Most Likely to Succeed–Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era, CH 3

Most Likely to Succeed

So I started reading chapter 3 this week, and the authors begin to examine the question “What’s at Stake?” There is some interesting food for thought here…

Wagner and Dintersmith acknowledge the commonly-accepted view that the problems with education in America are (1) we are falling behind other countries (so America needs to be more like other countries) and (2) low SES schools are under-performing (so we just need to fix those schools). As you can probably imagine, the authors neither acknowledge these problems as being systemic, nor do they accept the suggestion that addressing these problems will best prepare our students for the innovation era.

“The reality is that obsolete and ill-conceived education priorities impair the prospects of almost all young adults, irrespective of socioeconomic class. … Let Singapore, Shanghai, and South Korea drill the hell out of their kids and deal with off-the-chart dysfunction and the workforce of robotic clones that ensues. In a world that increasingly values the core innovative strengths of our nation, it is pure folly to obsess about the global standardized test race. … Every child in America is at risk. Student after student, in school after school, spend their school hours bored, covering irrelevant material, doing mindless tasks … having the creativity and innovation schooled out of them” (pp. 53-58).

Wow… that is interesting. Perhaps that is over-stated. Perhaps they are right. Regardless, I hope it catches your attention and gets you thinking. It definitely got me thinking as a principal (and a parent and a member of society). If you need a little assistance, let me see if I can help get you thinking…

  1. If you happen to be a SkyView student reading this post: Do you really want your teachers to help you earn an “easy A” by simply asking you to drill-and-kill then reproduce a bunch of math problems? …to write an essay expressing your visceral (and likely uninformed) opinion? …to circle some multiple choice answers based on boldface terms in the textbook? OR, would you rather be asked to think critically? …to solve a real-world problem …to develop an informed opinion based on research and then support that opinion with evidence? …to wrestle with an idea/perspective that conflicts with your own understanding of the world you know (but explores somebody else’s world – whether you agree with their thinking or not)?
  2. If you happen to be a SkyView parent reading this post: Ask yourself what you really and truly want for your child. Is it to be rich? …prominent? …safe? …accepted into a good college? …problem-free? …happy? …unaware? OR, do you want your child to be able to tackle life’s problems without breaking a sweat and to help others do the same? And before you answer that, I have to admit that I’ve posed a chicken-and-the-egg problem depending on your world view. What you really need to decide is does happiness help solve problems or does the ability to solve problems lead to happiness? …does being rich solve problems or does the ability to solve problems render money somewhat meaningless? …does [perceived] “safety” make life problem-free or does the ability to problem-solve make your kids more safe?
  3. If you happen to be a SkyView faculty member reading this post: Do you want your students to be great at test-taking? …to be experts at regurgitating facts and information (that they can look up on their Smartphone), …to be the best in the world at following instructions? OR, do you want your students to able to think for themselves without you guiding them every step of the way? …to think critically? to create/synthesize/INNOVATE the next & best ideas? …to carefully develop a valid argument that takes into account more than a single opinion or their own gut feeling …to “entertain a thought without accepting it”? (That’s Aristotle, in case you were wondering.)
  4. And if you simply happen to be reading this post: I hope I have given you some food for thought. Whether you agree or disagree with the authors (or with me), I hope I got you thinking about how you might want to approach the task of better educating our students, our children, our members of society, and our future leaders.




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