Future of Learning Top Reads for week of Oct 28 2019

“Hampshire College scraps majors, sets sights on 'pressing issues of our time',” by Natalie Schwartz, in EducationDive

“Hampshire's new curriculum will center on addressing the ‘pressing issues of our time,’ such as climate change, artificial intelligence (AI), and social inequity, the college announced last week.

“An interdisciplinary approach is key to that goal, officials said, so Hampshire is eliminating majors and departments. The college is exploring having year-long seminars held by faculty teams that focus on answering questions and working on projects, though the structure is still under development. It is expected to be implemented in the fall of 2020. […]

“Other colleges have made big changes to break down silos and address today's most pressing issues, though perhaps not to the same extent. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is building a $1 billion interdisciplinary computing college, where half the faculty will have split appointments with other departments to encourage cross-collaboration on complex subjects like AI.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

Hampshire, which nearly closed this past year, has decided to confront its existential situation by asking how it can best live its mission while meeting the needs of a rapidly evolving world.

In other words, Hampshire has not simply decided WHAT Hamspire will do (go all-in on project-based learning), but also WHY they will do it (to address “the pressing issues of our time”).

Are your school’s WHAT and WHY also intertwined like the double helix of DNA?


“U.S. universities see decline in students from China,” by Michael Melia and Wilson Ring, on PBS.org

China sends more students to study in the U.S. than any other country. Its 363,000 students represent one-third of all international students. But the numbers have leveled off in recent years, reflecting a trend among international students overall.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

Once again, higher ed challenges strike us as leading indicators for independent schools.

More private K12 schools are popping up in China (and SEA in general). How long before Asians won’t want or need to come to the US to get an independent school education?

If you rely on Chinese student enrollment, how will you address a shrinking funnel?


“Questioning their fairness, a record number of colleges stop requiring the SAT and ACT,” by Alina Tugend, in the Hechinger Report

“Every 10 days, on average, another university makes these tests optional for admission. Forty-one schools have jettisoned this requirement in the last year, the largest number ever. […]

“What really bothers Burdick is the ‘the distortion of two years of your life during high school,’ studying for the ACT or SAT. ‘You could be spending that 60 hours or more doing test prep doing other, more meaningful things that actually are more productive for your life in the long run.’”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

As more colleges go test-optional, it is clearer than ever that standardized tests benefit no one except for test-makers (who are, by the way, non-profits in name and tax status only).

Everyone else suffers from the tremendous opportunity cost of having to prepare and sit for these useless assessments.


Question of the week:

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Christian Talbot