Learning Cannot Be Contained – One Student’s Vision for the HS of the Future

by Daniel Smelansky

High school education has been traditionally tethered to a single room, with one teacher and a group of students. However, in the modern age, there is no reason for such traditional learning. Education should go far beyond classrooms, both physically and conceptually, and in a resource filled city like Boston there is no excuse to keep learning trapped within four walls. This idea was the driving message behind my poster design for Youth Designers Take Action Competition (YDTA) 2015.

IMG_2418This year’s YDTA competition assignment was to re-imagine Boston High Schools and create a PSA, echoing the current local and national dialogue around high school education. After participating in an interactive workshop facilitated by Cause Consulting, myself and my peers were coached on how to create and pair social impact messaging with design. In creating my design I went through several iterations and aesthetics, however I settled on the dark color scheme and dramatic imagery as a way to exaggerate and emphasize how vital it is to get students outside of the classroom. It’s not to say that classrooms are literally jail cells where the mind cannot thrive, but too much of anything is a bad thing. Students would benefit much more from a comprehensive education that combined classroom learning and discussions with hands on experiences in places around the city. I borrowed elements from old propaganda posters in my design to suggest the ideas of revolution and collective efforts towards social improvement, as well as a sense of urgency.

Youth Designers Take Action Competition 2015 - Daniel Smelansky

For my design, I wanted to express the desire that students have for knowledge and the restrictive nature of the classroom. My poster is targeted at school administrators because I feel they are the ones with the power to create real change. My hope is for them to understand that when school is repetitive and detached from the outside world, it becomes hard to understand the reason behind learning the content. This is why many students don’t pay attention or decide to not do school work. If schools brought students into new environments and exposed them to resources that were available in their own city, the content would immediately become much more relevant and engaging.

In addition to the support from the Cause Consulting team this summer, we were extremely fortunate to connect our work with Boston’s Chief of Education, Rahn Dorsey, during his High School Redesign initiative (@EducateBOS #HSReD). Being heard by someone who has the power to make your vision a reality doesn’t happen very often, and that’s why the YDTA Competition is such an amazing opportunity.IMG_2030 It seems obvious to me that when thinking about education reform, student voices should be at the forefront of the conversation. Unfortunately, it feels as though many decisions are made with little input directly from students as to what they think would benefit their learning experience the most. After this summer, it is refreshing to see people in power in Boston taking steps in the right direction by creating a dialogue that strengthens the connection between youth, education and improving our city. I look forward to continuing to take part in the conversation with Mr. Dorsey and the city of Boston and contributing my designs for the High School of the future.

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