“The tyranny of the curriculum” #TEDx @ThinkThankThunk

An extraordinary 17 minutes about the intersections of 1) our personal interests and passions, 2) the “interdisciplinarity” of life, and 3) the world as external audience looking for an improved world.

Well…no, that’s not exactly right. It’s really about widening and deepening the options of school so that “school” is more well aligned with what life beyond school demands of us and the leaders we need.

And Shawn wonderfully wants it to be ordinary. Not “extraordinary.”

Go BIG!

HT @occam98 (THANK YOU!)

PROCESS POST: “Observe!” “Explore!” “Question!” as Homework

Last night, when I got home from an evening meeting, my nine-year-old, “PJ,” was incredibly excited. PJ, his younger brother, JT, and a friend of theirs next door had collected flowers during their afternoon playtime.

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PJ described to me, with great detail and enthusiasm, the shapes of the petals, the location of the flowers in the surrounding neighborhood, the apparent similarities and differences among different plants of the same species, the colors of the blooms and the insect activity around the flowers. He explained their exploration strategy, and he told me how they organized the flowers in different ways and searched for examples of flowers that would fill and complete certain categories of their organizational schema.

PJ talked for 12-15 minutes non-stop about the exploration. He had been mesmerized by his discoveries, motivated by his own sense of curiosity and momentary trying-on of amateur botanist.

What if this were “Homework?” And I don’t mean an assignment from a teacher that reads: “Go out in your yard and neighborhood and find flowers. Categorize them by features x, y, and z. Write a report about your discoveries.”

I mean this kind of assignment: “Go. Explore. Observe. Question. Be ready tomorrow to tell us what you discovered!”

Can you imagine the habits of mind that could be nurtured with such structured freedom and invitation to practice the Innovator’s DNA traits (observe, question, experiment, network, and associate) over time?

Some days, I imagine children might return to school the next day without something to report. But they would hear their friends and classmates report, and there would grow this communal “pressure” and encouragement to explore, discover, and bring in stories. Connections and associations would arise. Experiments could be proposed and designed to test hypotheses. Data could be collected. Engineering and design could emerge. Threads of history and lenses of various other disciplines would be woven together in more natural ways.

Your Homework: Go. Explore. Observe. Question.

Curiosity, Control, and Caring. #fsbl and Bran Ferren’s TED talk on Pantheon miracles.

The best passionate pursuits of learning always seem to begin with exploring, observing, questioning, and being curious. This is why we started #fsbl – “father-son-based learning” – in my family.

As I listened to “Bran Ferren: To create for the ages, let’s combine art and engineering,” I smiled almost continuously throughout the talk because I pictured Ferren on an #fsbl adventure that started with raids of electronics piles, trips to science museums, and a mesmerizing visit to the Pantheon. And his adventure is still going.

Ferren’s curiosity was allowed to flourish as he was granted a high degree of control over his explorations and observations. And from such foundations of his surrounding adults’ pedagogies (and parenting), he developed deep caring for what he was discovering and learning. From these depths of curiosity, control, and caring, Ferren maintained the persistence and intrinsic motivation that nurtures his continuous inquiry, innovation, and impact.

If there is a “formula” for passionate pursuit of learning and difference making in this world, then I believe this is darn close to it!

Curiosity Tap Root @boadams1

 

RELATED POST: “Could there actually be one ‘C’ to rule them all?!”

If school is supposed to prepare students for real life, then why doesn’t it look more like real life?

If school is supposed to prepare students for real life,
then why doesn’t school look more like real life?

For more than a decade, this question has lived at the heart of my research and practice as a professional educator. While I worked at Unboundary, we created a Brain Food devoted to exploring this question.

A number of educators and school transformation agents connect to this question through an entire branch of educational practice known as “authentic learning.” At the end of January, #EdChat Radio featured the topic of authentic learning on an episode. And Dr. Brett Jacobsen, of Mount Vernon Presbyterian School and the Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation (where I work), recently interviewed Dr. Yong Zhao for his podcast “Design Movement,” and much of their conversation connects with this topic of authentic learning.

Given the habits formed by decades of industrial-age, delivery-based pedagogy, though, educators must explore and experiment with different structures in order to make room for more authentic learning – learning that is meant to serve a greater purpose than only a grade in a grade book and a future locker-clean-out session in late May or early June.

Exploring such new structures can be challenging for schools. In fact, some structures point to entirely different paradigms for schools – like “giving an education” rather than getting an education, taking a course, or whadya-get-on-that-test assessment.

Some school people imagine such paradigm shifts would lack structure – that it would be too free form, loosey-goosey, or soft-skills heavy. This is really a false set up for thinking about the structural-shift needs of schools in transformation. How “loosey-goosey, really, is your project work and real-world problem solving in your career and life?

As Tony Wagner says in Creating Innovators, it’s not a choice between structure and no structure to allow for more authentic learning. It’s a choice to build a different structure for School 3.0 – one that allows for student-learners to explore their passions and real-world purposes while engaged in challenges that exist in the world and yearn to be defined and solved. Structures that empower learners to engage in more authentic learning flows.

Creating Innovators - Structure

But how do educators make such shifts and create different structures? I believe one way we do this is to explore avenues and portals to empower students to engage in real-world problem solving. Instead of only organizing the curriculum – the track of learning – around subject-siloed disciplines, at least part of the curriculum could be organized around exploring and venturing into authentic, real-world problem solving as organizers of product-and-process-oriented work.

In my own life and work, I’ve explored opening such portals through #fsbl and #Synergy. Much of this work involves immersing oneself and other learners into the Innovator’s DNA traits – observe, question, experiment, network, and associate – through the methodology of observation journaling and curiosity-curated curriculum.

Of course, other ways exist to open those portals and explore into those worlds of authentic learning and real-life problem solving. Here are but a few inspirations and possible ways in…

#GoExplore

Resources for engaging in real-life solution seeking:

Open IDEO
http://www.openideo.com/

Open IDEO is an open innovation platform for social good. We’re a global community that draws upon the optimism, inspiration, ideas and opinions of everyone to solve problems together.

http://www.openideo.com/content/how-it-works

NPR – All Tech Considered: Innovation
http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/195149875/innovation

An exploration of interesting ideas that solve problems, introduce new experiences or even change our world.

Do Something
http://www.dosomething.org/

DoSomething.org is the country’s largest not-for-profit for young people and social change. We have 2,439,780 members (and counting!) who kick ass on causes they care about. Bullying. Animal cruelty. Homelessness. Cancer. The list goes on. DoSomething.org spearheads national campaigns so 13- to 25-year-olds can make an impact – without ever needing money, an adult, or a car. Over 2.4 million people took action through DoSomething.org in 2012.

http://www.dosomething.org/about

Choose2Matter
http://choose2matter.org/

Choose2Matter is a call to leadership and an accelerator to connect individuals and communities with a conscience. It combines technology, innovation and mentorship to solve problems that matter. It’s an important opportunity for business, brands, and communities to join forces in the causes and issues most important to those they lead and serve.

What has been inspired by students, has led to the official launch and creation ofCHOOSE2MATTER – a crowd sourced, social good community.

http://choose2matter.org/about/our-history

50 Problems in 50 Days
http://50problems50days.com/

I’m on an adventure – to explore the limits of design’s ability to solve social problems, big and small. To do this I attempted to solve 50 problems in 50 daysusing design. I also spent time with 12 of Europe’s top design firms.

Peter Smart

Innocentive
http://www.innocentive.com/

InnoCentive is the global leader in crowdsourcing innovation problems to the world’s smartest people who compete to provide ideas and solutions to important business, social, policy, scientific, and technical challenges.

http://www.innocentive.com/about-innocentive

TED Prize
http://www.ted.com/prize

The TED Prize is awarded to an extraordinary individual with a creative and bold vision to spark global change. By leveraging the TED community’s resources and investing $1 million dollars into a powerful idea, the TED Prize supports one wish to inspire the world.

Ideas for Ideas
http://www.ideasforideas.com/

Introskabelon-for-web

McKenna Pope made a dent.

McKenna Pope made a dent – when she was 13 years old.

I wonder if she was given any transcript-like credit for a social studies course, or for a persuasive communications “project” in an English class. Or maybe for statistics.

#RealWorldEd