How to Bring ‘More Beautiful’ Questions Back to School

KQED News Mind/Shift – Katrina Schwartz

“In the age of information, factual answers are easy to find. Want to know who signed the Declaration of Independence? Google it. Curious about the plot of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous novel, “The Scarlet Letter”? A quick Internet search will easily jog your memory. But while computers are great at spitting out answers, they aren’t very good at asking questions. But luckily, that’s where humans can excel. Curiosity is baked into the human experience. Between the ages of 2 and 5, kids ask on average 40,000 questions, said Warren Berger, author of “A More Beautiful Question,” at the Innovative Learning Conference hosted at the Nueva School. Young kids encounter something new, learn a little bit about it, get curious and then continue to add on a little more information with each new discovery. Warren says that’s where curiosity happens, in the gap between learning something and being exposed to something new.”(more)

Nick Gibb: Teach children important facts not ‘joyless’ processes, minister urges

The Independent – Oliver Wright

“Schools across England are still relegating “timeless literature, scientific wonders and great historical events” to a “back seat” in the classroom in favour of teaching pupils “joyless” skills and processes, the minister in charge of educational standards has warned. In a robust attack on the teaching profession, the schools minister Nick Gibb said he had witnessed “countless examples” of pupils being taught in ways that “systematically expunged” subject content in favour of fashionable “processes and concepts” that denied children the joy of learning.”(more)

In Search of On-ramps to Competency-based Learning

Education Next – Julia Freeland Fisher

“As more and more school systems across the country explore “going competency-based,” we need to be attentive to the processes that will actually allow such innovations to thrive. Current time- and age-based accountability measures have a stronghold on schools, even those trying to break away from the factory model of education. As a result, we would predict that time-based metrics and incentives could cannibalize many efforts to reinvent learning in a competency-based manner. School systems need to heed this warning and take pains to protect innovative competency-based approaches from the tug of status-quo pressures and performance measures.”(more)

Great Ideas For Designing Accountability Systems for Schools

Education Next – Michael J. Petrilli

“On Tuesday afternoon, we at the Fordham Institute will host a competition to present compelling designs for state accountability systems under the Every Student Succeeds Act. (Event details here.) The process has already achieved its objective, with more than two dozen teams submitting proposals that are chock-full of suggestions for states and commonsense recommendations for the U.S. Department of Education. They came from all quarters, including academics (such as Ron Ferguson, Morgan Polikoff, and Sherman Dorn); educators (including the Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellows); policy wonks from D.C. think tanks (including the Center for American Progress, American Enterprise Institute, and Bellwether Education Partners); and even a group of Kentucky high school students. Selecting just ten to spotlight in Tuesday’s live event was incredibly difficult.”(more)

How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off

The New York Times – Adam Grant

“THEY learn to read at age 2, play Bach at 4, breeze through calculus at 6, and speak foreign languages fluently by 8. Their classmates shudder with envy; their parents rejoice at winning the lottery. But to paraphrase T. S. Eliot, their careers tend to end not with a bang, but with a whimper. Consider the nation’s most prestigious award for scientifically gifted high school students, the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, called the Super Bowl of science by one American president. From its inception in 1942 until 1994, the search recognized more than 2000 precocious teenagers as finalists. But just 1 percent ended up making the National Academy of Sciences, and just eight have won Nobel Prizes. For every Lisa Randall who revolutionizes theoretical physics, there are many dozens who fall far short of their potential.”(more)

Famed Math Teacher Dan Meyer on the State of Math Education Today

Ed Surge – Blake Montgomery

“What’s math got to do with it? Everything, says Dan Meyer, creator of the the popular blog dy/dan. Meyer is one of America’s most popular math educators—he has 43,400 followers on Twitter who are ready at any moment to talk about math—and he’s been through many transformations: Math teacher, math education researcher, now chief academic officer at Desmos.”(more)