How are we doing on this list of “skills and values that will be necessary for students to succeed and prosper in these turbulent and ever-changing times?” (from Pat Bassett’s conflation of six resources as cited in “An Education President for the 21st Century,” Patrick F. Bassett, Independent School, Fall, 2008)
- character (self-discipline, empathy, integrity, resilience, and courage);
- creativity and entrepreneurial spirit;
- real-world problem-solving (filtering, analysis, and synthesis);
- public speaking/communications;
- teaming; and
Thinking about how to show demonstrable evidence of OUTCOMES for #2, 3, 4, and 6 – for ALL students, not just those enrolled in certain electives – causes me to pause and seriously consider designing for process over product. I also wonder about those schools or other experiences that are really playing matchmaker between world issues and adolescent energy.
How do you think schools are doing on this list? What are the exemplar schools that provide great models for ways to help such development happen? What are some exemplar models from other industries and organizations?
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Your post got me thinking about the increasing emphasis on collaboration in schools. You cite Bassett’s list from 2008 (#5 teaming), which he reaffirms in a recent blog post “On Collaboration,” stating “our kids realize that when we are doing serious academic and intellectual and scientific and conceptual work of any kind, we have to be able to function as an academic, or intellectual, or scientific, or conceptual, team.” http://tinyurl.com/cuh3egl
When I read his post last week, I nodded my head in agreement, but on further reflection I wonder if we aren’t going to tack too far right on this one. I’m presently reading Susan Cain’s book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” in which she theorizes that forced collaboration stands in the way of innovation. She states, “Extroverts are more likely to take a quick-and-dirty approach to problem-solving, trading accuracy for speed, making increasing numbers of mistakes as they go, and abandoning ship altogether when the problem seems too difficult or frustrating. Introverts think before they act, digest information thoroughly, stay on task longer, give up less easily, and work more accurately.” The question, to me, is how do we honor the introvert in a team or a collaborative exercise. Too often in schools the extrovert controls the conversation.
Thank you so much for your comment. It’s been awhile since we traded messages, and I hope we’ll be in touch more with each other. I am very excited that you are editing for #Edu180Atl.
If you have not listened to TED Radio Hour’s “Where Ideas Come From,” I would highly recommend it: http://www.npr.org/2012/06/06/154448804/where-ideas-come-from Susan Cain is one of the speakers interviewed, and I think the synthesis of the show provides a good yin-yang of the introvert-extrovert discussion of idea formation and execution. From reading Susan’s work and devouring what I can find of her interviews (Dan Pink did a nice radio show interview of her, too), I think she is a strong believer in collaboration. However, I think she believes the recipes and formulas for great innovation and implementation involve a balance of alone-work and together-work. I think she is appropriately reacting to the collaboration-to-the-max syndrome in some place, which I am against, too. I am deeply introverted, and I value the balance of individual thinking and group swirling.
I think we educators should design processes that allow for time and space in both individual flow and group synergizing.
I completely agree that schools overly lean to the extroverts, and I am a huge fan of back-channeling and other methods to encourage “quiet” participation. I think brain writing and blogging can help support this emerging voice as well.
Your point is well taken about the list, though. Perhaps the “teaming” should be partnered with introspection, reflection, individual thinking, etc. Not the right word proposed here, but I do like the potential of such a yin-yang, revised list. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi used such description in this article about “The Creative Personality” http://www.psychologytoday.com/print/21439.
Thanks again for commenting. I always love to read your writing and thinking. You have a wonderfully developed gift for expressing your thoughts.
Great anchors for reflection, Bo: thank you. I don’t have a school in mind as an exemplar — though certainly we and many other schools are wrestling with these questions — but I can’t help but think about Nikhil Goyal (@TalkPolitical), a 17 year old high school student at Syosset HS in NY. When it comes to creativity and entrepreneurial spirit; real-world problem-solving; public speaking/communication, and leadership, young Mr. Goyal himself serves as a great example of a highly able learner. He has been writing prolifically via the Huffington Post, Education Nation, and more; has spoken recently at TEDxCibeles and in other forums; and has a book coming out this fall (One Size Does Not Fit All), his student’s perspective on the shortcomings of traditional educational models and a call for transformation. You may have seen him recently on any number of TV interviews abou the book…
Part of me wonders whether Syosset HS is worth investigating in the context of your inquiry, to beg the question of what (if anything) in their educational program and learning environment fostered his willingness and capacity to inquire. Part of me wonders if he, and a number of other students who seem to have come from that environment with like-minded commitments, are ‘rogue agents.’ In any case, I am certain that he and like-minded student activists and learning innovators are key to our leadership-level understanding of effective learning in all of these domains. (And I am also, privately, fascinated by their willingness to think critically and bravely about the single institution that most impacts their lives, in which they are immersed and by which they are influenced for most of their waking hours–this, despite our reticence sometimes to invite young learners into that collective inquiry.)
Nikhil Goyal can be followed on Twitter at @TalkPolitical; he blogs at nikhilgoyal.me.
Thanks, Chris! I so appreciate the comment. While I was aware of Goyal, I had not yet followed him on Twitter or his blog, so your comment spurred me to do that. I’ve also spent an initial half hour studying Syosset, and I am intrigued by the story that their website tells and the wondering in your comment here if they are facilitating the active learning of many young people like Goyal. Is he the norm or the exception, so to speak? I am curious if he sees his own school as a model for what could be or as more of an example of what he is advocating to change. I noticed he cited Gever’s school Brightworks in one of his initial blog posts. I follow Brightworks, too, and Gever and I are good friends. So I am weighing the spectrum possibilities for “schools of the future” in Goyal’s terms. I hope I get to chat with him soon. I admire and respect and support his strong voice in this educational-landscape discussion, and I am thrilled that a student learner is getting so much voice attention.
Thanks again for your comment – I so appreciate your co-thinking on all of these heady issues!
As for Syosset’s learning environment and culture, I’d be talking out of my @r$e if I alleged to know too much more. I suspect, with you, from various messages on the school’s site and general conversation with NG, that the strength of NG’s voice comes from a fire that burns within, but that it must be sustained and cultivated in the community (if only because it hasn’t been ‘shut down’) and ideally in the culture of learning at the school. I note too that Josh Lafazan was just elected to the Syosset school district’s board–while still a senior at Syosset HS. So if nothing else–and I’m confident there’s much ‘else’–there’s something in the NY water that makes not only for great bagels and pizza crusts, but also for passionate representations of #StuVoice.