Fab Lab, Flipping, Failure, and Forecasting the Future: Four Great Reads!

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Fab Lab, Flipping, Failure, and Forecasting the Future: Four Great Reads!

How fast is the world of education changing?  How hard will it be to keep up with this pace?  How will we adjust, adopt, adapt and evolve in real time when our traditions are based on months and years of discussion, evaluation, assessment, training, and strategic implementation?

Here is a shotgun of radical changes that I culled from media and the blogosphere over just this weekend.  Whose job is it to track this at your school?  Even if you have someone with that in their job description, what mechanics do you have to deal with the range and implications of ideas like this, to move even a fraction of these towards implementation?

The answer is that you don’t, as long as the main resource we have to apply towards institutional innovation is our traditional matrix of vertical hierarchy, silo-ed operating organs, fragmented time associated with short-term student outcome goals, and reverence for monolithic one-size-fits-all solutions that constrain the strength of a creative, intelligent adult and student learning force.

Anyway, here is the crop from the weekend, and thanks to all those who report and bring these to life:

At Castilleja School in Palo Alto, a Fab Lab born out of work at Stanford is creating space and resources for girls to explore creativity, risk-taking, construction, and design in a lab setting, rather than the traditional lab work with pre-scripted outcomes.

At Clintondale High School in Detroit, a principal stepped back from a legacy of low performance, high discipline rates, and a tough economic climate and decided to shift how an entire school delivers the educational experience.  They have flipped the classroom experience in just 18 months, putting content on videos that students can access at home and reserving precious classroom time for what cannot be done via remote access.  Test scores are way up, discipline is way down.

Annie Murphy Paul reports on the use of “productive failure” at the Learning Sciences Lab in Singapore.  As I have argued so forcefully for more than 30 years, (see recent blog post) providing an environment for students to learn through experience, even if that translates into a struggle, provides a lasting learning experience far more than does our traditional content delivery system.

Finally, Ken Starkey writes about the need for a new philosophy for leadership demanded by a rapidly changing world.  Ken writes: I believe that we need a new approach to leadership in which the starting point is our lack of knowledge – a frank admission that we do not really know very much about how to build a sustainable system for business and society.”  This is particularly true for schools, yet will be one of our most daunting challenges in the years ahead.  Schools have been structured to rely on both the image and reality of the visionary leader, one who knows exactly where we are going and how to take us there.  In a time when change happens more quickly than a single person can absorb it, the construct of this leader is flawed and is, in fact, a threat to the institution, as reliance on this model will lead to a failure to innovate.  Leaders have to change how they lead and how they organize their systems to promote and adopt on-going flexibility, not compliance to orthodoxy. As I have blogged recently on developing the cognitasphere, the solution will lie on leveraging an equally adaptive, fluid, neural network of internal and external learners aligned with broad, skills-based educational goals.

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