EdRev’s second keynote speaker on April 13, 2013 in San Francisco was Todd Rose, co-founder and president of Project Variability, This organization is dedicated to providing leadership around the emerging new science of the individual and its implications for education, the workforce, and society. Todd is also a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education teaching Educational Neuroscience.
Todd Rose’s presentation was built around a premise of the need for society to change a belief, one that gives credit to the myth of the average person. Our education system is build on averages rather than supporting the different needs of the individual.
Todd knows whereof he speaks. He was a high school dropout. His education did not support his learning differences. When he discovered that boredom, not laziness was the issue, ideas and the drive to create a different life emerged.
A high school dropout he accepted that he needed an education. Perseverance at night school resulted in obtaining his GED. A teacher in a community college gave him the encouragement and support and with hard work on his behalf he graduated cum laude. He was accepted at Harvard. His initial experience at this institution gave him the feeling that Harvard’s process of education and his ADHD were at odds. A Harvard professor challenged him, commenting that it wasn’t Todd it was the education system that was the problem. Harvard did not nurture individual talent. This gave him the drive to challenge Harvard. He began to focus on designing a new approach, away from the concept that our education is about a science of averages. His study promoted the need to find a way to evaluate individual talents, rather than comparing one individual to another individual.
Todd along with others have initiated Project Variability which focuses on the science of the individual, creating flexible environments. Its sole purpose is to bring to the public an awareness and new approaches to ensure a means of learning that lives up to our capabilities.
Todd offered the EdRev audience a challenge: start shifting. The change is about a mindshift. He asked this PEN membership who knows there is a problem with the education system to become a part of creating the solution.
He offered a first step involving one week of effort.
When there is a behavior, be it your child’s or your own, that needs correction find a context for making that change. Begin by asking yourself what is your default habit. State it and see what change you need to make. The goal is to allow your or your child’s true potential to emerge? Consider:
- What environment do you or he/she need?
- What relationships are important?
- Spell the information out for yourself or your child and put it into action.
- Ask yourself what do you need to do to be ready for this change
- How can you contribute to this?
- Discover the first step.
Remember we can build technologies. Ultimately, however, it’s not the technologies but individuals, parents and educators who need to take the responsibility to make this shift. PEN membership knows there is a problem and that when solutions start to exist more will come.
Todd Rose has written a must successful book, Square Peg.
On April 13, 2013 in San Francisco the 5th annual EdRev returned to the Giants Ballpark. It was a huge success. Parents Education Network, the producers of this model event, offered a wide variety of programming for those passionate about understanding, finding solutions, and resolving issues facing those with dyslexia, ADD/ADHD and other learning disabilities. Students, parents, teachers and other were treated to a wide variety of new ideas, new technologies, new skills and much more. The energy at the event, gathering 2,000 people together, was very high.
There were two keynote speakers with a similar theme; the need for a different education process.
Sir Ken Robinson, an education and creativity expert and author of the New York Times best-selling book ‘Finding Your Element’ set the tone stating:
The challenge with the education system is a world-wide problem. One word describes the cause: Conformity. Currently the education process is based on the belief that everyone must conform to basic principles. This denies the fact that we are all biologically different which means students are spending time on what they must do instead of what they can do.
A recent study has shown that 30% of students in 9th grade don’t finish the 12th grade. Many of these students end up in jail. The current solution is to pour more money into the correction system ($25,000 a year for an individual). If that funding was redirected to the education system to address the learning needs of the dropouts, the costs to state government would decrease. Educating a student has the average cost of $10,000. Cutting by half the number of dropouts from grade nine the net gain result in 10 – 11 years would be twelve Trillan dollars.
Sir Ken promotes three principles for an evolving education system.
Accept the principle that we are all different with unique talents. We are different because we are biologically different. Human life relies on diversity. It is why human life is so interesting. The reason the current education process is unsuccessful is its lack of focus on diversity.
Creativity is at the heart of what it is to be a human being. The opportunity for each student to explore their creativity is essential. Our imagination gives us the ability to bring into mind what doesn’t exit. Sir Ken asked us to remember that creativity is what has driven this country, the United States of America, to be successful. It’s a national asset. Now is the time to re-energize the education system allowing creativity which presents itself differently in different people to flourish.
We need an education system that supports students in finding what is their true talent, what do they love to do. It will result in them defining who they are so they can discover a path that is satisfying and provide a lifestyle that supports their life. The goal is to do something you have a natural talent for. Something you get. It is time those administrators leading the educational process think differently.
In light of the above he offered a commemt about ADHD and the high % of students currently being diagnosed with ADHD. If students are required to sit and listen to boring things, don’t be surprised if they develop ADHD behavior.
3. Life is organic, not linear
We can’t predict how a life will shape up. The key is following the passion that comes from creative exploration. Keep the focus on what is it that you love to do. It is the parent’s responsibility to help their child discover his or her talent, to encourage, support and expect it to go in different directions. The path will not be linear. Remember, we compose our lives. It’s time to accept that one’s life is about diversity and being creative.
We have to press for a different education system. The academic world needs broad curriculum that embraces the fact that we learn differently. We have to get governments away from trying to impose standardization. Education has to be radically personalized so individuals can identify their special talents. There is no reason why students should do the same things every day. Conformity doesn’t work.
If you are teacher, parent or student take up the challenge and be the change you want to see. Collectively teachers, students, and parents are the ones who can change the system. The movement is powerful enough.
And, don’t waste time on those who are stuck in the old model. They are never going to change.
Sir Ken Robinson’s new book is titled Finding Your Element: How to discovery your talents and passions and transform your life.
Challenges in giving feedback.
I am taking a Speaking Circles speaking class with Lee Glickstein in San Francisco. http://www.speakingcircles.com
Over the last ten years I have worked with him and his colleague, Doreen Hamilton, in part to improve my speaking skills but also to discover what it is I have to say about a topic. The sessions are taped. I often transcribe them to see what I can learn about my speaking skills and the topics.
Over the last month, during two different Speaking Circle sessions, I addressed feedback. As part of the class process we are asked to give positive feedback on the other speakers’ comments. I have a block with this aspect of the class. I sense other dyslexics/hyperlexics might have a similar experience and thought my learning on this topic might be useful.
This blog is reporting almost verbatim my talk – a spontaneous narrative.
I want to talk about feedback. I have real terror giving feedback in this class. I realized it tonight. I am watching my whole body. Oh god, will the words come up. I don’t know what it is but words don’t want to come easily in feedback. I have no problem talking but I sure do with this required feedback.
Years ago when I was married my husband was a stage designer. He would always say to me: Come and take a look at what I have done and tell me what you think. My whole body would go into terror. Oh my God, I can’t. So, I would stumble through but I never felt good about what I was doing.
Years later I discovered that I am hyperlexic which means I don’t image well. So, the cat has a pink tail that wiggles. I often only see the words but I don’t always see images. Yes, I have been trained to image so I am better at this now but if I don’t have an image and I only see the words, then my left and right brain don’t work well together. I have a sense this is what is going on here. Physically my brain does something weird. It doesn’t coordinate. It is very frustrating. Honestly I don’t know what the answer is.
I was thinking about this during the break after the first session. I said to myself, if I had my magic markers I could tell you very fast what I felt. That is not a problem. This really points out the issue of words for me. I have spent my life in the theater, opera primarily, not as a singer. I can see and have seen over the last ten years why opera, not theater has been my choice – because, theater is about words. I space out if I am not imaging as fast as the words are spoken. Chooooo, I am gone.
I was at Yale at the Drama School. They are very verbal people. At that point I didn’t know what the condition was. Thankfully, they are also heartfelt people. I never felt uncomfortable but I felt bloody well frustrated because I couldn’t conjure up what I needed to say.
I don’t quite know how to solve this.
More insights on this topic on my next blog.