During the 2016 school year, innovation expert Ted Dintersmith took an unprecedented trip across America. He visited all fifty states, seeking to raise awareness about the urgent need to reimagine education to prepare students for the career and citizenship demands of an increasingly-innovative world.
As he traveled, though, Dintersmith met innovative teachers all across the country — teachers doing extraordinary things in ordinary settings, creating innovative classrooms where children learn deeply and joyously. Each day, these students are engaged and inspired by their teachers, who in turn help children develop purpose, agency, essential skill sets and mind-sets, and deep knowledge. The insights of these teachers offer a vision of what school could be, and a model for how to help schools achieve it.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.61(d)|
About the Author
Table of Contents
1. Conventional Schools and Their Contexts
2. Real Gold amid Fool’s Gold
3. Prepared for What
4. The Ivory Tower
5. Letting Go
6. Social Equity
7. Human Potential
8. Doing (Obsolete) Things Better
9. Doing Better Things
10. It Takes a Village
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
There's so much to appreciate about this book, but what I love most about it is its celebration of teachers. Teachers know how to inspire kids--but they have been utterly shackled to a testing mandate that not only stifles learning but reinforces a system that rewards students for rote memorization, a skill that is virtually obsolete in the marketplace. Dintersmith writes with passion about the urgency of reform, but he's not prescriptive. Rather, he identifies the conditions that lead to deep learning and the agency that will be required for a student to be a competent citizen and competitive in the machine age. And he highlight teachers doing this innovative work all across the country - in public, private and charter schools, with resources and without. What School Could Be is a must-read for any teacher, parent or administrator who feels the urgent need to reimagine the classroom for the 21st Century.
I was a good writer in my K-12 years, decent in all subjects, and came from a home that values helping others. Yet I was a shy kid who wanted to be good and therefore was too adept at going with the flow - an “Invisible Boy”, as author Trudi Ludwig might call me. One of biggest themes What School Could Be is agency – students having choice in what they're learning, in how they learn it and if what they are doing makes difference in the lives of others or makes the world at large better. Dintersmith references a stat that says students learn ten times as fast when they are having fun. The book hammers away against teaching to the test (state and federal multiple choice tests, the ACT, the SAT, etc.) as not only taking away enjoyment and agency from students, but in favoring wealthy students who can afford tutors, whose schools offer more Advanced Placement courses, whose parents have much more likely to have been to Ivy League schools themselves. In many Ivy League schools, 50% of the student body is made up of the top 1%. A good education levels the playing field and helps everyone – success is due to merit and hard work, not the bank accounts or famous names of family members. Besides exacerbating inequality, testing doesn’t measure the very skills needed to make it in our Innovation Era – persistence, communication, collaboration and creativity. If students are given choice about projects they care about, are given opportunities to interface with local businesses, other classrooms, etc., they would have deeper knowledge about what they were working on, with teachers skillfully integrating other subject matter into the project to broaden learning. Students would also have more encouragement to be creative, fail, and try something else because of an overall goal that they chose, and would be making a difference in real-world settings. Many students learn the most through after school activities, where there aren’t any multiple choice tests to rank them. Yet the whole school day could offer these types of opportunities. In other words, the less educators teach to the test, the better students do on the test. The author backs it up with examples of classrooms and schools who succeed with alternative learning models. Yet there is a lot of resistance to more open-ended learning. Open-ended classrooms are often noisier and messier, learning gains don’t come in neat, year-by-year letter grades, and it’s different from how many parents remember learning – the teacher lecturing at the front of the classroom, students being shepherded through field trips (if they have any) and learning to be a good kid by being quiet. What makes Dintersmith’s book stand out is its impassioned bluntness. He takes on politicians at all levels and of all parties who stress testing and learning outdated skills like Algebra and Calculus, a lot of which is now done by smartphones and Google. He says arguments shouldn’t be about whether a teacher is in a union or not, but whether a school has the leadership that will do anything it takes – including open-ended learning and wide-ranging connections between schools and local businesses – to give their students agency, purpose, deeper learning and hope for their future and their important place in it. He visited all sorts of schools in all 50 states, building proof to drive his points home and giving more resources, references and ideas for educators and would-be educators.