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Engaging Minds. Building Futures. 

Upper School Blog


Real Work for the Real World

May 05, 2023
By Meredith Williams, Upper School Head

In a world of Google and Alexa, ChatGPT, and Instagram, our learners are awash in information. Yet we know that simply having access to information isn’t enough to complete the types of tasks presented in the “real world.”  

Authentic work of the “real world” is far more complex than most typical school assignments like single-content worksheets or multiple choice assessments. Authentic work requires application of knowledge across multiple subject areas while employing skills like creativity, critical deduction, and persistence.

The boredom battle

The disconnect between the work students experience in school and the work they see in the “real world” is correlated to the staggering numbers of students reporting they are bored in school.  

According to editors of Harvard Business Publishing: “Students are increasingly finding educational value from other resources and questioning the gap between what is taught in classrooms and what they need to learn to excel in the real world.”

The real deal

At the SA Upper School, we want to change students’ relationship with their work, to think and interact with content and their community in a meaningful, authentic way.  

The SA downtown, place-based design immerses students in the community. Their schoolwork becomes solving real-world challenges, and students are accompanied by outstanding educators who help them learn and reflect deeply. In short, our students engage with their world not tomorrow, but NOW.

Benefits abound

The engagement from place-based education offers many student benefits beyond engagement including:
* Increased academic achievement
* Developing students’ ties to their community
* A heightened commitment to serving as active, contributing citizens

By doing real work as an integral part of their Upper School education, SA students are becoming the citizens the world needs for tomorrow.

Find examples of other place-based models and their documented successes here