Looking Forward Through the Lens of Why

So what about our kids’ education? What is Redesign? Why are we doing it?

Ginger Lewman UCET 2018

I heard Ginger Lewman speak last week at a huge tech conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, UCET (with 1700+ participants in attendance of the conference).

Ginger talked about the “second half of the chess board” and Pall Payasam. She used it to help us understand the concept of exponential leaps in technology. She also used it to help us wrap our minds around where we are currently on the chess board as a society.

I invite you to look at that legend here:

Social Scientist and Bringers of the Future say we are already about 6 spaces on the second half of the chess board, toward the last square. Our kids will need to understand a world of flying cars, unmanned trucks and cars, restaurants and stores that have no people working in them, and scanners that can detect disease and cancer without ever touching our bodies. That stuff is already here. It is just not brought to scale yet. But our kids and our grandkids will live in a world none of us can even really imagine.

This world will be highly technical. Innovation will continue to drive it and it is a race for the Bringers of the Future every single day.

Our kids will need to understand critical thinking, design, unintended consequences and collaboration – all on steroids. We are not just making leaps and bounds as a society, we are leaping exponentially. We are now advancing so quickly, the average person, (like me), can barely wrap our minds around this.

Almost every single aspect of our lives has been advanced by technology. Yet our schools still look and feel for the most part like they did 100 years ago. Rows and bells and compliance and standardized tests. So often our kids are being asked to learn information that they can get on google.

Some may agree with me and some may not, but in my opinion, the product of No Child Left Behind are young adults and current students whose largest driving questions were/are “Is this going to be on the test?”

Now, to Redesign. Our employers and innovators are telling us, we are turning out a workforce that is woefully unprepared. Not just in one area, but in MANY areas. There was a massive listening tour by Randy Watson and KSDE. They talked to urban and rural areas. They talked to Chambers and business leaders. They talked to parents and community leaders. They talked to students.

Next they mined data. They began to understand two things. That according to the National Student Clearinghouse AND the US Department of Labor, public education has a long leap to make to truly help every student become a healthy thriving adult and meet the needs of the current and future workforce.

The thought process is moving away from test scores as our only predictor of success and moving towards, what really matters. Creating Thriving employable/employed adults who are equipped to handle public and private life.

So this looks like Personalized Learning for EVERY student. Can you even begin to imagine what the sheer thought of this concept has done to teachers? Truly capturing learning in public education that is best for each individual student?


To me, this seems like a Moby Dick. But, Kansas is leading the world on this.
Yes, you just read that right. Kansas is leading the world.

Additional pieces are Civic Engagement, Project Based Learning and of the highest priority for schools now is Social and Emotional Intelligence.

It is no secret our country and our communities, big and small are struggling socially and emotionally.

I am a parent of three boys. I am not highly concerned about achievement for my kids. They are living a life that is higher up on the Maslow’s Pyramid and achievement will come naturally for them.
I want kids who know how to be nice, know how to show up, know how to collaborate and invent and design and create and most of all, kids who know how to care for those among them that are struggling.

My kids and their futures are so much more than a test score.

Redesign is scary. It is messy and we are going to have to give up some cherished beliefs and really look at where we are and where we are going. Change is messy. Transformation can be painful.

I am really proud of USD 418. I have been hanging around several Redesign schools this year. My hope is that in the face of adversity, USD 418 does not back down. You have accepted a brave challenge to figure out how to transform school, which will transform lives and our community.
Our teachers and administrators have been researching, and discussing and reaching out to parents and the community and researching some more. Many educators who are a part of this, have been spending incredible extra hours, thinking this massive overhaul through and trying to put it into action. I want to thank you. I see you and your sacrifice. I am grateful.

I will close with this.

If it is the right thing to do, it will be hard and there will be opposition.
Don’t back down. The future is here.