Can students in any grade and any school create exceptional work that inspires others and impacts their communities? Can they accomplish these lofty goals while also meeting academic standards? Should education enable students to create something valuable, something more than a project for a grade?
The answer is yes! If you would like to see examples of exemplary projects created by students, then I encourage you to explore Expeditionary Learning’s Center for Student Work. From a book about the universe developed by fourth graders to a community resource guide created by middle schoolers to a cookbook designed by high school students, this website includes a variety of projects spanning all grade levels and all subjects.
I have had the opportunity to see many of these projects in person as well as on the website, and I have never been more inspired by student work. These projects serve as a wonderful reminder that high expectations for students do not need to be limited to high achievement on tests; high expectations for students, as well as for adults, should be about creating quality work that somehow inspires or helps other people.
Is this an idealistic view of education? Yes. But these projects prove that sometimes reality can meet our ideals, if we only give students the chance.