shift in emphasis among theorists toward “personalized learning.

Our take

Adapt, Migrate, Mutate or Die?

Max Ventilla and his wife, Jenny Stefanotti, are the couple behind AltSchool, a new concept in education—one of, potentially, many—conceived by a couple frustrated with their search for a preschool for their, then, four-year-old. Backed by venture capitalists and loosely using concepts from Common Core, the curriculum is driven to a large degree by the personalized learning preferences of small groups of students who self-select the content they wish to engage with. What’s fueling this interest in new modes of education delivery?

Dissatisfaction with traditional options is one driver, but there are also a number of people in prominent positions, and with ample resources, funding these types of start-ups—from Bill and Melinda Gates, to Mark Zuckerberg and more. While these funders tend to be technology-based, start-ups like AltSchool are “full-stack” companies meaning they go beyond technology to actually provide instruction in school-like settings. The focus and nature of these disruptive offerings can be instructive for educators and administrators in terms of emerging areas of aren’t and student demand and what may be missing from their school system offerings.

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