Future of Learning Top Reads for week of May 7 2018

 Photo by  Andras Vas  on  Unsplash

Photo by Andras Vas on Unsplash


"Why are young adults the loneliest generation in America?" by Rachel Simmons / @RachelJSimmons, in the Washington Post

"How is it possible that at a time when access to friendship is at its peak — when adolescents are less encumbered than ever by the demands of family and work — more than half of young adults say they feel left out, isolated and without anyone to talk to? After all, the study found that people who have frequent, meaningful in-person interactions report better health and less loneliness than those who have scant face time with others. [...]

"Indeed, the problem is hardly that college students spend all their time alone and on screens. It is that they spend too much of their time with peers working: running meetings, producing plays, organizing conferences or studying. They prioritize activities that achieve goals, not meaningful connection. The study found that 69 percent in this age group felt that the people around them were 'not really with them,' and 68 percent felt as if no one knew them well. I suspect this is because young adults are far less content to be than to do."

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

The Expeditionaries experience depends upon a strengths-based approach because we believe that knowing yourself and knowing your peers is an essential part — not a "nice to have" part — of adolescent formation. A tool like CliftonStrengths provides a framework and a common language for understanding what's right about you, and then forming a meaningful connection with your peers.

Schools with strong advisory programs understand the importance of these meaningful connections to a young person's well being for decades to come.

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"Small Liberal Arts Colleges as Learning Innovation Base Camps," by Joshua Kim / @joshmkim, in Inside HigherEd

"Learning innovation is hard. There seems to be no end of forces lined up to protect the postsecondary status quo. These forces range from challenges related to economics (cost disease and stagnant wages), demographics (numbers of potential students), and organization (colleges are not built for rapid change).

"The base camp metaphor helps us think about learning innovation in a couple of ways. First, it helps us develop the shared mission that the status quo is not acceptable. That we need to make improvements along every dimension of higher education — from learning, to access, to costs. We wouldn’t need a base camp if we were not committed to take some risks.

"Second, we can think of much of the work we do to advance learning as disciplined experiments. We can try new things to climb the learning innovation mountain, and share them with everyone else who is on a similar journey."

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

We admit that the article's headline about "base camps" caught our eye.

Self-promotion aside, if we replace "postsecondary" with "K12," all of these conditions remain true. Schools that play defense will contract (and in some cases close). Schools that play offense will discover a path forward.

That is why this Basecamp exists: to help schools go on mission-driven innovation journeys.

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"American Schools Are Training Kids for a World That Doesn’t Exist," by David Edwards, in Wired

"Over the next twenty years the earth is predicted to add another two billion people. Having nearly exhausted nature’s ability to feed the planet, we now need to discover a new food system. The global climate will continue to change. To save our coastlines, and maintain acceptable living conditions for more than a billion people, we need to discover new science, engineering, design, and architectural methods, and pioneer economic models that sustain their implementation and maintenance. Microbiological threats will increase as our traditional techniques of anti-microbial defense lead to greater and greater resistances, and to thwart these we must discover new approaches to medical treatment, which we can afford, and implement in ways that incite compliance and good health. The many rich and varied human cultures of the earth will continue to mix, more rapidly than they ever have, through mass population movements and unprecedented information exchange, and to preserve social harmony we need to discover new cultural referents, practices, and environments of cultural exchange. In such conditions the futures of law, medicine, philosophy, engineering, and agriculture — with just about every other field — are to be rediscovered." [emphasis added]

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

Do these sound like problems for learners taking AP classes?

Fortunately, leading schools are taking a base camp approach (see the previous entry). We might even call this "discovery-based learning." As the Wired article goes on to say:

"Against this arresting background, an exciting new kind of learning is taking place in America. Alternatively framed as maker classes, after-school innovation programs, and innovation prizes, these programs are frequently not framed as learning at all. Discovery environments are showing up as culture and entertainment, from online experiences to contemporary art installations and new kinds of culture labs. Learning by an original and personal process of discovery is a trend on many US university campuses, like Stanford University, MIT, and Arizona State University. It also shows up in middle school, high school and after school programs, as in the programs supported by the ArtScience Prize, a more curricular intensive version of the plethora of innovation prizes that have sprung up in the last years around the world. Students and participants in these kinds of programs learn something even more valuable than discovering a fact for themselves, a common goal of 'learning discovery' programs; they learn the thrill of discovering the undiscovered. Success brings not just a good grade, or the financial reward of a prize. It brings the satisfaction that one can realize dreams, and thrive, in a world framed by major dramatic questions. And this fans the kind of passion that propels an innovator along a long creative career."

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Question of the week: Where do your learners have the chance to engage in discovery-based learning?

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Christian Talbot