The 14 most innovative schools in the world

Business Insider

orestad gymnasiumMathias Eis Schultz

Innovation in education can take lots of forms, like incorporating new technology or teaching methods, going on field trips, rejecting social norms, or partnering with the local community.

An innovative school could be modeled after a legendary CEO, like the Steve Jobs School in Amsterdam. Or it can be an institution that's blind to gender, like Egalia, in Stockholm, Sweden.

Keep scrolling to see what the future of education can, and probably should, look like.

Summit Sierra in Seattle, Washington: The school that gets personal.

Summit Sierra

Bill Gates says Summit Sierra's approach to personalized learning — a form of education that uses technology to empower students to guide their own instruction — is one of the most effective ways to teach kids.

Opened in 2015, Summit Sierra is a charter school that caps its student body at 200. Each day, kids read for 30 minutes, solve math problems for 30 minutes, take online courses, talk with mentors about their career and life goals, and meet with other students to talk and share their feelings during Community Time.

Even though kids guide their own learning, teachers still play a vital role. Summit teachers get matched with students who they mentor for all four years. Instructors can use in-house software to see which of their dozen or so students has completed certain assignments and exams.

By taking an active role in their education, Gates says, kids learn responsibility and self-reliance.



Ørestad Gymnasium in Copenhagen, Denmark: The school in a cube.

Mathias Eis Schultz

Ørestad Gymnasium is one giant classroom, where 358 high school students learn in an expansive glass cube — a "gymnasium," as parts of Europe still call secondary schools.

By encouraging students to collaborate in wide-open settings, the school hopes kids will be equipped to think flexibly on diverse topics later in life.

"We want to have teaching where the students make research and work together in solving real problems," headmaster Allan Kjær Andersen tells Business Insider. "So we want to be an open school that is in connection with the outside world."

The open spaces, which are adorned with spacious "drums" for a more relaxed learning environment, encourage students to assume an active role in their own education. Kids break off into groups and form makeshift classrooms, sometimes with teachers to guide them.

"It's not enough to give them knowledge, you also have to give them a way of transforming knowledge into action," Andersen says. "And that's very important for us, and I think it is important for modern schools."



Big Picture Learning in Providence, Rhode Island: The school in the real world.

Big Picture Learning

The Big Picture Learning model breaks down the walls between education and the working world.

From the beginning, k-12 students learn that their creative passions will come first. To help stoke those passions, students are paired with mentors who work in the fields the students want to someday enter.

"The most important element of the education at a BigPicture Learning school is that students learn in the real world," says Rodney Davis, communications director at Big Picture. The system is currently in place at 55 schools nationwide.

To that end, each student completes an LTI, or Learning Through Internship. "The projects are connected to the student's interests and meet the needs of the mentors," Davis says, whether that involves starting a business, fixing up cars, or learning the letter of the law.



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