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Inside the Studio Classroom: A New Way to Learn

October 19, 2011

Do you remember when I wrote this article?


The gist of which was that our education system at the K-12 level could be improved if we treated it more like higher education. In graduate school, “experiential learning” is the name of the game, yet high schools still rely on boring perch-and-preach lecture methods. Especially at a younger age, when students’ minds are more malleable (and prone to wander), it is that much more important to engage them interactively rather than passively. Well, I am happy to announce that at least one K-12 institution, Bishop Moore Catholic High School in Orlando, FL, has heard my cry.


According to this article in the Orlando Sentinel, students at Bishop Moore are taking a more active role in their classes, while teachers act more as supervisors rather than direct leaders. They call it a “studio” classroom, in which students work in small groups, occasionally asking for advice or direction but not for answers. This subtle switch can have huge implications on the long-term success of these students. Compared to a traditional, passive lecture, where students look to their teachers for the quick and easy solution, the studio classroom encourages them to work together to discover their own answers.


As the Sentinel article states, “students work together on problems at the computers and on the boards while he [the instructor] roams the room serving as the “guide on the side.” When they ask him a question, they get to see not a rehearsed example from a lecture, but how an expert approaches these physics problems.”


This same system that students at Bishop Moore Catholic High School call the studio classroom has been successfully implemented at top universities such as MIT. So why are there only about half a dozen high schools around the country doing the same thing? If the objective of high school is to prepare you for college, and the objective of college is to prepare you for the real world, why not integrate all three?


Back to Bishop Moore, at this point in a regular class, admitted one student – Stephen Long, “I’d have my head down.” The benefits of “active learning” touted by school administrators and teachers, Stephen added, seem to be true.

Case closed.


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