Saturday, April 15, 2017

Weekend Reading - Thinking Deeply (and in Challenging Ways) About Education

I was interviewed as part of the #EdLeader series by RE-ENVISIONED Co-Founder & Executive Director, Erin Raab, in which she asked me look at education through the lens of one of my children, Caroline.


I'm not sure if readers are going to find what I've said controversial, but I'm hopeful some of it is valuable thinking--even (especially?!) if you disagree. The full interview is here. Erin and I touched on a number of topics that I would say are part of thoughtfully "pulling back the curtain" on education, and which have become more and more preeminent in my thinking...

  • the significant degree to which most schools operate without a core philosophy of learning;
  • how social networking has largely become being in the "thick of thin things;"
  • the loss of ability to hold deep discussions where there can be disagreement;
  • the progression of institutions from their core missions to becoming focused on their own needs and survival;
  • individual capacity building, self-determinism, and self-direction (what I use the word "agency" to describe) as the true goals of helping educate someone else;
  • the unintentional thing most schools teach most students best is that they are not good learners;
  • how families are the preeminent influence on a child's success as a learner, but we do very little to help build healthy families;
  • one of the best questions you can ask a secondary-school student is how they would reinvent schools;
  • students recognize pretty clearly that success in school is mostly about being good at playing the game, not at becoming a deep learner;
  • we continue to believe that innovation and ideas should come from the top down, when most good thinking bubbles up from the bottom, and we should be supporting the important conversations at the most local level possible;
  • the importance of building learning cultures;
  • my belief that we inherit intellectual and emotional temperaments, just like we genetically inherit body types and characteristics, and that this is seriously under-appreciated;
  • my belief in the inherent worth, value, and capacity of every child;
  • that many people feel broken or wounded, especially from their school experiences;
  • while we use the language of empowerment for education, we act in controlling ways;
  • a system that produces unconfident and compliance-oriented consumers has lots of benefits to lots of groups;
  • asking people what their deepest learning experiences have been, then what the conditions of those experiences were, gets to the (human) heart of what really impacts learning and life changes;
  • there is value in comparing food and learning--we are comfortable that people like and need different foods, that our the best food cultures are rich with diversity and individual consumer and producer decision-making, but we want to centralize and control learning;
  • Plato's cave is the guiding allegory for our time;
  • the Internet is a bigger turning point in history than we fully recognize;
  • healthy dialog is at least, if not more important, to culture than specific beliefs;
  • I want to be remembered as the guy who created spaces for good conversation;
  • ideas spread because they are good at spreading, not because they are necessarily good for us, and we have to be very careful because of this;
  • the "Amish" view of being willing to evaluate technology adoption based on how it impacts values we care about;
  • my main takeaway from ten years of watching education trend after trend is that they never really make fundamental changes;
Here's the link to the actual interview: https://www.re-envisioned.org/a-new-conversation/2017/4/9/steve-founder-classroom-20. For those who will wonder, yes, I did clear it with Caroline to publish the interview.. :)

More about Erin's RE-ENVISIONED project:

10,000 Stories. One Shared Vision.

RE-ENVISIONED is a national movement to redefine the purpose of school. We believe schools should foster flourishing individuals and a thriving democratic society. But what does it mean to thrive or flourish?

To answer this, we're building the world's largest collection of stories about what it means to live good lives and the role schools should play in helping create them: 10,000 stories from people across the country. We'll use the stories to learn about our shared values and dreams and to create a new vision for why we send our children to school.

We work with people like YOU across the country: Catalysts - individuals, classrooms, schools, and community organizations - who interview people in their communities and foster empathy nationwide by sharing the stories on our website and social media: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook (@reenvisioned).

Learn more and join the movement.
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