Articles + Research

How One School Implemented Authentic Agile Education

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

Introducing authentic agile patterns and practices in education is a balancing act. The instructor has to:

  • Balance textbook learning with real-life applications.

  • Manage the tensions between assessing individuals to meet the requirements of traditional schooling and assessing the value created by teams.

The Darrow School, a coed boarding school in Columbia County, New York, offers a perfect case study.

Young Founders Program

The Darrow School's Young Founders Program (YFP) helps students from diverse backgrounds learn Agile and apply it to real-world contexts and markets. The program was a year-long residential program based on campus. The goal of the program was to test the viability of teaching Agile tools and practices as authentically as possible. In other words, teaching with the least amount of interference from school structures and mindsets that are not compatible with Agile. The students in the program were recent high school graduates who were headed to college or into the workforce and wanted to a Postgraduate Year or gap year program before taking the next step in their education or vocational path.

First, the students received instruction in Agile patterns and practices while they decided what their Young Founders Project was going to be. The project needed to meet the needs of a specific target market or population, as discovered through Jobs To Be Done interviewing and more general consumer insight gathering interviews.

Next, the students learned the Scrum framework via direct instruction in a week. Each student then served as the Product Owner for their project and learned how to be effective in that role as they worked to bring their product or