This summer I took my sophomore-aged son on four college visits in Washington, D.C. All of the tours were led by students. I am still thinking about the tour at Georgetown, where the student guide talked not only about their strong academics but the power of student voice. He said that students get involved in all kinds of advocacy and campus politics because they care a great deal about what happens in their local and global environments. He shared that when students don’t like any aspect of their college experience, they mobilize to send a collective message to their administration.
The power of voice is not just resonant throughout college and adult societies, it’s a force we contend with in elementary and secondary school. Student voice is not threatening, rather it’s invigorating and the producer of fresh ideas and new perspectives. In Hopkins, we are moving all early learning through secondary classrooms toward personalized learning built on inquiry and concept-based instruction. Inquiry is all about asking powerful questions - both teachers and students. Often the most provocative questions have no fast or single answer, rather generate multiple truths. Concept-based instruction involves learning about transdisciplinary or overarching themes such as ecosystems, causation, change, and patterns (rather than narrowly-focused topics such as rocks or the Civil War). When concept-based inquiry drives teaching and learning, there is more space for students to have voice and choice in what they learn and how they will demonstrate their mastery. This is true in preK and also grade 11.
The future of education not only calls for students to exercise more voice in their learning but requires us to think differently about learning space. Hopkins has partnered with Fielding International - an architectural firm that employs designers who also operate as education thought leaders around the world. Think about how our schools have physically remained unchanged for more than a century. Most schools in America are still organized by long hallways, single and boxy classrooms, and bells or other signals to move to the next subject. In Hopkins our students deserve spaces that are open, flexible, and designed to facilitate multiple modes of learning - lecture-style, independent work, ideation and collaborative problem-solving, quiet reflection and more.
After 13 years of a future-forward education in Hopkins, students will be cultivated into deep-thinking scholars. They will demonstrate the Traits of a Hopkins Scholar including
critical and holistic thinking, empathy, collaboration and problem-solving, and personal confidence balanced with global-mindedness. They will master time-management and self-regulation. Hopkins students have been and will continue to be ready for a dynamic world. We are grateful to our Hopkins educators for shaping these students’ curious minds into those of disciplined scholars. Hopkins scholars are the change-makers the world needs!
Dr. Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed
Superintendent of Hopkins Public Schools
Want to learn more about our partnership with Fielding International and how our spaces could align with learning spaces of the future? Listen to episode three of the Inside Hopkins Podcast, which features Fielding’s founder Randy Fielding and North Middle School principal Julius Eromosele.