The School of the Future is here

With a big handout from Microsoft, The School of the Future is melding new teaching methods with the latest technology all wrapped up in a environmentally groovy building.

The fact that Philadelphia has a new high school is news that wouldn't normally make it beyond the local news, but this school called, "The School of the Future" is eschewing traditional forms of teaching and embracing all things high-tech reports Reuters.

With a big handout from Microsoft, The School of the Future is melding new teaching methods with the latest technology all wrapped up in a environmentally groovy building. Fifteen hundred students applied and 170 were selected by a lottery. There are no exams to get in. The school district draws from the West Philadelphia area where is 95 percent of the students are black, and about 85 percent come from low-income households, the school district said.

The building has natural lighting, windows made of photovoltaic glass that generates some of the building's power supply, and cabinets made from trees removed from the site during construction, officials said. The school curriculum is self-paced. Homework is done on computer and sent to the teacher for grading, and can be accessed by parents. Principal Shirley Grover said in an interview that kids needs critical thinking skills to succeed in the 21st century.

"It's not about memorizing certain algebraic equations and then regurgitating them in a test," Grover said. "It's about thinking how math might be used to solve a quality-of-water problem or how it might be used to determine whether or not we are safe in Philadelphia from the avian flu."
Microsoft was closely involved in the planning of the school, as well providing the technology.
"We have a vested interest because we need to hire the kids who are graduating, and we want to make sure we have created a blueprint that other folks will be able to use," said Mary Cullinane, group manager for the company's Partners in Learning program and the school's "technology architect."