Future of Learning Top Reads for week of Feb 12 2018

Photo by  Shwetangi Gupta  on  Unsplash

"Why hiring the ‘best’ people produces the least creative results," by Scott E. Page, in Aeon Ideas / Princeton University

"The complexity of modern problems often precludes any one person from fully understanding them."

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

Add this to the growing list of scholarship on the power of pluralism.

If the world’s complex problems preclude any one person from fully understanding them, then why do the vast majority of K12 schools still design 99% of learning as an individual experience?

The antidote is to design for pluralism. Learning experiences should help students to understand that collaboration is about harmonizing diverse strengths for a common purpose.

To create that student culture, adults should provide models in the form of diverse and inclusive teacher teams.

...Speaking of hiring for diverse teams...


"Often, Teachers Are Hired Based on Word of Mouth. Here's What That Means," by Madeline Will / @madeline_will, in Education Week

"A recent study by the Frontline Research and Learning Institute found that 40 percent of teacher candidates applied to open positions via job boards—but only 12 percent of applicants were hired from that pool. In contrast, about 15 percent of applications came from referrals—but among that group, 30 percent were hired."

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

This math is simple: if you genuinely want a diverse community of teachers, ensure that everyone in your community is maintaining relationships with diverse potential candidates long before there is a job opening. Job posting and diversity fairs should be safety-net tactics, not front line strategies.

Here's one way forward:

  • Ask every teacher and administrator to identify a "bullpen" of 3 people who would be a great match for your mission and who would bring diverse perspectives and talents.
  • Invite these potential candidates to school events a few times of year. Bring them together for breakfast or lunch or coffee. Welcome them long before you need to hire.
  • At local colleges, meet with students of color who might not be thinking of teaching--for example, maybe they're majoring in engineering, but could teach STEM disciplines--and ask them if they've ever tutored, or considered teaching. Invite them to observe classes to provide feedback. A dialogue is the first step toward a longer term relationship.

Your diverse talent pool is out there. If you genuinely want them, reruitment has to be slow and steady.


"How To Build An Entrepreneurial Culture: 5 Tips From Eric Ries," by Suzanne Gibbs Howard / @suzhoward, in Fast Co. Design

"In The Startup Way, Ries argues that 'too many leaders are searching for that one key innovation. But long-term growth requires something different: a method for finding new breakthroughs repeatedly, drawing on the creativity and talent of every level of the organization.' Ries quotes Jeff Bezos who says, 'I've made billions of dollars of failures at Amazon.com. Literally. None of those things are fun, but they don't matter. . . . [w]hat really matters is that companies that don't continue to experiment–companies that don't embrace failure–they eventually get in a desperate position, where the only thing they can do is make a Hail Mary bet at the very end.' When companies reclaim learning as central to their long-term journey, they can design not only their products, but also their strategy."

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

As colleges and K12 schools accept the imperative to innovate or die, there may be a temptation to invest in a silver bullet change, "that one key innovation," as entrepreneurship guru Eric Ries says. But that's not how it works. Like most things in life, there is no way around the hard work of doing the hard work. Over the next 10-15 years, the independent schools (and colleges) that survive the demographic crunch and widening socioeconomic divide will be the ones who invest in establishing and nurturing cultures of experimentation. Which means cultures that see "failure" as "learning."

...which leads to our new feature, the Question of the Week...


Question of the week: What is the ratio of "novices" to "masters" in your school?

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Christian Talbot