Sorry to be late on this post, but better late than never. Over the last couple of years there appears to have been a real and true awakening that the world is changing…in fact has already changed…and that our schools need to catch up at the risk of becoming obsolete. The recent NAIS annual conference in Seattle was a case in point. Some school leaders are really embracing that the way we have done things for the last 150 years is simply out of step with what is required of us going forward. We cannot keep feeding an industrial age model in an information age world. The examples were many and varied at the meeting, and I found plenty of leading-edge presentations to occupy 2-3 days. It was hard to find someone who did not know what it means to work in a silo and to flip a classroom.
The keynote by now-famous teacher John Hunter talking about his World Peace Game was a true highlight that will become a shared metaphor for all teachers after the documentary is shared on PBS this spring. I had the good luck to be able to sit down with John for a few minutes and share ideas about The Art of War and teaching these skills of strategic thinking to young people as I have shared in my own book, The Falconer.
There was Beaver Country Day School out of Boston, reporting on their work with NuVu, a design studio experience where BCDS and other students spend a trimester learning a new process of thinking, creativity, design, production, and communication on ideas that encompass, engineering, the arts, storytelling, music, politics, and more.
There was Hathaway Brown School, where their girls attend to a traditional course load but within an outer “solar system” of thematic programs depending on their passions and interests.
There was Berkeley Carroll School, where they have created highly rigorous social studies and English classes that provide a valid alternative to their AP program, and, since they have taken the time to effectively communicate their mission to many college admissions officers, the students are not somehow penalized for choosing passion and substance over traditional content.
There were several schools that will host design innovation summits this spring and summer, and many, many schools that have created senior administrative positions with titles like Director of 21C Learning, Chief Innovation Officer, or Chief Imagination Officer. The times just may be a’changing.