A Conversation with Grant Lichtman
Grant Lichtman, from Francis Parker School in San Diego, CA is the focus of this first blog. Grant will be presenting on Friday, March 1, at 1:30 pm in Room 131C. His workshop, entitled Schools of Today: (On) the Highway of School Innovation, describes his recent cross-country trek, in which he visited schools of all types to see first-hand the shape innovation is taking in education. To learn more about his journey, check out Grant's blog.
I asked Grant to describe his vision of a School of the Future. Here is his response:
Having just completed a unique journey around the country this fall visiting more than 60 schools, I do not believe we are talking about schools of the future; we are talking about schools of today. It was my privilege to spend time at so many schools that are dramatically transforming what and how they teach. They are re-imagining the learning experience, and in my presentation at NAIS I will be summarizing some of the key common threads of this re-imagined learning experience. Here are several of those common threads: students, not teachers, own the learning experience; experience, as outlined by John Dewey, trumps content delivery; the boundaries of subject have disappeared; schools are open and connected with the world, not inwardly focused; students are out of their seats creating, building, designing, testing, not just repeating what has been done in the past. These are other changes in fundamental classroom pedagogy and dynamics are dramatically reframing the learning experience today at great independent, public, and charter schools around the country.
I then asked Grant what is one step schools could take to set themselves on the path to achieve this vision.
The key to innovation is this: in a time of rapid change, in order to prepare our students for their future rather than for our past, we must give our students the skills to become self-evolving learners. In order to do this, our schools need to become self-evolving organizations, or risk irrelevancy. Traditionally, schools have not been good at self-evolution. They are risk-averse and change comes too slowly. We need to develop the cultural DNA of change in our organizations, to become comfortable with ambiguity and dynamism, rather than with stability and tradition. I will be speaking to these points as well, offering some of the common methods by which the schools I visited are successfully addressing organizational change.
I believe that independent schools are in a unique position to drive the national conversation forward on innovation and experiment with non-traditional models in an environment free of the onerous pressure of standardized tests. Many independent schools, such as the one discussed above, set the bar for success that has prevailed for a long, long time. I am looking forward to hearing Grant Lichtman describe the schools that he sees as taking a leadership role in redefining success for the next century.