December 17, 2020
NewSchool: Educating A Generation Of Tech Talents
What does NewSchool do and how is it different from other schools in Germany?
We are a project-based secondary school (grades 7 through 10). Our workshop leaders are tutors, and our Talents conduct their own projects and are supported by mentors.
In their first months at NewSchool each of the Talents learns the skills that they need, such as Project Management, and composing emails, in order to carry out effective project work. We put a particular emphasis on teamwork – helping, sharing knowledge and in particular sharing what has been learnt. The Talents have workshops in key subjects including Maths, German and English. With the help of the mentors, they discover their own strengths and weaknesses. There are no grades or marks or classwork.
The Talents pitch and execute their individual or collective project ideas. At the end of the project, the Talent gives a presentation and receives feedback from the other Talents and the relevant mentors and tutors. This further strengthens their social skills.
What success have you seen from this teaching style?
We focus on the strengths rather than the weaknesses of our students; through this, the Talents become more confident and come to know themselves better, building on their strengths. They become happier people, enthusiastic about coming to school.
The school has been here for 5 years. After finishing here, each Talent goes their own way – whether that’s continuing their schooling in high school or college, further education or founding a startup…
How have you coped with the Covid19 Pandemic?
Digital Homeschooling. Each Talent is given their own laptop to work on at NewSchool. They can take these home for homeschooling, which is what we’ve done during lockdown. With that, they can take part in homeschooling digitally.
We run online workshops, pitches and presentations from 10am-3pm Monday to Friday. We also have our own software for homeschooling, which could also be applied in other schools.
What are NewSchool’s interactions with the Factory Berlin community?
The Talents don’t learn in a bubble. Here we are a member of the larger community and consider ourselves a startup. We are able to find experts and tutors from the Factory Berlin community and our Talents have had, and continue to have, the possibility of interning in different businesses throughout Factory Berlin and for other members of the wider community.
We have a direct connection to CODE University, and our Talents have the possibility of being observers in some classes and to see the pitches and presentations of students there.
The relationship goes both ways; for example, a member of the community invented a board game and the Talents tested it and gave feedback to the creator.
A big part of the Factory Berlin mission is to interrogate our working practises. How does NewSchool connect to that?
At NewSchool, we also question and evaluate our own practises. Every project gets this evaluation through our feedback process. At the end, Talents also have a reflection session with their mentor. NewSchool has a solid concept, but the implementation of this concept is being constantly re-evaluated.
What evidence are you seeing in the working world that there’s a need for an overhaul of education?
The world is changing rapidly – schools must transform and respond to these circumstances. Today’s approach to education, in particular today’s education system, isn’t appropriate to digital life. Changing and responding to the situation is important and necessary: from futuristic workplaces, digital knowledge, digital living… young people live differently, they have different values and attitudes.
“The world is changing rapidly - schools must transform and respond to these circumstances.”
What is your vision for the future of education?
Anyone, anywhere, can learn. Digitally, via cellphone or screen – digital classes. Teachers pass their knowledge on. Grades are no longer a pressure. Mentors support young people. What I learn is less important than how I learn.
I imagine a future in which access to learning is not limited by age, location, nationality, gender or status.
“I imagine a future in which access to learning is not limited by age, location, nationality, gender or status.”