Challenge #3 – Public Education

Posted on Jan 28, 2011

Fixing Public Education

in partnership with The Third Teacher

Challenge Overview

Our children have become “schooling disabled” in a learning abundant world. Our factory model of education is incapable of igniting and nurturing the intellectual energy and inventive genius of our children toward creating a better future. Learning is not a spectator sport; it is a live encounter, driven by meaning and personal purpose and grounded in questions, curiosity, engagement, exploration and challenge. The context and conditions of schooling must develop our children’s multiple talents and enable them to flourish. Every “school” must become a catalyst and center for inquiry and imagination and part of a dynamic learning and innovation network.


Whether a kindergarten student will merely survive or positively thrive in the decades to come depends in large measure on the experience she has in school. The Third Teacher, based on Malaguzzi’s approach to learning, maintains that those experiences will be shaped by adults, by peers, and ultimately by places; by the physical environments where she does her learning. United in the conviction that environment is our children third teacher, we can begin a new vital mission: designing today’s school for tomorrow world. “We get what we design for.”

Your Challenge Is…

Design a new learning and innovation ecosystem for the 21st Century High School. It must develop “decidedly different whole new minds” and enable every child to thrive. Design its new map, landscape and learning experiences. Create a new language and lexicon to describe this new system and enable the conversation that will help bring it to life. Create stories to describe what it looks and feels like from the perspective of the learner, teacher, parent, mentor, on-line global peer collaborator, and community leader.

Design Conditions

  • The solution must address both the physical space and the curriculum or teaching methodologies
  • Age and grade level distinctions are blurred
  • Must put the central focus on the student, and remove teachers as “sages”
  • Children are invited to develop and connect all of who they are in learning
  • Expertise is distributed, problem-solving is collaborative, and learning and knowledge networks are global
  • Must adhere to the heart and soul of the 79 ideas espoused by The Third Teacher

Additional Resources