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Brain Food. Education. v1.n1.Unboundary

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Unboundary's curated sense making and mind stretching. Education, vol.1, no.1
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BRAIN FOODEDUCATION Vol. 1, No. 1

AN APPETITE FOR CHANGEA digest of major problems, solutions, and opportunities facing education in the 21st century

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FOREWORD

HELLO.

Like others, UNBOUNDARY sees education as one of the linchpin design challenges of our time. And like others, too, were drawn as if by a tractor beam to play a role. That attraction, no doubt, is fueled by the parallels we see to our quarter century of helping some of the biggest and best-known enterprises in the world rethink and transform themselves. We enter into this challenge with a declared bias: our belief that the transformation of education is interconnected to the transformations happening now in both corporations and the social innovation space

CORPORATIONS

SOCIAL INNOVATION

EDUCATION

This bias has shaped the structure and practices of Unboundary, which now has interdependent practice areas in corporate, social innovation, and education transformation. We also enter this challenge offering Brain Food: a proven approach for shifting the din of idea-sharing into a useful design-thinking discussion. Brain Food is curated provocation. It is both question and answer. It is both perspective and focus. We welcome you to Volume One, Number One of Unboundarys Education Brain Food. And we look forward to the discussion it opens among us.

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INTRODUCTION

Why isnt school more like

The philosopher Eric Hoffer once said, In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. Which begs a simple, but telling question: ARE WELEARNING AS FAST AS THE WORLD IS CHANGING?

For decadesreally, more than a centurythe school has existed as the information and knowledge commons of every community. But in the most recent decade, we have been living in a networking revolution that makes information abundant rather than scarce. This epochal change has profound implications for the core character and purpose of schools. Ironically, though, the slowest changing institution in these times of rapid change is educationthe industry that should be most focused on the constructs of learning often appears the most resistant to transformation. Education faces problems. Its basic design is largely stuck in the image of industrial-age factories. Its systemically misaligned with what we are discovering about the brain. It underperforms at developing the most precious resource for our futurecreativity. Almost 100 years ago, John Dewey said, Education is not preparation for real life. Education is real life. Yet, our education system doesnt look much like real life, and its not preparing kids for real life.

Education is a complex entity in need of systemwide adaptation and accelerated change. Were optimistic about the potential of such adaptability and acceleration because we see examples of bright spots and promising innovation. A nucleus of change is expanding around ideas such as project-based learning, design thinking, and gamification. Schools of innovative practice are emerging in the public, independent, charter, and post-secondary spheresschools like High Tech High, The Nueva School, and The Studio School. And educational leaders of visionary determination are setting their shoulders behind the drive for transformation. In the pages that follow, weve curated tight sections on the PROBLEMS, PREDICTIONS, SOLUTIONS, EXEMPLARS, and LEADERS in education. These sections contain links to explore, articles to read, and videos to watch. The resources gathered here are by no means exhaustive. Instead they are portion-controlled tastes, collected in one place to generate thinking, promote conversation, and build perspective. All so we can work more collaboratively and purposefully on the systemic transformation that education demands.

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CONTENTS

Problems

WHY SHOULD SCHOOLS CHANGE?Predictions

Learn about the issues we face in readying learners, both today and tomorrow. The case for change is strong.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?Solutions

Understand the set of skills and ways of thinking deemed essential as we educate our future citizens and leaders.

HOW MIGHT SCHOOLS CHANGE?Exemplars

Explore some of the most profound trends in educational innovation and discover ways that the education system could better align with the needs of learners.

WHO IS LEADING CHANGE?Leaders

Be inspired by the people who are mapping paths to enhanced education, and see practices that prove change is not as hard as it may seem.

WHAT HELPS MANAGE CHANGE?Discussion Guide

Learn leadership and management strategies and tactics to captain the transformation you want to steer in your organization.

TOOLS AND RESOURCES4

Use this Brain Food to become a catalyst for change in your school or learning community.

PROBLEMS

Why should

schools change?Education stands at a critical crossroads. Down one route we can see business as usual the school continuing on its habitual journey, staying the course with only minor tweaks and adjustments. Along another path, we see possibilities for significant upgrades and whole-cloth enhancements developing Education 3.0, which unifies school and real life. Some say education needs slow evolution. Others shout for immediate revolution. But what are the problems causing such focus on change, regardless of the speed of the shift? An old, outdated model. A system not keeping up with our knowledge of the brain. Disharmony between the world inside schools and the world outside school walls. Dropout rates and international comparisons. Overemphasis on standardized testing. Lack of creativity. In this first section, we point to a concise collection of pieces that describes the big problems facing education, the future of schools, and schools of the future.

FROM MILITARY FORMATION TO ASSEMBLY LINES TO ROWS AND COLUMNS OF DESKS. Photo by: JJLosier

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PROBLEMS: WHY SHOULD SCHOOLS CHANGE?

THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION IS HISTORY, YET SCHOOLS ARE STILL STUCK IN THE FACTORY

Education is modeled on the interests of industrialization and in the image of it.SIR KEN ROBINSON

For roughly the last 150 years, schools have been made in the industrial-age image of factories. Like widgets on an assembly line, students move on a bell schedule to have their heads filled with math, English, science, history, etc. Its not that the content is bad for kids, of course, but a content-centric curriculum removes much of the learning from its real-world context. Thats why the question When will I ever use this? has become the iconic student complaint. Sir Ken Robinson, who earned knighthood for his contributions to education, argues for a new paradigm for education that awakens learners senses to peak levels and shifts from standardized conformity to creative inspiration.

95%APPROXIMATELY 95 PERCENT OF WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE BRAIN WE LEARNED IN THE LAST 20 TO 25 YEARS. BUT SCHOOL CONTINUES TO LOOK ABOUT THE SAME AS IT HAS FOR THE LAST 150 YEARS. SOME TEASE THAT THE SCHOOL IS THE ONLY THING RIP VAN WINKLE WOULD RECOGNIZE IF AWAKENED FROM HIS 100 YEARS NAP.

Now the brain research doesnt say that this approach is necessarily wrong. It just reveals that this kind of approach is not compatible with how the brain learns best.RENATE NUMMELA CAINE AND GEOFFREY CAINE

RSAs mesmerizing video visualizes a segment of one of Robinsons TED TALKS, which is one of the mostwatched of all time.

Confucius said, Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand. Now, brain research confirms the philosophers wisdom. Our brains connected to our hearts thrive on the active search for meaning. We are natural explorers and discoverers. But school is largely structured for passively receiving information. Too much of school is still sit-n-get. We live in a 2.0 world, trying to get to 3.0, but the school largely remains 1.0. Many classrooms use a sage-on-the-stage format where a teacher broadcasts info to rows and columns of radio-receiver students. But in a world of Wordpress, GarageBand, and Instagram, we can be producers of knowledge, not just consumers. And dynamic knowledge the kind that integrates knowing and doing, the kind that is critical for a rapidly changing world is built through deep engagement in real-world stuff that matters. As long as 15 years ago, such educational researchers as Renate Nummela Caine and Geoffrey Caine, WRITING FOR JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF EDUCATION, implored us to upgrade school based on the modern capabilities of technology and the brain.

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PROBLEMS: WHY SHOULD SCHOOLS CHANGE?

MIND THE GAPS:

ARE WE PREPARING STUDENTS FOR OUR PAST OR FOR THEIR FUTURE?

Aran Levasseur, academic technology coordinator at San Francisco University High School, wrote, The best schools throughout history prepared their students for the social and economic reality of their time. Do you think our educational system is aligned well with this purpose of schools? The Harvard Business Reviews Tammy Erickson doesnt think so, and shes not alone. As she explained in THIS HBR PIECE, there are significant gaps between school purpose and school performance. Relevance and real-life skills gaps. Generation gaps. Network-hierarchy gaps. Global achievement gaps. Kids and adults are asking for us to address these gaps. Its got to be a priority.

For more insight from Aran Levasseur, we suggest reading Mindshifts article:DOES OUR CURRENT EDUCATION SYSTEM SUPPORT INNOVATION?

THE CREATIVITY CRISIS

Are schools killing creativity?KINDERGARTNERS AVERAGE

98%ON CREATIVITY MEASURES YET BY HIGH SCHOOL,

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