Andover: Old School, New Ideas
A 65th class reunion June 10-11 has prompted the production of a film, aside from reporting on the reunion, that will narrate the enormous changes occurring in high school education in the years since 1951. Click on this link to see the 7-minute preview of that film:
The class of ’51 meets at Phillips Academy, Andover for its 65th class reunion. Many have already passed away, but the joy of seeing old friends, visiting old places, supersedes any sorrow, and the alumni come, eager to see how things are at the old school.
Very quickly, the alums are tossed into the reality of what the school is today, how it has changed from the old days. Co-ed dorms. Fantastic facilities in all areas, from new sports fields and arenas –to, what really overwhelms the alums, the great changes in educational facilities AND practices. A revolution has occurred, and not noted often enough…
The students are still burdened with great amounts of homework, BUT now new challenges and opportunities are available unheard of and undreamed of back in 1951. The scholastic challenge is symbolized by the newly created Tang Institute – a school-based center designed to encourage students to undertake great experimentation, with funds provided by the center for students to seize global opportunities, to study matters of particular interest to the individual, either here or abroad. Teachers too are encouraged to dream a dream and seek to make it a teaching reality. The most modern facilities offering the most modern means of communication are available for all to use – distance learning, language labs – whatever, are all now available to the undergrad as well as the teacher.
But what will impress any reunion class is what is offered to the students in what they call “The Nest”, a learning space dedicated within the Oliver Wendell Holmes school library. There students are encouraged and helped to work with some of the most advanced technological tools.
This is hands-on application of the most modern of systems, to produce a positive outcome. In this case a specific project is designed to help a peer of the Andover students living thousands of miles away in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia. He lost his leg when he was a young boy and has been hobbled and crippled ever since. This project just might give him new hope – not fomented by a government bureaucracy or using tax payer funds. But funds privately raised within the Andover community, and young students who on their own have gained the incredibly complex technical knowledge making such dreams possible. All on their own. No test, no required reading – “You are on your own” they are told. You may use school facilities, and you might find people both within the Andover community as well as outside it, who will give advice and help. But that’s all.
So the students ask themselves: can he be fitted with a foot, using a 3D printer? This is a typical challenge MANY experts around the world are struggling with. And now so are the bright young students at Andover. They are reaching out to private sector developers in the US, to academic institutions here and abroad, to find a way to respond to the challenge. They tentatively plan a trip to Mongolia to witness first hand the challenges and needs of the individual. In a sense, this is a person-to-person individual foreign aid program – only it is not run by large bureaucracies, government agencies, and full blown adults. It is run by bright young people with a vision and a drive.
It is being done by high school students… the class of ’51 is overwhelmed and pledges support. Few things are more inspiring than what this young generation of students are doing. Instead of despair and hopelessness, there is optimism and enthusiasm for the future. In fact, the plan has already evolved to the point where the establishment of a 3D printing facility may be created in Mongolia, a nation with no serious prosthetic device production facility – yet with over 10,000 people lacking limbs as a result of their hard existence as nomads in the remote regions of the country. Communications have already taken place with entrepreneurs in the US and Mongolia.
The old folk of the class of ’51 are re-energized. With this generation coming up, there is reason for optimism for the world and for the future.
One often hears how Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard after two years to go out and do great things.
These kids are 2-3 years younger … What a future, with young people such as these doing the planning ….!
That will be a principal theme of the film. While reporting on the events of the reunion, it will also explore all that is happening in modern education, the enthusiasm and positive accomplishments of today’s youth. It shows that that the world is OK and is going to be in good hands. These are some of the things the class of 1951 will have observed during their stay….