Wednesday, October 28, 2009

MassCue Keynote: Tony Wagner

Raw notes:

MassCue: Tackling 21st Century Learning
The 2009 Technology Conference

Wednesday, October 28
Keynote: The Global Achievement Gap, Tony Wagner
Co-Director Change Leadership Group, Harvard Grad School of Education

Reformulate the educational challenges that underlie 21st century learning – reframe the problem. All students need new skills for successful work, continuous learning, active and informed citizenship – these are all the same skills and we don’t know how to teach them or test them.
This generation is differently motivated to learn and work.
This is not about educational reform (punative language that blames educators). Problem is our system of public education is obsolete – it needs reinvention, re-imagination.
Thomas Friedman – The New Untouchables
– any job that can be turned into a routine will be automated or off-shored. What skills will kids need in this new economy/world? Wagner did a new type of research – interviewed leaders and developed new competencies needed for work and citizenship.

Seven Survival Skills:
1. Critical thinking and problem solving – ability to ask the right questions. School isn’t about questions, it is about the right answers.
2. Collaboration across networks and leading by influence – teams no longer led from top down, but led by those who ask good questions and lead collaboration.
3. Agility and adaptability.
4. Initiative and entrepreneurialism – stretch goals
5. Effective oral and written communication – single biggest criticism of education. Kids can’t write because they can’t think, and they don’t write with voice.
6. Accessing and analyzing information.
7. Curiosity and imagination – in a commoditized world “plain” won’t do it anymore, need creativity, imagination and elegance. Right brain skills now as important as left brain skills in new world.

Our economy is based on spending money people do not have for things they do not need, harming the environment in the process. What if spending doesn’t come back? What will create jobs? Innovation. (Next book on innovation.) How do you mentor innovation?

Helping educators become change leaders. Do kids become less curious as they pass through their K-12 education?

U.S. curriculum is now one of test prep. This is accountability on the cheap. These tests do not assess the skills that matter most. AP tests are too content driven. We can succeed on these tests and fail our kids – they don’t tell if our students are college ready, work ready, citizenship ready, or if they can think. Research papers, oral presentations, projects – time needs to be spent on this type of work to build necessary skills.

How do we stack up? Not well compared to the rest of the world. We haven’t necessarily gotten worse, other countries have gotten better and our college completion rate has gone down.

What motivates the “net” generation”? Need to engage them in their learning.
• 24/7 access, instant gratification
• Social networking, self-expression (play) in multiple formats.
• Always connected, multitasking, creating, multimedia everywhere except school.
• Less fear and respect for authority, yet hungry from mentoring and coaching – want authentic relationship with adults.
• Want to make a difference and do interesting and worthwhile work.

How are schools responding to these challenges? New pedagogy. Harvard has brand new requirements for students starting this year. A new kind of college experience.

Education 2.0 to Education 3.0
• Timeless Learning – academic content
• Rigor
• Learn by disciple
• Work alone or in competition
• Rewards system
• Isolated content

• Just-in-Time Learning (based on dynamic problem solving to create new knowledge that is disseminated through network)
• Rigor is about asking questions
• Works across discipline
• Intrinsic rewards
• Teachers are coaches first, content experts second
• Diverse assessment system (digital portfolios, exhibitions, mastery)

3 Cornerstones of School Re-Invention
1. Hold ourselves accountable for data that matters most – what is real graduation rate? Are kids graduating college, career, citizenship ready? – National Student Clearing House (
has data to track student success after kids leave. Good way to assess HS success – only about $400/year.
2. Doing the new work – teaching and testing skills that matter most
3. Doing the new work in new ways – end teacher isolation. Teachers need to work in collaborative teams, video take supervision and teaching, make work transparent. Students need powerful adult advocate.

• Gather baseline data
• Consider strategic planning process to identify critical outcomes for all students
• Create voluntary teams of teachers to develop and video lessons for critical thinking/ communication skills,
• Pilot digital portfolios to exhibit mastery
• Develop administrator skills for helpful feedback/supervision
ppt and articles, web links

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