The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Making the Case for New Paradigm Breaking Schools Designed for the Distracted Generation

Laurence Peters, Johns Hopkins University (United States)

Himanshi Sharma, Jhon (India)


Currently approximately 1 in 10 children are currently diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) In the US with some estimates suggesting a 30 percent rise in the disorder since the Covid pandemic.  Nearly half of students in Gallup's 2014 student poll report being either not engaged (28 percent) or actively disengaged (19 percent) in school. These issues pose challenges to teachers resulting in many teachers taking early retirements and schools facing increased absenteeism and disciplinary issues. In this paper we will explore the way we need to set a research agenda based on a new paradigm—studying new models for schooling instead of the existing failed model. In this way we will avoid placing a series of ‘band-aids’ on the problem (such as increased use of ADHD medications) or use technology in a mindless fashion to effectively keep the students busy and quiet. What we propose is a focused international research and development project to validate a series of  new school designs that can be shaped to fit the needs of a new generation of students who (due mostly to the ubiquitous  use of mobile devices) learn differently from prior generations.  We will briefly discuss how technology are rewiring our brains, and how these factors impact learning, engagement, and critical thinking skills. The change is so profound that no longer is the traditional organization of schools into classrooms with rows of desks in front of a black or white board going to work for the majority of students. To move forward we need to first acknowledge that we are in a crisis and we cannot continue down the same path of reform that end up not making any dent on overall student achievement or engagement.  New school designs are showing us the way forward. So many of them are startlingly innovative and share some common elements. The paper will focus on three different approaches  with examples from actual new schools that promote student engagement and enable students with or without ADHD to be successful both as lifelong learners and engaged  citizens. First set of schools that place self directed learning at the center of their curriculum instead of as an optional extra. Second category are the Schools Implementing Technology Mindfully to personalize the learning and use adaptive technology to help focus students on practicing in the region of their proximal development. The third category of futuristic schools are the ones that help students learn from their local environment both in terms of their interdependence with that environment (both urban and rural) and to participate in sustainable practices that respect that environment. We will look at the evidence that suggests that these approaches can be productive but more research is needed so that instead of studying approaches that have demonstrably failed we look at those with a greater  chance of success. 



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