LISTEN — Class Disrupted Podcast Episode 5: My Kid’s Able to Finish Schoolwork in 3 Hours. So What Is He Doing for the 6 in School?
- Why does it take 8 hours for students to get through the school day? @ClassDisrupted podcast with @dianetavenner & @michaelbhorn @angeladuckw #COVID19
- If the school is teaching the same content and assignments that students are now getting through in just a couple hours at home, what are they doing at school for 8 hours? @ClassDisrupted podcast with @dianetavenner & @michaelbhorn @angeladuckw
Class Disrupted is a weekly education podcast featuring author Michael Horn and Summit Public Schools’ Diane Tavenner in conversation with educators, school leaders, students and other members of school communities as they investigate the challenges facing the education system amid this pandemic — and where we should go from here. Find every episode by bookmarking our Class Disrupted page or subscribing on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or Stitcher (new episodes every Tuesday).
So much time is left on the cutting room floor at school — which parents are seeing more clearly than ever before as kids finish their schoolwork in a small fraction of the time they would normally spend at school. In this episode, we look at how schools could use this time to teach the habits of success kids will need to be prepared adults. Habits include things like time management, working with others and the ability to self-direct. These habits are vital for success — in high school, in college, at work and at home.
We also talk with Grit author Angela Duckworth more about what these habits are, how they’re intertwined with academic learning and how they can be explicitly taught. And we talk to Veronica Vital, lead teacher of Acorn Montessori in Minneapolis, who puts these ideas into practice every single day.
Matt, a parent: When the school shut down and went to remote learning, we were really fascinated by how quickly our kids adjusted to distance learning. And how hard of a time the teacher seems to have with just the basic tools and systems and then how to translate their curriculum to a digital format. But the thing that really jumped at me was, my wife and I were having conversations with our kids every day, saying, “Hey, what are you doing? Why are you guys playing video games?” or “Why do you want to go outside and play and it’s only midway through the day?” And they’re like, “Well, we’ve already done our work.” And we were like, that can’t be right. And so we double-checked their assignments and their tests. And they got all their work done in a couple hours.
And that really made Theresa and I question, why does it take them eight hours a day at school? If the school is teaching them the same content and administrating the same number of tests and they’re able to get through them in a few hours?
Listen to the episode below. A full transcript follows.
Diane: Hi, I’m Diane Tavenner.
Michael: And I’m Michael Horn. Today in Class Disrupted, we’re going to dig into just what this parent asked, because he’s not the only one asking this question right now, Diane. This is a question being asked all across the country, pretty much regardless of age. Why are kids normally in school for so many hours if it takes them like, two hours to do their schoolwork? What exactly are they doing then with the rest of the time in school? Is it time well spent or is it just wasted hours? And if it’s wasted hours, what else could they be doing instead? To answer these questions, I’m really excited, Diane, because we’re going to talk to two incredible women. First, Angela Duckworth, the author of the best-selling book Grit and the CEO of Character Lab. She’s going to talk to us about some of the life habits students could be using that time in school to learn and why these habits are so important to later life success.
And then we’re going to talk to a teacher, Veronica Vital of the Acorn Montessori school in Minneapolis, about what this actually looks like in practice, not just during school, when they’re actually physically present, but also when they go remote and how they’ve been able to maintain the continuity of developing these critical life habits for all of their kids.
But first, Diane, I confess I’m really excited because you were a teacher for years in a traditional school before founding Summit Public Schools. You weren’t born right with Summit. And I suspect not a lot of people know that because you’re so synonymous with Summit now.
So why in that traditional school did school take as long? What were you doing all day, if the schoolwork really just takes two hours?
Diane: Michael, it’s an interesting question, especially right now, because school districts are in the midst of planning for next year. And one of the questions on the table is, should we have rotations of kids and maybe not spend as much time in the building?
And so it’s a really profound moment to be asking this question. When I was a teacher, what did we do all day? There’s a lot of time spent in transitioning, Michael, quite frankly, like getting into the building, moving from class to class, getting a class started, getting a class to wind down. The problem there is that all of that adds up to a fairly small amount of really meaningful learning time. Because when you get through all of those transitions, you don’t really have enough time to get into a rhythm or a flow to do really substantial work.
Michael: Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean, we’ll talk about this more in a future episode, but harkening back to the last episode and projects, that’s obviously one of the reasons it’s hard to do projects, is because you never get into that flow. But I also imagine that there’s another element, which is that there’s a lot of class management you’re doing during those 45 to 50 minutes, right? Time dealing with disruptions, kids acting out, that’s not actually spent on teaching.
Diane: One of the most disappointing terms I think we have in education is classroom management. This whole notion that a single adult should be managing the behavior of 25 or 30 kids and that they sit in rows and they follow the rules and they’re not engaging with each other. It is just so counter to everything we know about how kids actually learn.
Michael: Yeah, it’s interesting. Because it essentially implies that the teacher needs to orchestrate everything and somehow manage sort of like a factory, which again, we’re going to talk about in a future episode, but it’s sort of like, we have to manage all of you as opposed to developing each individual student as an agent in their own right. To drive their learning and make these decisions so that they’re productive. We put so much on the teacher and it becomes this waste of time.
Diane: Basically, you’re right, and the parent at the top of the episode is right. There’s a lot of time in school that we’re not really using to learn and advance learning in a productive way.
Michael: So let’s bracket all that wasted time. And then the big question is, so does school still need to be six hours if we’re saying four hours are really wasted right now?
Diane: Oh my gosh. Yes. Michael, of course. Yes. Yes. Yes. It definitely needs to be six hours. We have to use every single minute of that time.
Michael: All right. So go a level deeper, right? Because now I’m hearing we’re wasting all this time, but we need all this time. So I’m no math major — anyone who knows me will tell you that — but how exactly are you using that time?
Diane: Well, Michael, we should be capturing that time to help kids develop a whole other set of skills that I’m pretty sure everyone from parents, to teachers, to students recognize are really valuable, and these are skills that schools aren’t traditionally taking on. At Summit, we call them the habits of success. Some people call them social-emotional skills. Some people call them noncognitive skills. That’s my least favorite of all of the names. I don’t really care what we call them.
Michael: I totally agree with you, but “noncognitive skills” feels like it feels almost dismissive for something that’s incredibly important to cognition. Right, Diane?
Diane: So true. Because what I’m talking about when I am naming these things, I’ll just call them habits of success for right now, is that these are things like time management, working with others, the ability to self-direct — these are incredibly vital skills for success in life, for success in college, for success at work, for success at home. And so I agree with you. I don’t want something that makes them sound diminished in any way.
Michael: So let’s take this down a level and away from the abstraction, right? Let’s say a student’s working to solve a problem. In elementary school it might be how to keep a squirrel from raiding a bird feeder, which is something we thought a lot about recently in my own home, or how to persuade people to eat less junk food or whatever it might be. And so they’re working not just on their reasoning and critical thinking skills, which we talked about last episode, but also on things like goal setting, responding to setbacks as you’re moving forward in the project, and things like that. Is that right?
Diane: That’s exactly right. And I can’t emphasize enough that they’re practicing goal setting and responding to setbacks in very intentional ways, again and again and again. This is the most common misunderstanding about these things. They are developable.
OK, Michael, I’m going to catch myself because I could talk to you about this forever, but we’re very fortunate because one of my very favorite people to talk to about this is Angela Duckworth. And I love talking to her about the science behind this, and the fact that she is a mom and really gets it, and an educator. So let’s talk to Angela and see what she has to say.
Angela, you call the set of skills character. We call them habits. We’re talking about the same thing. I think I want to start with, a lot of people think these are things that you’re born with and that you just have them or you don’t. Can you help us?
Angela: I think that the idea, the connotation, that it’s fixed as opposed to malleable is one reason why some people don’t like the word “character,” and I can appreciate that. The sound of it is like, “Well, you have good character.” “You don’t have good character.” You know, you either have a lot of empathy for other people or you don’t. But one of the things as a psychologist who’s been studying the development of children I can say is that these things are completely malleable. And when I say that, I mean that there isn’t one of these qualities that we have been talking about that isn’t malleable. It doesn’t mean that there’s no genetic component. Of course there is, to, honestly, everything about us. But schools, I think, are one of the most important places where a child can learn the skill sets and mindsets that lead them to be grateful and empathetic and curious, and so on.
At ASU-GSV, Angela Duckworth Talks Grit and the Challenges of Building a Movement: ‘Education Is So Hard That It Tests Even My Own Grit’
Michael: I’m curious — a lot of people sort of segment these skills from the academic knowledge and academic learning and growth and so forth. What’s your take on that, and how should they reinforce each other, or are they truly separate?
Angela: There is a reason why some people call these nontraditional skills or nonacademic skills. And they talk about the other half of the report card. And I understand why they say these things because, for example, standardized achievement tests or other tests of cognitive skill don’t pick up on empathy, or curiosity even, or necessarily even self-control, etc. So there’s a reason why we separate these because, you know, some of our tried and true, or at least commonly used, academic measures are not picking up well on the whole kid. So that’s a very legitimate reason they are separable. However, when people say, but are they the same as your academic skills? Well, there’s a sense in which the answer to that is yes, because if you are lacking in the ability to stay focused and to work hard when things are hard, when you are unable to engage in your work, you don’t learn what you need to learn in school.
And in some ways, what we want to message to educators and parents is that there is a rainbow of things that we want all kids to develop, and if they do, they will thrive. Not only academically, but also physically, socially and emotionally. And so, yeah, there’s a separateness, but also these are deeply intertwined.
You think of it as almost like fibers in a fabric. You can’t actually have academic success unless you begin to develop and work on these in schools.
Diane: Angela, that’s a perfect place to dive in because you are a mom and an educator and a scientist and a researcher all wrapped up in one. And I think you understand deeply what this means in the settings of schools. And you spend a lot of your time working in schools and with schools. Can you help us just understand or visualize what the best schools do to bring these skills together, to weave this fabric, as you just talked about?
Angela: Well, I will not overestimate — I am actually like a 7-out-of-10 mom, and that’s actually on a good day.
Michael: A lot of people would take that average.
Angela: If you ask my kids, they would probably be less generous. So yeah, I do have a 17- and 18-year-old at home.
I will say this about the schools that I most admire and also the parents that I most admire. And I do think there are parallels. There are two things that I find as a pattern, and these are substantiated by research as well. One is there’s modeling, right? I mean, you can’t ask your kids to be kind and humble if you’re not kind and humble. And I know that sounds like a kind of obvious thing, but I have had teachers and parents that I have been observing in some way, shape or form where there’s a disconnect, you know. Like they talk about growth mindset, but then when somebody comes in and says like, “Hey, I have a new enrichment opportunity, I wonder which students would be interested?” And the teacher quite obviously is like, “Oh, you know, these two.” Because they’re smart. It’s like, ah, that would not be what Carol Dweck would want you to say right now. So, so this disconnect between our actions and what we say we believe in, I think it can be, um, one of the things that undermines the development of these qualities.
And so when there is consistent modeling, you know, if your mom says to you, like, “Hey, I think it’s important to be really respectful to all people,” but then a telemarketer calls. I’m using this as a story of personal vulnerability, because I have said to my own daughters, “Oh, it’s really important to be kind to people and understand everyone is carrying their own heavy burden,” and then a telemarketer calls and I’m cranky and annoyed and I am nasty and I slam the phone down, and my kids are like, “Oh yeah, that was kind.”
So, modeling is one thing. And the second thing is actually more explicit than implicit. And I know this position might be a little controversial, so I’m curious what you would say as an educator, Diane, but I think that explicit naming of core values, like, you know, I’m saying what we think is important, giving some explicit instruction. It’s not enough to say, “Hey, we value hard work and discipline.” I think kids need to be helped. Like, how do I make a plan? What does it mean to make a schedule? What does it mean to take charge of my own learning? So I think there’s an explicit element to the development of these qualities and skills. I think some people would disagree with me and they would say like, “Oh, it’s all implicit,” but I don’t see that.
Diane: You know, one of the things we’re noticing is these skills we’re talking about right now becomes ever more important. And as kids come home and parents are watching this, they’re seeing this spotlight shined on the skills that their kids have or have not developed. And so I guess we’re wondering a little bit about a couple that keep coming up for us, which are the ability to self direct, where kids really take ownership of their learning and drive it forward. And then also collaboration. I think sadly people often think kids go to school to be social. And yet when you really think about it, school is so not social. And so I wonder if you have some insights for us on those couple of really key skills.
Angela: Yeah. So if I’m hearing you correctly, and I couldn’t agree more, one of the things that, as we transitioned to the pandemic situation, it’s self regulation, you know, “I am in charge of my own learning.” And also working with others. Much before the pandemic, it struck me as somebody who teaches primarily at the college level that when you have 18-year-olds who leave traditional K-12 schooling and they get to college where that’s the name of the game, right? Nobody’s going to wake you up for your 9 o’clock class. And nobody’s even going to tell you that you missed your 9 o’clock class, even your professor isn’t going to say anything about the fact that they haven’t seen you at the 9 o’clock class all semester. So this idea that students at some point have to develop autonomy, and the skills that are undergirding autonomy, that’s crucial.
And then, you know, life is a team sport. And so much of schooling — I would also call out university education for being kind of, strangely, a solo sport. Like it’s only your GPA. How did you do on the final exam? What was your essay like? One of my colleagues at the university where I teach, Penn, Adam Grant, has a scheme that can benefit your other classmates. I can’t remember the exact details, but it’s like, when you do well, you can somehow share the support to other students. I’ll have to get the details on that for you. But I do think that in these two domains, that is life, right? In life, you take care of yourself and you take care of other people. How do we get K-12 education to be closer to that?
And I’ll offer a couple of suggestions from scientific research. For the first thing, you know, taking charge of your own schedule, of your own learning: One of the things just to recognize is that this is not innate, right? And when you see a kid who does it really well, you’re like, “Oh, but they did it, you know, so why aren’t all the other kids?” These are skills that need to be practiced. In most cases, I think students really need direct instruction. Like literally, this is how you schedule things, this is what it means to make a plan, this is why we make plans, here are some examples of plans. Now you try to make a plan and I’ll give you feedback on that plan and we’ll see, if it doesn’t work, we’ll all learn something. So it’s a skill, this idea of autonomy and self-regulation.
And then on collaboration. I mean, I think here again, it is a skill. I think one of the core findings that’s emerging from very, very new research published in 2020 and still unpublished, is that at the core of, at the root of being a really terrific team player is empathy. For example, there are some new research studies showing that it doesn’t have to do with your measured intelligence, and it doesn’t even necessarily have much to do with how much you already know about the domain. So say, for example, everybody’s in teams of four and they all have to do an ecology project and, like, one person’s already good at algebra, so maybe they’re the best team player. And it turns out what really makes you a great team player is that you can be very sensitive to the emotions and thoughts of other people on your team. And that you can basically put the team performance above your own individual success.
I think those two are skills that all young people shouldn’t be expected to just have spontaneously and miraculously. But throughout the process of schooling, we help them develop those skills.
Michael: I’m curious, that point on empathy is particularly poignant right now. But, and, and in some ways, a lot of what you’re saying, it’s almost obvious what I’m about to ask, but can you connect the dots for us about why developing these skills are so critical? Not just to school success, but life success?
Angela: Well, if you think about, for example, launching our young people at some point, you know, after they’ve completed their schooling, into a job. In 99.99 percent of cases they’re going to need to work very closely with other people. So if they cannot appreciate that, “Oh, this person that I’m talking to….” I will give you a really specific example. Say the young person that you care about gets a job, and you know, they’re having an email exchange with a colleague, and it’s just one of those things. I think we’ve all been in this, where there’s like a little misunderstanding that leads to a bigger misunderstanding that leads to an even bigger one. And it’s like suddenly, you’re dreaming up all kinds of ulterior motives for this colleague and how they really hate you or are undermining you. And I’ve experienced that myself. And for example, I think, young people need to learn that when you are communicating in a medium like email or text, because they’re not able to share facial expressions and intonation and they can’t see you smile and they can’t see that what you just said was just sarcastic and humorous, not literal, that these things can escalate. And so that is an example of one concrete skill.
And I do think it has to be explicit, not just sort of like, “Oh yeah. At some point you have to figure it out.” In my lab, my students are older, right? Because they’re graduating. But we have a rule — it’s the 48-hour rule. And if there is a confusion after 48 hours — or the two-email rule — like if there is some lingering confusion on your end, if you’re a little confused and maybe a little irritated after two emails, you’re not allowed to email again. You have to call. So you can at least hear the person’s voice. And those are the sorts of skills, I think, no matter what you do when you grow up, you’re going to need them. And I hope someone will have taken the time to have taught you them.
Michael: Great conversation with Angela, Diane, and some strong takeaways that I had from it: These habits of successes, you’ve come to call them, they really need to be modeled, but not just that, they need to be explicitly taught because they’re really intertwined, like fibers in a piece of fabric, if you will.
Diane: It’s what we’ve been talking about all along in this podcast. You know, you have to bring together the digital learning pieces that we talked about, the projects we talked about last week, and bring them all together into a really meaningful experience so that kids can be developing all of those different things at the same time.
What we don’t want to have is to think that, oh, we can go over here and have an hour-long session of learning an executive functioning skill. And then somehow magically, you know, they’ve learned those social-emotional things that they need to learn. It has to be baked into what they’re doing every single day.
Michael: If you think about it at another level, take the issue of being sensitive to the feelings of others on a team, for example, right? And how that’s at the heart of being a good team player, for example. In a school setting, you can apply it by explicitly teaching kids how to collaborate with each other. And before all our listeners right now, and you, groan, because when most people think about doing group work in a school setting, they have all of their baggage, if you will, that they bring to it, the project that they got stuck with or whatever it might be. But the whole point of this is that you just don’t throw a group of kids together and say, OK, go work on this project, good luck. Instead, you teach them how, step by step, and you build those skills in all of them.
Diane: Yes, Michael, none of this is easy. And in fact, look no further than adults to know that people struggle with this. I think lots of people have had experiences in their workplace where a group of adults is thrown together and it’s a bit of a disaster because they don’t have these skills. And it’s no wonder because we don’t teach them, you know, where do you learn these things? And so imagine what would be possible if all kids learned how to be really good at a bunch of these key habits before they graduated from high school? Because these absolutely translate into the workplace, into their real lives, into their futures. And we know the amount of time that employees spend helping each other and working through challenges that come about when people don’t have these skills.
Michael: Yeah. And you know, this actually gets at the heart of why my wife and I chose a Montessori school for our girls. And it wasn’t just like, Oh, they’re going to learn math and reading and stuff like that. We were way more excited about the intertwining of these habits of success into the academics. And it was really that marriage of the two that got us so excited. And honestly, now that we’ve been sheltering in place for, I don’t know how long, we’re seeing that the habits that they started to develop at school really play out at home, which has been awesome. And I think so many people, when they think Montessori, because they don’t really know it, they have this perception that it’s this free for all, students just get choice in whatever they do and so forth, but they don’t realize that it’s a prepared environment where there’s an intentional set of activities and kids get long stretches to work on the things that they want to, but with planning around it and they daily, like every single day, they’re practicing planning. They’re thinking about it. They would come home at night and tell me what their plan was for the next day. As they start to progress up in these mixed age groups, they get daily practice leading and teaching others. It’s incredibly intertwined and extraordinarily powerful, Diane.
Diane: You know, Michael, I’m a big fan of Montessori, too. And a lot of people might not realize that Maria Montessori really was a scientist, the way she approached learning and the development of a learning environment for kids was in a very scientific way. And so the core of Montessori and the approach is not based on gut feelings. It’s really grounded in a very systematic data-driven way, she used the science to follow what she observed and created a schooling experience that really is compatible with how kids actually learn and develop.
Michael: Yeah. It really was a cool marriage of her being able to take the theory and actually put it into applied practice and see how it worked with real kids. And there are a lot of schools that are good at intertwining, these academics and habits, right? And honestly, the best of them have been able to do this in spite of the remote learning, which let’s be honest, it’s a huge task, because teachers and the schools were not prepared for this. And yet, because that’s been at their core, when they’ve taken those principles, they’ve been able to make this leap, Diane.
Diane: We are so fortunate because it’s really hard to get any teacher’s time right now. They are so incredibly busy with the end of year and trying to serve their students. So I am really grateful to Veronica from Acorn Montessori, who made some time to graciously talk to us about what’s happening in her school in classrooms.
Veronica: I’m Veronica Vital, teacher leader with the Wildflower Foundation, and Acorn Montessori is our baby, our school. We are located in South Minneapolis, inside the Sabathani Community Center, and serve families of all backgrounds. Before the pandemic, you know, we have created such a beautiful learning environment where children come and learn many skills. Montessori is a foundation that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning, and collaborative play, that truly fosters that independence to our children, so there is always that love and that joy going in the classroom where children truly learn to be leaders. They learn to, to help one another by discovery, by being allowed to look at those skills in a prepared environment. It’s just so beautiful.
Diane: Can you tell us what a prepared environment means to you? Because it means something very specific, I think, at your school. What does the prepared environment look like?
Veronica: It is really specifically prepared for the ages that we serve. Meaning like, you know, a 3-year-old is not ready to read, but there are other things that will prepare the hand. They will prepare their mind to get them where they should be. And that means we need to be very meticulous in preparing the environment for serving those needs and those skills that they will get from it. They learn at their own pace. If you are 3, and I am 3, that doesn’t mean we are on the same page. So that’s totally fine. And that’s why the prepared environment serves those needs — it’s prepared for every single need of every single child. So teachers have to be keen observers of what the needs are in the classroom and prepare.
Diane: When I have visited Montessori schools, what I’ve noticed is that in the space and in the classroom, there’s all these different activities. And some of them look academic — some of them will be cards with words and vocabulary or books. Some will be math manipulatives, and others will be tea sets or kitchens, sometimes I’ve even seen knives. You know, most people wouldn’t give small children actual knives, to cook and prepare snacks, but I think that the culture in the classroom really trusts the kids.
And what I’ve noticed is you’re, as a teacher, you aren’t telling them what to do. You’re coming beside them and you’re coaching and you’re guiding and you’re sort of helping them journey through this environment that you’re describing. Am I getting that right?
Veronica: That completely sounds right. That’s why in a Montessori class, when we are not called the teachers, we are called the guides because as I told you, these children come with different interests, desires and learning styles, and social emotional needs. You name it. So teachers, we guide.
Diane: So much of your school experience seems to be about being in the space together and to have real hands on activities and to be talking and coaching and guiding. What happened when the pandemic hit and you couldn’t be at the school with your children anymore? What did you guys do?
Veronica: Luckily, these children are well equipped to adapt to different situations and environments. And so we created materials and shared it with the families. We, as I told you, you know, every individual child is unique. So we created one special, unique plan for every week for every child. So you can imagine how many hours of preparation! Again, the preparation behind everything is the key to help children get what we want them to get. So we continue meetings every day with the children, we sing our songs. We have a routine established every morning. As we will in the classroom, we sing our songs. We wish each other well, we send love to whoever is not here. These children are uncertain right now.
Diane: Do you have a sense of, are they continuing to learn and grow even when they’re not in your school with you?
Veronica: As I said, we send materials home according to the level. We check in with the parents and we go by individual child. What do you need? Do you need more work? And so we are able to provide what is needed.
Diane: In addition to the pandemic, you are in Minneapolis. You’re in some ways in the heart of a huge, painful moment in our country. How are you feeling that in your school and with your families and your children? What is happening for all of you?
Veronica: Well, you know, one of my biggest worries and reactions was my families. They are right there, right there. Acorn is four blocks from where George Floyd was killed. We are literally four blocks. So my first instinct is my families, so I started calling one by one to make sure, first of all, to make sure that they are safe. If they need shelter, what do they need? And go from there. And it looks so beautiful, you know, being in community. The majority said, we are totally fine, but we are here for you and for the community, whoever needs something. So I was in tears just knowing like what a beautiful community we have created.
And ultimately, you know, our goal here at Acorn Montessori is to empower children to be leaders and in creating a more just and peaceful world. So really, I hope one day they become the leaders in creating a more just and peaceful world.
Diane: I have no doubt that they will with you guiding them.
Veronica: Yeah, me too. You know, when I talk about my children and when I talk about my community, this truly gives me tears. My dream was to one day have a space where everybody can be who they are, where we can bend down and say, you belong here. I don’t care what you need. I don’t care what kind of behaviors you bring, but you belong here and the environment is prepared for you. So when I see these things in how the community comes together, it tells me, you know, we are, we are moving in the direction that we want to move.
Michael: Diane, coming out of a really powerful conversation that you got to have with such an impressive teacher in Veronica, at a pivotal time in our nation’s history, I’m really struck that it’s important for people to remember that something like what she described in her school and in the shift to remote learning will struggle to occur in the traditional school structure. Montessori schools and others like them, that develop habits of success in students, they tend to discard all the traditional conventions around bell times and classes and all the interruptions that you were describing earlier. Montessori schools have mixed age groups, for example, meaning no traditional grade levels. They don’t silo subjects in the traditional way with class times. And it’s the structures that they have intentionally created. Ones that are not conventional, that help enable the magic we just heard. It’s a much better way to get value out of that time at school.
Diane: And maybe this is the moment in time where we start to ask ourselves if that’s really what is best for our kids. And so I’m really looking forward to our next episode, Michael, because we get the opportunity to talk with Todd Rose, who’s the author of The End of Average. And I don’t know anyone who has thought more about where these structures come from, and why we have them, and what we might do to replace them in a way that would be so much more meaningful and powerful for kids.
Michael: Thanks for listening and thanks to our awesome crew, making this all work. Jenna Free, our writer, Steve, our producer and Nathan James, helping us with publicity and graphics. We’ll see you next time on Class Disrupted.
Michael Horn is the author of numerous books on the future of learning including Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns. He works with a portfolio of organizations to help transform education so that all individuals can build their passions and fulfill their potential.
Diane Tavenner is CEO of Summit Public Schools and a co-founder of the Summit Learning Program. She is a lifelong educator and innovator and the author of Prepared: What Kids Need for a Fulfilled Life.Submit a Letter to the Editor