Recommended Weekend Reading


Here’s 2 recommended posts for your weekend reading. These posts both complement the perspective of schools as ecosystems:

–> This first blog post, brought to my attention thanks to New America Foundation’s Early Ed News Clips, is posted on Valerie Strauss’ The Answer Sheet, entitled Taking a Stand for ‘The Whole Child’ Approach to School Reform, written by Sean Slad, the director of ASCD’s Healthy School Communities.

This “whole child approach” dovetails precisely with the point Will and I made in our introductory post on the necessity for viewing schools as vibrant, dynamic communities. Slade writes:

The true measure of student success is much more than a test score, and ensuring that young people achieve in and out of school requires support well beyond effective academic instruction. The demands of the 21st century require a new approach to education to fully prepare our nation’s youth for college, career, and citizenship . . .

. . . this ideal should not be found only in the the occasional school. It should be found in all schools. [Italics added]

Yes. Yes. And yes. This whole child approach, or model of schools as ecosystems, is where education reform must go if we are to see sustained and equitable improvement in the quality of our education systems. Slade advocates for the creation of a President’s Council for the Whole Child, and he then outlines some specific and achievable goals for that council. This is a must read.

–> The next post up to bat was brought to my attention on my Twitter feed by John Hagel, a brilliant writer on the concept of edges (which Will and I will be exploring in greater detail as a fundamental ecological principle). This post was written by Eric Savitz for Forbes.com, and is entitled The Empowered Employee is Coming; Is the World Ready? Savitz writes:

. . . here’s the problem: focusing on the denominator of the productivity equation – the cost side – is a game in diminishing returns. Each additional increment of cost reduction is harder and harder to deliver. And yet the pressure continues to mount. What to do?

The key answer that defines the postdigital enterprise is to shift attention from the cost side to the value side. Rather than treating employees as cost items that need to be managed wherever possible, why not view them as assets capable of delivering ever increasing value to the marketplace? This is a profound shift in focus. For one thing, it moves us from a game of diminishing returns to an opportunity for increasing returns. There is little, if any, limit to the additional value that people can deliver if given the appropriate tools and skill development.

But what would this require? Well, it makes people the center of the enterprise. Rather than striving to squeeze people into their assigned roles and tasks, it means addressing how the enterprise will need to change in order to help people develop more rapidly and achieve ever higher levels of performance. [Bold added]

This is sound business advice for the 21st century, but just as applicable to school systems. I also like how this approach speaks to the focus on value and strengths of individuals, much like the positive pyschology PERMA model that I wrote about earlier.

The piece further investigates the importance of “the metrics that matter,” and highlights the importance in investing in the contexts and environment of the workplace.

This is long and reflective piece, well worth reading. There are many “convergent design” approaches outlined in there that could have applicability in the public education setting.

Enjoy your weekend!

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