Future of Learning Top Reads for week of Aug 12 2019

As the start of the 2019-20 school year approaches, we have selected articles that address increasingly important themes for the future of learning:

  • Antiracism.

  • College ROI.

  • The perniciousness of grades.


“How White People Can Hold Each Other Accountable to Stop Institutional Racism,” by Elly Belle in Teen Vogue

“There is always room to grow, and it’s easy to give yourself credit for being a passive ally. In 2019, we’re past that, says Lincoln Mondy, a progressive communications strategist. In order to effect real change, it’s necessary for each of us to take a look at how we’re actively being anti-racist and using our privilege.”

What does this mean for the future of learning?

You can choose to be racist or you can choose to be anti-racist. There is no in between.

With every choice, teachers and school leaders nurture seeds in students. If we want a more just and equitable America five, ten, twenty years from now, we must nurture that environment for our students today. This article offers concrete steps to nurture those seeds of anti-racism.

The future of learning depends on educators committed to being antiracist—now.


“College Still Pays Off, but Not for Everyone,” by Josh Mitchell, in the Wall Street Journal

“There are three related shifts causing economists to re-examine the returns of college. First, the wages of college graduates have remained mostly flat this century, after inflation. Second, the cost of attending college has soared. Third, even with higher salaries, significant numbers of college graduates in recent years are failing to build the kind of wealth that previous generations did.”

What does this mean for the future of learning?

As we have noted many times before, we view the volatility in college (especially around cost) as a leading indicator for independent schools.

While local realities vary, at the national level, independent K12 schools are facing a shrinking demographic pie, an increasing divergence between those who can afford an independent school education, and increased competition for that smaller demographic and socioeconomic cohort.

Such conditions call for bold vision and disciplined experimentation because, as Seth Godin has said, “incrementalism ceases to be a good strategy when there is a cliff on the route.” The future of learning depends on schools creating new sources of value while stabilizing or even reducing costs for families.


“Inverse Relationship Between GPA and Innovative Orientation,” by Peter Gray, in Psychology Today

“One of their major findings was an inverse relationship between students’ reported GPA and their orientation toward creative or innovative work. The higher the grade point average, the lower was the student’s interest in innovation.”

What does this mean for the future of learning?

Schools still need to educate students to identify and solve known problems with known solutions.

In addition, students need to practice identifying unknown problems and designing unknown solutions.

Laszlo Bock, Google’s former Head of People Operations and founder of Humu, has said, “You want people who like figuring out stuff where there is no obvious answer.”

We can begin to nurture such people by evolving away from grades.


Question of the week:

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Christian Talbot