3 ways to promote grit via literacy instruction

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” –Japanese Proverb

J.K. Rowling. Bill Gates. Oprah Winfrey. These are no doubt names that most students recognize as successful. But what often goes overlooked is the perseverance needed to achieve success, and that successful people—including these household names—often overcome great obstacles. To that end, the conversation in schools has shifted to resilience and grit, recognizing that people who demonstrate determination often end up being movers and shakers in today’s world.

Thanks to pioneering work by Carol Dweck, Martin Seligman, and Angela Duckworth, we now know that the ability to cope and persevere through setbacks and adversity can be learned and taught. In a related movement, educators across the country are leading the charge to implement social-emotional learning (SEL) programs and teach the core SEL competencies they’ve always known to be immensely valuable. By teaching skills ranging from self-management to responsible decision-making, educators hope to instill students with the positive mindsets, resilience, and grit they need to succeed in school and life.…Read More

Everyone has a role to play in education today

As we enter a new year, education is a topic that continues to resonate well beyond the classroom into the core aspects of daily life, from home and family to the halls of politics and the corporate world. Since launching SXSW EDU several years ago with the aspiration to become the world’s largest and most inclusive learning festival in the world, it’s been exciting to see the event grow and evolve. As past speakers including philanthropist Bill Gates and Teacher’s College, Columbia University professor Christopher Emdin both observed from the keynote stage, the growth of the event is a direct reflection of the public’s deep passion and interest with teaching and learning—no surprise, when we acknowledge that education is the foundation on which everything is built!

More than the growth of SXSW EDU, though, what’s been most interesting to observe is the evolution of the topics that the community wants to address, as reflected through our crowd-sourced program. Each year, the community proposes thousands of suggestions for sessions and workshops and speakers. As such, the SXSW EDU community’s conversation about teaching and learning continues to become richer and more diverse, spanning the complete life cycle of learning, from early childhood, to and through college, career, and beyond.

While past programs for SXSW EDU focused largely on the standards and structures of schooling, today the program has grown to additionally address the intersection of culture and learning. Stated another way, beyond exploring the 4- or 8- or 12-year curriculums associated with the traditional classifications of elementary, secondary, and post- secondary education, it’s been fascinating to see the program enriched with discussions about lifelong learning in the real world, against the backdrop of rapidly changing expectations to prepare learners for a future that will look far different than today.…Read More

Bill Gates: I assume my phone’s not being tapped

In some fascinating comments about privacy and security, the Microsoft co-founder admits that he does use e-mail to send confidential messages. And he expects a level of security from his gadgets, CNET reports. “It’s not as if government surveillance is absolutely bad in all cases.”

Oh, that’s a relief. With all the revelations over the last months, I’d begun to wonder.

Thankfully, with these words (and others), Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates tried to offer some reassurance to those thinking of moving to some distant private island as a form of escape.…Read More

Bill Gates: ‘It would be great if our education stuff worked but…’

“It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.” That’s what Bill Gates said on Sept. 21 (see video below) about the billions of dollars his foundation has plowed into education reform during a nearly hour-long interview he gave at Harvard University, The Washington Post reports. He repeated the “we don’t know if it will work” refrain about his reform efforts a few days later during a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative. Hmmm. Teachers around the country are saddled every single year with teacher evaluation systems that his foundation has funded, based on no record of success and highly questionable “research.” And now Gates says he won’t know if the reforms he is funding will work for another decade. But teachers can lose their jobs now because of reforms he is funding…

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Bill Gates: Poverty not excuse for no education

Gates said shifting the emphasis to education helps in the battle against poverty

Microsoft founder Bill Gates told the National Urban League on July 28 that a child’s success should not depend on the race or income of parents and that poverty cannot be an excuse for a poor education.

Gates said shifting the emphasis to education helps in the battle against poverty.

“Let me acknowledge that I don’t understand in a personal way the challenges that poverty creates for families, and schools and teachers,” the billionaire said at the civil rights group’s annual convention. “I don’t ever want to minimize it. Poverty is a terrible obstacle. But we can’t let it be an excuse.”…Read More

Bill Gates is wrong: College campuses will not fade away

Earlier this month, billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates predicted that place-based colleges soon will be significantly less important as online learning continues to grow. Writing for the Huffington Post, lawyer and professor Larry Atkins begs to differ. “There is no doubt that online learning … is increasing in popularity,” Atkins writes. “Millions of college students are participating in online learning, and most major universities offer many courses online. Some of the benefits and advantages of online learning include cost, convenience, and schedule flexibility. It is often a good option for adults who work full time, people with disabilities, and those who live in remote areas or don’t have regular transportation.” However, Atkins says he still believes in the value of traditional campus learning, too. “One of the main goals of college is to develop independence,” he writes. “Living in dorms with a bunch of people that you didn’t know at first helps students get away from their familiar home surroundings and teaches them skills of living with and cooperating with other people. Having social interaction with a group of diverse people is likely to make young people grow as a person. Strong bonds can occur during 2 a.m. study groups or a midnight pizza run. Having face-to-face interaction with faculty and other students makes it more likely to develop strong and meaningful relationships. The learning is hands-on, and the feedback is more immediate.” Besides, he writes, there’s a sense of “excitement, passion, and energy about a college campus atmosphere that can’t be replicated anywhere else.” Online learning works for many people, he concludes—“but so does the traditional university setting.”

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Bill Gates: Technology can lower college tuition to $2,000

During a presentation at the Technonomy conference in San Francisco last week, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said online learning can shrink the cost of higher education by eroding the need for place-based instruction, The Hill reports. “College, except for the parties, needs to be less place-based,” he said, adding that moving more learning activities online can bring down the soaring cost of a college degree. “Only technology can bring [college tuition] down, not just to $20,000, but to $2,000,” he said, citing price tags as high as $50,000 for a year of college.  Gates predicted that technology soon could make place-based learning five times less important for college and university students. But for students in elementary and high school, Gates said he did not foresee online education shaking up the traditional framework anytime soon. “I do not predict some radical change in that,” he said. “K-12 is partly about babysitting the kids so the parents can do other things.” Still, he said, technology would allow half the students in a class to be occupied with one activity while others are learning something entirely different. He also hailed charter schools for looking for ways to use technology to enhance their offerings. “Thank God for charters,” he said. “There’s no room for innovation in the standard system.”

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