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Whole Child Symposium

Imagine Today’s Children at 25

"What do we want our children to be like? Think of that child, that teenager, that young adult and describe them. What words do we use? ... What do our children want to be like when they are 25? How would they describe themselves? Are they content with an education system which at times seems more designed to sort, test, and label students than develop, educate, or prepare them?"

—"In Support of the Whole Child," The Huffington Post, 2012

We live in a global economy that requires our students to be prepared to think both critically and creatively, evaluate massive amounts of information, solve complex problems, and communicate well. A strong foundation in reading, writing, math, and other core subjects is still as important as ever, yet by itself is insufficient for lifelong success. For too long, we have committed to time structures, coursework, instructional methods, and assessments designed more than a century ago. Our current definition of student success is too narrow. It is time to put students first, align resources to students’ multiple needs, and advocate for a more balanced approach.

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Whole Child Symposium

What Do You Think We Need from Education?

As we continue our discussions on "Choosing Your Tomorrow Today" and "The Future of Schooling" as part of ASCD's Whole Child Symposium, let's add another question to ponder: What do you think we need from education?

In the United States, historically, the purpose of education has evolved according to the needs of society. Education's primary purpose has ranged from instructing youth in religious doctrine, to preparing them to live in a democracy, to assimilating immigrants into mainstream society, to preparing workers for the industrialized 20th century workplace.

And now, as educators prepare young people for their futures in a world that is rapidly changing, what is the goal? To create adults who can compete in a global economy? To create lifelong learners? To create emotionally healthy adults who can engage in meaningful relationships?

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Whole Child Symposium

Lines of Thinking From the 2014 ASCD Conference

Post written by Jeffrey Benson and originally published on his blog.

The ASCD Annual Conference took place in Los Angeles from March 14–17. It was consistently thrilling to be among a diverse group of 9,000 educators. Everyone had stories to tell, aspirations to share, and good work to do. You just had to sit down next to anyone and say, "Where are you from? What do you do?" and an hour later you had another colleague.

I heard competing narratives about our students and the schools they need. One narrative concerns poor kids of color who come to school from the earliest elementary years already behind in basic skills. They need schools structures and teachers who are strong enough and sensitive enough to stand with the kids, and who have a pedagogical skill set attuned to their students' particular needs—especially in reading, writing and the traumas of poverty. If we don't provide a more rigorous and high-end curriculum of health care and basic skills for these kids, they'll never catch up; the lack of resources to more predictably turn these communities around is further proof of the institutional racism we still must fight. There is much call from these communities for longer school days and longer school years to bridge all the gaps.

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Whole Child Symposium

A Whole Child Education for Every Child: The Grand Unifying Theory of Education

If our goal is a "whole child" education for every child, here are some essential questions: How should a modern school be managed and led in a world where the ground keeps constantly shifting? How can a single educator piece together a coherent vision of "school today:" management, leadership, curriculum, teaching, tools? Does "21st-century learning" have any real and special meaning? What's certain is that the schools we're striving to create today are not your father's (or your mother's) schools.

I am not a huge fan of posts that start with a number and proceed to a command: "83 Things You Must Do To Be The Teacher You Want to Be;" "Thirteen Cs Your School Can't Survive Without." In general I find these overwhelming, dispiriting, and ultimately pointless; add them all together and you wind up with an infinitude of impossibility and a guilt-trip headache. I have used this pitch a few times, and I'm rather sorry I did.

I find my thinking on education and learning fragmented enough without reducing its elements to lists. When I've actually tried to do this, I wind up with a mental construct that looks like the Strategic Directions to Hell, a road paved in bullet-points of noble intention.

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Whole Child Symposium

Don’t Settle for the Okey-Doke in a Third Narrative of American Education

An independent school leader and public school parent, Chris Thinnes (@CurtisCFEE) is the head of the Upper Elementary School and academic dean at the Curtis School in Los Angeles, Calif., and founding director of its Center for the Future of Elementary Education. He is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools' advisory council on diversity, a member of the EdCamp Foundation's public relations committee, and a fellow of the Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence.

Originally shared on his blog, these are Thinnes' remarks from the Whole Child Symposium Town Hall at the 2014 ASCD Annual Conference, inspiration from the Network for Public Education Conference, and reflections on an EdLeader21 PLC Advisory Group meeting.

"Sisters and brothers: Don't settle for the 'okey-doke'..."
Karen Lewis

"We don't support the status quo..."
John Kuhn

I just returned to Los Angeles after the honor of participating in one of the great conversations about the future of education, sitting around a table of district leaders engaged in writing what some have called a "third narrative" of public education in the United States. For days we collaborated in an effort to generate a theory of action, and made concrete commitments to a series of initiatives, that will have an impact on the experience of 2 million children in EdLeader21 member schools and districts in the coming years.

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Podcast Whole Child Symposium

Town Hall Discussion: Bringing the Questions Together

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The decisions we make today—for our systems, our schools, and our classrooms—will affect what all of our tomorrows will look like tomorrow. This month ASCD launches its inaugural Whole Child Symposium—a conversation about the future of education comprising three events over eight weeks that includes not only some of the leading educators and thinkers, but also you and your voice.

On March 16 at ASCD's 69th Annual Conference & Exhibit Show in Los Angeles, Calif., ASCD's Sean Slade and a panel of education experts discussed our driving questions:

  • Choosing Your Tomorrow Today: What does this phrase mean to you? What do you think is most important? What word has the greatest impact, the greatest potential, and the greatest need?
  • The Future of Schooling: Where are we? Each idea sounds plausible and is probably in the midst of coming true somewhere in the world. Has it or is it coming true? Is the writing on the wall? What can or should we do?

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Whole Child Symposium

The Future of Schooling

In 2001, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) identified scenarios for the future of schooling as part of its What Schools for the Future? report. The OECD, for those who may not be aware, are those same people based in Paris that put out the PISA scores that compare and rank countries' education systems.

Regardless of what we might think about PISA and ranking systems overall, the 2001 report is worth a look as it proposed three clusters of scenarios for where education may be in the not so distant future—education as a system and also as a social and economic enterprise. These clusters are the status quo, re-schooling, and de-schooling.

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Whole Child Symposium

Choosing Your Tomorrow Today

Choosing your tomorrow today. What does this phrase mean to you? Probably your first thought is that it conveys an understanding that what we decide today affects what we become tomorrow. Obviously skills, behaviors, and knowledge learned today increase or decrease the potential for us all to do things in the future. But is there more to this phrase? Can it be parsed out? Take each word one at a time.

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Whole Child Symposium

@Every Learner: Someday Is Now

2014 ASCD Annual ConferenceNow is the time to make a difference in the lives of our learners, to propel them into the world as beacons of success and hope. ASCD's 69th Annual Conference and Exhibit Show is two weeks away—it's not too late to participate!

The conference will be held in Los Angeles, California, March 15–17, 2014, and will showcase ideas and best-practice strategies that are driving student achievement and unlock ways to boost teacher and leadership effectiveness. Attendees will choose from more than 350 sessions that will enable them to prepare our world's learners to be creative, critically minded, and compassionate citizens. The conference's general session speakers include education luminaries such as Sir Ken Robinson, Daniel Pink, and Russell Quaglia. The conference is generously supported by sponsors including Microsoft, Adobe, and VINCI.

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