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Convergence Re-imagining Education Project: Envisioning the Future of Learning.

Session 4
Kelly Young — Director, Convergence Re-imagining Education Project

The Convergence Re-imagining Education Project began with these questions: What do we want most for our children? And what learning experiences and environments can best foster that?

Over the last 18 months, a startling group of diverse, extraordinary education practitioners and advocates came together, built trust and resilient relationships, and aligned on a vision of learning that addresses those and other questions. They are now acting together to bring their vision alive and transform education.

Participants in the Convergence Re-imagining Education project include, for instance: Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers; Lily Eskelsen, President of the National Education Association; Stuart Butler, Senior Fellow at Brookings and former Director at The Heritage Foundation; Stephan Turnipseed, Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships, LEGO Foundation; Liz Fogel, Director of Education, Walt Disney Company; Maddie Fennell, former Nebraska Teacher of the Year; Michael Hinojosa, former District Superintendent, Cobb County, Georgia; Bobbi Macdonald, Founder and Executive Director of City Neighbors Charter School; Marc Magee, CEO of 50CAN; Jen Humke, Program Officer, MacArthur Foundation; David Andrews, Dean of Johns Hopkins School of Education; and Sam Chaltain, writer.

The group came together recognizing they had strongly held and often divergent views on a number of current issues and controversies in public education. They were tired of the same recurring debates about what is wrong with today’s education system and who is to blame for its inadequacies, and realized that no amount of tweaking the current, industrial-era system would create a truly fulfilling learning environment. The group was determined to create a vision of the future of education that could achieve that and unite them. And they did.

After engaging in a challenging, dialogic process spanning six 2-day meetings, the group stands united behind a vision of a learning environment that is structured with the learner at its center. In this vision, all children thrive, are able to deeply engage in their own communities and the global community, truly enjoy learning, and are prepared and excited for their future. Learners are seen and known as wondrous, curious individuals with vast capabilities and limitless potential.

Learners seek mastery not only of core knowledge but also of skills (such as communication, collaboration and metacognition) and dispositions (such as curiosity, adaptability and resilience) that promote lifelong success. To ensure development in these three domains for all learners, the group envisions learning experiences characterized by five interrelated elements. Taken together, they form a new design for learning:

• Competency-based • Personalized, relevant and contextualized • Learner agency • Socially embedded • Open-walled

In addition to the elements, the vision addresses core components of a transformed system, including for instance: how learning spaces might be re-imagined; how a coordinated network of adults will support each and every learner; the meaningful use of data and technology; and, assessments “for” and “as” learning.

The group’s vision document is designed to catalyze a new national conversation about education transformation and to become a rallying point for a network of pioneers who are already, or would like to be, working along similar lines.

Conversational Practice

We expect this to be an interactive, dialogic process involving everyone in the room. We will ask people to explore questions like: How do you see a child? What beliefs about children are embedded in the current system? We will also solicit an exchange on our vision, including the elements and system components.

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