Students are heading back to school. American students have a hodge-podge of different schools, varying philosophies, fabulous facilities to crumbling structures that will greet them on their first day of school. What if things were different? What if every student shared in having a first class education in the United States? I think it is possible. I think it is necessary for the future of America.

Imagine a kindergarten student entering a Future’s Village. Instead of classrooms with desks, these students will find labs, storefronts, and corporate names they might recognize in their student centered community. Businesses and universities will be an integral part of the Village and play an active role in preparing students for the future. Students in grades K-5 will collaborate in the Village and work together, with students helping and mentoring each other. Students will do six week projects on various fields of study. For instance, if the students were doing a bakery project, everything related to bakeries would be covered. From shapes, reading by relating words to objects and feelings, songs, simple math used in measurements and counting, food that is found in a bakery, where and how food products are grown, grocery shopping for bakery items, working in a bakery, and marketing for a bakery. Village labs will work concurrently with hands on experiences complementing the learning process. K-5 students will learn about living in the Village, much like the real world, from government to laws. A day in the Village will give students the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the real world.

A middle school student will arrive at their own Village. The method is the same, the opportunities will be different. Students grade 6–8 will select an apprenticeship and/or an internship for each semester. They will work with local businesses or global corporations to see what work looks like. Having the chance to learn about career possibilities through experts who actually have done the job and through educators at the college level bring a new perspective and relevance to school. Lab work again will compliment educational choices. Coursework will merge various disciplines as students begin to find their ways. Learning will be geared to meet the needs of every student individually.

High school students will also study in Villages. Educators will help students focus on what brings success for them and what there hearts beat for. Confidence and purpose are critical for personal success and satisfaction. Students will have opportunities in the village in various disciplines that can be merged to bring a unique perspective to learning. With opportunities in entrepreneurship, technology, science, marketing, design, the arts, community service and an array of career options, students will be able to connect learning to career.

What fuels the Village is support from experts in local businesses, corporate professionals, and the knowledge of educators and university professors. All entities will play a part in educating our nation’s students. Each day at a Village will be an adventure in learning. Students will be aware that educators are advocating for them, no longer a factory system weighed down by bells and desks. Learning happens when students are engaged, happy…yes happy, and have a feeling of belonging. Each student will play an integral role in the success of their community.

If all students study in a Village with the same opportunities we will see a more equitable education experience in America. Our resources would be used for one goal; to give every student in America the tools for success. The concept would work for all learning abilities and we would focus on “do,” “not can’t do.” We need all types of skills in the workforce…bakers, doctors, artists, programmers and more. Robots will steal many jobs or certain aspects of many jobs, but a Village education gives students the knowledge and experience to understand continued learning creates adaptability. We learn and grow throughout our own lives and help others to do the same. Learning that is ongoing and limitless opens the minds and doors for opportunities. We can create the most remarkable experience for our students. We have always known that to raise children…

All photos @Unsplash

Originally published at