Kevin: Have you ever wondered how a finished product like a new car or must-have shoes made it to completion? We admire the finished product, yet struggle to grasp the collective effort it took to bring an idea forward from beginning to end. The same is true for education. We need to deconstruct the system to see what is needed to prepare the next generation of students for success.
As technology becomes more ingrained in the learning process, we need to understand the behind the scenes mechanics that impact our students every day. I want to know more. I want to understand the far reaches of our creativity and how we can learn from our accomplishments to help all students achieve their full potential. We must make sure that the next generation of learners have the tools they need to solve the problems of tomorrow. This is what I want to know.
In this episode, I'm happy to be joined by John Hunter and Jamie Casap to talk about the relationship between the past, present and future of education. As we evaluate our progress and prepare the next generation as a society. Elementary school teacher, John Hunter is a legend in his home state of Virginia, and here's why. In 1978, he designed the landmark World Peace Game for his fourth grade students. That game allows students to explore various scenarios leading to either global doom or global cooperation. The World Peace Game is played on a huge multilevel board, similar to an analog version of the popular game "The Sims." Hunter delivered an acclaimed and immensely popular Ted Talk that emphasized children's optimism and the game's power to teach collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving. Welcome to the show, John, how are you my friend?
John: Kevin, I'm doing remarkably well. You know, it's just good friends and good connections that have kept me going through this challenge we've had. So I'm just glad to meet you again and, you know, pick up where we left off and let's keep doing this work.
Kevin: Well, I tell you what, a lot of folks on the stride team still rave about your presentation as does America. I mean, I have to remind people you're extremely humble. As you say, you're an elementary school teacher at your core, but you still offered one of the most popular Ted Talks ever with respect to the World Peace Game. I want to talk about the World Peace Game, but first and foremost, where did that idea come from back in the 70s? You were so far ahead of your time in terms of allowing kids to explore peace on their own terms.
John: Well, you know, Kevin, it was an experimental time and I was just a beginning teacher. That was my first job. Actually, the very first thing I did was this thing, but it wasn't because I was so smart. It was because I had a supervisor administrator. And I know, you know, from that level, how that works, but this person allowed me to find my own way. I said, what should I do? How should I proceed? I want to be a good teacher. Please tell me how to do this. And she refused, refused to tell me what to do. She said, instead, what do you want to do? How do you want to have a career? And it was so frustrating. I was so upset, but it was the greatest gift I could have received to have that open space. We call it the empty space.
And I just did what my undergraduate mentors advised. Ms. Ethel J. Banks in Richmond, Virginia could hardly walk and she was a master teacher. And she said, "Hunter, just find out who they are, the children, what they love, what they care about and build curriculum around into what they love and their love of what they care about will drive the learning. You don't have to really do anything." So in 1978, they loved board games. That's all we had. Didn't have any Instagram, Snapchat, any of that. They loved board games so I built something around that game structure in social studies. And that's how I got started really.
Kevin: That advice you got as a young elementary school teacher to, in effect, respect the children, know their passion and work around that in delivering instruction, pretty powerful, wasn't it?
John: It was, you know, the hidden message or the message that became apparent to me over time was you got a room of in those days, 25, 30, 35 children, and essentially, if you look at it hierarchically, you know, you're teaching down, you have the knowledge and they're simply there to receive from you. And that's such an outdated, obsolete paradigm, it never really worked. But what we found was we've got a room of 20 to 25, 35 co-teachers or collaborators because each of them is unique and has their own unique wisdom that I don't have as a teacher. They may be half my size and 1/10th, my age or nowadays 1/3 my age.
Kevin: Let's not go there, let's not go there. No percentages on that.
John: But they have their own unique experiences and wisdom that I have no clue about. And so to accept that, to respect that, and then offer them the opportunity to incorporate that into curriculum design, into the assessment tool building so that they feel like they have an investment in their own academic destiny. They actually have some control over what is happening to them in the classroom. If you've got co-teachers and collaborators in it, every step of the way they know what's going on, you know, what's going on. I even shared the pedagogy tools with them so that we all have the same toolkit to work from. They feel so empowered. They want to come to school because they feel like they're in the design part of this too. They're not just a recipient of the service.
Kevin: At its core, you created this board game that included all the countries in the world. You had all of your fourth grade students play different roles. They could be president of one country. They could also control the natural disasters or the weather. And the goal of the game was to find some common ground and there was conflicts and there were alliances. But at the end of the day, you also integrated certain instructional requirements so that the kids were learning while they were engaged in the game. Now, when you look at it and you see how engaged these kids are, I haven't seen anything quite like it.
John: Essentially, it's a four foot by four foot by four foot plexiglass tower. And they emulate levels of the earth. There's an under sea level down at the kid's shoelaces. There is a ground and sea level at about their knees and aircraft level about shoulder height and above their heads we've got an outer space level and there's thousands of game pieces representing all kinds of aspects; factories and cities and towns and satellites and under sea vessels and mining and so forth. And so we divide the kids into countries. I started the game in '78 with real world countries and they were doing okay with that. But we found out they started to slow down and they stopped solving problems. So, well, I couldn't figure out why. And I realized that I overheard some of the kids talking well, you know, my parents said they do this in Egypt, or this is what's happening in Yemen, or this is how Canada's behaving.
And I found that the children were simply copying what they heard the adults do. And of course we know what the adults have done. We haven't solved all these problems yet. So we stripped away the real world countries and built fictional countries that are somewhat modeled after real world countries and put everything in there, 50 interlocking global problems that they have to solve. They're given them simultaneously with no guidance, suggestions, or help on how to do so. There's a weather God or God is a little entity. One child plays that role of random choice, controlling the weather and stock markets, as you mentioned. And it's all very random who knows what's going to happen. And they additionally pull random cards. Sometimes things are great. Sometimes not so good. A new disease or pandemic is on one of the cards. And they've got to figure out what to do to deal with it. So our kids actually are in a good position to tackle some of these real world problems. In over 40 years, they have solved the world's toughest problems, relentlessly and compassionately without adult help. Student-led, student-driven, inquiry-based, comprehensive interdisciplinary study. So we've got arts, we've got science, we've got math, we've got language arts. Everything is in this one structure. And the students essentially are teaching themselves under a crisis scenario where they have to learn to survive.
Kevin: Your role, just to be clear, because there are a lot of teachers out there because of their education in ed schools in America, they feel they have to direct more. But your role really, when the game gets started is to let the kids do everything. Isn't that right?
John: Absolutely. I thought I was the one in charge in the beginning of my career. But as I learned from Ms. Banks, really, if you walk into a classroom the first day, you say "Boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, all of you, we have these things we must do. The principal says we have to, the state says we have to, my question to you is how do you want to do it? How are we going to do this?" And at first they're shocked that you're asking. They say, "Well, don't, you know, aren't you paid to tell us?" Once they get over the shock and they realize you're sincere and you're inviting them into the control and design part of the process, they get excited. "He's actually asking us what we think and he's valuing our ideas because we're using our ideas." But that idea of one source being the authority, the teacher figure, it's so outdated.
I mean, if we're just talking about teacher knowledge and content, if you try to just teach content, you're going to be obsolete in 20 seconds because knowledge is tripling and doubling and exponentially growing so fast. If our children are just given content, they will be lost. They will not be able to survive. So we've got to teach ways of understanding, knowledge of validating, knowledge of going beyond knowledge and applying wisdom. And at the base of that, Kevin, what I've found, and the children do this, I don't have to teach it or preach it. It's compassion, compassion for every other being. In fact, the World Peace Game, you have to raise every country's asset value in order to win and solve all 50 global problems in order to win. In other words, everyone must win and you have the crisis pit them against each other in every way possible to see if they can get out of it.
Kevin: And what's powerful about it is that in most instances, the kids solve the problems and there's world peace. The assets are raised. The 50 threats to society are solved. And as a result, you mentioned the Pentagon, you have been invited along with some of your students, to the Department of Defense, to meet with world leaders. They've traveled overseas. You even have shared stories with me about you meeting with foreign diplomats and the kids are with you. And that foreign leaders lay out their problems that are intractable, that they can't seem to find a solution to and they asked these young kids, what should we do?
John: They do. It's surreal for me. You know, I'm a small town school teacher and here I am in the halls of power. And I don't know how I got there, but here, my students are with me. These 9 and 10 and 11 and 12 year olds invited into the Pentagon and were invited in, not for a photo op, not for a nice tour. We got a tour, but these room fulls of generals and diplomats in suits and in uniforms, 75 in one room around the large oval table, they said, "Boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, we invited you here because we want to talk about this empty space that you create in the game to be able to solve these problems. Everybody in this room here in the Pentagon, we're all suffering." We were surprised to hear this, Kevin. They said, we're always at war. Either it's finishing or starting or preparing for a new one.
Everybody is always under stress and anxious. We never have space to understand things, to resolve things. We understand you do it in this game. We know you're just children, but we think there's something in it. What you're doing, please tell us how you do it. And they even talked about, we have insurgents in the field, this is what happens to us. What do you do? We have a supply chain that breaks down, when it does, here's what we do. What do you do? And mine 9 and 10 year olds, Kevin, stood right up and just told them exactly what they had experienced and lived through themselves a week before. And they were taken seriously. This was peer to peer, one-on-one. It was heartfelt and moving. I mean, there were tears in the room with these 30 year combat veterans, a 30 year combat Marine Corps General, three stars bending down, asking a nine-year-old, "So how did you do it?"
Kevin: What's your takeaway in terms of where we are with foreign policy in this global economy? When the leaders asked 9 and ten-year-olds about how to solve problems, because maybe it's the approach that we've taken in foreign policy that hasn't worked.
John: Well, I think you hit on something, Kevin. I mean, we can very plainly see we haven't done it. We're on the brink of catastrophe. We have been for some time and every time we think we're gonna pull back, we just seem to get ourselves deeper in. And yet we have wise adults and smart people and scientists and diplomats and politicians working on things and still we're in this mess. And yet something about what the children do with that fresh approach. I mean they're childlike, they have childlike answers sometimes, but there's something about their relentless compassion, their dedication to problem solving, their refusals... As one of the students "The refusal to allow stupidness to stand." They said that. And we have been invited, the game is now in 38 countries, we've trained over a thousand teachers to implement the practice. But this game is for our lives. This game is for our very survival. And over the last 40 plus years, there are thousands of children who have had the experience of critical and creative thinking in this way. It doesn't teach a specific school of thought. It teaches open space, multiple perspectives, comprehensive thinking, and examination, and then coming to a conclusion about what works best for all.
Kevin: How big a deal is it to make that shift from having teachers be this sole content deliverer, as opposed to helping be a guide during the problem solving process?
John: That's a critical question Kevin, I think you're asking "the" question because that's where our paradigm is needing to turn and may be shifting. But I think in children having access to the sum total of human knowledge in their pockets, in a device, you know, what do they need us for if it's just content delivery, they've got the content. So we have to reinvent ourselves from that old pre-industrial age function. In the 21st century, we understand children have so much knowledge, information, and access already. Let's use that. Let's bring that into the classroom. I give an example in a computer sense. I put my old 1950s brain in front of these 21st century Surface and iPads and iPhones and all the devices they have, I put this old computer of mine in front and say, "Okay, everyone, I'm in charge. I'm going to run things. Now I'm going to tell you what to do and how to do it in the 21st century." Students check out, they know I'm not connected because I'm so far off. But if I say "let's network, let's not discard my old brain. I can use it. Let's connect with all your devices, your 21st century sensibilities with mine, maybe some experience I have, maybe wisdom who knows and let's network together. Then we can make a powerful approach to the world where we all have access."
Kevin: It goes back to your mentor, Ms. Banks. And this is what I really want to know. How can we systemize her approach where we really focus on kids' passion and interests as we teach them?
John: Ms. Banks, she kind of gave me a system. The first step, as I mentioned is self-introspection. Before I even go out the door to approach the school, I've got to find out who is in here and what blinders does he have on and start removing those. So I can have a clear view and allow the students not to be interfered with, by my old prejudices and biases. The second stage Ms. Banks gave me was thinking about the student's passion. We talked about that coupling or connecting their passion with the learning to drive the learning. An example is I had a sixth grader who's a skate, punk. All he wants to do is skateboard. That's it. I had to teach geometry. He wasn't interested, but I somehow realized if I could connect his passion, "Say Toby, tell me about the circumference of that ramp that you go through, that half pipe when you do that jump.
"Circumference, Mr. Hunter, what's that?" So we get in this conversation that has geometric terms. And before the semester is over, this kid is an A student in geometry and he's helped to fund and build a skate park in our community, because he's gone to the city council, put on a little tie and so forth, made a presentation, took off his skate clothes and got the city to fund this park. And he gave them dimensions for the kinds of ramps and pipes and so forth they had to do in geometric terms so they got it, right. So we coupled this passion with the learning. And the other two aspects Ms. Banks gave me, collective wisdom. You know, when you put the students together with the idea of developing curriculum, they've got ideas too. We have huge product charts in our room, ways to choose how to show what you know, that they can then go and find a strength.
And of course we encourage them to try them all. But the idea is that they can then have comfort and freedom to succeed because there's something on this chart of 200 ways of showing what you know that I can do. Even if the subject is a tough one for me, I can do this method. And then finally we have just compassion. Ms. Banks told me, just love them, Hunter. If you really care about them, it's not just a job, you punch a clock. Teaching, we're servants, we serve. How can we best serve all beings? How can we best serve humanity? That's what she taught me. And it's worked very well in the game and for my career.
Kevin: It certainly has. How do you see things playing out post-COVID now in terms of this reset that I think frankly gives us an opportunity?
John: Kevin, you say that modestly, but I know, you know, and I know now to having met you, K-12 has been ahead of this thing for decades. You were prepared for COVID long before anybody imagined such a thing could happen. That kind of visionary thinking is what we have to empower administrators to do and teachers to do, to allow them to try methods that before you came along, nobody was going to do that. Nobody's going to have teachers at a distance working with children at a distance, but it became the entire manner that we survived with what you're doing already. So that kind of model is already in place. Now, post-COVID, we're all trying to get back to normal, we say. And I don't know if... you know, normal had some problems too. Let's see if we can take what we have learned and the shortcomings and setbacks we've all had and what we learned from the isolation, what we learned from enforced self-introspection, so to speak.
And let's bring that out and look to models that have worked like K-12 for example, that have always been working and let's say, you know, you've got something, can we hook onto that? And let's take what we've also learned and add to it. Let's not ignore that. Let's see why you were successful in the pandemic and why you were successful before the pandemic and how we can expand and support your success afterwards now that you know more and we know more.
Kevin: Well, and we also have to have heart-centered teachers like you, and I certainly appreciate all you've done for the children that you serve, not just in America, but around the world. John Hunter, thank you for joining us.
John: Thank you so much for this opportunity. I'm honored Kevin. I'm really honored and I'm humbled by what you've already done and that you had me on to support you and for supporting me. Thank you so much. Thank your audience. Thank your people. Thank you.
Kevin: Take care.
Ed tech pioneer, author and teacher Jamie Casap, evangelizes the power and potential of technology and education. He's used the web as an enabling tool in the pursuit of promoting new and improved learning models. For 14 years, Jamie was the official education evangelist at Google, where he spoke around the world about the powerful merging of education and technology. Today, Jamie collaborates with school systems, education organizations, and leaders, focused on building innovation into our education policies and practices. Jamie is also an author of a series of children's books and usually begins his conversations with students by asking one simple question, "what problem do you want to solve?" Welcome to the show. Jamie, how are you today?
Jamie: Good, Kevin, thank you so much for having me.
Kevin: It's been a long time and very few people understand the intersection of education, technology. But look, let's go back. I've got to ask you about how you got involved in education technology, and it goes back to those days in Hell's Kitchen. Now Hell's Kitchen was Hell's Kitchen when you were young, talk about how you grew up in how you got to the place where you became this education technology guru.
Jamie: My passion for education comes from my background, right? So I grew up in Hell's Kitchen, New York from the '70s and '80s. I grew up with a single mother. I grew up on welfare and food stamps, you know, old school food stamps with the actual books, not the card. So I grew up in a very violent community. Forget anyone going to college or graduating high school. It was, we're talking about the number of people that I knew who died before they were 18 years old, right? It was just a very violent time in New York and that's where I grew up. And I focused on my education and I graduated high school and college and graduate school. And I am here because of education. And so the assumption that I'm working under is that there are millions of other students who are just like me with the same background and the same experience who had the same capacity and capability to do that.
So that's my passion for education overall. How I got involved with the technology side is, you know, I started at Google. I was the Chief Education Evangelist at Google for 15 years. I actually launched Google apps for education that we now call "Workspaces." I launched that at Arizona State University here in Tempe, Arizona. Fell in love with the idea of what we could do with technology and education. And then I officially brought G Suite, Google apps, whatever we call it to K-12. And then the craziest idea I had an education is launching Chromebooks intp education. And then all of that, the technology, I believe, helps us reach the goal of getting more students like me into positions of influence and power that we can make a difference. Right? And I think through education and programs that we have, we can reach those students. And so that's where my passion comes.
Kevin: But I have to go back. When you talk about growing up in Hell's Kitchen, you said education was your gateway, but what kept you on the right track when so many around you were falling astray?
Jamie: One answer is basketball actually kept me in line. Right? So basketball was a big deal growing up for me. And this was New York city in the '80s, right? So the Chris Mullins and the Mel Kennedy's and the Sherman Douglas and Kenny Smith, those are the guys I played ball with. So it was very high level basketball. And I was captain of my high school basketball team. So that was a big deal. And so for me to stay in basketball, I had to stay in school and I was good at it. I was the point guard. And so I think sports has a huge impact on students like that. And so sports was a big deal for me. And then the other thing is, you know, I call it stubbornness, right? This idea that if you tell me 10% of Latinos have a college degree, I'm like, oh yeah.
Or 4% have a master's degree. I'm like, oh yeah. Right. It's the stubbornness. And then the last kind of component to it is what I call my reality distortion field, right. This idea that I don't believe what's in front of me, I believe what's possible and being optimistic about what that possibility is and a combination of all of those things. And I would still hang out with the boys, right. We were sitting on the stoop, drinking a 40 ounce. And then all of a sudden, one of them will say, "Hey, let's go Rob a car." And I'd be like, ah, I'm going to bed. Right? Like it was just this like understanding of, I didn't want to get busted doing anything. And the other factor is, Rikers Island scared the hell out of me. Right? Like I didn't want to be in Rikers... I was not built to spend any time in prison. All those factors combined kept me out of trouble.
Kevin: Well, you obviously were anointed. Let's talk about empowering students and respecting students. And I want to go back to when we met, you said, "Kevin, you know, you're great with kids, but you should start the conversation differently. Everyone visits schools and asks, 'what do you want to be when you grow up? What's your favorite subject?' You said, "Don't ever ask that. Kevin, start the question with, what problem do you want to solve?" And it hit me like a thunderbolt. So every time I talk to young people, I start with, what problem do you want to solve? What led you to that? Because I think that's a game changer, particularly when we talk about the skill development that our kids need for the future.
Jamie: I was on vacation, on a beach in Mexico, reading Daniel Pink's book "Drive." The book is about what drives us as human beings. You know, he pointed out through research that three things motivate all human beings. It's the same three things; purpose, autonomy, and mastery. And it hit me like a ton of bricks right in that spot, which is, oh my God, we're asking the wrong questions. We're focused on the "what" we're focused on the "thing" when in reality, that's going to change over time. I remember being a kid and being told that I was going to have nine different careers in my life. And that was just insane concept to think about back then. And I think I've had 15 careers. And so reading that, I'm like, oh, it's not about what you want to be when you grow up. Because look, when I graduated high school, when I graduated college, when I graduated graduate school, none of that education could have prepared me to work at Google on the internet because those two things didn't exist.
And so knowing that, asking them what they want to do, doesn't make any sense. We don't live in that world anymore. And so really the question should be, what problem do you want to solve? And it's funny, not everyone knows what that is and it doesn't really matter because it's the process that you go through. So what problem do you want to solve? And it doesn't have to be a social problem. It could be anything. It could be making better cars, making better microphones, making better lights. It doesn't matter what the problem is, it's what problem do you want to solve? And then the second question that you should ask is just as important, which is how do you want to solve it? How do you want to solve it? And what I mean by that is how do you take your passions, your gifts, your talents, and solve that problem because there's a million ways to solve a problem.
And so if a student comes to you and says, "I want to solve climate change," you might be inclined to say, "Oh, climate change, you need a degree in sustainable development, or you need a degree in environmental sciences." And yeah, there's a whole bunch of ways to solve the problem that way. But what if this person is a talented teacher? What if they're a talented photographer? They just are unbelievable natural photographer in a way they can solve climate changes by going out and documenting climate change. So you have to know yourself, we don't give students a chance to get to know who they are and what they're good at. And I think we need to spend more time doing that. And then the third question is, what do you need to know to solve that problem? What are the knowledge, the skills and the abilities that you can start building?
And this is where it gets exciting because we literally have the world at our fingertips. We have all the world's information. We have all the world's learnings. We have all the world's research right at our fingertips. And so there really isn't anything that we can't learn or can't learn to do. And so those three questions were popped up to me immediately. Which is purpose, what problem do you want to solve? Autonomy, how do you want to solve it? And mastery, what do you need to know to solve that problem? So that's how it all came together for me. And it definitely resonates with this next generation of students.
Kevin: Yeah. There's no question about it. And by the way, Jamie, I went to school, I knew all three questions. Okay. I just start with the, "what problem you want to solve." And by the way, I think this is a prescription for how parents and adults should talk with children. This whole idea of lecturing the children, and even the old school teaching methods of teachers being the sole deliverers of content. I mean, that's out the window. And how would you recommend that adults make that transition from I'm up here, you're down there and listen to me, to engaging young people in a way that really respects them and allows them to go through that process of problem solving.
Jamie: So let's even push back on the word "empowerment." In my head it means you have power that you're giving me. So my first question is why do you have any power at all? Like how about instead, give me opportunities to use the power I already have.
Kevin: So sorry, Jamie. I got to keep taking notes when I'm with you. I got to get my pen, my paper, go ahead.
Jamie: Right? It's this idea of let's provide opportunities for students to use their voice and their power, as opposed to us giving them power. I don't want anybody giving me power and same thing with what's going on with diversity inclusion. I hear lots of people, you know, say, you know, we got to give students of color and people of color space. We have to empower them. And I'm like, no, I just need you to get out of my way so I can take my power and build on the opportunities that I have. That, to me, is where it starts. The questions I've been asking my daughter, and now she's used to answering them so she thinks about them throughout the day. I asked her, tell me about a feeling you had today. Tell me about something you learned. And then tell me about something you discovered, which are different.
And we spend a week trying to figure out the difference between learning and discovery. Those are two different things. And it's amazing. She's starting to get into the groove of like, "Today, I felt very angry at something." I'm like, all right, tell me about that. And so she talks about her feelings and then she talks about what she learned. So here's the, "what's in it for me," for parents, especially older parents like me, which is your kids' creativity and imagination is something that you should utilize. It's something that you should let them go with and then you need to be more creative and you need to use your imagination. So learn from your kids.
Kevin: And schools need to allow that to happen as well. As I said, you've visited schools while you were the education evangelist at Google, how would you recommend that we revamp our approach even at schools because teachers still come out based on that training that basically it's a hundred years old.
Jamie: Yeah. I think the pandemic has given us a view into the education space. I can't tell you how many parents, and I'm sure the same is true for you. Who I've talked to who say "I did not know school was like that, or I did not know that my kids were learning this or I did not know that." And so there's an awareness from parents as to what education looks like. What we discovered through the pandemic is that school is really about daycare. It's about babysitting and it could be so much more than that. And the traditional models that we have are fine. Look, education is not broken. There are more people educated today than there were 20 years ago, 40 years ago, 80 years ago. There are more people graduating from high school today than there's ever been. There's more black and Latino students graduating from high school than has ever been.
As a concept. Education has progressed and done well. Has it been there for everyone? No, but as a thing, it works. Here's how I look at it. It's not that education is broken it's that the world has dramatically changed. The world has dramatically changed. And the education system that we have set up for the world doesn't work in this new world. We have to be futurist and think about this new world, this new, what I call digitalization and by digitalization, I mean, everything that has to do with technology, artificial intelligence, machine learning, AR, VR, quantum computing, robotics, all of that. And what we need to understand is that we are literally on day one of this. We are cave men and women when it comes to technology. Here we are talking about Zoom fatigue and too much information and too much technology. And the truth is we haven't even scratched the surface.
I'll give you a quick example. Google had a breakthrough in quantum computing and I'll describe it this way. They took one of those mathematical formulas that spin forever. If you take that mathematical formula and you feed it to a supercomputer, then that supercomputer would need 10,000 years to process the equation, right? That's just how it works. The breakthrough that Google had was they did it in 300 seconds. So really what we need to ask ourselves is what's that world going to look like? And if digitalization and technology is going to be moving at that, then we can safely assume that a lot of the things that we call work will be done by machines. And so what we need to do in this new education paradigm, isn't fixed education, but double down on human skills, right? Double down on problem solving, collaboration, critical thinking, the ability to learn and creativity.
That's the difference. It's how do we cooperate? How do we collaborate? How do we take advantage of the technology to solve the problems that we want? Right? And so it's that combination of taking machines and human skills and solving problems because the truth is everything's at your fingertips. You know, it's all there. So it's a mind shift. It's changing just a couple of words. So for example, I do not say I'm a bad cook. I say I've chosen not to be a good cook. And that's a huge difference between those two points of view, right? Because if I wanted to be a good cook, everything that I need to learn to be a good cook is out there. I've chosen not to be a good cook. So it's this idea of choice. And so education has to reflect this idea of student choice, student getting to drive their learning. And what we need to do is be able to guide them through that and then be able to help them develop those human skills as much as possible because that's what's going to be different when all the machines come.
Kevin: So this is what I really want to know. Should we still be thinking about what's the right mix of traditional education and technology, or is it bigger than that?
Jamie: That's a great question because I think it's important. So this idea of traditional education, I don't even know what that means versus, you know, when people say virtual education and I'm like, it's not virtual, I'm not pretending to learn. I learn. I just happened to be doing it online. Right? And so I think it's a combination of this idea of education should be what we focus on, understanding the future, understanding what's coming and understanding that we need to really double down on human skills, understanding that now, because we need to double down on human skills that students can literally choose what they want to learn, because why does it matter? Because you're going to guide them on building those knowledge, skills, and abilities in whatever subject that they are interested in, because you're going to focus on those human skills, the problem solving, the critical thinking, the collaboration. I think that's the system and that's a combination of everything. So when I talk to students about that last question, "what do you need to know?" It's "what information is out there? What classes can you take online, offline?" Most students think about education as what happens in their school. A student can take a class anywhere in the world, from most universities, and a lot of them are free. And so this idea of getting students to expand their thinking about how they bring in information, how they bring in content, how they bring in knowledge from all over the world is absolutely critical.
Kevin: Well, Jamie, you've convinced me and hearing you I'm more and more convinced that the future's in our hands. Thanks so much for joining us today. This has been terrific.
Jamie: Thank you very much for having me.
Kevin: Thanks for joining "What I Want to Know." Be sure to subscribe to the show on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app. And don't forget to write a review, to explore other episodes and dive into our discussions on the future of education. Join the conversation and let me know what you want to know using #WIWTK on social media. That's #WIWTK on social media. For more information on Stride, visit stridelearning.com. I'm your host, Kevin P. Chavous. Thank you for joining "What I Want to Know."
John Hunter is an elementary school teacher who designed the landmark World Peace Game for his fourth graders in 1978. The game allowed the students to explore various scenarios leading to either global doom or global cooperation. It gained national traction when it was featured in a highly-praised documentary.
John also delivered an acclaimed TED talk that emphasized children’s innate optimism and the game’s power to teach collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Today, John travels the world, highlighting the virtues and untapped potential of our children—and their ability to solve many of the unsolved problems we currently face.
Jaime Casap is an EdTech pioneer, author, and teacher who champions the power and potential of technology in education. He views the web as an empowering tool in pursuit of promoting new and improved learning models. For 14 years, he was the chief education evangelist at Google, where he spoke around the world about the powerful merging of education and technology.
Today, Jaime collaborates with school systems, educational organizations, and leaders focused on building innovation into our education policies and practices. He begins his conversations with students by asking one simple question: “What problem do you want to solve?”
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What I Want to Know
In this podcast, you will hear from leaders in education as we talk through learning solutions for homeschool, online school, education pathways, and topics tailored specifically to online students and parents.