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The 5th ‘C’ of 21st Century Skills? Try Computational Thinking (Not Coding)

Ed Surge – Shuchi Grover

“But the big question is: Does current K-12 education equip every student with the requisite skills to become innovators and problem-solvers, or even informed citizens, to succeed in this world with pervasive computing? Since the turn of this century, the “4C’s of 21st century” skills—critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication—have seen growing recognition as essential ingredients of school curricula. This shift has prompted an uptake in pedagogies and frameworks such as project-based learning, inquiry learning, and deeper learning across all levels of K-12 that emphasize higher order thinking over rote learning. I argue that we need computational thinking (CT) to be another core skill—or the “5th C” of 21st century skills—that is taught to all students.” (more)

5 big ideas for education innovation in 2018

E-School News – Julie Freeland Fisher

“Last year saw a flurry of activity in support of personalized learning, new school designs, and new approaches to K-12 education policy. Looking ahead, education innovators have their work cut out for them in 2018. Some of this work requires asking hard questions. Some requires acknowledging that there’s an elephant in the room. And some requires looking beyond our current conversation to where the next waves of innovation stand to emerge. Here are five ways I’m hoping the K-12 education innovation agenda moves forward in 2018.” (more)

Is Disruptive Innovation Driving K-12 Privatization?

Education Next – Thomas Arnett

“If you’ve followed the K–12 education dialogue over the last decade, then you’re probably familiar with the term “disruptive innovation.” Edtech entrepreneurs and school choice advocates sometimes invoke it as an indomitable force that will redeem and transform broken school systems. Meanwhile, people on the other sides of these debates worry that “disruption” is a flawed yet rhetorically powerful narrative used to rationalize K–12 privatization. Somewhere in the middle are skeptics who give consideration to the idea, but wonder if disruption is an oversold term that is likely to underdeliver on its proponents’ promises.”(more)

Preparing kids to change the rules

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


U.S. children are less creative than they were 30 years ago. Many people attribute this decline in inventiveness to over-scheduling of organized activities and emphasis on high-stakes testing and rote learning. These factors may be part of the reason children are unimaginative, but minimal exposure to “failure” and limited life experiences also keep U.S. kids from reaching their full creative potential.

To create, a person must be comfortable “failing” because “trial and error” is part of the innovative process. Many U.S. children are uncomfortable with “failure” because they have little exposure to it. In many cases, well-intentioned parents shield their kids from life’s tough lessons, because it is easier to solve problems for their children than to spend the time and energy necessary to help their children learn how to solve problems on their own.

Among other things, parents negotiate with coaches to get their children places on the best teams rather than encouraging their kids to work hard and talk with the coaches themselves. Parents talk with principals to negotiate grades rather than forcing their children to take responsibility for their performance. Too frequently, parents complain about “bullying” when another kid says something unkind on the playground rather than teaching their children how to overcome negativity.

As a result, the first thing parents need to do is set expectations and let their children learn by doing. This requires letting go and being available to coach as their children work to recover from life’s setbacks. Through this process children learn that there are consequences to actions, “failure” is a part of life, and success requires perseverance. Specifically, when things don’t work perfectly the first time, one can make adjustments until “failure” becomes “success”.

Another problem is parents are so worried about safety, that kids are isolated. This means children often lack the exposure required to come up with innovative solutions to a problem. Parents can easily address this issue by encouraging their children to take on activities outside of their peer group. Simple undertakings like participating in discussions with adults, welcoming a foreign exchange student, attending a history lecture, teaching a class, volunteering at the hospital, or working on a special project for a politician, all help broaden exposure.

Once children know how to recover from “failure” and have a broad understanding of how the world works, they should have the skills and the self-confidence to innovate.

Why ‘Unlearning’ Old Habits Is An Essential Step For Innovation

KQED News Mind/Shift – Leah Shaffer

“Teachers are increasingly being asked to embrace new ideas and styles of teaching, but schools don’t always give their educators time or the mental space to absorb and apply those concepts. That’s why the idea of “unlearning” was worth exploring for Beaver Country Day School, a private 6-12 school in Massachusetts, which serves as something of a lab for unlearning in practice.”(more)

What the World Can Teach Us: International Lessons on Choice and Innovation in Education

Home Room – Staff Writer

“Every student in the United States deserves a great education. And, every parent in this country – regardless of background, income or zip code – deserves the right to choose the school that is best for his or her child. To achieve that goal, Secretary DeVos has called for “a transformation that will open up America’s education system.” If we’re going to meet the diverse needs of today’s learners, we need fresh thinking and innovative approaches. There’s plenty we can learn from other countries, as they strive to prepare their students for 21st century realities. Those lessons were the subject of a recent briefing at the Department – the first of a new series of learning sessions the Secretary has launched, focused on effective, student-centered education. The speaker was Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).”(more)