Building a Learning Network

We know from Steve Johnson and Matt Ridley that the acquisition of new ideas has a social dimension. It arises from exchanges. So let us ask a question based on this. Where in society are exchanges most lacking?  If we can answer this question, we can see where the most value added possibilities are to build them.

Before thinking deeply about the present, what about the past? I would argue that in the last several hundred years, exchanges were perhaps most lacking between governed and governing. The dividing lines between classes blocked this type of exchange. Democracy — as flawed as it is — opened the door for better exchanges.

Another area was between owners of capital and entrepreneurs. Capital was, in the old days, mostly land based (in the country). Entrepreneurs? Well, they were mostly sailing the high seas. Joint stock companies helped make better exchanges.

These days, we are told that companies are under pressure as never before to innovate. Changes come faster. How do they do this? By attracting and nurturing top talent. So you would expect that we need better exchanges between institutions that nurture talent (schools and such) and companies that use it. And this is starting to develop. For example,

Michael Kris, Middle School Principal at Trinity Valley School in Texas, is a K-12 EdLeader … is leading the way in building these types of connections. This year, he kicked off a project titled, Project 2025: How Teachers Research the Future. As part of the project, he shared three key goals:

Strengthen understandings of twenty-first century skills so that they can connect with the needs of students’ future selves and equip them with the skills they need to face the modern workforce with confidence;

Use this new understanding to augment academic programs and create additional innovative and robust experiences for students; and

Build connections between his school and the external community in ways that might be mutually beneficial.

To achieve these goals, Mike asked teachers to schedule a call with an industry leader outside the field of K-12 education, so that they could learn, “What skills, habits, or mindsets make people successful in your field.” I learned about the project after speaking with one of the teachers. It gave me the chance to share the skills we look for when we hire.

The problem is so obvious that we do not notice it.


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