Future of Learning Top Reads for week of Mar 12 2018

"A Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Takes on the Master Schedule," by Liana Loewus / @LianaLoewusin EdWeek

"I began asking, what is it that will accelerate traditional schools moving in new directions? What is it that prevents them from doing so? How do we lower the risk, cost, complexity, and friction of doing so? It was about understanding what holds traditional schools back.

"So much of it kept coming back to the master schedule. This is the blueprint of the school. Some people call it a moral document because if you want to understand who gets what, which programs we are prioritizing, what students and teachers we are prioritizing—you look at the master schedule.

"By the time a student is sitting in a particular course or classroom, a lot of decisions have been made that determine that student's opportunities."

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

Innovation in schools isn't a "thing" that happens.

Innovation is not a technology that schools deploy.

Innovation is what you get when people connect to other people and when people connect to ideas in valuable new ways.

Whether you use software or, as our friends at L+D do it, a design-thinking approach, the transformation of the master schedule is a source of enormous leverage for facilitating--for designing--connections. And those connections lead to innovation.


"Educators seek to use emerging assessments of high school students for college admissions," by Scott Jaschik / @ScottJaschik, in Inside Higher Ed

"Looney, who is head of school at the Hawken School, said that each of these efforts are 'a subset of a much broader movement' to change how high school students are evaluated and admitted to college. 'If we don't change what we assess and how we assess, we can't change,' he said.

"While his focus is on the transcript, he said he is pleased with the new effort around performance assessment. Ultimately, he said, many ideas are needed to take on the dominance of the Carnegie unit and testing as a way of measuring what goes on in high school."

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

The promise of the Mastery Transcript Consortium is not only a redesigned transcript that shifts the focus from the "game" of grades to the authenticity of mastery. To get to that promise, schools will need to redesign "what we assess and how we assess."

Sadly, students and parents don't typically appreciate the fact that assessments are lagging indicators of preparedness for a global economy and community.

In other words, by the time a student has struggled (or, worse, coasted) through years of multiple choice quizzes, short answer essays, and decontextualized problem sets (just to name a few forms of primitive assessment), she is entering an accelerating world that does not reward proficiency in those areas.

On the other hand, students who have developed mastery of content, skills, and mindsets through "performance assessments" are well prepared to thrive in an accelerating world that rewards the ability to create, collaborate, and connect.


"Why Trying New Things Is So Hard to Do," by Sendhil Mullainathan / @m_sendhil, in the New York Times

"For example, in hiring, executives often apply their preconceived notions of which applicants will be a 'good fit' as prospective employees. Yet those presumptions are nothing more than guesses and are rarely given the scrutiny of experimentation.

"Hiring someone who doesn't appear to be a good fit is surely risky, yet it might also prove the presumptions wrong, an outcome that is especially valuable when these presumptions amount to built-in advantages for men or whites or people from economically or culturally advantaged backgrounds."

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

When I was Head of School at Malvern Prep, I conducted all final interviews, during which I was accompanied by the "Chief Mission Officer."

He used to ask every candidate, "Is there anything in our mission that you can't support?” He was looking for fit.

But this approach was guaranteed to get us more of the same.

What we really needed was to enrich our faculty and staff through the recruitment of mission-aligned people (i.e., people who would be a good "fit") and who would also contribute new perspectives, experiences, skills, and other forms of diversity. And so we stopped asking the “fit question,” and started asking about diverse strengths.


Question of the week: Are you hiring only for cultural fit, or are you also recruiting people who will contribute new and diverse strengths to your community?



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Christian Talbot