01 Mar 2015
The future of learning, the value of foresight, and vintage TorontoRe: Don Licking (MBA 1962); Alison Sander (MBA 1986); Liz Muir (HRPBA 1958)by Sean SilverthorneTopics:
Book Review: The Future of Learning
To educate America’s youth, we treat them like products in a factory, according to the education experts who wrote Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools. We march students through standardized courses and standardized tests, on a standardized timeline. Some pupils excel, some fail, most produce average results. Not much of a product, say authors Michael B. Horn (MBA 2006) and Heather Staker (MBA 2001).
The solution? Provide students with a blended experience that combines online learning outside the school with supervised education inside. Online, students can pace themselves, taking as long as needed to master difficult concepts before moving on. Inside the school, students are supervised, mentored, protected, and nourished. Blended learning combines the two approaches to deliver an integrated course of learning with the benefits of personalization, equity and access, and cost control.
The goal of the book, however, is not to make a case for blended learning—rather, it’s to provide educators with a step-by-step road map for disrupting their classrooms.
First, Horn and Staker take a product designer’s approach, determining what job it is that users are trying to “hire” their product to do. From a student’s perspective, education’s job is to make them feel successful and to have fun with friends. Traditional schools do a poor job of satisfying those requirements, thus generating unmotivated and distracted students.
To rebuild the educational enterprise to better meet those needs, the authors lead readers through a series of key processes: goal-setting, organizing teams, designing the best experiences for students and teachers, creating culture, and conducting ongoing testing of content, technology, and facilities.
Education’s work is never done, so creating a culture of continual improvement is vital. “Making progress and never standing still is a hallmark of a healthy society and healthy schools, and it models the capacity for lifelong learning that we seek to instill in students,” the authors conclude.
What I'm Reading
“A delightful read, if one likes mysteries. Penny has developed a character in Inspector Gamache who is multifaceted, as so many of us are—capable, troubled, sensitive, and somewhat direct in communication. This is one of her later ones in the Gamache series, but a good read whether or not one has read earlier ones.”
—Don Licking (MBA 1962), on Beautiful Mystery, by Louise Penny
“We live in a world where foresight is increasingly critical. Too many companies aim to be market leaders in 2015, and not nearly enough are aiming to be market leaders in 2025. Foresight is a muscle that can be developed.”
—Alison Sander (MBA 1986), director of Boston Consulting Group’s Center for Sensing & Mining the Future, from her October 2014 TED@BCG Berlin talk “Megatrends—The Art and Science of Trend Tracking.”
“They’d watch for the ice man, pick up the small loose pieces that fell when he was carrying the ice, and suck on them like popsicles. They used to stand
under the railway bridge at Queen and De Grassi Streets when the steam engine was on the tracks. The kids became enveloped in steam and smoke, with
cinders falling all around like ‘sleet.’ And they’d make their own scooters—a narrow board with a crosspiece for the handlebars with one roller skate in front and one in the back.”
—Youthful pursuits in the Riverdale section of eastern Toronto in the early 20th century, as recounted in Riverdale: East of the Don by Elizabeth Gillan Muir (HRPBA 1958)
Class of MBA 2006, Section B
Class of MBA 2001, Section A