I’ve viewed the Most Likely to Succeed documentary ten times now with a variety of different groups. I first saw excerpts of it while visiting Albemarle County Public Schools last spring. Each time I view it I key in on different teaching and learning principles, but never once have I been solely captivated simply by High Tech High’s project-based learning system.
It might be right for that school and it might be right for our schools. Or not.
Nevertheless, the most important aspects of this great film produced by Ted Dintersmith point to the need to fundamentally change our educational system so that whatever activities and methods are used, they support the 21st century need for students to engage in learning that’s more than short-term memorization of facts, events and processes. They have to come away from their K-12 experience knowing how to learn on their own, solve problems, work collaboratively with others, think critically about what they are engage in, be willing to stand up to what they believe and support their beliefs with evidence, develop and present creative solutions, communicate effectively with a variety of audiences using any number of communications tools, demonstrate leadership and develop a strong sense of empathy for others. While High Tech High uses project-based learning to develop these skills, other schools exist that utilize other methods that work just as well for them.
And still some methods or systems of organizing and operating a K-12 school system have not yet been designed. Or if they have, they have not been prototyped, tested, implemented or scaled up to impact a broad number of students.
So while the High Tech High sketch in Most Likely to Succeed gives us a single visual to highlight the way one school imparts these so-called “soft skills,” it does not claim to be the end-all, be-all for every school and community. It does however motivate us to ask questions and engage in conversations about what could be.
This is one more reason why our district human-centered design (HCD21) process is currently focused on searching for what might work for us. All of the work of the HCD21 team has been communicated district-wide right along with our work dating back to Superintendent Britten’s opening all-staff keynote on September 1. The following links are provided for your convenience in reviewing those updates.
YouTube video of Goin’ Digital Show:
Several key slides from the September 1 all-staff keynote: