Monday, November 26, 2012

"Why School?" takeaways

My notes on “Why School?” by Will Richardson, Kindle edition.
Purchase here -

  • “According to the latest Pew Internet survey, 95% of 12- to 17-year-olds in the U.S go online on a regular basis.  Sixty-seven percent use social networks, and 77% have cell phones.  These numbers grow to 84 and 97 percent, respectively, in the 18-to-29-year-old bracket.”  [Location 90]
  • “MITx, for example, is a program that lets students take MIT courses for free, then pay a small fee for a certificate of completion after passing a test.”  [Location 119]
  • “We have to stop thinking of an education as something that is delevered to us and instead see it as something we create for ourselves.”  [Location 127]
  • “A recent IBM survey of CEOs asked them to name the most crucial factor for future success, and their answers had nothing to do with state assessments, SAT scores, or even Advanced Placement tests.  Instead, they cited creativity and ‘managing the growing complexity of the world’.”  [Location 143]
  • “We have an amazing array of tools we can use to create and share beautiful, meaningful, important works with global audiences.  We have vast opportunities to connect with and learn from and with authors, scientists, journalists, explorers, artists, athletes and many others.  We have immense storehouses of primary-source information that we can literally carry in our pockets.”  [Location 154]
  • “Access doesn’t automatically come with an ability to use the Web well.”  [Location 166]
  • “21st Century readers and writers need to”:  [Location 180]
    • develop proficiency with the tools of technology,
    • build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally,
    • design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes,
    • manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information,
    • create, critique, analyze and evaluate multimedia texts,
    • attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments.
  • “Our schools, classrooms, assessments, and the policymakers and businessmen at the forefront of education reform have not fully come to grips with this reality.  They’re operating from a worldview that says our connected kids still have to come to school to learn algebra or Shakespeare or the (fill in the blank) War well enough to pass the test - that we absolutely know what every child needs to learn, when they need to learn it, and how they’ll learn it.”  [Location 199]
  • “I believe there remains a great deal of value in the idea of school as a place our kids go to learn with others, to be inspired by caring adults to pursue mastery and expertise, and then to use that to change the world for the better.”  [Location 210]
  • “What doesn’t work any loger is our education system’s stubborn focus on delivering a curriculum that’s growing increasingly irrelevant to today’s kids, the outmoded standardized assessments we use in an attempt to measure our success, and the command-and-control thinking that is wielded over the entire process.  All of that must be rethought.  Now.”  [Location 214]
  • “If we just looked at the test results from U.S. kids living in high-income homes, we would be first in the world in just about every category.  Our scores reflect our very deep issues with poverty, not inherent problems with schools.”  [Location 230]
  • “The emphasis shifts from content mastery to learning mastery.  That means students have more ownership over their own learning, using their access to knowledge and teachers to create their own unique paths to the outcomes we, and they, deem important.” [Location 275]
  • “I’m not saying that a foundation of content knowledge isn’t still important.  To communicate, function, and reason in the world, students need effective reading and writing skills, as well as a solid foundation in math, science, history and more.”  [Location 286]
  • “We desperately need to revisit the thinking we’ve developed around assessment that, as Harvard researcher Justin Reich says, ‘optimizes the measurable at the risk of neglecting the immeasurable’.”  [Location 287]
  • “The simple equation is that money moves politicians to promote policy that serves business.”  [Location 295]
  • “In the near term, schools need to do both: to prepare kids for old-school expectations and new-world realities alike.”  [Location 303]
  • “Go to your board, superintendent, and principal and tell them to convene a long-term conversation about change that isn’t focused on test scores and traditional practice.”  [Location 311]
  • “With few exceptions, all the things our children are using to connect and learn outside the classroom -- social media, cell phones, Internet connections -- are banned inside classrooms.”  [Location 324]
  • “Education author Jay Cross says that ‘knowledge is moving from the individual to the individual and his contacts’.”  [Location 328]
  • “Remaking assessment starts with this: Stop asking questions on tests that can be answered by a Google search.”  [Location 328]
  • “A popular quote paraphrased from psychologist Herbert Gerjuoy predicts that ‘the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write.  The illiterate will be those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn’.”  [Location 365]
  • “Wouldn’t we want educators who are constantly unlearning and relearning their practice?  Why would we want teachers (and students, for that matter) to just get ‘better’ at what they’ve been doing all along?”  [Location 370]
  • “As Clay Shirky notes, ‘Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.’  And schools and policymakers still perceive the problem as being how to educate every child to get a factory job in a world where both content and teachers are scarce.”  [Location 376]
  • Six unlearning/relearning ideas:  [Location 385]
    • Share everything (or at least something).
      • “How can you make sure that every student who walks on graduation day is well Googled by his or her full name?”
    • Discover, don’t deliver, the curriculum.
      • “We have to stop delivering the curriculum to kids.  We have to start discovering it with them.”
    • Talk to strangers.
      • “We have to learn how to break with that most elemental of parental commandments: Don’t talk to strangers.  It turns out that strangers have a lot to give us that’s worthwhile, and we to them.”
    • Be a master learner.
      • “In times of great change, learners will inherit the earth, while the learned will be beautifully equipped for a world that no longer exists.”
      • “Tony Wagner recently said, ‘There’s no competitive advantage today in knowing more than the person next to you.  The world doesn’t care what you know.  What the world cares about is what you can do with what you know.’  And, I’ll add, the world cares that you can keep learning.”
      • “The adults in the room have to be skilled and literate by those 21st-century standards the NCTE is touting.  And they have to exhibit the dispositions that will sustain their learning:
        • persistence
        • empathy
        • passion
        • sharing
        • collaboration
        • creativity
        • curiosity”
    • Do real work for real audiences.
    • Transfer the power.
      • “Don’t teach my child science; instead, teach my child how to learn science -- or history, or math, or music.”
  • “What do we value enough to make us ensure our children take it away from their ‘school’ experience, in whatever form that takes?”  [Location 584]
  • “The irony is that Tucker, his friends, and many other kids are loving learning and are using technology to solve real problems and think independently -- without us.  Just imagine the learners they could become if we made these skills the focus of our work; if, instead of passing the test, we made those ever-more important skills of networking, inquiry, creation, sharing, unlearning and relearning the answer to the ‘why school’ question.  Imagine what our kids could become if we helped them take full advantage of all they have available to them for learning.”  [Location 602]

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