Great to see the educational new wave being celebrated in a publication with the reach of USA Today– and to see the National Association of Independent Schools being associated with this new wave. What Pat Basset is doing is important, highlighting and showcasing the ways in which independent schools are at the forefront of this essential new schooling. Too often, our schools and our movement, one of which I am enormously proud of my nearly life-long association, have been far too backwards looking. Before Bassett, his predecessor, even in his very name (I am sorry to say), seemed too often to convey that our excellence lies in our tradition, our heritage, our legacy. Because we were so great, (and we were), we will always be relevant and valuable, was what the message sounded like. On a closet shelf in my Head’s office at my new school there is a a VHS videocassette distributed by NAIS in the 90’s, with a title like “Promoting independent schools: Preserving a Tradition,” which makes the project sound like embalming a cadaver– exactly the wrong message for a fast changing time.
Bassett, to the contrary, points forward, and his name conveys this doggedness in sniffing out the future. From the article:
“It worries me that we’re not thinking big enough, that we’re not preparing our kids for a world that will be terribly different from the one we grew up in,” says Patrick Bassett. “It worries me that we’re not thinking big enough, that we’re not preparing our kids for a world that will be terribly different from the one we grew up in,” says Patrick Bassett. “We need kids to be more risk-taking, more entrepreneurial,” he says. “More than ever, we need the right brain to mix with the left.”
The particular presentation featured in the USA Today article is a terrific one, articulating the key ideas of Dan Pink’s great book A Whole New Mind, and demonstrating how these key ideas are being actualized in independent schools. At my previous school I took this presentation off the NAIS website, reshaped it, and then inputted how my own school was actualizing Pink’s Six Senses– and it made for a fun presentation and a useful, tool for promoting change in a school by highlighting and reinforcing that change’s leading edge.
The article also directs attention to High Tech High in San Diego, which so many of us think is among the very most interesting high schools in the US– because it is so conscientiously applying these ideas. Its CEO offers a great short quote:
“students are encouraged to use those skills to practical ends such as dreaming up new sources of energy or calculating ways to stretch the West’s limited water suppy. You want kids who are math whizzes, yes. But you want them to also have the creative talent to apply those math skills to find answers to big questions.”