Sunday, March 2, 2014

16 Trends: #3 creating intellectual entrepreneurs

Yesterday ASB Un-Plugged ended with an inspirational speech from our Superintendent, Craig Johnson.  Craig had surveyed both teachers and school leaders about the things that keep them awake at night about the challenges facing education.  The teachers came up with an interesting list:

  • serving students with special needs
  • implementing good ideas
  • shifting pedagogy based on an information society
  • transitioning students between schools
In addition teachers worried about the lack of focus on:
  • parent education
  • crafting school culture
  • assessment of innovation
  • hiring for innovation and change
School leaders worry about a lot of things too: mostly teachers.  Are they able to identify the skills that students will need for the future?  Do the teachers have these skills themselves?  Are they able to teach them?

A few days ago I wrote about the book Sixteen Trends:  Their Profound Impact on Our Future by Gary Marx, which our R&D task forces are reading.  Recently I read over Trend 3, which is about social and intellectual capital (what you know and who you know) and how they are becoming the "prime sources of wealth in our new economy".  This is the knowledge, information and experiences that can be put to use to create wealth, and the networks for transmitting that information and knowledge, but it also includes the time to think and develop new ideas.  Without this time to think, we could be missing out on the innovations that will take us forward.

One statement that I think is especially important, and which has some relevance for the problems that keep school leaders up at night since it refers partly to hiring practices, is this:  "to capture the brilliance - the intellectual capital - we need to broaden the social circle .... limit the circle and you narrow the range of ideas that will refresh the organization.  Broaden it and intellectual wealth blossoms, paving the way for creating a future."  This is important as it is school, ultimately, that will be creating the next generation of intellectual entrepreneurs.  Without these people "the old will not exit; the new cannot enter".  Can schools shift to help students develop the skills they will need to become intellectual entrepreneurs:  time management, money management, being able to work as part of a team?  It seems that schools are being pulled in two different directions:  the demand for standardization - to prepare students to do well on narrowly focused tests, yet at the same time to personalize learning to meet the interests, talents and abilities of each individual student.  In a situation where schools are being faced with very contradictory demands, it is worrisome that they may not be ready to meet the challenges of Trend 3.

Photo Credit: Digital Sextant via Compfight cc

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