Future of Learning Top Reads for week of June 3 2019

“Mastery School,” by The Hawken School

“The Mastery School of Hawken is built around three overarching educational concepts:

  • Courses and programs organized around real world problem solving.

  • A mentorship approach to instruction allowing for more project-based and personalized learning.

  • An assessment model that leads students to learn deeply and persist to mastery.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

First, a caveat: this is a press release from the Hawken School about their new intiative, The Mastery School at Hawken, which will open in 2020.

Hawken’s Head of School, Scott Looney, is the visionary who quietly built a coalition of hundreds of schools that have committed to implementing mastery-based assessment (as a replacement for traditional grades).

Hawken has invested a few million dollars in The Mastery School, so Looney and his Board of Trustees are putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to the future of learning. Keep an eye out for fast followers.

…speaking of mastery-based learning…


“Much Ado About Mastery-Based Transcripts: What Schools Need to Know and What They Can Do | Great Schools Partnership,” by Stephen Abbott, on the Great Schools Partnership blog

“In the many conversations and meetings we’ve we had with colleges and universities, admissions officers have repeatedly told us—unequivocally—that mastery-based grades and transcripts will pose no problems whatsoever for applicants to their institutions. In fact, many of these institutions—including some of the most highly selective institutions in the world, such as Harvard and MIT—have provided public statements expressing this position. And the New England Board of Higher Education even published a position paper on mastery-based transcripts and college admissions that affirms what admission officers have been telling us for years: there is no cause for concern as long as sending schools provide some basic information and context explaining their systems.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

Just in case you remain skeptical about mastery-based approaches…

“Colleges and universities simply do not discriminate against applicants based on the grading system or transcripts of their sending school, as long as the school’s documentation clearly presents and describes its policies, programs, and practices.”

All school leaders should read this essay, which is chock full of practical advice for shifting to a mastery-based transcript. Parents will find it illuminating as well.


”Meet the school with no classes, no classrooms and no curriculum,” by Andrew Webb, on Medium.com

“Crucially, the students, not the teaching staff, were the only ones consulted on what the school should contain, look like, and do.”

Why does this matter to the future of learning?

What would happen if you let kids design school?

At Agora in the Netherlands, there is no set curriculum; rather, learning is fully emergent, because the kids are the ones asking—and answering—the most important questions there are: Who am I? Who are we? What matters to us? What are we going to do about it?

Needless to say, this requires a very different kind of teaching faculty (“coaches” or “facilitators,” in fact).

While Agora might be an edge case, typical schools can easily experiment with a contained version of this (e.g., by carving out half a day once a week). However one structures the experiment, letting kids design their own curriculum is critical to learning to explore unknown questions with unknown answers.


Question of the week:



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Christian Talbot