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.]

Addendum to 7-24-12: I dream a school…the “schoolification of the world.” Brilliant #TED #MustWatch

Education needs to work by pull, not push. – Charles Leadbeater

If you are interested in educational innovation, school reform, or learning enhancement, WATCH THIS! With all of the TED talks that I view, I have never seen this one – “Charles Leadbeater: Education innovation in the slums” [18:58]. It was captured over two years ago. Charles Leadbeater makes a compelling case for pull vs. push education.*

[To me, the story of how I found this is fascinating. After re-reading the first 16 sections of Seth Godin’s “Stop Stealing Dreams” for about an hour, as part of continuing research, I was exploring possible TEDx speakers. Within search engines and tools, I was grabbing combinations of “innovation” and other words. I stumbled upon Leadbeater’s April 2010 TED talk, and I was intrigued by the sidebar because of a recent podcast I has listened to about the Future of Cities and what we can learn from slum evolution. As I started listening to Leadbeater, I was blown away by the connections among Leadbeater’s stories and the way in which Godin begins “Stop Stealing Dreams” with the Harlem Village Academies.]

CHANGEd: What if we dreamed (and attempted) the impossible? 60-60-60 #32

New school formats and structures are emerging all over the planet. Starting a new school seems to be “easier” than changing existing ones. I wonder how the economic principle of “creative destruction” will play out for the school market. There are some (many?) who think school is “perfect” as it is. Suggestions for change, improvement, and enhancement are sometimes (often?) met with, “That would never work. That’s impossible.” What if we dreamed the impossible…and made it happen?!

PLEASE READ Seth Godin’s February 25, 2012 post (121 words long) – “Perfect and Impossible.”

Happy Easter!

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

A Tribal Revolution

In Seth Godin’s Tribes, he explains that “it takes only two things to turn a group of people into a tribe:

  • A shared interest
  • A way to communicate (24).

Godin also posits, “So a leader can help increase the effectiveness of the tribe and its members by

  • transforming the shared interest into a passionate goal and desire for change;
  • providing tools to allow members to tighten their communications; and
  • leveraging the tribe to allow it to grow and gain new members” (25).

Well, on July 25, 2011, David Wees (whom I have never met, yet I feel he is a colleague) published a blog post entitled, “The quiet revolution in education.” Via a tool like this blog, I may be preaching only to the choir, but I would encourage you to watch the TED talk that Wees embedded into his post, and I would strongly recommend that you read his post. In essence, he provides an incredibly cogent explanation of why we educators should be embracing social media tools and sharing practices so that we can “tighten [our] communication” in order to further “[transform our] shared interest into a passionate goal and desire for change.” Together all of us can “[leverage] the tribe to allow it to grow and gain new members.”

As teachers, educators, lead learners – whatever you want to call us – don’t we want a similar thing for our children? Don’t we want them to pursue their interests with passion so as to increase their knowledge and understanding of a thing so as to contribute to positive growth and development in our citizenry?

If we want it for our children, we should practice and model it ourselves! We are rearing and guiding students in a Web 2.0 and 3.0 world…we need to be Web 2.0 and 3.0 people! School should prepare students for the world in which we live – teachers should guide the way.

I believe David Wees has provided a superb “why” regarding our need as educators to connect with one another and share. What if each of us who already feel a member of this tribe reached out to an educator who is not connected in this Web 2.0 way? What if an entire faculty – 100% of us working together in a school – agreed to an experiment of being connected in this way with a “world faculty” of passionate, questioning, driven and motivated teachers…educators…lead learners? How much more resourceful could we be for our student learners?

Then, just this morning, David Wees retweeted MmeNero and her great Slideshare about Twitter for educators. Now, in addition to the “why,” we have a good link to a “what” and a “how.” With the why, what, and how at our finger tips, we can get some exciting things accomplished.

With whom will you share? Who will you bring into the tribe? The new tribe member might just tweet that one thing which could help us all reach a child that much better. Imagine the wisdom and experience that is NOT in the social media landscape. Let’s work to get those amazing voices here!


Bonus: Simon Sinek’s TED talk about the Golden Circle of Why, What, and How.


Works Cited:

Godin, Seth. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. Penguin Group, New York: 2008.