"School should not be a place you were forced to go, but a place you want to go."
When a pupil speaks out such a sentence for the camera, his school could be the coolest one in the world. Let me take some examples:
• This school has the same quantity of engineers as the teachers. 45 engineers have worked for Google and Uber provides 1 to 1 technology support.
• This school is student-oriented who luqcan decide what they what to learn.
• Students in one class have their own learning plans, timetables and homework.
• A child could learn the math of 5th grade in the morning, and learn the language arts of 3rd grade in the morning.
• This school has raised one hundred million US dollars financing from Zurkerberg and Jobs’s widow this May.
• The school enrollment rate is 17:1, which only 200 students are accepted from 3500 applicants.
• Ipad and wearble device are used for signing in, exams and homework in this school.
There are also some other things you would feel uncomfortable:
Teacher will shoot playback and record students’ performance during the class to find out whether students really understand the knowledge based on the research that a person will show different looks and eye’s expressions when they understand one thing or not.
Right now you may believe that this school could be quite advanced. However, it is just a grey two-floor building at the side of the street.
Without the sign, it is hard to differentiate the school from other shops. However, it is still the coolest primary school in Silicon Valley.
‘Far-sighted ‘could be more proper word to express this school, which this school create the future. Till now, you may guess this school is AltSchool ,the most watched school in Silicon Valley.
Last week, Max Ventilla, the founder of AltSchool accepted an exclusive interview with the journalist of PingWest after GMIC in Silicon Valley.
The first sight of Max, 35 year-old man is quite warm. He likes to talk more about the interesting stories about his family. Following is the interview:
PingWest: Could you instroduce yourself and AltSchool?
I was one member of Google + initial team. Before leaving from the company, I worked as the management in the personalized department of Google.
My wife and I have two children. One is 4-year old, the other is 2-year old. They like to play in my school although they are in pre-school age. I am very happy that I have not sacrificed my family relation for setting up my business, which I could still see my children wake up and go to bed in my busy workday.
I started AltSchool in 2013. Now it has eight branches in America. AltSchool tries to redefine America’s education system and introduce the student-oriented education model. At the very beginning of the setting up, we also use the technology methods in the teaching management.
I believe that AltSchool=Education+Design+Engineering+Entreprenevership
PingWest: What inspired you to create such a kind of primary school?
If education could not catch up the development of technology and times, when this generation grew up, they could not get acclimatized the society at that time.
To solve that, it needs to overthrow and redefine the education system for cultivating the better talents. It fortunately is not so hard to set up a private primary school in USA.
PingWest: As you said, AltSchool is to cultivate talents who are suitable for the future society , so what kind of talent should the future talents should possess ?
People will face more opportunities and choices in 2030, but no one will tell them how to choose or what to do, they need to find answers by themselves.
In the current educational system, students didn’t have the opportunity to exercise the ability to choose by themselves until they entered the university, but it's too late.
On the idea of AltSchool , Children should understand that "people should not just do things which were asked by others, but know how to choose to do things they want." We also guide them to learn to understand their interests and needs on their early age so that they can choose what they want to learn.
PingWest: Why the school was named AltSchool?
Alt is the abbreviation of alternatives, representing Redefining school education. Alt- means “old”, means getting rid of the old education system. In addition, I want to continue the convention beginning with A. My previous start-up companies are all begin with A.
PingWest: What is the biggest difference between this school and others?
We also learn the contents required by The syllabus of normal primary schools, but what we highlight is to teach students in accordance of their aptitude.
First of all, engineers make electronic teaching platform My.AltSchool. Teachers will talk to every student every week and make learning plan of next week in students’ Individual My.AltSchool account by learning their interests and strengths and weaknesses. Scilicet 25 new task card (Playlists). Students view the tasks with the iPad, submit documents or photos online after accomplishing tasks. According to students' completion, teachers can do individual coaching and emphasize individual weaknesses when they make task card next time.
Of course, if a student learns quickly on a particular subject, we do not want him to be with other kids to waste his time. He will study the subject with the seniors, but he will learn other disciplines with his peers. Strictly speaking, we do not have traditional division of classes, we just bring students together who have the same schedule and interests in teaching process.
Secondly, we offer students a large number of elective courses, including science and technology, literature, hands, and even simple programming classes, and students can choose the first course every morning and the last course every afternoon according to their interests. The number of students in each class is few so teachers can focus on the interest of each child entirely.
Thirdly, we also ask students to take some courses by reference to the needs of parents, such as learning Chinese or Spain language as second language. But we are against the behavior that parents ask their 5-year-olds child to learn the knowledge of 10 years old.
PingWest: Why a primary school hires so many engineers? What kind of support they provide?
Engineers built and continue to improve My.AltSchool platform and create more teaching tools to support teaching.
In addition, parents can also directly communicate with the teacher via online platform.
More importantly, with the platform and tools being improved, recording enough data and methods of educating, other schools can directly copy our model as long as we share this platform to them in the future.
PingWest: In the future, what do you expect AltSchool to become？ What expectations do you have about it?
I have a trilogy development plan.
First of all, AltSchool should do own innovation, and open more campuses in more cities. According to the current rate, the number of schools can be doubled every year. We now have eight schools (6 in San Francisco , 1 in Palo Alto , the last one in Brooklyn, New York). We have 330 students totally. I expect we will have 16 schools, 600 students at least next year.
Secondly, we hope more other schools can cooperate with us and open access of My.AltSchool platform and teaching tools to other schools for promoting educational reform in their schools.
Last but not least, I hope this new educational ecosystem can be formed after a few decades and American schools can provide students with individualized educational plans.