Future of Learning Top Reads for Week of July 1 2019


“But Is it Rigorous Enough?” by Andrew Clemingshaw, on the Redesigning High School blog

If I require students to read an additional novel outside of class, letting them make the selection from a roster of diverse choices rather than assigning them a book I see as valuable, produces the same learning outcome without the feeling of forced labor. Not everyone wants to read Moby Dick. […]

“Contrary to popular belief, academic rigor does not necessitate suffering. Sometimes students may be asked to perform a challenging task, but facing a challenge is not the same as being asked to suffer. If there are choice and engagement, rigor can, in fact, be pleasurable.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

Rigor is a loaded word in education. Whenever Stephanie Pace Marshall, founder of the legendary Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, hears someone refer to academic rigor, she always says, “You mean rigor mortis.”

Rigor does not equal volume of work.

Rigorous learning typically emerges from student “choice and engagement.”

How much choice do students have in your school? How do you design your learning environment to nurture engagement?

…in a similar vein…


“Another Take on Assessments as One School Creates a Portfolio-Based System,” by Emily Jones, in Independent School Magazine

“At the start, we asked ourselves, ‘What if students were given the topo map and the compass at the start of the four-year hike that is high school, rather than following along the trail set by the school?’ Our goal was to put agency into the hands of students, making clear what we want them to know and be able to do, and giving them considerable latitude in how they can reach those goals. We will continue to teach courses, many of them very similar to our current program, but we will also allow students to find their own ways—on and off campus—to learn and demonstrate learning.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

WHY must schools design for student agency and engagement?

WHAT might success look like?

HOW might a school get there?

This article from the Putney School provides an excellent case study.


“Toward a New Frontier in Human Intelligence: The Person-Centered Approach,” by Scott Barry Kaufman, in Scientific American

“In the past few years, Florian Schmiedek, Martin Lövdén, and Ulman Lindenberger at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development have been leading the charge in understanding fluctuations in cognitive ability over time. Not only have they demonstrated that the cognitive functioning of most people fluctuates quite a bit throughout the day and across days, but that some people fluctuate quite a bit more than others. This applies to children in elementary school as well as adults in everyday life.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

Contrary to popular belief, IQ is highly contextual. Among other things, it depends on time of day, physical location, emotional state, social dynamics, and more.

Given all of that, we need to stop plotting students within a normal distribution and instead look for each individual student’s intelligence fluxuations.

Rather than asking which students are the most intelligent, we might be of greater service by asking, “When and in what ways is each of my students intelligent?”

Once we answer that question, we can begin to design the conditions for every learner to flourish.


Question of the week:

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Christian Talbot