Some thoughts from the last week…

[ February 06, 2010 ]

I am excited about the progress on five innovative project right now that should bear some fruit in the next year:

  • we are working on our CHARACTER STRENGTHS project with UPenn and KIPP
  • we are in the midst of our work with IDEO on having faculty members use the DESIGN THINKING PROCESS to redesign the school experience,  solve problems and work with students
  • we are working to transform our community service efforts into a Center for Social Change that will manage our community service, global studies, community outreach and environmental programs.
  • we are working with Tony Schwartz and The Energy Project to see how we can DEVELOP PASSIONS intentionally in our students
  • we are working with Tony Wagner, Veronica Boix-Mansilla and Grant Wiggins to see how we can have our students THINK MORE DEEPLY and aim for enduring understanding at the school both in the various subjects and disciplines and in our interdisciplinary courses

Behind all this work is the idea that there is a definable “mindset” that will prepare our students to be effective, wise and productive change-makers in our 21st century global community. Basically, I believe that there is a mindset that we are all working towards, a mindset that promotes creativity, wisdom, the application of knowledge and a strong sense of ethics. Being able to define this mindset more precisely and then educating to that mindset is what we are trying to do.

It is interesting as I talk and interact with various institutions, I observe this mindset in the people working there. People working at IDEO, The Energy Project, Harvard Project Zero, The Aspen Institute, Google, the Acumen Fund, Ashoka, Teach for America, KIPP all possess some common attributes. They are all “T-shaped people” as Morten Hansen talks about people with expertise and deep understanding but also with the human skills to make working in teams and with humans in general productive and pleasant. These people also possess a combination of the cognitive and non-cognitive skills to make the most of the situation and be effective problem-solvers. I think that figuring out how we develop this mindset in young people is an interesting questions for school communities to grapple with as we move forward. Improving education should be primarily focused on mindset development and how we can do that in good ways.

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One Comment on “Some thoughts from the last week…”

  1. headofschool

    Well, here is my precious time to stop the treadmill and glance over to see and appreciate the thoughtful planning going on at my child’s very special school. I agree that successful citizens of the future will need to be able to combine cognitive skills with compassion, and the real gems of this age, as in all ages, are those who possess that rare ability to transmit these skills to others. I think that what is perhaps different about our present age is the degree to which we are challenged not just to think, but to think about our thinking. The mental flexibility that it takes to appreciate so many diverse cultural values and approaches to life that we increasingly encounter day by day is at times astounding. My own interest lie in healing the scourge of race prejudiced in this country, and I tend to focus on that, since I believe this issue still is a great drag on our national progress. However, all manner of effort put into helping our children to love and appreciate what it takes to sustain and advance civilization is laudable, and I thank you, Mr. Randolph, for leading the charge around here!

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