Modern Learners Newsletter #223: When Do Exceptions Become the Rule?

Greetings Fellow EduChange Travelers,

It’s been good to get a post-election look at the Land of Milk and Honey (New Zealand) and along the way sample some truly delightful Pinots from Central Otago. (Wet Jacket is definitely one to remember.)

What I’ve found on my trip here is increasing motivation to build a future that is much more than dairy and tourism, traditionally their two biggest export earners. Technology is now their third biggest.

In NZ, there is a saying that kiwis can make anything with a No.8 fencing wire. A new book, No.8 Wire Recharged suggests that ingenuity can be reshaped through a digital lens. Xero is one significant example…and remember NZ controls three times the airspace of the US, and one of the largest sea-territories of any country.

Keep a close eye on those kiwis!


PS: Change School Cohort 4 starts in January!…sign up to get notified!

1. How Natural is Numeracy

I’ve also had a thing about numeracy. Being someone who is fixated on how poorly we teach mathematics, I found this article by Phillip Ball rather interesting:

Why can we count to 152? OK, most of us don’t need to stop there, but that’s my point. Counting to 152, and far beyond, comes to us so naturally that it’s hard not to regard our ability to navigate indefinitely up the number line as something innate, hard-wired into us.

For all that is written about literacy, numeracy gets very little. I’m not sure whether more is warranted, but I like his perspective.

2. What is Reverse Mentoring?

We talk a lot about keeping up with change, about keeping up with new ideas and new ways of doing things. But how can you make that happen? Here’s a different way of solving a difficult problem:

But now I understand how that happens. When you do something year after year, it’s natural to fall into that pattern. Your stories become your shtick. And if I’m not careful, I’ll become that guy. Recently, I was showing a prospect what I thought was a great example of an email exchange. But the date on it was from 2014. For people Morgan’s age, that’s looking back at a time when they were still in college, before they spent three years in the working world. It’s ancient history.

Seems to me this is a classic teacher as learner as teacher model.

3. The Age of Agility

It seems like we get a new report on the Future of Work on a weekly basis, however, this America Succeeds White Paper is a more comprehensive look at the changes faced in the modern workforce:

Until now, people with post-secondary certificates, a community college degree, or a degree from a four-year college could take the credential and head out into the world with some confidence that they would find steady, gainful employment. That’s still the case today in many industries. But not for long. 

It’s part of what we need to know to ensure what we do stays relevant and in context with the modern world around us.

4. The Exception is the Rule

In this week’s Shifting Conversations column, I decided to tell a couple of stories :

“So my two stories are only a tiny drop in the ocean of schooling. I would love to write a book about all the Craigs, Jasons, Stephens, and Tamaras that I have met, that I have known personally, but the book would never be big enough to include them all.

What I do know is the more questions I ask people about their schooling, the more disillusioned I get about our inability to face the fact that school as we know it is not failing some students, but rather it is failing a majority of our students.”

Maybe it’s time we took a good hard look at exactly who benefits from our current models of school? Teachers?

You can read “The Exception is the Rule” in our ChangeLeaders Community, our exclusive global network of emerging and aspiring educational leaders. It’s where courageous educational leaders get real about learning and schooling.  Try 1 Month Free.

5. You Might Also Want to Read:

Audrey Watters’ Part 4 of the Monsters of Education Technology

A Guide to Make Shopping for Connected Gifts Safer, Easier, and Way More Fun from Mozilla

Why We Still Commute in This Age of Virtual Teams

Podcast with Gayle Allen talking with Dan Heath on Creating Moments that Matter

The Latest Report on the Future of Work

The More People Want to Talk About Personalizing Learning, the Less Personal it Becomes

Just When You Thought The Internet Was Starting to Behave Itself

….and here is the first response to the reported misbehavior.

If you haven’t already signed up, head across to our (semi) regular podcast seriesModern Learners.

NEW!!! Book List: Lifelong Kindergarten by Mitch Resnick…Beyond Testing by Deborah Meier and Matthew Knoester…Different Schools for a Different World by Scott McLeod and Dean Shareski…The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath…Leaving to Learn by Eliot Washor…Creating Cultures of Thinking by Ron Ritchhart

AS ALWAYS…Would love to hear your thoughts.


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