Future of Learning Top Reads for week of May 28 2018

 Photo by  Sime Basioli  on  Unsplash

Photo by Sime Basioli on Unsplash


"Aristotle’s Wrongful Death," by Frank Bruni / @FrankBruni, in the New York Times

"[I]t’s a balancing act, because colleges shouldn’t lose sight of what makes traditional majors—even the arcane ones—so meaningful, especially now. And they shouldn’t downgrade the nonvocational mission of higher education: to cultivate minds, prepare young adults for enlightened citizenship, give them a better sense of their perch in history and connect them to traditions that transcend the moment. History, philosophy and comparative literature are bound to be better at that than occupational therapy. They’re sturdier threads of cultural and intellectual continuity."

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

In one of my first parent meetings as Head of School at Malvern Prep, a dad told me that we needed to match the Intro to Business, Intro to Accounting, Intro to Finance, and Intro to Law courses offered at a nearby public school. He was preoccupied with what he imagined college admissions officers would want to see on his son's high school transcript. (Sidenote: by and large, they do not want to see pre-professional "concentrations.") I have heard from many other independent school leaders that parents are increasingly asking for pre-professional courses for their high school-aged students.

In contrast to that instrumentalist approach, a liberal arts education integrates—by design—the head (intellectual inquiry), the heart (social and emotional development), and the hand (the application of the previous two). Does your school's mission call on it to form students for pre-professional knowledge for the new few years, or a balanced and integrated "head, heart, and hand" for life?

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"College Admissions Are Getting Even Less Predictable," by Jeff Selingo / @jselingo, in The Atlantic

"Worcester, which this spring let in 42 percent of applicants, is one of the many colleges that no longer requires SAT or ACT scores, a decision in 2007 that was surprising given the school’s science and engineering focus. But Worcester puts its students through a project-based curriculum for four years, and to succeed in such an environment, Palumbo said, applicants must demonstrate that once on campus they can apply skills that 'standardized tests don’t measure very well, if at all'—the ability to work in teams, communicate, and solve problems on the fly, for example."

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

Seth Godin tells a story about his allowance as an 8-year old. He had been getting $0.75 a week one day his father offered him an alternative: a penny for the year, which he would double the year after that, and then double again the year after that, until he could no longer afford to give little Seth his allowance anymore. So the choice was this: $0.75 now, or... several million dollars by the age of 30. You can guess what 8-year old Seth chose.

There is a reason why so many selective schools (i.e., schools that admit fewer than 50% of their applicants) continue to drop requirements for standardized tests: they know that asking learners to prioritize SATs and ACTs is like asking them to focus on getting $0.75 now. And they also know that project-based learning, implemented successfully, is like developing the capacity to earn exponentially down the road.

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"Lessons for Higher Ed From the Demise of MissionU," by Joshua Kim / @joshmkim, in Inside Higher Ed

"The worst thing that those of us in traditional higher education can do is to gloat over the demise of MissionU. The critique of the higher ed current model that MissionU builts its business on remains valid. The hunger of many students for an alternative to the current higher ed options remains real."

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

In his analysis, Josh Kim argues that MissionU "failed but [was] not a failure." In other words, MissionU as a specific instance might have failed, but the concept behind an alternative to expensive, bundled, potentially low-impact higher ed experiences is not a failure. In fact, we need more instances of such alternatives.

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Question of the week:

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