Everyone knows about Google’s “Own projects”*: the search giant’s employees can spend one day per week on self-development and other own initiatives. Lately such projects have reportedly been cut down to some extent, but the spirit is still there.
I once visited an elementary school in Shanghai, which had adopted this same idea. A day or at least half a day a week the pupils can take part in various clubs, ranging from robotics to ballet and painting classes. The children had themselves had impact on what these clubs do and how they operate. Seems like a great idea, I wonder why it hasn’t spread.
I lately came across another interesting thought, namely portfiolios which are developed throughout the education, starting from first primary grades and continuing through secondary and highschool.
As I’ve mentioned, I am not at all opposed to education based on subjects. However, subject-oriented teaching could be complemented with bottom-up approaches such as the Google/Shanghai method described above. And if these own projects are not separate but interlace in some way, we might end up with something interesting.
Think of a student finishing highschool who has for the past twelve years collected information and created various content on some specific topic. What a great complement this could provide to the grades and graduation certificates when e.g. applying for the first job.
* Google did not invent the own projects idea, at least 3M had applied it before.
Flickr image CC credits: Rob Enslin