Will Richardson's Newsletter
Will is our keynote speaker for our February 23rd Professional Development Conference.
Playing it Safe
Recent events in the world have no doubt increased the fear and amplified the idea that the world is a more evil, more dangerous place. Yet, all the evidence is to the contrary. We're actually safer than we've ever been.
But remember, billions of dollars are profited by those wanting us to be fearful. In fact, as that article suggests, we love fear. It's in our evolutionary DNA. The media, the lobbyists, the salesmen all know that. They all use it.
Yet, change requires us to be fearless. Only one of the things that makes it so hard.
PS: Thanks to those of you who joined our third Change School cohort! Cohort 4 starts in January...sign up to get notified!
Seeking Classroom Models for Change? Look Around
As Anya Kamenetz reports over at NPR, innovation in schools is happening around the world, just not maybe where most educators would think to look for it. And part of the reason for that is that we're really not that transparent about our most innovative work.
“If you think of a teacher in Helsinki, New York, New Delhi, Stockholm, Buenos Aires, they haven't got the faintest idea what is happening in another city on the classroom level," he says. "In fact, they often don't even know much about the teacher down the hall is doing."
The more we see what's possible, the more capacity we have to do our own work differently.
Pulling Up the Deep Roots
More than a few people engaged in changing schools have come to the conclusion that it may be impossible. I've said on a number of occasions that if you really want to change what school is about, you should go build one. It's a lot easier. It seems author/innovator Roger Schank agrees:
"So, while I am heartened by the idea that the government and industry would like to help the schools change, it is important to remember that the schools do not want to change. All that money would best be spent on building new schools that don’t have an embedded faculty with vested interests...[and] we need to get rid of the subjects we teach in school and the way school is structured. Only then can we introduce real change."
Moving from old to bold is hard, hard, hard, hard work. (Did I mention it's hard?) But it can be done.
Re: Literacy: It's Even Worse Than We Thought
It shouldn't be too hard for people to think differently about what they read online when it's labeled as "sponsored content," should it? I mean, you'd think that even an eighth grader would have enough sense to think twice about a source that had a paid placement. Apparently not:
"A similar task designed for middle school students yielded even more depressing results: 82 percent of students failed to identify an item clearly marked “sponsored content” as an advertisement. Together, findings from these exercises show us that many students have no idea what sponsored content means. Until they do, they are at risk of being deceived by interests seeking to influence them."
And these days, there are lots of folks who want to deceive them. Good gravy.
Will Skills Save Us?
In this week's Shifting Conversations post, I wade into the skills vs. content debate:
"The key point, to me at least, is the acknowledgment that the "truly new part of 21st century" is not just a "relatively small part" of what kids need to learn. And the reason it's not small is that just about everything kids learn now is learned through a modern context that is rife with complexities that didn't exist 20 years ago, many of them technical, many of them cultural."
This is a never ending argument, but I sense there is a shift that's building steam.
As always, would love to hear your thoughts.
Link Love: It may be that print books serve kids better than digital...And if you want to write a book in any form, here are some tips on becoming a "damn good writer"...An interesting look at how Artificial Intelligence may keep you healthier...One of my favorite annual lists: The Top 200 Tools for Learning 2017...How social media is training our minds...Harold Jarche on adapting to a life of perpetual beta...Kids' views on the purpose of education...See how the maker movement and design thinking change classroom culture...How the workplace of the present (and future) ill serves girls.
If you haven't already signed up, head across to our (semi) regular podcast series, Modern Learners.
NEW!!! Book List: Lifelong Kindergarten by Mitch Resnick...Beyond Testing by Deborah Meier and Matthew Knoester...Different Schools for a Different World by Scott McLeod and Dean Shareski...The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath...Leaving to Learn by Eliot Washor...Creating Cultures of Thinking by Ron Ritchhart
AS ALWAYS...We'd love to have your feedback and thoughts in our global ChangeLeader community on Facebook today.
Bruce, Missy, and Will