What Michigan schools can learn from craft beer

Luke Wilcox teaches math at the most diverse high school in Michigan. East Kentwood High School, south of Grand Rapids, has students born in more than 50 different countries. Yet teachers are expected to teach and measure academic success in the same way for every student.

That strikes Wilcox, the outgoing Michigan Teacher of the Year, as an approach doomed to leave some kids behind. That’s what was happening at Kentwood, which was in the bottom 4th percent of schools in Michigan in 2012.

By 2016, the school had climbed to the 49th percentile.

How’d the school do it?

“We stopped trying to produce Budweiser, and instead, started to think about how we could make … Oberon,” Wilcox said.

“Think about what has happened in the beer industry in the last 10 years,” Wilcox said, “and there’s been a huge transformation away from model that one-size-fits-all, to unique ingredients that are put into these craft brews.

“We can think of ourselves as craft brewers in the classroom, cultivating these unique individuals who come into our classrooms,” Wilcox said.

It’s an interesting idea, for a guy who doesn’t drink.

Let Wilcox explain in his popular TED Talk.

Related: Michigan’s top teacher on Betsy DeVos, school shootings and testing

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Barry Visel
Wed, 06/13/2018 - 9:29am

Special Ed students have IEP’s (Individual Education Plans). I’ve often wondered why all students don’t have IEP’s. Related to IEP’s is the notion that regular progress through a K-12 step process is no longer relevant.

ps, I drink craft beer, and this analogy is perfect!

Dr. Richard Zeile
Mon, 06/18/2018 - 10:40am

Way to relate to the rank & file, Luke!