Learn Everywhere is a program designed to build on existing New Hampshire educational philosophy, law, and rule. At its most basic level, it is simply seeing and understanding our existing public education system and the learning that engages students, from another perspective.
Learn Everywhere- Initial Application
In the book "Leaving to Learn," Elliot Washor, author and founder of the alternative Met school and Big Picture Learning in Providence, R.I., asks the question, “What if there were ways to provide and give credit for learning wherever and whenever it occurred?” This concept of wherever and whenever has been a continuous pursuit of the state of New Hampshire for more than a decade now. The ideas and concepts are embedded in our educational philosophy, law, and rules, but it has been an elusive target with only marginal attainment.
Education consultant Sir Ken Robinson has stated, “First, education is always and inevitably personal. All students have their own reasons for staying in, or for pulling out of [disengaging from], school. Like you and me, they are living, breathing individuals with their own hopes, motivations, challenges, aptitudes and drives. The current [education] system is failing so many of them1 because it is impersonal and standardized… The solution is to adopt forms of teaching that arouse students’ appetites for learning.” 1
Learn Everywhere is just that, an innovative approach to learning passed into law by the 2018 New Hampshire Legislature to capture existing student learning and create an eco-system of additional learning opportunities for our students, wherever and whenever they occur.
The State Board of Education (“SBOE”) is the credentialing oversight board for teachers and schools. The SBOE credentials teachers in New Hampshire to be able to teach in our public schools. The SBOE also authorizes schools in New Hampshire to be able to provide an opportunity for a comprehensive adequate education. Learn Everywhere simply unbundles education and says, rather than authorize only entire schools, the state will authorize educational programs to offer part of comprehensive adequate education. If the SBOE credentials teachers, and if the SBOE credentials schools, why not also simply credential a course or a program as well?
In New Hampshire, a top performing state, the “equity gap,” part of which is the disparity between socio economically advantaged students versus students in poverty (family earnings of less than 185% of the federal poverty level) is more than 20%, meaning that poor students consistently over the previous 20 years, have performed lower on standardized assessments, because the education system is not able to engage them.
Practically, what does that mean and what does that look like?
Learn Everywhere is built on a premise of win-win. It sees education as an expanding universe of opportunity that capitalizes on learning across the board.
While for the most part, school takes place from 7:30am – 2:30pm inside a school building for 180 days a year, students are learning outside of that time frame and outside of that location. Some of this “outside the school” learning is formalized, such as after-school tutoring or dance lessons, and some is less formalized, such as an after-school job where a student is gaining valuable capacity across a number of domains. Learn Everywhere creates a vehicle to capture all students learning and give students credit for it.
Compared to a zero-sum game, in which the addition of this program takes something away from our already strong public education system, Learn Everywhere expands the educational opportunity universe without taking anything away.
Let’s consider a student who loves performing arts and participates in a local Boys and Girls Club (“BGC”) performing arts program. Let’s also assume that the BGC has enrolled its theater arts program as an approved Learn Everywhere program.
This student now has the option to participate in the BGC theater arts program for high school credit. While they are participating in the BGC performing arts program, they can also participate in their public school performing arts program, if they want (e.g., nothing is lost). However, if they find that practices at the BGC program, which are three nights a week until 9pm, do not give them enough time to do homework, they could elect to take a study hall in their public school (all schools have study halls in all time blocks) to do their homework so they do not have to do it at night after play practice at the BGC. This student may also decide to take an elective course during that period.
In addition to creating more educational options for the student, it can reduce the level of stress experienced by the student and family, stress representing an increasing problem in our current culture.
What is important to consider with this example is that with or without the Learn Everywhere option, the student is already participating in the BGC performing arts program. Learn Everywhere simply finds a way for that deep and engaging learning to count for academic credit.
Administrator, Bureau of Educational Opportunities