Feeling like I have been lagging a bit– this book will now (and forever?) be the first book to suggest to anyone looking for a guiding text on 21st century learning. I still love Dan Pink, and think his Whole New Mind is a lot of fun to read and open your eyes on the topic, but Wagner really tightly ties Friedman/Pink thinking about how the world is changing, and how are proficiencies need to be different, to what actually is and should be happening in schools best.
September 4, 2008
So my thanks to my friend Joe Rice at Mid-Pacific Institute for his recommendation.
I read the whole thing in a day– I couldn’t put it down. And I was humbled in places, chagrined. How many of us, we “educational leaders,” will read Wagner’s own painful memoir of his years as an underprepared teacher and principal and not experience red-faced resonance? What modeling and mentoring, really, did most of us receive in “instructional leadership?”How often were we consumed like Wagner was by the management responsibilities and let instruction get away from us, now and again? Wagner came into schools without any precedence or policy for instructional leadership, and didn’t get training in it, and didn’t know how to do it– and then was painfully rebuffed when he tried.
Reading the book made me also profoundly grateful for this sabbatical year I am enjoying, and deeply committing to a personal renaissance of myself as an educational leader and instructional leader. I am going to build on my growing confidence, and my learning of this year, in my next administrative role to be a real instructional leader, and very much in the model of Wagner’s call. I will be in and out of classrooms all the time, and I will be seriously engaging my colleagues in the work of advancing 21st century teaching and learning.
The book: The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even the Best Schools Don’t Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need– and What We Can Do About it. 2008.
If any one message pops out, and it does again and again, to Wagner’s credit– it is the value of good questioning. “first and foremost,” one CEO says, “I look for someone who asks good questions.” Another successful exec says “I ask questions for a living.” “the ability to ask good questions (and engage others) are the critical competencies for work today.” Here is Wagner speaking for himself: “I have consistently found that the kinds of questions students are asked and the extent to which a teacher challenges students to explain their thinking or expand on their answers are reliable indicators of the level of intellectual rigor in a class.”
As the subtitle promises, Wagner offers a list of seven success strategies, and I provide them elsewhere in the blog (21st. century aptitudes). In reading the book, though, I don’t really think his heart in in them that much– he is much more energized by speaking more about what schools are doing, and what they are not doing, to prepare and motivate students in a very new and different era.
More coming on this very valuable book…..