To the Tinkerers go the Spoils
Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing our Kids for the Innovation Era by Tony Wagner & Ted Dintersmith
Scribner, August 18, 2015
In affiliation with their documentary film of the same title, as well as an initiative for change in schools, Wagner and Dintersmith bring us this lively reexamination of the purposes of education. Synthesizing their own personal stories and anecdotes about education more widely, along with recent educational research and literature, Wagner and Dintersmith call for a complete overhaul of today's homogenous, credential, and test-driven American K-16 education. Using research data and empirical evidence, they advocate for a 21st-century education that prepares students to "succeed in the world of work, citizenship, and lifelong learning." Their book is accessible and breezy yet provocative and surprisingly urgent, advocating for an approach to learning based on doing: riding a bike, speaking Spanish, learning to write by writing a lot. The authors call for tinkering and experimentation as well as the involvement of communities and business leaders. Calling for "real learning" and "real competencies," Wagner and Dintersmith challenge the disconnect between what our schools' missions and values name as our purposes and what we're actually doing in classrooms. Fortunately, too, this book offers concrete suggestions about how schools and educators can better teach and assess critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity (the "four C's"), and how to give students more freedom, choice and agency in their learning. It's a compelling read, raising old and new questions about how best to prepare students today for tomorrow's world.