A piece of “why:” weaving together three strands of a strong rope for engaging school change

Strand #1: Tony Wagner as cited in the National Association of Independent School’s 21st Century Imperative…

Tony Wagner from the Harvard Graduate School of Education interviewed over 600 CEOs, asking them the same essential question: “Which qualities will our graduates need in the 21st century for success in college, careers, and citizenship?”

Wagner’s list of Seven Survival Skills is a distillation of the outcomes of these hundreds of interviews and adds validity to the case we are making. They are:

  • Critical Thinking and Problem-solving
  • Collaboration Across Networks and Leading By Influence
  • Agility and Adaptability
  • Initiative and Entrepreneurship
  • Effective Oral and Written Communication
  • Accessing and Analyzing Information
  • Curiosity and Imagination

 The World Has Changed

In The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don’t Teach The New Survival Skills Our Children Need – and What We Can Do About It, Tony Wagner argues that “in today’s competitive global ‘knowledge economy,’ all students need new skills for college, careers, and citizenship. The failure to give all students these new skills leaves today’s youth – and our country – at an alarming competitive disadvantage. Schools haven’t changed; the world has. And so our schools are not failing. Rather, they are obsolete – even the ones that score best on standardized tests. This is a very different problem requiring an altogether different solution.”

[from NAIS COA “A Guide to Becoming a School of the Future”]

Strand #2: Seth Godin – “Stop Stealing Dreams”

6. Changing what we get, because we’ve changed what we need

If school’s function is to create the workers we need to fuel our economy, we need to change school, because the workers we need have changed as well.

The mission used to be to create homogenized, obedient, satisfied workers and pliant, eager consumers.

No longer.

Changing school doesn’t involve sharpening the pencil we’ve already got. School reform cannot succeed if it focuses on getting schools to do a better job of what we previously asked them to do. We don’t need more of what schools produce when they’re working as designed. The challenge, then, is to change the very output of the school before we start spending even more time and money improving the performance of the school.

[from Seth Godin “Stop Stealing Dreams”]

Strand #3: Sir Ken Robinson – “RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms

NOTE: I highly recommend studying all three of these resources in great depth. Of course, there are countless related resources, as well. ANd there are more pieces to the “why,” such as brain research, technology advancements, world conditions, etc. But if a faculty would commit to studying these three resources as a think tank of sorts, I believe that a group of committed thinkers and doers could reveal and experiment with many of the “whats” and “hows” to make this transformation in education.


Works Cited:

Godin, Seth. “Stop Stealing Dreams: (what is school for?).” http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/docs/StopStealingDreamsSCREEN.pdf.

Robinson, Ken. “RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U.

Witt, Robert and Jean Orvis. “A Guide to Becoming a School of the Future.” National Association of Independent Schools. 2010. http://www.nais.org/files/PDFs/NAISCOASchools.pdf.


[“A piece of ‘why,'” A piece of ‘what,'” and A piece of ‘how'” are strands of a series on why school needs to change, what about school needs to change, and how schools might navigate the change.]

Being curious about the past, present, and future of our species…and, of course, what this means for “school”

On one of my morning walks this week, I listened to a How Stuff Works: Stuff You Should Know podcast about time travel. I was struck by the sci-fi idea of altering the future by traveling to the past. [Brief aside…I don’t really think such is possible. But I was amazed that the idea popped back into my head when I watched a TED talk today: Juan Enriquez: Will our kids be a different species?]

Enriquez weaves together a number of historical-scientific developments and innovations that have serious implications for our future as a species. Of course, such makes me think about the evolution of schooling and education. I wondered if we should be fast-prototyping education so that we can prevent what Enriquez presents, or if we should do so to accelerate what Enriquez predicts, or if we just resign ourselves that school is school and somebody else will figure all this stuff out.

Murmurations on Schools of the Future #WhatIfWeekly

Openness. Schools that embrace it and welcome it will thrive. Schools that resist it or imagine that they can control it will struggle significantly.

In sequel to yesterday’s post, I offer this #MustWatch TED Talk by Don Tapscott. Brilliant! In 17 minutes, Tapscott summarizes the essential path points to thriving as a school of the future:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Transparency
  3. Sharing
  4. Empowerment

From the admin to the teachers, from the students to the parents…from the interior to the exterior, from the past to the future – the four principles above will define the schools of the future and the future of schools.

If you are serious about enhancing and improving education and school, watch Don Tapscott’s TED. Be a part of, not apart from, the murmuration.

What if our schools adopted and engaged with open source, makers, etc.? #WhatIfWeekly

The thing we call “School” is in a state of change. Not too long ago, school was pretty much the “campfire” around which a community would gather to spread knowledge and know-how. Of course, school continues to serve as such a community campfire. However, the monopoly that schools essentially had on such a central gathering place for knowledge transfer and generational training is evaporating. People can access learning “anytime – anywhere” with minimal effort, as countless “teachers” share in myriad ways what they know and know how to do.

Are you inviting those teachers into your learning spaces? Or are you locking them out of the places we continue to call school? Young learners – those we call children, students, etc. – can and do access the myriad teachers who reside in virtual time and space. As for me, I would prefer that our students access these amazing teachers with the face-to-face teachers with whom they interact at that place called school. While I worry a bit about online safety, I think I worry even more about dis-empowering our students to learn responsible and respectful wisdom gathering. I worry about those schools that try to shut out the outside world because I think that they risk driving our students to explore that world without much, if any, adult guidance and shepherding. Students will engage the outside-school-walls community. We should try to accompany them and serve as wise Sherpas and co-pilots.

Have you seen this TED talk yet?

I watch a TED talk everyday, and this one by Massimo Banzi is one of the most thought-provoking that I have seen. It is well worth the watch…ESPECIALLY by school-based educators. Did I know of open-sourcing before? Yes. Did I know of the Maker Movement before? Yes. What struck me at this viewing was the disruptive nature that such open-sourcing and maker-ness can have on the places we call school. Banzi shares SO MANY examples of open-source development of the Arduino. Our students are doing this amazing stuff – with or without us. How cool would school be if we would embrace this disruption and integrate such innovative thinking with the schedules and structures of school? Our students should be building those earthquake detectors, pet feeders, and satellite experiments – and they should be doing these things as part of that thing we call school.

I imagine a hybrid – a new place called school blending the invaluable community campfire that demands that we share time and space with each other face-to-face with the invaluable open-source community that understands that expertise and passion exist in geographically dispersed settings that can be connected virtually.

Are you opening your students’ minds to the world and its amazing wonder, or are you shutting out the world…a world that they will access without us if we don’t go with them?

CHANGEd: What if we used the Big Shifts to evolve? 60-60-60 #56

Do educators really listen to the leaders of our national organizations? Shouldn’t we? As a member of an NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) school, I believe I should listen and respond to the leadership of Pat Bassett. Will you take 27 minutes to watch his talk about the Big Shifts for schools of the future? Isn’t it worth 27 minutes to understand more fully how our NAIS president believes schools must be disturbed and evolve to become relevant and effective schools of the future? And it’s not just for independent schools; it’s for all schools!

Oh, watching and listening is only a start. We should be inspired to DO. We should be inspired to ACT.

As I have continued to plan for a faculty meeting that I will not be leading in August 2012, I would add Pat’s TEDx talk to my list of “brainfood” resources. And I think I would add the NAIS Commission on Accreditation’s – A Guide to Becoming a School of the Future.

CHANGEd: What if…60-60-60 Project Explained