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What does it mean to be a graduate?

Session 1
Matthew Riggan — The Workshop School

What should it mean to graduate from high school? What type of work should it require? How will we know when students have gotten over the bar? To whom should it matter?

In this conversation, I am going to convince you that high school graduation requirements are the Most Interesting Topic in the World.

The conversation will be both philosophical and practical. To imagine a graduate is to define what we want from schools themselves. But it's also to get into questions of what can be taught and learned, what work should look like, and how performance and progress should be measured.

This is not a hypothetical conversation. In Philadelphia and elsewhere, the opportunity to fundamentally rethink graduation requirements (and thus the high school experience itself) has never been greater. Changing the yardstick we use to define and measure graduates (and thus schools) can open the door to whole new ways of designing secondary education experiences.

We'll begin with the big ideas, but quickly transition to ideas and examples of what they look like in practice. Think a high school graduate should be an informed citizen? Awesome! How do you think they should demonstrate that? (Hint: THE ANSWER IS NOT A CIVICS EXAM.)

By the end of our conversation, I hope you'll have had the chance to step back and think big, but also developed a sense of the possibilities for real, tangible change in the schools or systems in which you work.

Conversational Practice

This conversation will be part soul searching, part freewheeling discussion (with active participation for the brilliant introverts among us), part brain dump, and part design workshop. I hope you'll bring your ideas, insights, tools and tricks, wisdom and experience to our collective work.

Once we get clear about the important or essential qualities we're looking for in our high school graduates, we'll get a head start on framing out how we'd operationalize those things in our reimagined requirements. We'll use existing tools and practices where we can, and dream up new ones where we need to.

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