Imagine if the principles of individualized, self-paced learning could be merged with the brutal competitiveness of the business world. You might need to “Think Different” (-ly) to see the result. Eleven schools in the Netherlands, dubbed “Steve Jobs Schools” think they know what that vision looks like — it involves an iPad for every child regardless of age, flexible school hours, flexible curricula, and teachers reassigned as “coaches” rather than lecturers.
Approximately 1,000 children Dutch children, aged four to twelve, will be the first to benefit from this fresh approach to learning beginning this August. Although they attend a brick-and-mortar building like normal schools, that construction is about where the similarities end. The Steve Jobs Schools buildings are open every day except for Christmas and New Years from 7:30am to 6:30pm, but children are only required to be present during “core period,” which is from 10:30am to 3:30pm. Otherwise, parents can pick them up and drop them off as they please — vacation can be whenever as children can complete their studies anytime and anywhere on their iPads.
The mass adoption of iPads doesn’t mean that children are left to their own devices as they stare mindlessly at their screens. The schools will employ monitoring and evaluation software that allow Coaches and parents to continually monitor children’s progress. Furthermore, students still move between various rooms designated by subject area such as language and math. However, only in exceptional cases will Coaches (think “teachers”) lead students as a group as is normally found in most American schools. Parents will be heavily involved in their children’s progress; every six weeks school officials will meet with parents (in-person or via teleconference) to discuss and decided what children should focus on for the next six-week period.
The schools are funded by the Dutch government and open to all children; families who cannot afford an iPad are provided one by a government fund. The schools have virtually universal support from politicians in the Dutch Parliament; however, no one has asked Apple or Laureen Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs’s ex-wife, if it’s okay if they named the schools after the late tycoon. Apparently Apple’s lawyers haven’t called just yet.
Read more on Der Spiegel: