Authors@Google: Tony Wagner "Change Leadership: Transforming Education for the 21st Century"

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 03.08.2012

>>Female Presenter: It's my privilege today to introduce Tony Wagner. Who I consider to
be one of the most innovative and forward thinking thought leaders in education today.
I could read his long list of accomplishments. His work at Harvard. His work as a teacher.
And as as principal. But you could read that all on his website at Tony Wagner dot com
if you'd like to. And I just wanna basically let you know that this book that he's written
"Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World" is really
a fabulous read. We're gonna be selling it outside, right outside there. You can buy
a copy and have Tony sign it afterward and he's gonna be kind of giving an overview of
the work he's seen in this space. So please welcome Tony Wagner.
>>Tony Wagner: Delighted. Good morning. Thank you, thank you. It's really a pleasure to
be here. A lot more fun than being at Microsoft, where I was three weeks ago. I have to tell
But, that's not for attribution.
How many of you here are parents? Raise your hands.
How many of you here are educators? Raise your hands.
OK. I love to begin with a quote from Einstein. "The formulation of the problem is often more
essential than the solution." We talk a lot about problem solving. Problem identification
is arguably the most important skill of the 21st century. For 25 years we've been talking
about failing schools and the need to reform education. Part of the problem is it's a little
bit punitive language. Anybody wanna go to reform school? Raise your hands. It's very
punitive. [laughter]
But beyond that I think that problem is not the right problem. If we merely aspire to
bring our disadvantaged students up to the levels of achievement of our middle class
students, we will fail all of our students. And put our economy in even greater jeopardy.
So that's what I wanna talk about.
Fundamentally the problem is this. Our system of education is obsolete. And needs reinventing.
Not reforming. And that is a completely different education problem. And guess what? Google
is mostly to blame for that obsolescence. I'm about to explain why. Because of Google
and other events, what one knows today no longer matters? How much you know is not a
competitive advantage. Information has become commoditized. It's like air. It's like water.
It's on every internet connected device, growing exponentially.
How many of you had to memorize the periodic table in high school? Raise your hands. How
many elements were there?
[quiet audience response]
I'm sorry, I didn't hear that answer.
[audience members call out answers loudly] [laughter]
Whatever answer you gave was wrong, because two more were added last week. If you don't
believe me Google it.
Ah, how many of you had to memorize the state capitals? Raise your hands. OK. Let's have
a competition. How many of you would like to recite them from memory while I Google
them and let's see who's quicker?
Memory is not something we need to think about educating as we have in the past. The world
no longer cares how much you know. What the world cares about is what you can do with
what you know. And that is a completely different education problem. It's not about filling
people up with more knowledge. It's about skill and it's about will. So I'm gonna be
talking about skill and will in the context of education.
Back in 2005, I read "The World Is Flat" by Thomas Friedman. How many of you have read
that? Those of you who haven't I encourage you to. Most important book I've read in at
least a decade. Scared the heck out of me. Because as many of you know, Friedman describes
a world where increasingly any knowledge, I'm sorry, any work that can be routinized
is very rapidly be off shored or automated. And I talked with him recently. He said he
got one thing wrong in that book. I said "What?" He said, "The pace of change." It's happening
far, far more quickly than he ever imagined.
So I think the question becomes in a global knowledge economy, what skills will our young
people need? Will your children need? To succeed. So that was a burning question for me back
then. And I decided to interview a very wide range of leaders. Corporate leaders from Apple
to Unilever. Leaders in the military. Community leaders. College teachers. Asking all of them
"What are the skills that matter most? What are the gaps?" And I came to understand there's
a set of core competencies every single student must be well on the way to mastering before
he or she finishes high school.
Some of you may have read my book "The Global Achievement Gap" that describes this. Came
out about four years ago. Very briefly they are: Number one, critical thinking and problem
solving. And fascinatingly, executives describe critical thinking first and foremost as the
ability to ask really good questions. Try an interesting exercise. Do a learning walk.
Observe classrooms. And listen for who is asking what kinds of questions.
Collaboration across networks and leading by influence was number two. Agility and adaptability
was number three. Initiative and entrepreneurialism was number four. Number five was, effective
oral and written communication. And it is by the way the number one complaint of both
college teachers and employers. Number six was accessing and analyzing information. Number
seven was curiosity and imagination.
So that book came out about three and a half years ago. And it describes the new skills.
And the global achievement gap is the gap between the new skills all students will need.
Not just for a good career, but for continuous learning and active and informed citizenship.
Those skills versus what is taught and tested even in our very best schools. That's the
global achievement gap. That gap between the new skills all students need as well as how
they are motivated to learn. Versus what we're teaching and testing. So that's skill.
So two things happened when that book came out three and a half years ago. Number one,
I got a kind of affirmation frankly that stunned me. From literally from Taiwan to Singapore
to Helsinki to Bahrain to Thailand to Birmingham, England. Around the world, people saying "Yep,
these are exactly the right skills, would you come and talk to our audiences about them?"
From Wall Street to West Point, same message exactly. But then the other thing happened.
The global financial collapse. I saw students with a BA degree and about 30,000 dollars
of debt on average coming home to no job. Now they had seemingly mastered many of these
skills. But what was missing? Why weren't they able to find jobs? Or create jobs? Right
now today, the un- and under-employment rate among college graduates 2005 and more recent
is 44 percent.
About 22 percent are completely unemployed. The other 22 percent have jobs that do not
require a college education. What's the problem? Well, as I came to try to understand it and
come to grips with the global economic collapse. And mind you, I'm a recovering high school
English teacher. So what I knew about economics four years ago you could put in a thimble.
But I really studied it and I came to understand a couple of things. Number one, our economy
has become a more and more and more dependent upon consumer spending as the engine of our
economy. Back at the end of World War II, nearly 50 percent of all jobs were manufacturing
related. Now we don't make so much as we do buy stuff other people have made. That's point
Point two, that consumer economy has been fueled by debt. People putting money on their
credit cards as fast as they can. Pulling the money out of their houses as fast as they
could. The savings rate in 2007 was minus two percent. Leading me to conclude that perhaps
we've created an economy based on people frequently spending money they do not have, to buy things
they may not need, threatening the planet in the process. Now, the question becomes,
how do we become less reliant on consumer spending? Which is not sustainable economically,
environmentally, or spiritually in my opinion. How do we become less reliant on that? What's
gonna replace it? What's gonna be the engine of growth? What's gonna create jobs in the
future? So I read, over and over again, one word kept coming up. Innovation.
Now let me be clear, we're not just talking about breakthroughs in science technology,
engineering and math. Innovation as I'm using it is broadly defined. Becoming a country
that produces young people who have more better ideas to solve more different kinds of problems
than what we have today. Young people who are creative problem solvers. That's the simplest
definition of innovation. Someone who is a creative problem solver. First of all, a problem
identifier, and then a creative problem solver.
Now, we've always been known as a country that's been highly innovative. But is that
because of or in spite of our education system?
[audience chuckles]
[unintelligible] percent question for the day. Are you ready for this? I'm gonna say
it so fast you won't have time to Google it. What do Bill Gates, Edwin Land the inventor
of the Polaroid instant camera, Bonnie Raitt the folk singer, and Mark Zuckerberg all four
have in common?
They were not college drop outs, I'm sorry. They were Harvard college dropouts.
That's different. I mean, you know, Steve Jobs, he was just a college dropout. Michael
Dell, he was just a college dropout. These guys were Harvard college dropouts.
So I decided to take on a very different kind of research. I wanted to try to understand,
what must we do differently as parents? As teachers? As mentors? And as employers? To
develop the capacities of many, many, many, more young people to be creative problem solvers.
To be innovators. In whatever they do. Not just STEM fields. Social innovators and entrepreneurs.
Innovators in all domains. So I first interviewed a very wide variety of young people in their
twenties. Who were highly innovative. But again in a broad range of fields. Some were
artists, musicians, social entrepreneurs. Some were in STEM fields.
And then I studied their ecosystems. By that I mean I went and interviewed each one of
their parents. Trying to see if I could discern patterns of parenting that had made a difference.
I asked each one of them, "Was there a teacher or a mentor?" who had made a significant difference
in their lives? In their development as innovators. 30 percent could not name a single teacher.
Almost all of those young people were from disadvantaged backgrounds. Where their schools
and teachers were not what one finds here. The other 70 percent could name a teacher.
And you know the span of teachers was elementary to graduate school. Then I went and interviewed
each of those teachers and mentors. From these young innovators. Profiled.
Talked to them and came to understand something that I still to this day find shocking. In
every single case, these teachers from elementary to graduate school, were themselves outliers
in their educational settings. Their institutions. Teaching in ways that were very different
than their peers. But remarkably similar to one another. And further, when I went to those
few schools that we have identified as doing an outstanding job of educating people to
be innovators, talking about High Tech High. I'm talking about Olin College of Engineering.
I'm talking about The D School here at Stanford. I'm talking about the MIT Media Lab. When
I visited those places, the kinds of teaching I saw there was totally consistent across
those schools. And completely congruent with the ways in which these young, these outlier
teachers whom I had interviewed were teaching. And so I came to understand that the culture
of learning that produces innovators. The work culture which we've been talking about.
It develops the capacity to innovate. In a classroom or in a corporation indeed. Is radically
at odds with the culture of schooling in most classrooms. In five essential respects.
Number one. Culture of innovation is all about collaboration. Teamwork. Accountable teamwork.
All of these teachers built accountable teamwork into almost all of their assignments. Valued
teamwork as much as individual achievement. Number two, the culture of learning to become
an innovator is all about problem based learning using multiple disciplines. It's right here.
Judy Gilbert director of talent here at Google said to me: "If there's one thing academics
must understand is that problems can neither be identified, let alone solved, within the
bright lines of individual academic disciplines." The culture of schooling is all about becoming
a specialist. That's what we incent. That's what we reward. First we divide and conquer
the high school universe. With curriculum. Carnegie units. Which have not changed in
125 years. Then when we go to college we're supposed to have a major. Oh and we want to
teach in college. We wanna have a, uh, doctorate. When I did my doctorate at Harvard, I was
told my first year that my dissertation would be a conversation between myself and one or
two other people in the world. Conversation with two people. For four years? I don't think
[audience chuckles]
I chose a different path. Got through Harvard but by other means.
Number three. The world of innovation, learning to become an innovator is learning how to
make mistakes, reflect on them, and learn from them. Iterate. I was down here at IDO,
talked to folks there. They said "Our motto is 'Fail early and fail often.' There is no
innovation without trial and error."
A student at Olin said "You know, we don't even talk about failure here. We talk about
iteration." Very different world. The D School at Stanford they're sitting around the table
talking. "Actually, you know we were thinking, F is the new A."
Try that out on your parents.
Number four. The culture of learning to become an innovator is an active process. Where students
are creators. Where students are producing real products for real audiences. Solving
real problems. So often the culture of schooling is the absolute antithesis. It's about consuming,
not creating. Sit and "git". In fact, I wonder if that's where we learn to be such good little
consumers. We start out, that's how we get schooled 12, 16 years.
Number five and most important, I think. I discovered that every single one of these
young innovators whom I profiled from both advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds was
intrinsically motivated. And then when I looked at what their parents and their teachers had
done they too were very focused on intrinsic motivation. Radically at odds with the culture
of schooling which is all about carrots and sticks. As and Fs and pizza on Fridays if
you get good test scores. So what do these parents do? What do these teachers do? There
was a pattern of play, to passion, to purpose. Parents encouraging much more exploratory,
discovery based play. Simple toys. Sand, blocks, clay, water, paint. Lego toys as they got
older. Toys without batteries. They limited screen time. They actively encouraged their
kids to find and pursue a passion. They gave them a rich buffet of things to try out. Making
sure though, that they didn't over schedule their kid's times. So the kids still had time
for more discovery based play. But they encouraged them to try instruments or Scouts or sports
or whatever. Not insisting that they put in 10,000 hours to become absolutely excellent
at it. But that they really give it a try and see if it's something they were interested
in. These parents as well as the teachers believed it was more important that these
kids find an pursue a passion than they simply achieve academically for its own sake.
Teachers building time into every single unit of study where students could investigate,
explore, create, invent, ask a question. And you know, the 20 percent time here at Google
comes immediately to mind, 'cause I think the best teachers build 20 percent time into
each one of their classes. To insure that students have that time to explore, invent,
and create. I wonder, what would happen if we said "Why shouldn't every teacher have
20 percent time?"
[audience response "Mmmm." ]
To pursue his or passions in the context of teaching and learning.
As these young people continue to explore ideas and interests and their passions. Their
passions didn't stay the same. They morphed. They evolved. Tell a quick story. Kirk Phelps
grew up here in the Silicon Valley. Father worked at HP at the time. Passionate about
science. Really totally passionate about science. By the age of middle school he's sort of working
in labs in the summer, washing out beakers. Doesn't matter what he's doing. He's around
science and scientists. Parents say "Oh, wow, let's go find the best science school for
him 'cause that's what he's interested in now." Knowing that it may change. Got him
into Exeter Academy. Because it was reputed to have the best of the best science programs.
By the end of the 11th grade Kirk has done pretty much every science class there, and
he's kinda bored. The Harkness table, the famed idea of sitting around and having a
Socratic discussion. Well, it isn't quite like that. And Kirk says "I wanna leave. I
wanna drop out." What would you say as a parent to a kid who's about to drop out of the most
prestigious private school in the country. With no diploma.
Well, I can tell you what Exeter said. They said "Oh, well you'll never get into college."
Well, he did. He got into Stanford. For a combined BS/MS program. And he evolves. You
know, at first he thinks he wants to be a scientist. Then he thinks it's too lonely.
He's drawn to computer science. But then the idea of writing code all day that nobody would
see didn't quite grab him either. So then he takes this extraordinary class. Taught
by Ed Carryer right down the road here. In a smart product design lab. It's a combination
of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science. Where teams build things.
Using those disciplines. They solve problems. They build things. Ed Carryer by the way is
one of my outliers. He's taught at Stanford 20 years. Has a PhD from Stanford. Ten years
of industry experience. He is a professor of practice with an annual renewal contract.
And he has to scrounge money every single year for his smart product design lab. Kirk
said he was hands down the very best teacher he had ever had. Why does he not have tenure?
For the same reason the faculty whom I interviewed at Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Carnegie Mellon,
Tulane don't have tenure and will never get tenure. Because they don't do research. Their
focus is teaching. And teaching young people to be innovators. But that's not privileged
by the university.
So to finish the Kirk Phelps story. His passions have morphed. They've evolved. He now knows
that he loves the combination of electrical, mechanical scientific engineering. But what
he really loves is to manage complex projects. He become a teaching fellow for Ed Carryer.
Totally excited about this. So what happens next? Two courses shy of both degrees, which
were concurrent degrees, he drops out. Again. Now what do you say as a parent?
[audience chuckles and mutters]
Well, you might not worry too much when you hear that, in fact, he was recruited by Apple
to be the product manager for the very first iPhone. And today he is working at a startup
called Sun Run, which is developing a whole new model for installing solar panels on residences.
But I illustrate this story because it's a wonderful story of play to passion to purpose.
And purpose for young adults become an expression of passion. But one that goes deeper, 'cause
it's about making a difference. It's about having an impact. And at the same time, it
is a form of adult play. So I'm gonna stop at this point, 'cause I really wanna hear
your questions, your comments, your concerns. And we'll sort of take the conversation based
on where you want it to go. OK?
Questions. Comments. Actually, you know what I'm gonna do? I'm gonna break it up. I'm gonna
invite you for exactly two minutes to turn to your neighbor and talk about the conversation
we just had so far. What struck you, what you didn't like. Did like. Agreed with. Disagreed
with. Take two minutes, talk to each other. And generate some powerful questions.
[audience chattering and laughing]
OK, two minutes are up. We have two people with microphones. Invite you to raise your
hand. And the mic might mysteriously come to you. And first question is right here.
>>Female #1: Hi Tony. Thanks for coming. My name is Tara Canobbio and I work here at Google
in k12 education outreach. So much of what you said of course resonates for who we are
and we're actually quite proud to say that our team works in this space a lot. But the
majority of the work we do is in kinda after school programs. Experimental things we do
with partners in here. And I would ask of you, what are some effective methods to be
able to get in the traditional schooling system with these ideas that you talked about? For
example we're inviting administrators to come here and observe some programs that adhere
to the concepts and the principles that you talked about. But its' difficult for us to
say, we're Google we have these ideas, it's great, now you go back in your classrooms
and your school districts and you change. How do we bridge that gap?
>>Tony Wagner: I think it's an incredibly difficult challenge right now especially.
Because as you all know increasingly we have one curriculum in our schools. And it's test
prep. Public schools, independent schools, it doesn't matter, it's test prep. If it's
independent schools it's the advance placement curriculum. I'm speaking now especially at
the high school level. So if you can't offer something that's gonna improve test scores,
chances are you're not going to get the attention. So here's what I would recommend as a strategy
to consider. It's a language that I think we need to introduce into education.
You know Cisco's RND budget is 13 percent. Microsoft's is 17 percent. With your 20 percent
rule you've got a 20 percent plus RND budget. Ask the principal, ask that superintendent,
"What's your RND budget?" They don't have one. Doesn't exist. So I think the argument
is to go to leaders. Superintendents and school board members. And say "You want change. You
want improvement. You must invest in RND. There is no change or improvement without
RND." So a simple idea would be to create a little simple request for proposals from
teams of teachers to develop an interdisciplinary hands on curriculum. More ambitiously, I'd
like to see every large school district or consortia of smaller school districts start
a lab school. A charter-like school that would have some of the same autonomies as a charter
school but district and/or state sponsored. Where there are intentionally developing the
new methodologies for teaching, learning, and assessment in the 21st century.
I think those are a couple of the steps we need to take. But the whole idea is it's,
I think is to generate the understanding that we must have RND in education in order to
develop new and better models. Other questions? Yep?
>>Female #2: Hi, this is sort of a follow-up to the previous question.
>>Tony Wagner: Little closer please.
>>Female #2: Oh. OK. As government is a really big actor in this space, I'm curious what
you would do if you were Arne Duncan and are there any low-hanging fruit?
>>Tony Wagner: I think the first and most important problem we have is to understand
that what gets tested is what gets taught. Period. The end. In this country. And the
business folks will tell you having the wrong metric is worse than having none at all. Our
test results especially at the secondary level tell us absolutely nothing about college,
career, or citizenship readiness. There are much better tests out there. There are assessments
of critical thinking, analytical reasoning, problem solving, and writing. I have a chapter
on it in The Global Achievement Gap. But basically we're going to have to, I think, create accountability
two dot oh at a national level. And incent the creation of very different tests. Now
there is a new generation of tests coming down the pike. But I worry that they are still
too content driven and still too much multiple choice.
There's an international assessment called PISA. Program for International Student Assessment.
Three quarters of the PISA test is open ended constructed response questions. Only 25 percent
multiple choice. And it really is a test of your ability to apply what you've learned
not merely regurgitate what you've learned. Those point in the direction of the kinds
of assessments we need. The only way we're gonna be able to afford them is to stop this
crazy notion of testing every single kid, every single year, grades three through eight
and then grades ten. We can accomplish the same level of accountability by testing a
demographically representative percentage of kids every second year or even every third
year and let districts develop local assessments that are aligned with these better assessments.
So for the same money we can get dramatically better results. and we need an informed constituency
of concerned citizens and parents to advocate for accountability two dot oh. Along with
educators and business leader. Unless and until we have that advocacy, test the skills
that matter most. That's the bump, bumper sticker. Right? Unless and until we have that
advocacy, Arne Duncan and his successors are not gonna change at all. 'Cause they've invested
too much time and energy into accountability one dot oh, which is failing us totally.
>>Male #1: Hi, are you familiar? Right here.
>>Tony Wagner: Ah.
>>Male #1: Are you familiar with the Waldorf system. And if yes, what do you think about
>>Tony Wagner: I don't know it well. But what I've read sounds absolutely intriguing. The
whole idea is a school that is really an attempt to create a curriculum around what we know
about childhood and adolescent development. I think it's' very intriguing.
Uh, what I know better is Montessori. And it's fascinating when I did research for this
new book I discovered things you may already know. But a huge number of the most successful
innovators and entrepreneurs in this area went to Montessori schools. Including the
co-founders of Google.
Yes. We got a guy here who doesn't have a mic.
>>Female Presenter: [inaudible]
>>Tony Wagner: Alright. Where's the mic?
>>Female Presenter: [inaudible]
>>Male #2: Hi. So I have one thing that frustrates me is people's lack of ability to take risk,
'cause I think especially in older age. Because I think most young people do have the idea
and the ability. But they're held back by the money and the prestige and the security.
>>Tony Wagner: Right.
>>Male #2: And I think to me, a lot of that is due to the lack of choices for students.
Especially in their younger age. And also I think societal, like, societal pressure
to sort of follow one straight path. Do you kind of come across anything, any innovative
approaches that can kind of bypass that and just, give students more freedom? Or just
kind of preventing people from getting a degree in philosophy and then go into banking and
consulting afterwards?
>>Tony Wagner: Right. You know, it's, again it comes back to parents and teachers and
what messages they give kids. Right? So if you give the message "Look, pursue your passions.
No matter where they lead you."
I'll give another example. Another student. Young innovator whom I profiled. Passionate
about art from the age of seven. It's all she wanted to do was art. Now her parents
were in the medical field. What do they know? They couldn't draw stick figures. Let aloneóso
what do you say to a child who wants to do art? Right? That's all she cares about. Well,
what they thought is "Oh, God she'll never get a job." But they never said that. What
they did instead was turn a spare bedroom into an artist's studio for her. So I won't
tell you the whole long story, but the version is, she graduates from high school with a
wonderful portfolio of her artwork. Doesn't get into the school of her choice. Goes to
Carnegie Mellon, takes Randy Pausch's course on entertainment design. Catches on fire.
Long story short she starts her own startup called Wild Pockets. Designing a web interface
for 3D design. Struggles through the worst recession in our recent history. But manages
for five years to keep she and her 12 employees afloat until Auto Desk comes along. Buys her
company and employs all of her colleagues in their new wing. Their new business. So
here's now a kid who from the age of seven only wanted to be an artist. Whose parents
totally supported that. She's now, at the age of 29, a senior executive and very successful
at Auto Desk. And I think that would not have happened if her parents had said "Well you
know, really you're not gonna make a living at art. You should just quit that."
>>Male #3: Hi, I'm a ninth grade algebra teacher in the area. And I wanna ask a question about
the fifth factor that you mentioned earlier. The intrinsic motivation. Which you said might
be the most important one. With the end of the school year coming up I'm struggling to
get my ninth gradersó
Excuse me. To show a level of mastery to be able to be tenth graders. They're not motivated
by extrinsic factors like grades. But I also don't see the intrinsic motivation. So I'm
wondering from your experience as an English teacher do you have any words of wisdom? How
to develop that intrinsic motivation in our kids.
>>Tony Wagner: I do in English. I'm not so sure about math. [chuckles]
[quiet laughter from audience]
I think that the dilemma in math is, how do you make it real for kids when they take algebra?
How do you make something as abstract, something that they understand they can and want to
use every single day? I think that's the challenge in any kind of advanced math. Beyond that,
I think what kids really could be engaged with in math, and need are statistics, probability,
computation, and financial literacy. But we don't require any of those things in school.
So maybe an end of the year unit where you're thinking about a very applied way of using
algebra. As it relates to something that is immediate to them. I think that's the challenge.
How do you make it less abstract? More like a tool they want and need to use? I mean,
what I did in terms of English, was [clears throat]. First of all, every student had a
portfolio. And this was back before digital portfolios. And every week I'd assign a particular
genre of writing or type of writing. Like childhood memoir. Description. Dialog. And
every student brought one piece of writing in every single week to read aloud. They didn't
care what I thought. But they cared a lot about their peer views. And they learned an
enormous amount from everybody trying to tackle the same problem. There's 17 and 25 ways of
doing a childhood reminiscence. And then for me the grading became simpler. Because I graded
students on a body of work. And I said "Here's my standard for a B." which is what I consider
to be your standard of proficiency. And here is exemplars of B quality work. And now let's
talk about what an A is and what that should mean. But what I basically said is, I held
the standard constant and varied the time and support students needed to meet that standard.
So the B was, a B, I mean students work was considered incomplete until they met that
standard. And I don't care how long it took them. One student took an entire extra year.
Not to say that he repeated the course. But continued to work until he met that standard
and finally got the credit he wanted.
>>Male #4: So. Um. Oh. Hi. [laughs] So I very much enjoyed your description of your methodology.
Speaking with young innovators and looking at that from a scientific perspective I couldn't
help but wonder ifóI mean I understand you can't do a randomized study and assign people
to different educational systems. But did you talk to people who were not innovators
and tried to find of those patterns were present or if they were not present? And sort of look
at the other side of the equation?
>>Tony Wagner: Well, sadly, people who are not innovators are pretty easy to find.
And you know what one finds is kind of something of the polar opposite of what I've just been
describing. Those kids frequently have "Tiger Moms" or "Helicopter Parents." Tiger moms
driving them to do something that they're not interested in. Or helicopter parents who
say "Look, you can't make a mistake. We're building the resume for Harvard now. You can't
take a risk." So they, I didn't do it in a scientific sense. But having spent many years
of teaching. I've spent 12 years in the classroom as a high school English teacher. I've seen
the alternative patterns and they're all too common sadly.
I did something else though that may relate to your question. I talked to Joel Podolny
who's vice president of Human Resources at Apple and head of Apple University. Now Joel's
previous job, he was Dean of the Yale School of Management. And he's taught in both Stanford
and Harvard's business schools. And he has a PhD from Stanford. I wanted to find out
what he saw as the best preparation for business schools for young people to be innovators.
And he said "Look, you have to understand. To get into Harvard or Stanford, you've learned
to play a game. And a very safe game. Because that's the only way you get into Harvard or
Stanford. You go work for a place like Goldman Sachs or whatever and then you go." And he
said "Problem one is, the kinds of people who get there are not risk-takers. They're
not innovators. They've had no experiences in innovation. Problem two is what they learn.
What they learned" in his words, "Is how to squeeze more juice out of the orange. Economies
of scale versus how to grow better oranges." Which is innovation.
Other questions?
>>Male #5: So what if schools can't be fixed? So, I'm basing this off of, there's another
set of researchers that came and talked to us last week that wrote a book called Race
Against The Machine. It's all based on the idea that Moore's Law is processing power
and things are doubling every few years. And the world's just changing really fast. What
if schools will never change fast enough? And teachers will never change fast enough
to keep up with this? How will you use technology, in your research, to fix this problem?
>>Tony Wagner: Yeah. Well I think that's a really, really interesting question. But first
of all I can take you right now to schools that are really doing an extraordinary job
of all the things I just described. So it's' not true that schools can't change. If we
think about startups. And schools that are startups. Then we see a completely different
Now let me be clear, I'm not saying all charter schools are better. I wanna be really, really
clear about that. The research is quite clear that about 17 percent of charter schools outperform
comparable public schools. About 20 percent underperform comparable public schools and
the rest do no better. No different. So I think we need to incent more RND through lab
schools. But having said that I think the whole issue of technology is a fascinating
Since information knowledge is now commoditized, we're seeing Coursera, Udacity, EdX all of
these online opportunities to acquire certification for taking courses. But that's content. What
about skills? So here's my idea that I'm, I would love to play with. What if you put
together a blended learning experience for the last two years of high school, first two
years of college? The blended learning would be a combination of taking some of these courses
for certification. From EdX or Coursera . it would include an, a face to face experience
with this brand new organization called Project Breaker. Where you work in a team to solve
a problem, create a product over a three month period. It would include taking the college
and work readiness assessment. One of these really good tests I describe. It would include
a number of challenges that you would undertake. All of which you would then put into your
digital portfolio. Pathbrite is my current favorite example of a really interesting web
model for digital portfolio. P-A-T-H-B-R-I-T-E. And then you would submit your digital portfolio
to a panel of reviewers. Who would use valid external criteria for determining whether
or not you should earn a certificate of initial mastery. Which would suddenly be worth more
than a highs school diploma. Because it's evidence of mastery. And so suddenly colleges
and employers were see a body of work. Not a piece of paper with some numbers on it.
It would have far more, I think, value in the real world. Than what we see now. Certificate
of advanced mastery would be equivalent of two years of college. I think we have to get
past the idea that every kid should or will or needs to go to a four year college. That's
Yes please. I'm sorry we're gonna do a, hands, and mics. Sorry.
>>Male #6: Hi, my wife is a cofounder of a charter school in Atlanta that serves underprivileged
kids. And they do project based learning. But their big innovation is six kids per classroom.
>>Tony Wagner: Yeah.
>>Male #6: And they're really focused on tutorial style teaching. I wanted to know if you have
any research or any insight into the optimal team size? Or tutorial style versus applied?
>>Tony Wagner: Well there's a lot of research about smaller classes. Smaller classes don't
necessarily improve learning and here's why. You can lecture 15 kids as easily as you can
lecture 150. The teaching style has to change. To take advantage of a smaller learning environment.
And I think the learning size can vary depending upon who the students are, what the task is,
but generally speaking, 15 to 20 is I think, close to optimum. And I spent a whole period
of time researching Finland's education system. And made a documentary film many of you might
find interesting. It's called "The Finland Phenomenon." You can get it on the web. They
have been at the business of systematically reinventing their entire education system
for the entire country. For over 40 years. And they've come down to this idea of about
20 students per class. But they also have very, very highly trained teachers who know
how to use different groupings of students. And also a teacher who's a specialist in learning
difficulties. So if a student or if some students are shown at a very early age to have learning
difficulties, they're pulled out for that extra help.
Think I only have time for one or two more.
>>Female #3: Just one more question. It looks like most of us parents and educators seem
to want our students to succeed. But sometimes there's confusion about how we define success.
What you mentioned about this whole idea about a world where people are consuming for the
sake of consuming, and not because what the real and what was meaningful. I mean they're
all stuck with big mortgages and two car garages and thing that are not making us happy. So
then, I mean that's sort of forcing us to redefine success in a certain way. But where
do we begin on this, right? When I look at my own kids and wanting to see, I just want
them to be happy. I really don't want them to be powerful CEO. I mean it's OK if they
become. But if they don't it's OK. And I mean, but where does one start? And you know, have
you seen any trailblazers out there in terms of schooling where people are thinking philosophically
in a different way?
>>Tony Wagner: I think it's a wonderful question. And I suppose where one starts is by defining
happiness. When you say you want your child to be happy, how do you define happiness?
What does that mean? Some people might define it as having, owning a nice house. Living
in a great neighborhood. More and more young people saying "I don't know that I ever wanna
buy a house. I'm not even sure I need or want to own a car. I'll do zip car when I need
to 'cause I prefer to bike most places." So I think the definitions of happiness may be
evolving and changing. And I think that's the first place to start. Then the schools,
so often, a friend of mine said, "When you pick your school, you pick your complaint."
Unless you're fortunate enough to be in High Tech High or send your kids to Montessori
schools, I think there's no perfect school. So then you have to think about how do you
supplement what school is not offering by. And also how do you advocate within the school
for 20 percent time within the class.
>>Female #3: What do you think of homeschooling?
>>Tony Wagner: I think it's a valid option. I see more and more people doing it. I get
that question in almost every audience now.
Time for one more question.
>>Female #4: Hi, my name is Allie. I'm a resident sophomore in college. And I guess I'm kind
of the product of this assessment one point oh that you talk of. I did my STAR testing
in California schools. I did my AP testing. I got into Harvard. I'm now a Google intern.
And I guess it's a little selfish. But is there like something wrong with me?
I mean, you kind of keep hating on the system, but.
>>Tony Wagner: Um, we'll talk later.
No, come on. I mean there are people for whom that is not a crippling environment. There
are people who know how to thrive in that environment and can do well. You know, I don't
mean to sound critical. I'm simply suggesting that for many people, that is not a formula
that they can or need to or want to follow. If it worked for you that's fine. I have daughter
who went to Brown. She's OK by that. She's now a teacher by the way.
I think the issue is not what you went through, what hoops you jumped through. But where do
you wanna go? What do you wanna contribute? Paraphrasing Steve Jobs, you know "What's
the ding in the universe you wanna make?" So I'm gonna stop now. But lemme, I've got
a surprise for you. This new book, Creating Innovators, was a collaboration with Bob Compton
with whom I did the "Finland Phenomenon" documentary. Bob shot more than 60 videos to accompany
the book. He said to me "I couldn't just write a book about innovation. It has to be innovative."
So embedded throughout the book are series of codes which you scan with your Smartphone
with the right software. And you see all of these different videos. And what we did was
put together a nine minute compilation of the videos that you'll find throughout the
Now, Maggie you may have to help me find, so I just go to QuickTime, right? Alright.
So we're set. So this is just a quickie to give you a sneak [inaudible]
>>Dean Kamen: Oxygen to life.
I mean I don't know any other way to define innovation other that it's what drives us
to the next level.
[quiet percussive music]
>>Amanda Alonzo: I think innovation is the ability to look at a problem or a question
in a new way. To have a passion for that question and make it meaningful.
[music continues]
>>Tom Friedman: CQ plus PQ is always greater than IQ. That is, you give me a young person
with a high curiosity quotient and a young person combines that with a high passion quotient
to pursue their curiosity. I'll always take that young person over someone with a high
IQ. Because when you get young people who are curious and then they have a passion to
pursue their curiosity, good things tend to happen.
[music continues]
>>Larry Rosenstock: The future lies for our country to become more productive. We need
people to innovate. We need people to create and you start with your young.
[sound of drill]
>>Annemarie Neal: Raising someone with that intention that they'll be an innovator is
actually different than raising a child that you want to behave all the time and be quite
compliant. How do I help create an environment for this child to be curious? I'm going to
ask a lot of questions and not be in any way inhibited by the answers that he comes up
with. He's in a school system that also provides that same type of an environment. So he gets
it in school. And then we continue to foster it at home. But the goal is to let him ask
as many questions as possible. And for us to always think in terms of, let's be curious
about what's in front of us.
[music continues]
>>David Kelley: Everybody is created naturally, look at what happens in kindergarten. I mean
you just go into a kindergarten class and walking the streets. Just totally coming up
with ideas that nobody, they'll interview a second grader. And they'll have all kinds
of ideas that you never thought of, right. Because their minds are free to do that. So
I think the school system kind of trains that out of a lot of us.
[dark percussive music]
>>Jennifer Winters: Our school really gives kids enough time for, to really get invested
in something. To really figure it out. It's not a quick study of something. If you're
interested in blocks, you can build with blocks. For a two hour period of time. And really
sort of experiment with materials. We talk about these basic open ended materials that
we have for children every single day. There's blocks. There's clay. There's easel painting.
There's sand and water.
[music continues]
>>Beth Wise: In that environment children have a way to work with each other. And it's
very collaborative.
[music continues]
>>Male Speaker #1: The philosophy of High Tech High is founded largely on the idea of
kids making, doing, building, shaping, and inventing stuff. Along with teachers. And
you can see when you're here that we're producing things because when you're producing things
you're also consuming those technologies. But when you're consuming those technologies
you're not necessarily producing [unintelligible] those technologies.
[music continues]
>>Richard Miller: The science part is simply the power tools behind you that make you do
it faster. And more efficiently. It's not in fact, what engineering is all about.
[music continues]
The curriculum at Olin requires that all students have a series of courses in design. And in
fact, the day they arrive they begin designing and building things. They haven't yet had
the calculus and the physics background material. But that's OK. Because design thinking doesn't
require science. Design thinking actually has a lot in common with art.
[slower music]
It's about asking the right questions. It's about having the right insights and perceptions.
Do whatever it takes to increase the level of student engagement so that they are intrinsically
motivated. They ask the right questions. They're empowered to use technology to find them.
And they're committed to making a positive difference in the world.
[synthesizer plays]
[machine whirs]
[synthesizer plays]
>>Semyon Dukach: I think that there's a class of young people that really wanna change the
[music continues]
They come from countries like the US. And some have had pretty comfortable backgrounds
and others have had to work very hard. But they're really motivated to try to make a
difference. And there's a whole movement of organizations that are on the edge of non-profits
and for-profits. That really have a social mission. But also want to, they don't want
to just ask for donations. They want to run it as a business to keep themselves honest.
>>Amy Smith: It's really important for students to find out what is their passion. Right?
There's plenty of problems in the world. And we're, no one's gonna solve all of them. So
why not choose the one that means the most to you?
[music continues]
>>David Sengeh: We have lots of amputees in Sierra Leon. I do have a lot of amputee friends
from the war. Where couple thousand people were maimed. Allow the users to work in different
terrains. To work in a rainy season. To do things on ground that is not level. But also
have it be low cost. And have it be enabling. Have them to have another dimension to their
lives. They have to be able to do more than just walk. They have to be able to do their
basic general work.
[quiet music]
>>Shanna Tellerman: I've always really wanted to make a real impact in the world. That's
the biggest desire I've had. I want to feel like what I'm doing every day matters. And
it matters in a bigger way than myself. So when I was doing art, the biggest struggle
I had was that I felt like art has meaning to people but I wasn't really changing the
world with my art. And so the desire I started having in high school and even in college
was how can my art be more extended. How can creativity be more extended and have a bigger
[quiet slow music continues]
>>Laura White: I'm not afraid of poverty. I'm really not. I think that's really important.
I want to improve the society that I live in. and I believe that I can make it work
of it's doing the right thing.
[music continues]
>>Jamien Sills: I can't reinvent the foot. But I can reinvent the shoe or the way the
shoe is made. I always say, if I'm able to take an image from my mind and make something
out of it and then share that with the world, it means everything to me.
>>Jodie Wo: Everyone's here for a reason. And if you're here and you have a talent or
this ability to do something, if you're not gonna utilize it, you've basically like, are
taking away from the world. You're not giving it, you're not playing your role in this big
ecosystem of things. I have the capacity to do it. So I need to do it. If I'm not, then
I'm not only failing myself, but I'm failing the world.
[melodious music]
>>Tony Wagner: The one thing that cannot be commoditized is innovation. It is increasingly
clear to me that young people who are capable of innovating in whatever they do, not just
high tech stuff. But in any kind of job. Are really going to have richer, more satisfying
lives. And many better opportunities to earn a decent living. To have interesting and challenging
and rewarding work. So rather than all kids college ready, what I've come to see is that
we need to think about all students, all children, innovation ready. And that poses a profound
set of challenges for us. As parents. As teachers. As mentors. As employers. What must I do to
enable my child or my student to be innovation ready.
[rhythmic music swells]
Our success is measured more or less by the rate of innovation.
[music fades]
>>Female Presenter: Can you join me in thanking Tony?