Honestly, Where Are We Going

At the IL Google Summit, I was asked to join the keynote speaker on stage to discuss Spartans Connect and the link to Google 20% time. After explaining this, an audience member asked “how do I assess this day?”

I responded with “Joy, Happiness, and Sparks of interests/passions”.

And If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, my beliefs about the purpose of education and where are focus should be are clear: interests, joys, passions, and experiences.

As I’ve said many times the purpose of education should be to ignite and support the passions of learners while developing the skills, habits of mind, experiences, and dispositions that foster the whole child and qualities of genius.

This means a focus on the whole-learner through a balance of knowing (content), doing (skills), thinking (habits of mind), and acting (dispositions).

We get there in part through diverse, rich experiences where students are agents of their own learning who are empowered to acquire not receive an education . We do this through an organizational belief in agility and engagement.

This is why Gallup’s recent piece GPA, SAT, ACT…RIP nails it by challenging our definition of student achievement/success of GPA and standardized tests (or just say college readiness exams):

Gallup’s best research, [supports] for example, that the three constructs of hope, engagement, and wellbeing account for as much as one-third of the variance in student success. Yet our nation’s school are not paying attention to these kinds of things. What we’re starting to learn is that “soft skills” and “social-emotional” learning are pretty important. There’s a case that the “soft stuff” may be the best measures of all.

This is a rightful direct assault on current practices in education that are sucking the life out of students and teachers while bringing big money to businesses and consultants feasting on this false deity.

As they go on to say, “The biggest problem with standardized testing is that it seeks standardized answers. …
we’ve found that each person’s success is best determined by how well they leverage their unique talents on a daily basis. Not by trying to be the same as others. And not by trying to “fix their weaknesses.”

We can no longer claim to believe in the individual student if we continue supporting a system of assessment driven by seeing them as a collective unit meant to be mass produced in the same way at the same time instead of seeing them as a separate learner meant to be uniquely fostered.

1 Comment

  1. I agree completely. That’s why I love what gbn has done with informal learning opportunities and students and teachers sharing their passions. you`re spot on about schools often failing to educate the whole student. How much better off would students be if they had more opportunities to learn about things that they are interested in or merely curious about without having to commit to semester long courses, or grades? It would be great to see more students teaching one another about what they know. This is one of ,my big goals for the gbs library–i want to help foster inquiry, passion, and mastery in a way that allows people to explore without the constraints of a traditional curriculum. I want the library to be a true Democratic learning space for the whole school.

    Anyway, you`re onto something important here and I hope we`ll be talking about this in the future.



  1. The Wolsey Hall Blog | Link Roundup – Friday 19th July - [...] “Honestly, Where Are We Going” by Ryan [...]

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