Think back to your college/grade school days. Without a doubt, we all have had a handful of professors and teachers that we can quickly name, due to the impact that they had on our lives. They challenged and inspired us along the way. I know for me, had it not been for a particular high school teacher, I would have never thought about pursuing a career in entrepreneurship.
Our class was more than a memorize, exam, repeat concept. We were given tools and resources that we could utilize to solve problems. It had a similar approach to the way Kevin Brookhouser educates his students. Kevin, a top Google Education Trainer and the blogger behind I teach I think, has incorporated the Google 20% Time into his teaching curriculum. The system provides students the opportunity to spend one day a week to work on a problem that they are interested in, thriving to find a solution that is not laid out in a textbook.
After four years of experiencing the process in the classroom, while giving many keynote speeches about the concept, as well as working with a few teachers, Kevin is now working towards sharing the platform with other educators. In his book 20 Time Project, Kevin has laid out "why we need to incubate independent problem-solving in our classrooms, and provides a wealth of concrete advice for teachers interested in implementing 20 Time."
When I spoke to Kevin, he noted that when he presents the project to his students at the beginning of the year, they become a bit uncomfortable with the task at hand. They aren't used to working on a project that isn't based around a grade letter. And it's intimidating for them to know that the answer to the problem identified is non-existent at the current moment. Their criteria is simple, yet intriguing. Students are to identify a problem, in which the solution serves someone aside from their teacher.
I asked Kevin how the students first come up with the problems they are going to solve. He explained that they start out with a brainstorming session. However, it's not the average brainstorming session we all are used to. He knows that personal image is important for high school students, especially not wanting to come across as stupid or dumb among their peers. So, Kevin starts the session by asking them to give him the most ridiculous and dumbest problem they would want to solve. What this does, it releases the tension, allowing the students to begin with a little fun and laughter, but surprisingly, build on those ideas to identify well thought out problems.
Once the problems are identified, students either work in groups or alone, on a project that they want to solve. They spend the year working on their project, setting monthly goals so that Kevin is able to measure their progress. In the end, instead of a final exam, they give a five minute presentation to not just Kevin, but anyone that is interested in sitting in.
During our conversation, I couldn't stop smiling the entire time that Kevin was explaining his methods to me. It's incredible to see teachers going the extra mile to help their students challenge themselves. For him, seeing his students reach their goals and provide solutions that he didn't have an answer to gives him a sense of optimism about the direction we are heading towards as a nation.
As the book is set to release in October, it has the potential of affecting more than just the classroom environment. It is a resource that businesses and individuals can use to grow and stay innovative. But most importantly, the 20 Time Project will help teachers challenge their students and allow them to grow as innovative thinkers. The video below is an example of what the 20 Time Project could do, as it shows the impact that Kevin's students are having in their communities.
Overall, instilling innovative thinking in the school system POPs.