David Bott is a sought-after speaker, author and education consultant who works with government organisations and some of the world’s leading schools to help guide wellbeing vision and strategy. As an expert in applied wellbeing science, David has supported thousands of educators from hundreds of schools around the world in designing and implementing system-level approaches to wellbeing and cultural change.
David sits on the UAE Government’s Dubai Future Council for Education, is a Director on the PESA (Positive Education Schools Association) board, and has published in academic journals and industry periodicals. David’s bestselling book, 10 Things Schools Get Wrong: And How We Can Get Them Right was published in 2020.
David has led significant projects, partnering with government and non-government organisations, to help support the embedding of wellbeing science in school and community systems in Australia, UAE, and Hong Kong.
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David’s current work is informed by his five years as Associate Director at the Institute of Positive Education and his 15 years of practical teaching experience in Australia and the UK where he held senior pastoral and academic leadership positions.
Jared Cooney Horvath (PhD, MEd) is a neuroscientist, educator, and author of Stop Talking, Start Influencing: 12 Insights from Brain Science to Make Your Message Stick. At the crossroads between the laboratory and the classroom, Jared spends most of his time working directly with schools or helping companies, schools and organizations to improve training, education, impact, and engagement.
Daniel: Sometimes we think and we actually get this wrong, but we think that it has to be sort of this big thing that we do. This big action, this big way that we show up to create meaningful change or to impact somebody in an incredibly meaningful way. But it's not true. It actually might be this small thing. This thing that we don't even, recognize in terms of the importance that it has on another human being. To illustrate that point, that's actually our entry to today's conversation. There's two guests. There's a David Bott and Jared Cooney Horvath, who's been on the show before. The story we'll start with has to do with David's experience as a young man going through school. You're going to love this show because they have an original idea. It's very in Vogue to talk about how school is messed up. The factory model and this kind of thing.
Daniel: I'm somebody who loves to iterate and be creative with how we approach school and how we can innovate the design of it. But there's also another truth, which is, school works, education isn't broken, and we need to hear that more often. I'm so thankful for David and Jared to bring that message to us today. Hey, it's Daniel and welcome to the Better Leaders, Better Schools Podcast, a show for Ruckus Makers, those out of the box leaders making change happen in education. We'll be right back after these messages from our show's sponsors. Learn how to successfully navigate change, shaper school success, and leader teams with Harvard certificate in school management and leadership. Get world-class Harvard faculty research specifically adapted for pre-K through 12 schools self-paced online professional development that fits your schedule. Apply now for our October, 2021 and February, 2022 cohorts at Betterleadersbetterschools.com/Harvard.
Daniel: During COVID every teacher is a new teacher. That's why innovative school leaders are turning to Teach FX, whose virtual PD is equipping thousands of teachers with the skills they need to create engaging, equitable, and rigorous virtual or blended classes. To learn more about Teach FX and get a special offer visit teachfx.com/BLBS. That's teachfx.com/BLBS. All students have an opportunity to succeed with Organized Binder who equips educators with a resource to provide stable and consistent, whether that's in a distance, hybrid or traditional educational setting. Learn more at organizedbinder.com. Oh my gosh. You are so lucky Ruckus Maker because we have expert coach Corinne Beldumm. She runs a mastermind, but she joins us on the podcast to offer a tip that you can put into practice today to level up your life and leadership. Corinne, what do you have for us today?
Corrine: Thanks for having me. I'm so delighted to be here with the Ed leaders of Better Leaders, Better Schools. Today, I would like to challenge all of you. My tip of the week to define your Workday startup and set down rituals for thriving. I talked in my last tip of the week, a little bit about these daily practices, but I really wanted to spend a little bit more time on this. Here's why my story is as an Ed leader for 15 years leading a school system, I really struggled to leave work. It's like I would get so tired. I wasn't resourced enough to actually close down the day, pull myself away and go home. Sometimes I would even have to call my husband and say, "Can you just help me find the energy and resources to go home? " This shutdown ritual and the start-up rituals are a wonderful way to book and work time and learn from my mistakes.
Corrine: This clear delineation between work and our personal life helps us achieve that double win of professional integrity and Ruckus Making along with a life well lived. I really want to encourage all of this community and each of you to define your Workday start-up and shut down rituals for thriving. I'm focused in my shutdown ritual on setting myself up for success the next day. Putting a little bit of energy towards that, to close off the day and move to my home time where I'm present for my family is really important to me. I hope that all of you will take me up on this tip of the week and define your work day, start up and shut down rituals.
Daniel: Brilliant. I love that so much. I mentioned the last tip of the week that my end of the day routine and journaling is definitely the thing I look forward to the most. The sort of inner world journey of a leader provides the most fruit easily. I can map it back. I don't know if you could expound briefly on what the end of the day, what's one aspect or two? We normally challenge for bias for action, but in this part, what if we just painted a bit of a picture of what your end of the day ritual?
Corrine: Thanks, Danny. One of the things that I'm trying to do is my three big things for the next day, and that is not based on what I didn't finish. It's based on what my weekly mini projects or objectives are. I really have to draw myself out of the tyranny of the urgent and back into what is most important for me as an Ed leader to define and move forward in the next day as well. I'm trying to document and ensure that I have my communications closed. Those communication loops closed so that I can go home with a mind that knows everything is ready for me the next day and I can leave it there. This is part of digital detox, which I also know that you're, a big fan of, so that's my Workday shutdown, ritual.
Daniel: Brilliant, Corinne, thanks so much for making a ruckus. Can't wait to see what you bring for the tip of the week next week. David Bott is a sought after speaker, author and education consultant who works with government organizations and some of the world's leading schools to help guide wellbeing, vision and strategy. As an expert in applied wellbeing science, David has supported thousands of educators from hundreds of schools around the world in designing and implementing system level approaches to wellbeing and cultural change. He sits on the UAE governments, Dubai future council for education is director on the positive education schools, association board, and has published in academic journals and industry periodicals. His best-selling book, 10 things, schools get wrong and how we can get them right, was published in 2020. Jared Cooney Horvath is a neuroscientist educator and bestselling author. He has conducted research and lectured at Harvard University, Harvard Medical School, the University of Melbourne, and over 250 schools internationally. He currently serves as director of LME global, a team dedicated to bringing the latest brain and behavioral research to teachers, students, and parents alike.
Daniel: Welcome to the show guys, Jared has been on the podcast before. It's been about two years and you'll have to go back to season one, episode 218. We actually talked about his book, Stop Talking, Start Listening, 12 insights from brain science to make your messages stick, which is incredible because that's like about sticky messages and the neuroscience behind it and all that. Actually a lot of school leaders wrote back into me for that show because leadership's about storytelling. I'm just happy to have you back, Jared.
Jared: I can't believe you had 200 plus episodes in the first season alone year. You're killing it!! So much good stuff.
Daniel: We're on season two. Actually, if the Ruckus Maker listening doesn't know, Apple only allows 300 episodes in a social media feed so we created an archive feed of all of season one so that we don't lose the content. People can go back and listen to episode one, which really actually sucks. I was so bad at interviewing or just telling stories. When we launched that archive show, going back, it was kind of cool to see how much I've grown.
Jared: We do more of it and then you get better and better as you go along. Don't even know your doing it.
Daniel: Thank you for allowing me to relive that real quick, but you brought along a friend here and a co author, David Bott is joining us, as you heard in the bio. We're actually going to start with you David, because you're new to the Ruckus Makers listing and you have a gripping story of Mr. Dean. I'm just going to hand over the mic to you so you could bring us into that story.
David: Thanks, Danny. Thanks for the opportunity to be on your podcast. It's fun and Jared and I have done a few of these recently and it's fun to share these stories. Thanks for the chance to just share a little bit about Mr. Dean, which was probably the most pivotal moment in my childhood. This story happened when I was 13 years old. My parents had just separated. Actually the week before this event happened I was kind of discombobulated as a 13 year old child and had to go to school despite this kind of sensitive concussion that was happening in my world around me, where my kind of family would felt like it was falling apart. I just remember very clearly one day being a 13 year old boy turning up to a seventh grade business studies class and kind of feeling like I didn't really know what was happening.
David: It was kind of very upset and kind of emotionally disturbed and not really not sort of being a bit embarrassed, shamed, I think even of what was happening in my world at the time. I just remember very clearly walked into Mr. Dean's business studies class, kind of in the middle row where I sat next to a couple of friends and just kind of holding back tears, just trying to get through the lesson, I think, and Mr. Dane just started the lesson off as he normally did and sort of gave a bit of a spiel about whatever it was studying, some sort of graph economic graph or something. He sent the students to work and he just came round, kind of walked through the classroom. He just put his hand on my shoulders very gently and just said, "It's going to be all right."
David: In that moment, I don't know how he knew. I don't know if my mom or someone had spoken to him, but in that moment, the world kind of brightened up again. The color kind of came back into my life. It just felt like everything was gonna be all right. I think in that moment, I recognized great teaching is about the visible stuff that we do. It is about the pedagogy and the formal stuff, but it's also this kind of invisible stuff that teachers do all the time. It was an incredible sort of poignant moment in my life. I followed up Mr. Dean actually only about two years ago for a conference presentation I was doing, I wrote to Mr. Dane, I hadn't spoken to him in 20 years.
David: I stalked him on LinkedIn and said to him, "Do you remember this moment?" He was really pleased to hear from me. He said, "Oh, great, great to hear from you, David. Glad you're going well." But he said, "I do remember the overall experience, but no, I'm sorry. I don't remember that occurring." I was really remember being disappointed because for me it was such a big moment. I thought Mr. Dane had gone out of his way to kind of protect this child. When I reflected on it more, I kind of recognized that he's not going to remember that. I'm just one of the thousands of kids he's taught and actually he does this kind of stuff everyday all the time.
David: I recognize in that moment that it was huge for me, but great teachers do this stuff all the time. It's this invisible beauty of great teaching that we just don't talk a lot about. We talk about the visible stuff, but the invisible stuff, that's what distinguishes awesome, great teaching. That stays very strongly with me. Jared and I talk a lot about the science and we talk a lot about the research and the empirical stuff, but we also talk about the invisible stuff you can't measure and you can't see. And that's where the magic of great teaching occurs at that intersection.
Daniel: I think that's a good one, I like to hand it off to a Jared. Tell us a little bit more and dig deeper into the visible, invisible, it's an interesting original idea and let's discuss.
Jared: It's if we're talking teaching. I think that David you're spot on. I love that story. How many times do we build things specifically thinking we're going to impact other people's lives. It's these very small little things that we were totally either ignorant of or we thought was irrelevant. That ends up being the true moment. A lot of people think that means don't build the big stuff. Just be nothing but the invisible stuff, but you can't. The only reason that little hand on your shoulder works is because it was surrounded by so much planned, understood deep expertise in the craft that he had the cognitive capacity to step over, step out of that expertise recognize a situation because it's scary. If you think about it, give me a first year teacher who this is the first time in his or her class. There's a good chance that they're going to be just so cognitively overwhelmed with the, "I gotta give a talk and then we got to do homework. I got to make sure everyone is on task", that they just might not notice you sitting there. It's through the building of this real deep knowledge base that frees up our ability to do more of this invisible stuff and kind of on the fly make decisions that we otherwise would have missed. It's what I really love. If we have the time to extend this out to its furthest. I think this is one of the big take-homes for everyone, not just in education, everyone in the world is that teachers are experts at teaching due to their experience, to their understanding, to the time, and the effort they've devoted to the craft. We need to recognize that a bit more. It's not just something we do on a Tuesday afternoon. "Yep. I got to go teach now." No, this is a calling. This is a profession, a craft, and the better you get at it, the more expertise, freedom you have to do these invisible things as well. Only through experience because you ever understand what it means to be that strong of a teacher. I love that. What do you think, Danny?
Daniel: In terms of invisible? What I'm hearing you guys say, is that through the hard work of becoming an expert and a professional and putting in all the hours, you don't ever ignore that, but by doing that work, it frees you up to be more present. I think that's what you're talking about is presence. What I heard you say is noting. I think about a lot of the work I do specifically with school leaders. One of the reasons people are attracted to my community is that they experience a sense of belonging that they don't get anywhere else. We're going to talk leadership, We're going to talk about how education needs to change and because I've done work there, I'm able to create the belonging, the authenticity, and the challenge. Actually, that's what I call the ABCs of powerful professional development. In that model I'm just trying to be able to see and hear people where they're at. You tell me if that's resonated.
Jared: We can bring that back to just the pure podcast thing. As you said on your very first episode, it's probably incredibly difficult to be responsive, to interview well, because we're just worried about the day-to-day, and the grunt. The more we dig into it, the more experience we get that frees us up to really focus on that connection, and then move into that authentic challenge. To say, "yeah, I'm here with you" instead of just trying to figure out.
Daniel: I used to be so weird with the questions. Now I feel like having a couple of bullet points and we can riff and chew on there. David looks like you have something to add.
David: Anders Erickson says that expertise is almost explained or defined as optionality. As you become more expert, a lot of those kind of mundane tasks become so automatized that it frees up this optionality. The world kind of becomes broader. We perceive more, we sense more because it's so fast and we're using different forms of cognitive processing that frees up all of that resource. I think that concept of optionality is exactly what Jared's talking about. The Mr. Dean, he didn't have to worry about, where's the whiteboard marker or what's my lesson content. He has a much broader spectrum of possibility and optionality. That's why you become a good podcaster, Danny dispite your beard. Very trendy.I live in a very tiny pot of Melvin, Denny, and you would fit right in here, especially if you look taner.
Daniel: I got the tattoos too, I mean.
David: Don't tell me you ride a skateboard because I'm going to be sick.
Daniel: I do have A skateboard.
Jared: That's it? You are east Brunswick.
Daniel: I'm buying a ticket and move in with yo trying to be a mini celebrity there with you in Australia.
Jared: As long as you were weird socks too, like they have to have like ducks on them or something.
Daniel: I gotta little puppies on mine. It's blue and then the puppies. Quick story here. I remember there was one time. I think I'm getting weirder with age because I'm able to experience the freedom of not caring what anybody thinks. I sometimes choose outfits actually on purpose to see if it is sort of provocative, with people in the world. I'll put myself out there and I remember going out to the Glasgow, Botanical Gardens and my wife almost banned me from leaving the flat. She's like, "that's what you're wearing." I can't repeat what I said, but yeah, that's what I was wearing.
Daniel: I had cool socks that day. All right, we want to promote 10 things, Schools Get Wrong and how we can get them rights. I'm really curious, maybe David, we could start with you. I know we're talking about visible, invisible, but is there another big idea that you'd like to share for the Ruckus Maker to grab the book?
David: One of the things that we're really excited about is really elevating the perceived status of teachers themselves. The internal status more than anything. I had the privilege of working in the last 20 years with some incredible educators. Jared and I also are very lucky that we walk into virtually at the moment, but we walk into a lot of schools every year. What we see by and large is outstanding educational practice, outstanding educational leadership, and outstanding teaching. The very first line in our book, actually, Danny, is "education is not broken." 99.9% of everything we see in schools is fantastic. Kids are learning, teachers are inspiring, and educational leaders are doing a brilliant job under incredible stress of building communities and helping shape the next generation.
David: We firmly believe that education is going great by and large. There are some little things we need to tweak around the edges. I think that comes from educators, recognizing, as Jared said, we are craftspeople that are at the elite pointy end of our craft. It doesn't matter how many years of research you've done at a university laboratory. How many meta-analyses you've read, unless you're in the CRA in the classroom being on your craft hour by hour, day by day. There's no other way to become elite craftspeople. I've been doing thousands of hours at the chalk face, I think teachers don't recognize this by and large, we kind of defer to other experts. We look up at researchers and academics and that's okay. We should be reading the research, but we also got to recognize that there's no one who's better at our craft than we are. And it is a craft. By the nature of craft, the only way to get better as you've been kind of talking about already, Danny is by doing thousands and thousands of hours of deliberate, really high quality practice. We're real excited about teachers grabbing hold of this content and going, "Wow, we know what we're doing." No one should tell us what to do. We can be informed by other stuff, but we are the experts. We need to be elevating ourselves to that same status.
Jared: It's one of the weirdest things we found is when we say in the first-line, education is not broken. Of all the things that we've ever said, and some of it's great, some of it's horrible, some of it's, but some of it is specifically meant to be provocative, like your outfits controvert. Is just say, "Hey, let's see if we can get a rise hands down of all the things when we say education is not broken." The one thing that arcs some people up more than I've ever seen. It's just the oddest thing to me there's a huge subset of individuals who have built their identity, their understanding of school on the concept that it's broken on.
Jared: The concept that we need a mass wholesale revolution that everything we're doing is wrong. When you talk to those people by and large, I say, "When was the last time you been in a school? Most schools are flying. They're killing it." There's always stuff we can improve. I got no problem with that. There's it's just like medicine man. Medicines cruising. Where does about 20% of stuff that we can always be fixing? We will never be to the end of what we're doing, but for the most part as healthcare, we're doing good. We're doing very solid work and it's moving in the right direction. It's the same thing with education. This whole argument that we are somehow tied to an industrial model of schooling shows a very, very poor misunderstanding of the history of education and schooling. Aside from the fact that the industrial model was never a thing. The Prussian model was not an industrial model. In fact, it happened a hundred years before the industrial revolution. It's how we've always been schooling and teaching. I can go back thousands a thousand years show you edgings of kids sitting in rows while someone is teaching to them. Why? Because that is an effective pedagogical technique. It still is always has been. Once we can kind of get over this hurdle of school is broken. Back into the recognition that "no school is fine" now, rather than saying, "we've got to fix it." We can say, "how do we better? Let's just make it better." It's fine as it is. What can we do? That's just going to improve it even more for the next generation, rather than this wholesale. We're wrong. Everyone go home type of stuff. I think that's a real kind of empowering shift.
Daniel: It's super empowering. That's what I was saying. I'm glad you added to it. To hear that education's not broken, is exciting. I saw the excitement on your faces as both of you told me that. I can just imagine the ownership and just the feeling of worth really for the educators that need to hear that message. I'm really happy that it's, getting out there. This will be a great point to pause just for a moment and get a message in from our sponsors. But when we returned Jared and David, I'd love to hear if we have that assertion, education's not broken, but there are some things that we could work on. In your view, What might those be?
Daniel: Learn how to successfully navigate, change, shape your school success, and empower your teams with Harvard certificate in school management and leadership get online professional development that fits your schedule. Now enrolling for October, 2021 and February, 2022 cohorts. Courses include leading change, leading schools, strategy and innovation, leading people and leading learning apply today at Betterleadersbetterschools.com/harvard. That's Betterleadersbetterschools.com/harvard, Better Leaders, Better Schools brought to you by school leaders like Principal. Katerra's using Teach FX. Special populations benefit the most from verbally engaging in class, but get far fewer opportunities to do so than their peers, especially in virtual classes. Teach FX measures, verbal engagement automatically in virtual or in-person classes to help schools and teachers address these issues of equity during COVID. Learn more and get a special offer from Better Leaders, Better Schools, listeners at teachfx.com/BLBS .that's teachfx.com/BLBS. Today's show is brought to you by Organized Binder, Organized Binder develops the skills and habits all students need for success. During these uncertain times of distance learning and hybrid education settings, Organized Binder, equips educators with a resource to provide stable and consistent learning routines so that all students have an opportunity to succeed whether at home or in the classroom. Learn more at organizedbinder.com. All right, we're back with, Jared and David, coauthors of 10 things, schools get wrong and how we can get them, right. We're just talking about an elegant idea, an idea that educators need to hear more often, that education is not broken. Now, there are things we can improve though. I'll start with you this time, Jared. When you were talking about medicine and the 20%, what might be one of the things that you'd love to see schools start to work on?
Jared: It's good. If you, if you go through the book I kind of in my head and I don't know about David, I kind of organized the book into two kinds of things. So the first two chapters in the last chapters are kind of the last chapter. Is there kind of these bigger theme ideas like expertise, how are we locking evidence down? What does it, what is the purpose of school? And then the middle chapters are the kind of more nitty gritty specific things. So I think if I want to dive into one of the, the specific kind of nitty gritty things, one of my first thought is going to be the grades issue. If you go back to this concept of grading, people think it's part and parcel with school, but in actuality, grades were invented in 1792 by a guy named William Farish.
Jared: They didn't exist before that moment. There was hundreds, thousands of years of schooling without grades. Now, why did this guy invent grades? He invented them purely to make more money. The idea being that at the time his university said, "We're going to pay you per student." He said, "eWll, what am I wasting most of my time doing, talking with students?" What he did was he just pre wrote all of his feedback, assigned a letter to each bit of feedback and just gave kids letters and said, "Go read your feedback." He made a lot of money out of it. It was awesome. We've since adopted it long past that. We're now at the point where I think we can reasonably question, what is the function of grades? You start to say, "Okay, a grade is a tool. When you use that tool, you have to adopt the worldview of that tool."
Jared: What do grades say about the world grade? Say redefine, quantify ,and rank. Refined means I have to turn something into a noun. Something like intelligence or knowledge or compassion or wellbeing, these aren't things, these aren't nouns. These are concepts. These are ineffable, but grading says, "No, I have to make it a noun." Why do I need it to be a noun? Because I can quantify it. I can assign a value to it. Once I assign a value to it, I can three rank it. I can say, "this kid is smarter than this kid. This kid is happier than this kid. This kid's comedy level is funnier than this kid."Now, whether or not that worldview is right or wrong, irrelevant. Once we use grades, we have to adopt that worldview in schools. What we've been doing for about the last 200 years. It's really manifested in the last 30 or 40 years, very strongly. As these SAT scores, exit scores and I think we're at a stage now where we can say, "Cool, that's served us well. That got us to this point. What's the next step?" If we don't believe quantum redefied ,quantify, rank is the best way to run a learning institution. That's a great way to run a performance institution. If I'm trying to sort kids out. If we want school to return back to this concept of a learning institution is grade still the best tool? If not, what are some other systems we can use to make sure that we're focusing on the learning the practice of the development, not necessarily that final outcome and then ranking. University say, "Give me your 10 best kids" so that I think grading is ripe for questioning and for saying, "Okay, what is our next evolution of this process?"
Daniel: I'd agree with that and did some interesting work, when I was still in a local school and playing around with it. As controversial as saying "education, isn't broken." When you start touching grades, it's like, whoa, he's set off a bomb there too. Provocative stuff, indeed. David, what would fall within your 20% if it's not grading? What's something that you'd like to see schools really start to ask bigger questions about.
Jared: I'll cheat by answering to responses to that, Danny, is homework. I think similar to Jared's narrative story, you just spoke about there. Homework has arguably played a role. That's been helpful to some extent in some situations and still does play an important role when done well with certain types of students in certain types of settings. The problem is you're kind of alluding to Danny's, we need to start asking questions about, is this really working in the current way that we hope it's intended to be? Ease homework, the millions and millions of hours of homework that American, Australian students will do this year. Is it really worth the associated with that of not doing other things, of not play, go and playing soccer with your friends of not playing violin or hanging out with mum and dad or reading books or whatever it is. I think homework is a really interesting one.
David: We need to consider it a much deeper level. The other one, while we're on this. I know just to make Jared angry is on computers. Computer and digital technologies is a really hot topic. It's one of the chapters in the book that's really fired people up. To use Jared's phrase, "art people have a little bit more." I think, again, this is another example of where we've just failed to really ask this question. I want to share this question with you, Danny. Latin but we talk about this in the book and there's this Latin question, QE bono. and it's a Latin kind of legal phrase, but it means "who wins." It really asks the question, who benefits from this?
David: It's a really powerful question to ask any educator. If you just say homework, QE, who actually wins? Who is homework serving? Is it serving the parents? The parents expect kids to go home and that the parents are too stressed and they just expect, or is it serving the student? The student actually benefit because the evidence suggests most kids don't, it certainly younger kids or is it serving the teacher because the teacher is too lazy to get through their content in there? Or is it serving the education system? Who wins here with homework? Who wins with computers and who wins with grades? This question causes us to get down to the deep, fundamental, most important kind of questionable. When we start analyzing it, we kind of have this new perspective. So homework, computers, grading, all of these things, QE bono who wins?
Daniel: Jared, I just want to note that you do have a class to get to soon, but I saw your face. When, David mentioned the technology. Now would be the time to offer a very concise rebuttal, but then we'll move it on.
Jared: I'm like borderline a Luddite. I am very much, I don't get education and technology. I don't get how that marriage. If you go back in the past, you can see where the marriage came from, but there's a lot of people who have just taken that and straight up run with it despite the fact that we have 30 years, I do not know how much more evidence we need to give that computers do not improve learning at best. The best computers ever do is equal live In-person learning. I think there's out of a total. If you look at the hundred, most cited studies in computers and education, a whopping 15 out of a hundred have demonstrated that computers can possibly do better. They're equivalent to or slightly better than humans and person. 85 of those hundred flat out say it's worse.
Jared: It does not do as well as having a teacher live and in person. I got nothing now as a load, I personally, I don't like tech, but what I start to say is, "Okay, if you're going to use tech and education, you better give me better," like if I go back to my lab and I have a pill for depression that makes 85% of people who take it worse, there isn't a human being in the world who's going to say "good job on that research." They're going to say, "Go back to the lab and make a new pill." That's the exact statistics we're using with tech. I think tech can be used. There are certain, but it's just considerations. It's we have to think our way through these and say, "Okay, why we do this? Who wins?" And where did these original ideas come from? If we don't like where the original idea started, then we're allowed to question it if
Daniel: 15% doesn't fly in American baseball in terms of success with hitting, it's probably shouldn't work in education. You gotta get to these 25% success to be decent.I think sort of my last question regarding the book or an interesting idea, David and I talked about in our pre-check that I'd like to, bring back. I actually don't remember what it means, so that's why I want to bring it back and then we'll close out the conversation with the questions I ask everybody. You brought up this idea of skunkworks David, and I don't remember what that means, but it sounds super interesting. I definitely want you to riff on that.
David: Let me start by saying, the book is called 10 things, schools get wrong and how we can get them right. This is not a book that is about just criticizing education. We've spoken about earlier, it is providing an alternate view and a way to move forward. Jared and I, spoke a lot about this last chapter, which is on skunkworks. We want it to provide a light and a pathway forward for teachers to embrace their craft and to move forward collectively. I think this really stemmed from Jared. He really kind of stumped me one day when he was speaking about the legal profession and this concept of precedent. If I want to look over the last 50 or a hundred years of common war or whatever legal work that's been done, there's kind of a repository. I can go and actually read that and I can look that up and stuff. The medical professional, the psychological sciences, I can go and have a look at Freud's research and how we went about things, what he was thinking. With teaching Danny, I imagine you're a pretty good teacher, but there's no way I can ever know that. I can never see it. I can never see the mistakes you made. I can never read about you your best. There is just no way to share the what's working and what's not working in education. I think this is one of the reasons why we kind of stagnate in terms of the development of the profession to some extent. Jared and I are very focused on developing some sort of system by which, we can have a repository of information where we can learn from each other.
David: So that's the starting point for skunkworks. The second part of it is this that if education is not broken, the last thing we want to be doing is trying to fix, revolutionize the system. We looked back to a famous story, in the second world war where Lockheed Martin was the supplier of American airplanes and they were kind of starting to lose the battle with the Japanese, in terms of the technology they were developing. Lockheed Martin recognized that they had their engines, they were producing a pretty good. They didn't need to revolutionize the development of jet engine or airplane engines. What they needed to do was rapidly evolve, combat the fringe. So Lockheed Martin sent this team of gun expert engineers out into the field, sort of into a circus tent, formerly used circus tent, which happened to be near a very smelly meat factory and this circus tent kind of development name of skunkworks while these engineers kind of just on the fringe of Lockheed Martin's infrastructure, working kind of out just on the outside of the system a little bit, kind of on the fringes of the system. They had this remit to, they didn't have to report through the normal reporting structures. They didn't have the normal budgetary constraints and the bureaucracy, they were told you just go and play, go on experiment, try cool stuff. Don't break the system, but just work at the fringes and push against the edge a little bit. It was a very smelly area, but they actually did rapidly evolve the technology and they ended up developing these very cool jet engine that was far superior to anything else that had been in a boat. We love this story, of how by working fast, rapidly prototyping, trying new things, sharing ideas, being at the edge of the system, that we can both respect the core of the system and constantly evolve it at the same time. We want to do this with education.
David: We think this is the right approach for education to respect that school's doing awesome over overall, and there's always ways we can improve. we're encouraging teachers to constantly experiment by trying new things. If you read a new book and you read Carol Dweck's mindset theory, and you think, wow, there's something in that I'd like to try. I don't know if the theory is right and the research has a bit dodgy is do you see in our book, but actually it's something that's inspired me about trying something different, go and do that. You are world-class expert in your craft, go and try that. Not only try and share it with other people. Do stuff different, operate the fringe, evolve, practice new things and share it with the rest of us so we can learn together. This is our philosophy as well as a methodology. How we can move forward, respecting the system, evolving in at the edges and sharing this evolution with each other.
Daniel: Just operating at the fringe at the edges. The other idea that's really resonating with me is sharing it with others. We talked in the Mastermind just the other night, how one principal wants to have more powerful summers. He feels like he's wasted often and wants to just get more, get more done or set up his school even better at the beginning of the year. Take advantage of the time in summer. Essentially, what I shared with him is what you just said, share it with others, make your goals, public, keep track of how you're doing. It's embarrassing, if you're not working towards that thing. Essentially what showing your work is all about. I'd like to move to you, Jared. Last two questions. I'll start with you and then move to David. if you could put a message on all school marquees around the world for a single day, what would your message be?
Jared: It's gotta be, teachers are experts. I wish that would just be because I think teachers know that but I think we can step back up into that. I think the wider world. All the parents who drive by and all the politicians who drive by and all the neuroscientists and the researchers in the world who drive by, that's what they need to see and be reminded of stop talking down to the profession as though it's some throwaway craft. We wouldn't people say, "oh, if you can't do teach, that is nonsense." Trust me. I know a lot of people who can do and they certainly can't teach. Teaching, it's a standalone thing and we have to start recognizing that once again. Once we can start recognizing these people are doing actual jobs that I cannot do. The good news If you want to talk about one positive thing from COVID. A lot of parents have started to recognize that this teaching stuff is hard. Isn't it? I was my brother and sister. They live out in Arizona. When they shut down, I was talking to them the first week to like, "oh yeah, we're going to homeschool. We don't need schools, man. We're going to show the world. We know what's what?" A week later I called them. Where the kids, "Oh, they're swimming in the pool. "Why? Oh, cause we couldn't handle, we go and teach him. We're just letting them play now. It's like, there you go. I rest my case. One thing, it's that teachers are experts and it's not so much for us. It's to remind the rest of the world, give us our space, give us our due and give us the credit we deserve for the work that we are doing because we're doing good work.
Daniel: Jared's already answered this question. David, this one's to you, it's a thought experiment. You're a bright guy so I'm looking forward to how you answer it. If you could build your dream school and you're not limited by any sort of resources. You're only limitation is your imagination. How would you build your dream school? What would be the guiding three principles?
David: The guiding three principles? I think schools are going well, let me explain it this way. I've had my three year old and five-year-old at home with me a lot over the last, 6-12 months. In fact, Melbourne, where we're based as we record, this has gone back into a full lockdown. My son who should be at school today will be with us homeschooling. What I've seen, Hudson do is learn to read and write on Khan Academy. and he's learned math using this kind of math technology, and he's learning some fundamental skills without a teacher. I agree with Jared, what we was talking about earlier with computers by and large, not being ideal and being potentially harmful in many situations for learning, but I've also seen Hudson develop some pretty fundamental skills using a computer technology.
David: What I think we're starting to see is the purpose of schooling, Danny and has to be it the purpose of schooling going forward is to bring humans together. To solve interesting, important problems that can't be solved by ourselves. Hudson literally doesn't need to go to school to read anymore. He needs to go to school to be with humans, to make mistakes, to fail, to learn compassion and empathy, and so these things. When he's doing that, of course, he learns to read, different way and it's contextualized and it's humanized and it's real. Jared's exactly right. He learns to read better when he's at school because of all this other human stuff around. I think that the guiding principle is firstly, Danny would be to bring humans together.
David: Not so parents can go to work, but so that they can learn to solve interesting, important problems together. So that would be the kind of the first guiding principle. The second one would be allow students to fail safely. We need to embrace failure. Failure means to embrace, problem solving more and more allow students to work together collaboratively would be kind of around this concept of learning to solve problems together. The final, would be to delete these examinations. We're already seeing this around the world in Australia, US, UK, where we're seeing the dismantling of high stakes, rank based testing, which is nonsense. I think where we can genuinely recognize that schools are about two things they're about learning content and skills, fundamental skills, and they're about learning to be a human.
David: I think that's where we get this perfect blend. This is where it kind of Jared, for our next book maybe, or the work we were moving into now is really trying to blend the science of learning and the science of wellbeing, the nerdy kind of computational cognitive. How to build powerful cognitive skills and how toembed that into the messy world of human reality, and to allow students to have these skills to navigate life effectively.To learn well, but to live well. I know that's kind of a long-winded answer to your question, Danny, but I hope you're happy with that. The annoyingness of the messiness of my response because that's the reality. Schools are messy, beautiful places. They're not clean sanitized environments because humans are messy things. We have to tolerate this concept of embracing science whilst acknowledging the messy beauty of humans.
Daniel: David, thanks. my mentor, Aaron Walker, he'll say that, people crave authenticity, and I think that was an authentic answer. Another mentor of mine, Rich Litvin says, "Messy is sexy" because it's real. These are good things. People aren't coming to my show for the polish, they're coming for the real, they're coming for the real. Jared, I want to give you the last word and we've covered a lot of ground today. Thank you, David and Jared for being on the show. Of all the things we discussed today, what's the one thing you want to Ruckus Maker to remember?
Jared: I'm going to go back. I like where David was kind of tailing it out. I think you're spot on there too, is that science research is clean by its very definition. We eliminate variables. That's what we have to do. Schooling, learning is very messy. The best schools in the world, don't eliminate variables. They embrace and amplify variables. If you take one thing away, let it be that there is a very strict difference between what we do in a laboratory and what happens in the real world. We can now question our over-reliance on laboratory-based three search to drive our decision making on a day-to-day basis. I don't mean we ditch it. I don't mean it's gone. I don't mean it's pointless. I think we just reframe what we can meaningfully expect from it. Once you embrace the mess, as you were just saying, that's where the real sets and that's what we don't do in laboratories.
Daniel: Thanks for listening to the Better Leaders, Better Schools Podcasts for Ruckus Maker. If you have a question or would like to connect my email, Daniel@Betterleadersbetterschools.com or hit me up on Twitter @alienearbud. If the Better Leaders Better Schools Podcast is helping you grow as a school leader, then please help us serve more Ruckus Makers like you. You can subscribe, leave an honest rating and review or share on social media with your biggest takeaway. From the episode, extra credit for tagging me on Twitter at alien earbud and using the # BLBS level up your leadership at better leaders, better schools.com and talk to you next time until then class dismissed.
- “See” the expertise of educators to elevate education.
- Adopt Skunkworks and operate at the fringes.
- True Moments in teaching distinguish the visible from invisible.
- The magic of elite teaching occurs at this intersection.
- Education isn’t broken but needs these tweaks on the edges.
- What grades say about the world?
- The bigger question to ask to truly serve your school.
- Accept the mess of education to move forward with respect of the system.
“Let me start by saying, the book is called, 10 Things Schools Get Wrong and How We Can Get Them Right. This is not a book about just criticizing education. It is providing an alternate view and a way to move forward.”
– David Bott
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