Friday, November 18, 2011

Tony Wagner L&B Keynote

The New Educational Challenges

New skills for work, continuous learning, & citizenship in a "knowledge society" for all students. These skills are not effectively taught.

The "Net Generation" is differently motivated to learn

The Seven Survival Skills for Careers, College, and Citizenship
Students must be on their way to mastery of these skills through school
1. Critical thinking and problem-solving
2. Collaboration across networks and leading by influence - must be able to understand and appreciate differences
3. Agility and adaptability - contrast that with the regularities of school
4. Initiative and entrepreneurialism - setting "stretch" goals and achieving most of them is better than setting basic goals and achieving all of them, "fail early and fail often," yet we penalize children when they fail in school
5. Effective oral and written communication - writing with voice, passion, and perspective
6. Accessing and analyzing information
7. Curiosity and imagination - only one curriculum being taught, and that is test prep. AYP or AP. There is an enormous gap between what we teach and the skills students need. 50% of students who begin college never complete a degree, many because they didn't have the skills (especially writing) to succeed.

What motivates the "net" generation?
- Accustomed to instant gratification and "always-on" connection
- Use the web for 1) extending friendships, 2) interest-driven, self-directed learning, and 3) as a tool for self-expression
- Constantly connected, creating, and multitasking in a multimedia world - everywhere except in school (Technology is a double-edged sword - we need to use the powerful technologies to engage students and extend the classroom, but we also need to understand that this generation doesn't know how to NOT multitask, so they need to learn to "develop the muscles of concentration")
- Less fear and respect for authority - accustomed to learning from peers, want coaching, but only from adults who don't "talk down" to them
- Want to make a difference and do interesting/worthwhile work - want to make a difference more than they want to make money

The Culture of Schooling versus The Culture of Innovation
The teachers who make big differences are outliers. They create a culture in their classroom that is different from that at their institution.
- Individual achievement versus collaboration
- Specialization versus multi-disciplinary learning
- Risk avoidance versus trial and error (We don't talk about failure here, we talk about iteration)
- Consuming versus creating
- Extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation
- Evolution from play to passion to purpose

Implications for "Reinvention"

We have to move away from what has always been an information-based learning system (focus on "timeless learning" (academic content that has persisted over time)) to a transformation-based system (focus on what you can do with what you know; focus on using content to master the competencies for "just-in-time learning"). We have to think carefully about what content is truly important and consider how it might be used to teach skills.

Watch The Finland Phenomenon

Redefining Rigor: 5 "Habits of Mind" - Learning to ask the right questions
- Weighing Evidence
- Awareness of Varying Viewpoints
- Seeing Connections/Cause & Effect
- Speculating on Possibilities/Conjecture
- Assessing Value - both socially and personally

Questions to consider
- What skills are you teaching, and how are you assessing them?
- What is the school doing to systematically improve instruction, and how do you know it's working? Are you a better teacher than 2 years ago - if so, in what ways and how do you know?
- How well are your students prepared for college, careers, and citizenships, and how do you know?
- Is your school "adding value?"

Redefining Educational Excellence
- Track cohort graduation rate and how well students do once they are in college (National Student Clearing House (
- Use the college and work readiness assessment to assess analytic reasoning, critical thinking, problem-solving, and writing (
- Video-tape focus groups with recent grads (data for the heart)

- Doing the new work: teaching & assessing the skills that matter most
- Develop strategies for teaching & assessing the 3Cs: Critical & Creative thinking, communication, and collaboration
- Pilot interdisciplinary courses around essential questions and capstone projects at multiple levels
Require all students to have digital portfolios (track progress, real audience, means for teacher accountability), work internships, and service-learning projects

Doing the New Work in New Ways
- Collaboration & Transparency
- Isolation is the enemy of innovation and improvement
- Every student has an adult advocate
- Every teacher on teams for collaborative inquiry - looking at student & teacher work
- Videotape teaching & supervision (lesson study vs. evaluation)
- Peer-reviewed digital portfolios for teachers and leaders

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