Most Likely to Succeed–Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era, CH 1 cont…, cont…

Most Likely to Succeed

…and as I continued reading, I had to admit that:

  1. Things really haven’t changed that much in education.
  2. It’s our own fault.
  3. Our decision to stick with tradition hasn’t helped to prepare students for a future in the innovation era.

You see, back in the 80’s, we began to evaluate whether or not the time had come to make some big changes to our educational model. Some advocated for a complete overhaul of our educational system while others advocated for minimal change. Unfortunately, we failed to find the middle ground between the two.

“The United States made the exact wrong bet, choosing to double down on our obsolete education system. … [We] picked the wrong goal and failed at it. We opted to chase South Korea and Singapore on standardized test performance instead of educating our youth for a world of innovation and opportunity. … Student and teacher engagement levels have plummeted in the face of a steady diet of test prep” (pp. 26-27).

Now, to some degree I would suggest that Wagner and Dintersmith may be overstating things a bit. I think I agree with their overall point, but let’s face it: back in the 80’s, nobody could have possibly foreseen the changes that were to come–especially those changes that occurred after the turn of the century. Who could have guessed that cell phones would become “Smart” phones and would have changed our world, society, and culture as much as they did?

But, that doesn’t change the fact the those changes did happen (whether we had prepared for them or not).

“As we moved into the twenty-first century, the internet exploded, changing our society and challenging our educational system in profound ways. Pre-Internet, we lived in a world of knowledge scarcity. The best sources of information were schools and libraries. But with ubiquitous interconnectivity, knowledge became a free commodity available on every Internet-connected device. ‘Knowledge workers’ have become obsolete” (p.27).

And as any good educator knows, knowledge is the lowest level of learning. Our goal is to ensure that students not only have knowledge and understand that knowledge, but more importantly, that students are able to apply that knowledge and use it to evaluate the world around them and create new ideas.

What, then, are we to make of our current education system with its focus on knowledge acquisition? How do we as educators begin to capitalize on the abundance of knowledge and information, helping students learn how to leverage that information in innovative ways? How do we get educators to spend less time on giving students knowledge and more time on teaching students to think critically, apply knowledge, and utilize their understanding to synthesize new ideas that are relevant to our global economy?

These are the questions that I wrestle with as a principal each day.

As the authors conclude the chapter, they continue to somewhat overstate the problem (in my opinion) and are bit dramatic in their attempt to seek a solution. But that is not to say that they don’t make a valid point.

“To make real progress in preparing all students to succeed in the twenty-first century, schools need to tap into the passions of students, help them develop critical skills and decisive life advantages, and inspire them. Engaged students and motivated teachers are capable of making stunning advances–in critical thinking and creative problem-solving, in citizenship preparation, in character development, and in career readiness” (p. 50).

And isn’t this the goal we have at SkyView? (Isn’t this the goal we have–or at least should have–at every school in the country?) It makes me curious to see what the authors suggest in subsequent chapters.

Cheers!

signature-3

bitmoji916971710

Wagner, T. and Dintersmith, T. (2015).  Most likely to succeed, preparing our kids for the innovation era.  New York: New York.

Advertisements

Most Likely to Succeed–Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era, CH 1 cont…

Most Likely to Succeed

Wow – has it really been two months since I’ve been at this??? Good grief! I’m sorry for the delay. It’s incredibly challenging to find time to update a blog each week (or even each month for that matter).

I have to confess: I’m still not done with chapter 1 of the text. The portion that I recently read was very interesting and left me with more than enough information to get me thinking. Perhaps I’ll finish the chapter next week. But for now, let me try to paint a picture of what the authors are currently saying and we’ll let it simmer for a while…

In this section of chapter one, Wagner and Dintersmith explore the basic model of education from its origins to the present. Initially, education was achieved via the apprenticeship model. In order to learn (and to learn well) a student learned from a “master.” It might be that cooking was learned from a parent (the master) or woodworking from a skilled craftsmen (the master) – just as Claude Monet learned from Boudin. However…

“As society evolved to more hierarchical structures, … Tradesmen [were] educated as apprentices under the tutelage of a master” while “the aristocracy were ‘above’ learning a trade. Instead, they were immersed in ideas, the fine arts, and rhetoric” (p. 22). “The impetus for our current education system came some seven centuries ago, as demand arose in religious society for copies of the Holy Bible. A set of grammar schools emerged to train monks and priests for the exacting task of transcribing every Latin word. These grammar schools revolved around four core educational principles: standardization, time efficiency, minimization of error, and intolerance to departures from the norm. Sound familiar? … The Latin grammar school model was also replicated. … It’s guiding principals remain with us to this day” (p. 24).

The authors go on to briefly describe how this spread through early British boarding schools, then was standardized by the Prussians, and eventually spread through Europe. Eventually in America, “We needed schools to teach the surging numbers of factory workers the basic skills needed for jobs in our emerging cities–to follow orders, be punctual, and perform rote tasks. … It excelled at what it was designed to do: train millions of young adults to perform repetitive tasks quickly, retain modest amounts of content, and keep errors to a minimum” (p. 25).

Has this piqued your curiosity yet? It piqued mine. I actually stopped reading for several minutes and just sat there thinking about this. At first I was a little defensive, thinking: “Come on – that’s not what we do in schools.” But then I had to be honest regarding what the author was saying and admitted: “Well, it is what we did in schools for a long time.” But then I began to think about my own education over the years (primary school, high school, college, masters degrees, my doctorate, professional development, conferences, …), the years that I spent as a classroom teacher, and even my years in leadership. A wave of cognitive dissonance started to rush through me as I began to question if things really have changed that much.

And then I continued reading…

(More to come… hopefully next week.)

Cheers!

signature-3

bitmoji916971710

Wagner, T. and Dintersmith, T. (2015).  Most likely to succeed, preparing our kids for the innovation era.  New York: New York.

Most Likely to Succeed–Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era, CH 1

Most Likely to Succeed

What do you want for your kids? Think about that for a minute… We’ll come back to that question.

Here is another question posed by one of my high school parents: “[Do] you have any thoughts on helping and not hindering our kids with struggle? … I’m a believer that the struggle is where we all grow and that allowing our kids to fail and struggle is essential.” We’ll come back to that one in a just minute too…

As noted last time I updated my blog, I wasn’t entirely sure if I would agree with the authors of this new text I started reading. Part of my concern was whether or not the ideas set forth in the text would reinforce or contradict the work we do as a college prep high school. But as I started to read chapter 1 of the text this past week, I came across some very encouraging thoughts. What Wagner and Dintersmith suggest not only addresses both of the previous questions but also suggests that we are doing something very right here at SkyView.

When Wagner and Dintersmith asked parents what they wanted most for their children, the answer was nearly unanimous: “I just want my child to be happy.” But then Wagner and Dintersmith note that much of what we do in schools is actually “counterproductive” to achieving that.  We “fail to provide them with relevant or engaging challenges during their four years in high school. We ingrain in kids that the key to success in life is getting into a great college, but then parents are amazed when their child feels completely inadequate after a few rejection letters. … in today’s world, there is no longer a competitive advantage in knowing more than the person next to you because knowledge has become a commodity available to all with the swipe of a finger” (p. 20).

As I reflect on that, I think that what I am hearing is this: many schools have become too obsessed with basic knowledge and facts, lacking focus on creating meaningful challenges (dare I say, meaningful struggle) that might actually help students to become successful (and by extension, happy). But that then just creates another question: what should schools be doing to help challenge students? …and how do we help students to embrace that struggle?

Fortunately, the text provides an answer to both of these questions suggesting that schools must be teaching students how to “ask great questions, critically analyze information, form independent opinions, collaborate, and communicate effectively” (p. 20). None of this is easily achieved by way of a multiple choice test–it takes hard work, patience, dedication, and struggle.

This intrigues and encourages me. First, I believe that this text will likely explore the implications of this for this schools (especially high schools)–and that should be a very interesting journey. Second, we are already doing this at SkyView! We are already working diligently to teach our students how to “ask great questions, critically analyze information, form independent opinions, collaborate, and communicate effectively.”

As educators, parents, or students at SkyView, we should be delighted to know that we are already preparing our kids for the innovation era. We are helping them learn to think critically and collaboratively about the world around them, seeking solutions to new and previously-unknown problems. This is teaching them how to battle through struggle–perhaps even embrace it–and to utilize failure as a launching pad to new learning.

I can’t say for sure where the authors are going to go from here. But I do hope to learn a new thing or two about how we might continue to improve the formula for success that we are currently using at SkyView.

Cheers!

signature-3

bitmoji916971710

Wagner, T. and Dintersmith, T. (2015).  Most likely to succeed, preparing our kids for the innovation era.  New York: New York.

Most Likely to Succeed–Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era

Most Likely to Succeed

When I graduated from high school, my class voted me Most Athletic and Most Likely to Succeed. There were a few other students up for Most Athletic, so I was officially dubbed the Most Likely to Succeed. I have always been honored by that peer nomination (although at the time, my real preference as a teenager was to be recognized as Most Athletic – oh well…).

I’ve always sort of wondered what exactly led my peers to see me as the most likely to succeed in our class. Was it something quantifiable? …a gut feeling? …the only option left that simply defaulted to me?

And now, as a principal, I find myself reflecting on “success” through another lens and constantly considering questions like:

  1. How do we define success in life? …in society? …in school?
  2. Why do we define it as such?
  3. How can we help our students to be successful – academically, socially, morally, and otherwise?
  4. Is success teachable/coachable?
  5. If so, what are the hard skills? …or are they soft skills? …perhaps a combination of both?

Recently, I was discussing these questions with one of my mentors, and he mentioned a book he’d been reading called Most Likely to Succeed. Naturally, the mere title of the text piqued my curiosity, and I purchased a copy for myself.

I have just started reading, and I think this book could offer some good food for thought to share periodically throughout the year. With that being said, here is an excerpt to whet your whistle:

“For the last century, the classroom experience for most students has revolved around lectures, note-taking, recall-based tests, and grades. Clubs, sports, and social interaction were regarded as providing a welcome break from the intense learning process. We will see, however, that most lecture-based courses contribute almost nothing to real learning. … Experiences, rather than short-term memorization, help students develop the skills and motivation that transform lives. … In this book, we will explore the contradiction between what students must do to earn a high school or college degree versus what makes them most likely to succeed in the world of work, citizenship, and lifelong learning” (pp. 7-8).

Hmmmm… very interesting. I’m not sure whether I am going to agree or disagree with these authors, but I already have lots of questions, and I’m curious to see what research they share and where the go with this text. Until next time…

Cheers!

signature-3

bitmoji916971710

Wagner, T.  (2015).  Most likely to succeed, preparing our kids for the innovation era.  New York: New York.

Welcome back! Here’s to another great year!

calvin hobbes

Welcome back! I trust that you had a wonderful summer!

Somebody told me last year that I write too much and it takes too long to read my blog. I can’t promise that I’ll always be able to keep it short, but today I will. It is already late in the day, and one of my best friends is visiting from KS on his 50th birthday. He just finished climbing Pikes Peak today! So I’m going to keep it short and spend the rest of my evening with him.

I have one question I would like to ask though: what topics would you like me to research and write about this year? I have a few ideas in mind, but I’m open to suggestions as well. I always have something to say about cell phones. Despite all the research, things don’t seem to be improving. …sort of like Calvin’s outlook above. Anyway, I’m willing to consider other ideas if you care to share them.

Looking forward to a great school year…

Cheers!

signature-3

bitmoji916971710

Cell Phone Addiction – Suggestions (and closing thoughts for the year…)

cell phone addiction.jpg

I have been terrible about updating my blog this past month. Planning for graduation certainly doesn’t help at all. So with that being said, this will be my final thoughts for the school year. And since I don’t have tons of time at the moment to read, research, and reflect, I’m going to be as succinct as possible and try to wrap up this text with a few quick thoughts about cell phone addiction, sharing a few suggestions given by Adam Alter.

  1. Nip addiction at birth. “Today the average schoolchild aged between eight and eighteen years spends a third of her life … engrossed in new media, from smartphones and tablets to TVs and laptops. … Since the turn of the new millennium, the rate of non-screen playtime fell 20 percent, while the rate of screen playtime increased by a similar amount” (p. 237). Alter develops this point by referring to the recent birth of his own child and noting how much “screens” are used in a variety of capacities to introduce infants to the world around them. He goes on to discuss how this compromises our ability to develop relationships, read emotions, remain active and engaged, or appreciate the content more than the medium used to deliver it. Fortunately, research and science are beginning to identify these trends and equate cell-phone addiction to alcoholism, noting “either you abstain from the addictive behavior, or you’ll never shake the addiction” (p. 258).
  2. Find a replacement for addictive behaviors. Without a replacement behavior, it is nearly impossible to quit an addictive behavior. Alter makes a number of suggestions, but the most notable behavior he suggests is to simply remove temptation. Don’t cut yourself off entirely from your cellphone, but at least make it more difficult to access. Find a way to make the device less available and make it challenging to respond immediately. I suppose you could opt for something more direct, like having somebody smack you in the face every time you look at your device. Or you could simply try something simple like turning the phone off and leaving it in another room. Feel free to get creative I suppose, but don’t overthink this one. Just try to remove the temptation.

I’m not sure what all of this means for us at SkyView next year. Because of what we are learning from emerging research, there are bound to be some changes. For now, I’d at least encourage you to take a close look at your own personal habits and consider making some adjustments. I’ve tried to help make you more aware of the issue, but it’s up to you to utilize this new knowledge in a positive way.

Good luck! We’ll talk again this fall…

Cheers!

signature-3

Alter, Adam. (2018). Irresistible The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. Penguin Group USA.

Cell Phone Addiction – Ingredients of Behavioral Addiction: Cliffhangers

cell phone addiction.jpg

So I’ve fallen a little behind in my reading (and my blogging) lately. Sorry about that…

But do I really need to write about cliffhangers? Seriously: who hasn’t experienced the addiction created by a good cliffhanger??? “Who shot JR?” introduced us all to the addictive power of the cliffhanger, and the last 30 years have simply allowed us to refine this power and discover new ways to capitalize on it’s ability to control people.

So here is what I am going to do instead: I’m going to jump ahead to Part 3, The Future of Behavioral Addiction (and Some Solutions). I will utilize that part of the text to wrap up the year on my blog, and I’ll try to provide some solutions for us all as we head into the summer months.

Cheers!

signature-3

Alter, Adam. (2018). Irresistible The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. Penguin Group USA.