Michigan study affirms the foundational work of our human-centered design

Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 7.27.49 AMA new report by Lou Glazer’s Michigan Future Inc. has affirmed the excellent work of our Human-Centered Design (HCD) Learner Profile team being led by Dr. Carol Lautenbach with the help of Mr. Dave Koetje and East Lee Campus Principal Jim Jensen.

The report’s conclusions, titled and available to read or download at A Path to Good-paying Careers for all Michiganders: A 21st Century state policy agenda, are built on the premise that Michigan for the first time in recorded history is a state with low prosperity, despite a strong auto industry.

The report goes into great detail as to the state’s problems, how technology is changing the nature of work, and a number of suggested policy solutions. I highly encourage everyone to read it. Beginning on page 15, the report focuses on education and is critical of the current outdated and ineffective school model we all seem to hang on to. It goes on to highlight a set of critical skills called the“6Cs” taken from an excellent book every educator and parent should read, titled “Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children.”

Our district HCD work this past year has been expanding on what we learned in the first year of our Steelcase Foundation grant and developing a Learner Profile built on those 6Cs. This past Monday, our Board of Education, administrative team, and leaders of both employee associations began laying in a foundation for a strategic design that brings the 6Cs and human-centered design to the forefront of our plan for transforming our traditional school system into one that prepares learners for a rapidly changing 21st century. We’ll be sharing this work with everyone in the community in the coming weeks and months asking for your input as well.

Here’s an excerpt taken from pp. 15-17 of the Michigan Future Inc. report that focuses on the transformation all schools should engage in to be relevant:

Preparing people for one job, and one job only, creates a temporary and rigid work force. … Your education must prepare you for a long career that meets constant changes in the job market, and supports your own growth. The only constant during a life-long career is that you’ll need to adapt. (emphasis added)  The important question for our education system: Are you prepared for all the changes that may come in the future? (Ann Arbor software entrepreneur Bill Wagner)

To thrive in the new economy, workers have to be adaptable, have a broad base of knowledge, be creative problem solvers and be able to communicate and work well with others. In other words, workers need to be really good at all of the non-algorithmic skills computers aren’t good at yet.

The best definition we’ve found for this complex set of skills comes from the book Becoming Brilliant, by learning scientists Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Kathy
Hirsh-Pasek, who label these skills the six Cs:

1. Collaboration, the ability to work and play well with others, which encompasses a wide range of soft skills necessary for success in the modern workplace.

2. Communication, the ability to effectively get your point across and back it up with evidence, both verbally and in writing, and the ability to listen and be empathetic.

3. Content, deep understanding and a broad base of knowledge in a range of subject areas, rather than simply surface knowledge of reading and math skills.

4. Critical thinking, the ability to sift through mountains of information and get a sense of what’s valuable and not and to solve unanticipated and unpredictable problems.

5. Creativity, the ability to put information together in new ways.

6. Confidence, which encompasses capacity such as grit, perseverance and a willingness to take risk.

Becoming Brilliant

Source: Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D., and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek Ph.D. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-author-speaks/201608/becoming-brilliant

These are the skills students will need to complement rather than be replaced by machines, solve today’s problems, and create new solutions to problems we can’t yet envision. (emphasis added)

If Michigan is going to be a place with a broad middle class, if employers are going to have the supply of skilled workers they need and if Michigan is going to be a place once again where kids regularly do better than their parents, it will happen because the state made a commitment to provide an education system for all from birth through higher education that builds rigorous broad skills that are the foundation of successful 40 year careers.

It is great to know that our Godfrey-Lee district’s leading-edge work is being affirmed by others, that we’re on the right track in redesigning and transforming learning in our schools and classrooms, that our Board of Education is supportive of this transformation through the HCD process, and that we have strong leadership to keep that momentum going. Great things are happening throughout Godfrey-Lee and you can be proud to be a part of it.

You can read more about our HCD work at Godfrey-Lee in these and other posts:
HCD21: Year 1 report on redesigning our educational system

Part 2 of HCD21 Year 1 Report: Addressing specific expectations


About David Britten

Retired U.S. Army Officer, former elementary, middle and high school principal, currently serving as a public school superintendent.
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