Another real-world lesson the new "Performance Based Learning" school will teach that is specific to South Dakota: life is about the lottery. Instead of doing the hard work of reviewing applications and choosing the students best suited for this educational experience, the Sioux Falls School District will simply draw names out of a hat. That's just like how we fund our state budget, relying on the lottery instead of taking leadership and making hard tax choices.
But wait a minute: is the implication that all of our other schools are teaching imaginary skills? Must we all drop everything and join a project team in a one-to-one computing environment to learn anything useful?
Funny: I thought my years of lectures were helping pass on useful practical knowledge, not to mention instilling listening skills. I thought requiring students to spend hours in quiet contemplation of classic novels was developing appreciation of culture (which is part of the real world) and long-term attention spans (which should be part of the real world). I thought reading and discussion about literature, history, government, and philosophy developed critical thinking skills and well-rounded employees and citizens. I thought an education in the humanities helped make people more decent and interesting.
Silly me. Sorry to have wasted your tax dollars all these years on imaginary skills. Let's all do projects... until the next educational fad comes along.
Of course, if we want more projects and performance-based learning, we don't need to create a whole new high school and send money to California consultants. We could just encourage more kids to join the debate, interp, and theater programs in our high schools. Debate is a year-long project requiring research, writing, and collaboration. Interp requires months of cooperation and coordination with team members and coaches. Theater requires combination of creative and technical skills to produce a good show. Speech and drama activities require rigorous scheduling and test students' learning in the crucible of live performance. Our arts programs are already doing performance-based learning and long-term projects.
...But I guess educational trendiness requires that we reinvent the wheel. Sigh. (That's not a sentence fragment, Ben; that's an interjection.)