Empathy as a Precursor to Innovation – Reflective Stance – Medium

  • tags: empathy innovation design_thinking design thinking

    • How can we possibly understand what someone needs if we do not know them?

    • I am just beginning to embark on a new project to support schools in creating School Narratives to tell the story of learning and improvement and I am struck, once again, by the need for relationship to drive any type of learning and improvement.

    • We need to find the soul of our data and that soul is always found in the stories of those we serve.

    • We need to stop acting from what we think we know and listen to those we serve, to find what is truly needed.

    • They felt that the culture allowed them to be innovative, take risks, learn from one another and be truer to themselves.

    • The main character, Rodney Copperbottom, is born to be an inventor. He creates numerous inventions but it is only when he looks at his father, lying exhausted in a chair at the end of a hard day of work that he comes up with his best invention.

    • Invention is the creation of something whereas innovation is about improving something — be it a process, a product, or service.

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Integrated Studies: A Short History | Edutopia

  • tags: interdisciplinary

    • For the better part of a century, educational theorists have been advocating for a more integrated and less “siloed” approach to learning. As American philosopher John Dewey pointed out during the Progressive Era, “We do not have a series of stratified earths, one of which is mathematical, another physical, another historical, and so on. All studies grow out of relations in the one great common world.”

    • Ralph Tyler, a major figure in 20th-century American education, described integration of subject areas as “the horizontal relationship of curriculum experiences,” and he considered such connections to be essential for student learning. His thinking was informed by his work on the landmark Eight-Year Study, which followed students from 30 secondary schools during the 1930s. Researchers found that students were well-served by high schools that organized content not by isolated subjects but around overarching themes that connected disciplines.

    • Heidi Hayes Jacobs, whose most recent book is Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World, has been making the case for interdisciplinary-curriculum design for more than two decades.

    • We simply do not function in a world where problems are discipline specific in regimented time blocks,” noted Jacobs in the 1989 publication Interdisciplinary Curriculum: Design and Implementation.

    • “The Logic of Interdisciplinary Studies,” a 1997 paper by Sandra Mathison and Melissa Freeman. The authors found a number of benefits for learners, including acquisition of life skills such as cooperation and problem solving, greater motivation and academic achievement, better attitudes toward learning, and opportunities for more meaningful relationships between students and teachers. What’s more, they found that integrated studies provides a sensible way to learn about a world of rapidly expanding and changing information.

    • “Standards are not simply individual tasks that students must perform separately in each discipline,” they argue.

    • disciplinary

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A Funny Example of Old School Grading Practices

The Huffington Post article, Student Sinks Impossible Shot To Secure Entire Class 100s On Organic Chemistry Quiz recently caught my attention. It’s a fun story about a student in a organic chemistry class at The Ohio State University that threw a wadded up piece of paper into the garbage can from the balcony. The story is so popular that there are over 1,000 comments. So, being someone who has an interest in grades and grade reporting I decided to comment.

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I really wondered how many people would respond to my comment and I’m shocked that there were 30 comments. Here are just a few to give you an idea of what people were thinking.

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It’s just interesting to me that so many people are programmed to think that giving out grades for “extra credit” or tricks unrelated to academic performance is the norm. I’m all for having fun in class and I think that it’s great that the professor encouraged this type of behavior. I’m also smart enough to know that the quiz grade doesn’t do much for their overall grades in the end. I’m just a proponent of Grades that Mean Something.
The purpose of grading is to describe how well students have achieved the learning objectives or goals established for a class or course of study. Grades should reflect students’ performance on specific learning criteria.

In Finland, Learning Matters More Than Education – The Atlantic

Make sure that you take a look at the video at the bottom of the article. What will education look like in 100 years?
  • tags: Finland education LifelongKindergarden

    • Too often, I see high-school students break down in tears over grades or pile on advanced and AP classes because “that’s what colleges want to see.”

    • In fact, a recent survey of a nationally representative sample of 22,000 high-school students conducted by Marc Brackett at Yale indicated that high-school students felt stressed 80 percent of the time.

    • Some companies such as Deloitte no longer require college degrees at all—even for professional positions.

    • And if that weren’t enough proof that traditional paths to career success can be misleading, seldom do current measures of high-school success guarantee success in college. I

    • according to a Gallup poll of high-school students, the No. 1 measure of college success is a sense of hope for the future.

    • In fact, according to a separate Gallup survey, 79 percent of elementary-aged children feel engaged in school, while only 43 percent of high-schoolers do.

    • Even in Finland, many high-school students still find school boring, but Finland takes the issue of student boredom seriously. Recently, the country has begun a reform to rid high-schools of mandatory subjects altogether, leaning instead on “phenomenon-based” curriculum.

    • There are schools in America doing play and learning for learning’s sake very well, and not only in elementary schools.

    • I’ve seen examples of secondary classrooms in my home state where teachers place students’ humanity and personal needs ahead of academic achievement.

    • At the beginning of last year, the faculty at the school set up a simulated plane crash with an actual plane outside its building, while each village took on the necessary roles to manage the crisis.

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Rethinking High School Graduation Requirements: Project & Microcredentials – Vander Ark on Innovation – Education Week

This is a bold approach that needs to be further developed. A new paradigm for high school education.
    • The five states that make up the New England Secondary School Consortium have made progress on redefining success by developing proficiency-based diplomas.

    • Chris Sturgis notes that many schools use capstone projects, exhibitions, or portfolios that provide evidence that students have met the level of proficiency.

    • Given all this opportunity, how do we reconceptualize what graduates should know and be able to do?

      • Another way to frame and communicate learning expectations is to ask students to complete and present 20 projects (or, more broadly successful learning experiences) — four to six per year over three or four years including:


      • Solve a local problem (community service)
      • Launch a business or sustainable initiative (entrepreneurship)
      • Build a mobile app (for the business/initiative)
      • Secure and serve a customer with marketing services
      • Share a global context (comparative analysis across time/subjects)
      • Propose solutions to 3 global problems (see case for studying UN’s #GlobalGoals)
      • Complete an online course
      • Complete 2 college courses
      • Demonstrate computational thinking
      • Demonstrate application of data analysis
      • Conduct a science experiment and publish the results
      • Publish 40 editorials, reviews, or reflections (individual)
      • Publish 2 major works: papers, books, or sites (team)
      • Explain 10 emerging implications of artificial intelligence on lives/livelihoods
      • Produce and present public art (performance, exhibit)
      • Apply to a valuable postsecondary experience (college or equal)

      • Self-directed learners
      • Skilled communicators
      • Design thinkers
      • Persistent innovators
      • Data & AI literate
      • Empathetic collaborators
      • Resourceful problem solvers & entrepreneurs
      • Global citizens
      • Experienced project managers
      • Healthy conscientious neighbors

    • If graduation requirements were described as 20 projects and 10 microcredentials, it would allow students to attack the requirements in their own way and at their own pace often working in teams and cohorts.

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Re-Designing American High Schools for the 21st Century | Stanford Social Innovation Review

  • tags: innovation Paradigm Shift Paradigm redesign

    • The Model T didn’t emerge from strapping an engine to a horse, and Tesla didn’t emerge from putting an electric engine into an existing car. Yet when it comes to school design, we are trying to innovate off a completely outdated industrial model, rather than rethinking its fundamental structure.
    • It’s time to boldly reimagine the high-school experience—using the power of human-centered design, the latest adolescent neuroscience, and purpose learning—to usher in a new era of education that prepares students for this century, not the last.
    • From a design perspective, our current debate is kind of like people arguing over the interior design of a house without considering whether it’s the right house. Why argue about the furniture in the living room, the kitchen, and the bedroom (the curriculum) when the house is old, failing apart, and not right for your family’s needs anyway (the current high school model)?
    • Take scheduling, for example. In my conversations with students, they say they pay attention in class 15-60 percent of the time. This is partly due to the teaching schedule.
    • Unless we redesign the system, we are going to keep delivering less-than-optimal learning environments for students.
    • While there are some exceptions, the majority of today’s high schools focus on the regurgitation of facts (as evident in most AP curriculums). Almost nothing that US high schools formally evaluate is designed to actively develop or increase a student’s self-regulation or emotional awareness—skills that employers like Google most desire today
    • The teenage years are a time when students can start imagining the lives they want to lead, and can develop the internal compass and traits that will help them live a life of purpose, meaning, and devotion to a cause bigger than themselves.
    • This is where our high schools are really failing students.
    • Almost nothing in the current system speaks to developing the voice of young people, their own dreams, and a sense of what’s really important to them. Instead, the system focuses on validating rampant external achievement and measuring students’ knowledge through standardized testing. No wonder students are bored, tired, and stressed.
    • Organizations like the Institute for Applied Neuroscience are actively trying to educate policymakers about the need to adapt school policies so that they better align with the neuro-functioning of young adults.
    • Include project-based learning and differentiated instruction:
    • Help students feel like they matter:
    • Train teachers to play the role of mentor.
    • Build better physical spaces:
    • t doesn’t have to be expensive—simply re-designing a classroom or letting students spend more time outside goes a long way.
    • Teach more than academic skills:
    • Big Picture Learning and Expeditionary Learning—do a great job of allowing their students to explore ideas outside of school and develop meaningful relationships with adults.
    • “What do teenagers most need to thrive in today’s world?”
    • The Future Project, for example, assigns each school a coach (known as a “dream director”) who helps inspire students to figure out their dreams and aspirations, and then re-shape school culture around these projects.
    • Noble Impact introduces young people to purpose-provoking curriculum to help them answer the “why” question.
    • Wayfinder Weeks programming, for example, allows students take a step back from their day to day, and ask what they really want from life, why, and what they need to do get there.
    • What big issues do students want to address in the world and why? What kind of life do they want to lead? What makes them come alive? What do they want to contribute to the world, and what do they need to learn to do so?

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No grades, no timetable: Berlin school turns teaching upside down | World news | The Guardian

  • tags: Paradigm Paradigm Shift innovation scheduling school School Scheduling assessment

    • At Oberländer’s school, there are no grades until students turn 15, no timetables and no lecture-style instructions. The pupils decide which subjects they want to study for each lesson and when they want to take an exam.
    • Set subjects are limited to maths, German, English and social studies, supplemented by more abstract courses such as “responsibility” and “challenge”.
    • For challenge, students aged 12 to 14 are given €150 (£115) and sent on an adventure that they have to plan entirely by themselves. Some go kayaking; others work on a farm. Anton went trekking along England’s south coast.
    • The mission of a progressive school should be to prepare young people to cope with change, or better still, to make them look forward to change. In the 21st century, schools should see it as their job to develop strong personalities.”
    • Students who dawdle during lessons have to come into school on Saturday morning to catch up, a punishment known as “silentium”. “The more freedom you have, the more structure you need,” says Rasfeld.
    • Having opened in 2007 with just 16 students, the school now operates at full capacity, with 500 pupils and long waiting lists for new applicants.
    • Yet some educational experts question whether the school’s methods can easily be exported: in Berlin, they say, the school can draw the most promising applicants from well-off and progressive families.
    • However, even Rasfeld admits that finding teachers able to adjust to the school’s learning methods can be harder than getting students to do the same.
    • One in Berlin’s Weissensee district recently let a student trek across the Alps for a challenge project. “Things are only getting started,” says Rasfeld.

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