Discipline: Professional Resources

Copyright: 2013

Grade(s): 9 - 12

Delivery Method: Print

Imprint: Heinemann

Author(s): Elliot Washor, Charles Mojkowski

Leaving to Learn: How Out-of-School Learning Increases Student Engagement and Reduces Dropout Rates

“We have a bold strategy for revitalizing schools and for graduating and preparing young people for success in their future learning and work.  This “leaving to learn” strategy is driven by our image of that future.  Our goal is not merely to graduate every student but to prepare graduates who are uncommonly ready for success in their workplaces and their communities.”

—Elliot Washor and Charles Mojkowski

 It’s an alarming fact:  in the U.S., one student drops out of school every 12 seconds.  Elliot Washor and Charles Mojkowski, both of Big Picture Learning, have a proven, innovative solution for stemming the flow of drop-outs and breaking the cycle of disengagement that leads up to it.  It’s called leaving to learn.  Leaving to Learn helps us deeply understand the real reasons kids drop out and the essential conditions for productive learning that today’s adolescents require.  The authors then make a compelling argument: in order to retain students through to graduation, schools must offer experiences where students do some of their learning outside of school.

With common sense “rules of the road,” the authors offer nuts and bolts guidelines for implementing a high-quality Leaving to Learn program, including:

  • examples of the many forms of out-of-school learning: internships, travel, community service, independent projects, and more
  • seamlessly integrating students’ outside learning with in-school curriculum
  • assigning academic credit for out-of-school accomplishments.

Isn’t it time to try more innovative ways to address the challenges of our nation’s dropout rate? We can keep kids in school and prepare them for life after graduation by delivering authentic learning experiences that matter to them.  The first step is taking down the barriers between school and the outside world.  The first step is letting them leave, to learn.