This interview is part of the series of research interviews on the education crisis and how we can solve it. If you want to hear the other experts, please see our education thesis.
Carla Marschall & Elizabeth Crawford are educators, curriculum designers, and authors of Worldwise Learning: A Teacher′s Guide to Shaping a Just, Sustainable Future, which helps educators create a “Pedagogy for People, Planet, and Prosperity” that supports educators in nurturing “Worldwise Learners”: students who both deeply understand and purposefully act when learning about global challenges. Carla has worked in a variety of leadership roles in international schools in Switzerland, Germany, Hong Kong, and Singapore over the past ten years and her current role is Director of Teaching & Learning at UWC South East Asia. Elizabeth has taught in a variety of school contexts, including elementary and middle schools in France and the United States and is currently an Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
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If we can move away from seeing ourselves as discrete and separate from each other and start seeing our interconnections, both on a kind of human level, our shared humanity, but then also the way that our systems interrelate and produce these outcomes for people, society and the planet, then we can evolve to a place where we're thinking in more complex ways and not making the same mistakes over and over that are not producing.
We can evolve together by coming back as human beings on the shared planet and in creating a common vision for the future that we want for kids.
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Elizabeth & Carla Interview
[00:00:00] Brandon Stover: Hey, you welcome to evolve the show to help you become a hero and solve the world's greatest challenges. I'm your host, Brandon Stover, founder of Plato university. And I interview social innovators, entrepreneurs, and thinkers about the global problems we face and the solutions they have created to solve them.
Today's challenge education.
our guests today are Carla Marshall and Elizabeth Crawford educators, curriculum designers, and authors of worldwide learning, a teacher's guide to shaping, adjust sustainable. Carla has worked in a variety of leadership roles in international schools in Switzerland, Germany, Hong Kong, and Singapore over the past 10 years. And her current role is director of teaching and learning at UWC Southeast Asia.
Elizabeth has taught in a variety of school contexts, including elementary and middle schools in France and the U S and is currently an associate professor at the university of North Carolina, Wilmington.
Today, Carla and Elizabeth are going to share how we can create a pedagogy for people, planet and prosperity that supports educators and nurturing worldwide learners, students who both deeply understand and purposefully act when learning about global challenges.
This interview is part of the series of research interviews on the education crisis and how we can solve it. If you want to hear the other experts, please visit evolve the.world/research/education. Well, before we start diving into the problems of traditional education will you to briefly state your mission with worldwide learning?
[00:01:32] Elizabeth Crawford: Sure. So we opened the book with the context in which we're living today in a fast paced, globalized, interconnected world and all the challenges that come with that. And so our mission with worldwide learning was to humanize education. To show how we can meaningfully bring in issues that our students care about that connect to their lives, their passions and their concerns.
And so we designed a worldwide learning framework that shows how to design curriculum centered on issues that matter to our students that also connect to our curriculum that reflect our globalized world local challenges that have global significance. And coupled with that, we created an inquiry cycle to support teachers, to design their curriculum centered on these issues, to connect the students to each other, to themselves, to the world, to help them understand these issues deeply, such as through systems thinking.
And then also give them the space and the agency to take action, to, to be a positive force, to create change in their local communities and beyond. And then foundational to this work is a creation of democratic classrooms. And so we have an entire chapter on that how to co-plan plan our curriculum with our students.
So how to design the curriculum alongside our students so that it reflects their interests and connects to their lives. And so we create spaces where students can openly discuss what their interests are, their passions, what they care about, so that we can create curriculum that is relevant to them.
[00:03:13] Carla Marshall: I think another goal of the book and it's called a teacher's guide to shaping adjust sustainable future is really about collective that collective and self-efficacy that we want to create an educators around being able to address issues that they see that their students are asking questions about, are concerned about and are just in their local communities.
And then connecting obviously to these more global issues as well, because from our conversations with teachers, there is a genuine desire to want to bring these things into the classroom. We know that our students are asking lots of questions and don't necessarily know what to do about them. And there are some genuine innovation from students to, to do something, to move things in the right direction.
And so part of the book is about making a connection between. Kind of these larger ideas of teaching to issues. And then like the pedagogical moves that teachers can use on a day to day basis in the classroom, that'll allows them to move through connecting, to issues, different perspectives, developing an awareness of that kind of complexity of these issues, and then making good decisions about how to take action on them.
[00:04:25] Brandon Stover: Yeah, perfect. Well to help our listeners really understand the problem from first principles. Can you explain the root or core problems with traditional education?
[00:04:34] Carla Marshall: Yeah. So there are obviously quite a few issues that I think have been. Brought up many times and now post COVID, we see them even more it's around the abstraction of the learning. So we discreetly cut up all these parts of the learning program. You know, you've got your mathematics and your literacy and your science and your social studies.
They don't talk to each other. And not only do they not talk to each other, but we don't help students make connections between the learning, those discipline areas and then the relevance of that learning to the wider world. So that's great. I've learned how to do this. I don't know, angles and geometry.
Why, what does that help me do in the world? And so that kind of divide between what's happening in the school and what's happening in the real world and, and helping students feel like they have agency and the ability to take their learning and do something with it is really problematic. And something that needs to be addressed.
The whole idea of. Students bringing their diverse identities into the classroom and then kind of using a curriculum that has been standardized in some way. And doesn't necessarily reflect that diversity of their identities is also problematic. Not only from kind of making sure their curriculum connects to our learners, but also from a wellbeing and belonging perspective around inclusion and justice.
And so that's another issue. And we saw this in particular during COVID where teachers are trying to present ideas online and it's just not landing with learners.
[00:06:07] Elizabeth Crawford: And I graduated through a K-12 traditional education system, and I also prepared primarily teachers to enter that system. And I think another problem is this top-down model that we've created where our teachers.
We're actually on the, on the front lines, in the classroom, working with children, don't have a say often in what they teach and, and it's becoming even more standardized. I would have thought because of the past year and a half, we would have learned a lot of lessons about what is effective or not. But my students are in the field now and the messages they're giving to me are, you know, it's very rigid and standardized scripted.
Locally, we have a scripted literacy and mathematics curriculum that they're not able to deviate from and then a pacing calendar. So our students enter into these classrooms where they, they off, they don't see the models that we're hoping to present in our book. And so Carla and I are hoping to nudge changes in these systems to show that you can still meet your standards, but do it in a way that is student-centered.
[00:07:15] Brandon Stover: In the beginning you were mentioning part of this is systems thinking. And so I was hoping that you guys could help our listeners with systems thinking and understanding what are the complex systems outside of education that are really exacerbating the problems within education.
[00:07:30] Elizabeth Crawford: So my, my teaching background is in title one schools predominantly. So I was a classroom teacher taught kindergarten and fifth grade. I'm in a rural high poverty county in Georgia. So I've seen firsthand how all these systems outside of school impact learning in the classroom.
My children were part of this statistic of one in six children in the U S who are food insecure. My students' parents worked in industrial chicken farming that you can smell in our classroom when the wind would blow and would actually work illegally after school in dangerous conditions in in this poultry farming.
And. I would do home visits. So I would see their living conditions and students in poverty often live in substandard housing. One of my children that I visited during the holidays eight adults who were living in a two bedroom house and I learned that he was sleeping on the couch and right before the holidays before we released for the winter break, he told me that he had tried to commit suicide.
And so I still keep these stories with me of these children that I taught 15 years ago because I saw firsthand the effects of, of poor working conditions low wages lack of food security and all the other issues that come with poverty. And so you can imagine these children coming to school and.
School is a safe place. A lot of our students didn't want to leave for the winter break, which was so surprising to me coming from a different system in Florida where children could, we're counting down the days for the holidays, but our students were actually sad to leave school because they received love and care and two good meals a day.
And so I think poverty is one of the largest issues. It's only getting worse in the United States and actually globally, it's been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic.
[00:09:27] Brandon Stover: I love this idea of education. Being able to give the tools and empowerment to the students to make a change in their life. Like they feel like they have some agency within their life. You know, in that example, you're having somebody that's living in poverty and having all these other things going on in their life.
You can only imagine the feeling of chaos and you know, not being able to do something and an education like this gives them the tools and the power to be like. Maybe I can make some sort of difference in my life, even though all these other crazy things are going on.
[00:09:59] Elizabeth Crawford: I have been fortunate to keep up with a lot of my children who were in their late twenties now. And I've seen the effects of, of advocates who step up for these children and, you know, show them that they could have a better life. There are a lot of, of course deep rooted issues that we can't control, but having adults as advocates for children, it has a huge impact on children who were living in poverty.
[00:10:22] Brandon Stover: Well, I'm quite biased towards building something new. So I often look at solutions in education that are in opposition to the older system. But both of you are very experienced, have a very long career in education. And I was wondering what values and practices do you think we should keep from the old system that still worked very well.
[00:10:44] Carla Marshall: So the most important thing with worldwide learning is not necessarily throwing out the baby with the bath water, right. There are things that work. So there's the social function of schooling, which has existed, you know, as a physical place. I think, you know, you won't be able to remove schooling completely and only have it in, in a virtual kind of context without that kind of physical environment for relationship building, forming friendships, social interactions. And so the social functional schooling is, is super important for socialization for our students.
The second is really around disciplinary learning and. So in the book we advocate for interdisciplinary learning and for looking more holistically at what we're teaching our students, using issues as organizers, we're not advocating for totally throwing out disciplinary learning.
We recognize that each discipline provides a lens for being able to understand the world, you know, thinking historically through, you know, concepts like cause and consequence or change is a really important tool that we can have as a thinking tool to be able to make sense of the world around us. So what we're advocating for is an and instead of you know, throw, throw it all away and, and kind of raise it to the ground and start over it's yes, there are some great things that we can, we can get in terms of our understanding from disciplinary learning, but it's not sufficient.
It's not enough. So we need to go beyond. The disciplinary learning framework, and we need to make sure that we're helping our students see the cohesion, the connectedness between these areas of learning and their world around them and giving them opportunities to actually use the learning in some way.
So moving from a passive model to a more active model of education. And I think, you know, the teacher as a facilitator of that is, is still very important. We're also not advocating for getting rid of teachers and just having students by themselves. Of course, we are advocating for, you know, more student voice, more ownership over the curriculum and students feeling like they have the ability to shape their learning in the classroom.
But that is, you know, with the support of caring adults, as Elizabeth mentioned before,
[00:12:52] Brandon Stover: Elizabeth, did you want to have today?
[00:12:54] Elizabeth Crawford: Yeah, I think about my daughter's experiences attending a Montessori school. So when I think of traditional education that goes back to the late 18 hundreds and Maria Montessori's methods in many ways w was revolutionary, but also traditional. So focusing on content learning and skills based learning.
And so my daughter has been in Montessori since she's been three years old and I've, I've been observing her in virtual Montessori learning. And what I appreciate about the traditional education that Montessori provides is this, the students are able to build from their prior learning to acquire new skills.
So they go deeper. So I see this sort of like spiral curriculum that Montessori affords, and I think that's really powerful. And in our book we, we advocate for that in the sense that we emphasize building conceptual understanding and students. So we advocate for our four-dimensional curriculum that builds knowledge, skills, understanding, and also dispositions.
So really teaching the whole child. And I think traditional education used to do that or emphasize that going back a century or so.
[00:14:05] Brandon Stover: well, before we dive into the, our worldwide learning framework, let's discuss the two underlying principles of education that it's built upon, which are global competence and then a pedagogy for people planet and prosperity. Can you explain how global competence links to what a student learns to taking action
[00:14:23] Carla Marshall: so, I guess the first point with global competence is to kind of demystify that as a term, we hear the term global competence and we think, oh, students are learning about issues happening in some other country, halfway around the world. And maybe only issues that exist at the global level. And that is not how we conceptualize that term.
It's very much around local to global. And this idea that Robinson coined, which is glocalization. So the local issues that you see outside your house, around your block, in your community, Kind of fractals or examples of things happening, you know, in a more wide scale and things at a wider scale, things like climate change or racial inequity are going to be able to be seen and perceived at the local level as well.
So you have this kind of synergy between local and the global. And so as we're helping, since with understanding local issues in their communities, then we're giving them opportunities to look at other case studies from other places in the world so that they can test out their ideas and see, okay, so this is our issue with water pollution here in Michigan. How does that relate to water pollution in China? Are there similar kind of root causes for these things or are they somehow different? And in that way we kind of stretch the student's understanding of that concept.
The pedagogy for people planet and prosperity is really about what we can do as teachers in the classroom to be able to provide. So what are the ways that we would want to help students engage with issues? And it's kind of moving away from a purely analytical approach to understanding and making sure we connect on an aspect of level as well. In particular, when you're, you're thinking about possibly marginalized group individuals in the community who may be experiencing trauma in some way.
It's super important for our students to be connecting, thinking through different perspectives, understanding issues through story before they start pulling apart an issue and coming up with actions, because we really want there to be this human element or, you know, even beyond humans thinking about different organisms that may exist in ecosystems or habitats that are nearby.
And so the relationship between the pedagogy for people, planet and prosperity and global competence is really that these are the different strategies we may use in the classroom to build that competence in our students over time.
[00:16:46] Brandon Stover: The thing I loved about this framework is that local, regional and global scale. And in your book, you outlined ways that you can take a very global problem and bring it to a. Community and be able to put that on a scale with that is age appropriate for the learner. So having younger learners focus on that local and maybe having older learners focused on that global, can you explain how you can scale these issues for various levels of students?
[00:17:12] Elizabeth Crawford: So thinking about your point about what's appropriate for children. And, and even the word issue can sometimes be misunderstood as well. These are universal human experiences and how we engage in the world and how we use resources and how we communicate and live and work and so forth. So from a lower primary level, you know, young children may learn about ecosystems in their local community and how we impact them.
And this aligns readily with the K one social studies standards, how humans use resources in the environment how do we impact it and how can we protect it or conserve resources. And then it increases in complexity and depth where students can, like Carla mentioned addressing root causes where students can actually dig deeper into the, the historical elements that impacted the issue today.
You know, what happened before that created this problem? What can we learn from other solutions in the world? Other people who've taken action on similar issues, how can we maybe adapt or scale their solutions for our local context? And then what can we actually do about it? And so we provide a table of K eight appropriate issues that can be adapted based on one's disciplines and grade levels.
[00:18:36] Brandon Stover: Speaking of the local level and creating a relevance to the students we were talking earlier about, you know, having that relevance and then co-creating and education with the student bringing their voice into the conversation. Why is it important to do that, to make it relevant and meaningful to them
[00:18:57] Carla Marshall: so I think there's a number of reasons for this. The first has to do with making the learning relate to our learners. And if we don't give them a chance to actually share. Who they are, and what's important to them. It's very hard for us to make a good choices. So really the idea here is that the teacher is a researcher.
We research our students to find out what they're interested in and then it's our job to try and make the learning connected to them so that it, it sticks when we teach it to them. So that's the primary reason. The second that we talked about earlier was really this idea of democratic classrooms.
And so it's all fine to say, you know, oh yes, you're going to go out in the world and you're going to be a citizen and you're going to participate. But we haven't actually given them any chances to practice that. So how do we actually have the classroom as a laboratory, as a safe space for students to practice democratic decision makes.
And that may mean that they're thinking about the different issues or aspects of issues, like case studies that students are sharing, that would be interesting for them to study. And then they're debating that and having conversations about why they might feel that's more impactful or, or less impactful for them as a classroom.
I've done this with my seventh graders. I teach a section of a grade seven social studies, and it's really interesting to see, you know, I think this is like the first time that they do these types of activities. And they're like, what do you mean? We get to decide that what we're learning about, they've never had that opportunity before.
But I think, you know, if we, if we teach students to kind of assume that they're going to have a say in their learning, then when they move into society, then they're going to also say, well, I have a role to participate in what's around me. I'm not going to be passive and just let people make decisions for me.
[00:20:43] Brandon Stover: Elizabeth, do you have a story about some of your older students, a 40 year old learner who had never been asked about his passions? Could you share that?
[00:20:51] Elizabeth Crawford: So I try to model this process with my pre-service teachers. So they will then be able to carry this into the classroom. And all of my colleagues in higher education are we observed the same trends that we had in the classroom, where students are expected to show up to school and receive information.
You know, the teacher disseminates information there to regurgitate that information. And so when I flip that and, and share with them that I want to co-create the curriculum in my course around instructional design, a lot of my students they don't know what to make of it, and they don't know how to.
Even identify what they care about. It's been really interesting. I have students, for example, generate inquiry questions they want to pursue. And I've noticed that even as adults sometimes we're not very good at even formulating meaningful questions, you know, what's worth investigating. Because a lot of information of course, is something we can just Google and it's at our fingertips, but actually these like deep, philosophical or complex issues that we want to investigate.
A lot of times they have a hard time even thinking about who they are and what they care about. And this is with, you know, 40 year old adult learners. So I'm hoping that this sparks a different vision for teaching. So when they become teachers two years from now that they can actually bring some of these practices into the classroom so that we don't replicate a lot of what was not effective that they experienced when they were stealing.
[00:22:30] Brandon Stover: Carla. I want to dive into the worldwide learning cycle. So could you walk us through maybe how an issue could be explored going through the cycle of connect act and then under.
[00:22:41] Carla Marshall: in our world buys learning cycle, we have this idea that we're organizing the learning, using a local global or intercultural issue. And then the inquiry cycle that we walk our students through is to connect to that issue to understand it. And then to act the idea with connect is really that.
We're forming emotional connections to those issues and the individuals who are impacted by them. And so we use a number of strategies to be able to do that. We may take kind of immerse ourselves. So we may go and do field trips where we're actually spending time in an environment or in a part of the community that we may not know very well.
We're engaging in perspective taking so talking to people and getting information through, you know, interviews, oral oral histories potentially doing perspective, taking strategies where we are doing role play or thinking about how people may feel in a particular issue. And then using story as a big vehicle for developing deep understanding and, and understanding that this isn't kind of like an analytical or linear, like you do this and you can just solve it.
But actually that there's a lot that go into these issues. And so we, we have that in the connect phase. And after they've sufficiently kind of connected to the issue and have developed that empathy for those who are involved and affected, then we start to use systems thinking and conceptual thinking to be able to understand the issue more analytically.
And so here we're using systems thinking strategies such as systems mapping. So the idea there is an issue is filled with different connections, parts that interrelates, and it's about trying to pull things apart and see those relationships and be able to see kind of what is producing particular behaviors in the system.
What are the underlying values or mental models or belief systems that are propping up these particular systems? And then what are the leverage points that we might be able to to use, to do that? Informed action. So we do that with our systems thinking, and we also then take issues to the conceptual level.
So this means that, you know, students may be learning about, I dunno, Rosa parks or Malala or something like that. And you could say, well, that's locked. It's it's effectual content. It's locked in time, place and situation. How is this actually going to support transfer? So the whole idea here is that the educator is helping students make that connection between these particular case studies.
And that might be local individuals, local places, local issues, and then kind of extracting big ideas. So with Rosa parks and Malala, it might be around, you know, effective ways to take action in your community. It might be something more effective about what people do when they're encountered challenge.
And then you can actually take that and transfer it to new situation and context. And then in the act phase, it's really about providing the space and opportunity for students to engage with that community that is being affected by an issue and to do something about it. And the reason why we advocate so much about starting with the local.
In particular for our youngest students is we don't want our learners to be creating superficial kind of surface level responses to complex issues. And we don't want to kind of charity approach to, to issues. I'll, we'll just send some money to someone somewhere else in the world and they can deal with it.
We actually want them to be thinking about sustainable ways of addressing this within their local communities to improve their communities. So we do that in the act phase. And of course that would be coupled with a reflection on how well they feel that they've, they were able to, to do that.
[00:26:13] Brandon Stover: So in the connect phase, I love that.
You are having learners take this from the perspective of both the self and then of others, because I think it's important to understand it from those perspectives. Why is it so important to have students learn from both themselves and from others
[00:26:29] Elizabeth Crawford: Yeah. I think it's critically important because understanding our beliefs and values shapes our decision-making and our behaviors that contribute to these issues. So as, as Carla mentioned, getting at the mental model level of understanding what contributed to creating these issues in the first place, you know, how do we value for example, natural resources and what led to this being a problem?
For example, you know, like you mentioned water pollution, maybe the Cape fear river here, where I live in Wilmington. We have a significant issue where the water's not drinkable. We have gen X and the water that contributes to, to cancer and other, a host of other issues. And so understanding what led that to that issue even occurring in the first place that shaped our legislative decision-making how we, how we use resources and whether we protect them or not.
And so not only perspective taking is important where we make inferences about others' perspectives, but we also advocate for perspective getting, because the latest research suggests that humans are actually pretty poor at perspective, taking I'm assuming what other people think and in value.
And so we emphasize also actually asking people as simple as that sounds. And so that also reflects the notion of creating these democratic classrooms where we, we actually spend a lot of time listening, not just speaking.
[00:27:59] Brandon Stover: So earlier in this interview I had asked about how. Everything is connected through compact systems. And you are teaching within this worldwide framework to use system thinking as a tool in the understand phase. And why is something like systems thinking, not just a fad, but really how humans were meant to think.
[00:28:20] Carla Marshall: if you have people in the system or animals and plants, so living things, you're going to have a complex adaptive system. And this is what, the idea that you know, the sum is greater than the individual parts added together. Right? So You have a system which has multiple parts that interrelate or connect in some way, and they produce emergent properties or behaviors.
And so a simple example of this is, you know, the complex communication that happens in a beehive. You know, they're, those bees are not, they don't have a language like we do, but through chemical markers through the wiggle dance and all these other things that they have, they're actually communicating quite complex ideas about how, where to find food, the quality of that food, how to get back to the hive and so on.
So that's an idea of kind of that emergent property. And in schools, we have emergent properties too, like learning school, culture, and climate wellbeing for teachers and students and parents. And so if we don't look at these issues in a kind of complex. If we look at them only in a kind of complicated way, then what we end up doing is taking a linear, a leads to B approach, or I can put this simple solution into place and then, you know, that that'll solve it.
And what ends up happening is it becomes a band-aid solution. The bandaid solution goes on, it looks like it's working for a little while and then suddenly it unravels. And probably there are multiple unintended consequences that, that emerged from this.
So a prime example of this is the cap drop that happened in Indonesia. which there's a video on YouTube. If people want to watch this. So in Indonesia, I think in the 1950s or sixties, there was an outbreak of malaria and they decided that they needed to deal with the rats and other organisms that were living at the time in In that place that were causing malaria.
And so they sprayed DDT, the DDT killed the mosquitoes. But it ended up that things like geckos ingested the DDT, then the cats that ate the geckos died. So then there were no cats on the island, which led to these massive infestations of rats and then bubonic plague started. So they went full circle from malaria and then kind of killing organisms.
And then, you know, nature finds a way to thrive. And so the rats didn't die, they produce probiotic plague. And so. And it's always that question of what are the knock on effects and the potential nonlinear effects that are going to happen within a system. And I think we can see this a little bit through COVID with the digital haves and digital have-nots, you know, that people who had access to devices or had supportive families during the pandemic they are now able to more or less where they should be in terms of academic outcomes.
But those families who, you know, were working multiple jobs, couldn't be with their kids, didn't have access to wifi. I think we've all seen the, that, you know, the image that went viral of the two girls sitting outside of the taco bell, trying to get Wi-Fi reception. These are unintended consequences of a system that where, you know, people are trying to solve at linearly.
Oh, we have to close schools. We just do remote learning salt. Right? No, it's actually not. So we really need to make sure that we're helping students with that mental model themselves. That we don't want to just reduce and an issue and look at it in a linear way because that won't actually produce sustained change in society.
And we need people to be problem solvers that are creating you know, sustainable solutions for the, our future it's actually imperative. Right?
[00:31:58] Brandon Stover: right. Yes. One of the major goals of education is to have transfer of these skills and knowledge as they're acquiring them. Why working with real-world constructs and real-world problems. Does it allow students to be able to transfer these skills to other problems?
[00:32:14] Elizabeth Crawford: oftentimes how we, we teach and assess in school does not reflect the world of work. And so, you know, how many times do we go to work, where we have to memorize information and take a test? And so I just think the idea that learning should be purposeful and authentic and relevant and experiential, so students can actually practice the skills for, with purpose so that they can actually transfer them to, to any, any kind of job that they're going to have.
One day will require critical thinking, communication skills, problem, solving collaboration with others and so forth. So we're really preparing them for any kind of career. And, you know, it's often said that we're preparing children for jobs we don't know exist yet. And so we need to think about that's what global competency aims to do is to prepare them for an uncertain future full of complexity.
[00:33:09] Brandon Stover: I'd like to talk about the act phase. So once Pete students connect and then they understand they start creating solutions as global citizens. I would love if both of you gave it a story of solutions that students have created, you know, after going through this cycle and what the role of the teacher was as a guide or a facilitator in these solutions.
So, Carla, if you'd like to start
[00:33:31] Carla Marshall: Sure. I'll give a early childhood example because I think often there's an assumption that only older students can engage with issues in a meaningful way. And. We argue against that. We actually say that all students can do this. It's just about making sure that the issues are relevant. So and as an aside, like we do use kind of David Sobel, who who's one of the founders of place-based education.
He talks about no catastrophes before fourth grade. And I think this is a great way of kind of conceptualizing what it should look like in early childhood. As students are engaging with issues, we don't want to inundate them with the problems of the world, but we do want to give them meaningful kind of connections to things around them.
So I'm in a pollinator unit for kindergartners. They had learned a little bit about life cycles. They learned about the relationship between pollinators and other organisms in local garden habits. They, and they also learned about kind of the role of pollination in farming systems and the way that pollinators can be harmed by particular actions where habitats are remove pesticides are sprayed, fertilizers that are high in certain chemicals are used and so on.
So when it came to the act phase, the question really became, you know, what are some of the root causes of the particular die out that we're having of pollinators, where you either have colony collapse disorder, which is happening with bees where a whole colonies of bees will die. Which they've associated very strongly with the use of pesticides in farms, but also then monoculture farming.
And then the second is, you know, from these, from these particular root causes, you know, what can, what can women do? So identifying that there's a loss of habitat and that the habitats that we do have, we shouldn't be spraying with chemicals. You know, that, that, that was too kind of simple ideas.
And then, so the, the goal was basically to create a pollinator garden to make sure that there was like a rest stop for particular local butterfly species and bees and their offspring. So it's about understanding what are the local butterflies that we have in our area. What. The hosts for the caterpillars.
So the young of those butterflies, so making sure that we have host plants, making sure that we have flowering plants and the best is flowering plants that flower all year long. So you don't just have, you know two months of blooming and then they're gone. So they thought about that. And then they planted a little pollinator garden and made sure that there was a way where it was going to be sustainably, you know, cared after watered and all that.
And then that became their action. So I think, you know, we often assume like, oh it action, like go out into the world and like, do. It has to be so big all the time, but it doesn't, it's about, it's actually about how meaningful it is and it's about micro actions towards bigger issues. And so for them to put a little rest stop for that the caterpillars and the butterflies and the bees that is actually really meaningful to a five-year-old and that those five-year-olds can then say, look, we're getting the visitors it's worked.
Like they can actually go out and see that there's that impact that they've had. So that's an early childhood example.
[00:36:38] Brandon Stover: Elizabeth, before you give your example, I just wanted to comment back on, you know, that connecting to the self and what's meaningful to them and what's relevant to them. Being able to. Implement a small solution like that before they go and try and save the entire world or solve this entire problem.
It really brings it back to that child and what they care about. And then once they are excited about, oh, this solution is actually working then they get more excited to go forward and maybe solve it at a larger level.
[00:37:07] Carla Marshall: Yeah. And I think with part of that is the the visibility for students to see that the action is working, you know, so five-year-olds need to see kind of on a daily basis that they're, it's, you know, it's working because they've got a very short attention span and they needed to be very close to them, you know, that they had in scope that they can actually go out and visit it and it can be repeated.
As students get older, then you can start moving the. You know, further and further away from the learner. But if we do that at the beginning and I have no visibility over the fact that, you know, it worked or it didn't work, it kind of is like in the ether, like, oh, we've, we've done it and it's somewhere.
And we it's, how can they determine the impact? And so I think that's a real question for teachers is how can you make it small, meaningful, sustainable where students can actually reflect on on that over time, not just like one time and it's done, but actually come back to it a few times during the course of the school year.
[00:38:03] Brandon Stover: Elizabeth, I mean, you'd like to share your example.
[00:38:05] Elizabeth Crawford: Sure. I can give an example on the other end of the spectrum. I'm a middle school teacher. We feature in the book, Shannon. Teaches here in North Carolina and she uses the design for change framework paired with project based learning. And so if you're not familiar with design for change, it's a framework that was designed out of India by Karen beer.
Sathi 20 or so years ago, that's now gone global and there are different chapters throughout the world in different countries. And it has a four-part cycle of feel, imagine, do, and share. And the students spend a lot of time in the field stage in the beginning. Once they identify an issue that they care about and so feel and involves building empathy and understanding how people have been affected by the issue that they're investigating.
And so one year several years back or students became concerned about racism. And this eighth grade classroom, and they read in the newspaper about the first family in wake county who tried to integrate wake county schools and in the 1950s after brown V board. And so they interviewed this man he's a civil rights pioneer Joe Holt, Jr.
To learn how has systemic racism affected him in his life? Personally, you know what happened during that time? His parents attempted to enroll him in a, in a white school and how they were impacted by being attacked and living in fear and all that the family experienced and their struggle to integrate the schools.
And they then partnered with Joe Hall, Jr. They sort of adopted him as a mentor for their project and uncovered a host of other issues connected to systemic racism in this area. So they discovered, for example, undocumented lynchings that had happened And thinking about present day affects of th these, these, these histories that we often don't talk about and how a lot of our buildings monuments parks are named after white supremacists.
So this happens a lot actually after the murder of George Floyd, a lot of parks locally, our, our local park was renamed pretty much overnight. And the children, they, they adolescents attempted to do the same thing. They realized that a lot of their schools and Raleigh were actually named after white supremacists.
So they spoke at the board of education to try to change the name of, of a local high school. And while they were unsuccessful that year Shannon wrote me an email about two weeks ago that they have finally decided to change the name of the school. And so I think about, you know, maybe that would have never happened.
Had these 14 year olds not. To raise awareness and, and, you know, inform adults about what you know about the harm and trauma that's caused by perpetuating these histories.
[00:40:55] Brandon Stover: I think both of those are great examples of the capabilities of this type of curriculum, but from the teachers and organizations that are implementing things like this, that you will all interviewed. How successful has it been for solving the problems we spoke of earlier about traditional education?
[00:41:11] Carla Marshall: So I think it depends on your school context and it goes back to what Elizabeth was describing. So if you're in a school that has a scripted curriculum and a pacing guide, You know, of course you can make some shifts, you can decide to read certain types of books to your students. You know, in terms of having you know, mirrors, windows and sliding glass doors that reflect your students' identities, but you may not actually have the scope to be able to work in a more interdisciplinary way.
And so for that reason in the book, what we have as a kind of continuum for interdisciplinary learning and on the far end is, you know, interdisciplinary units that are organized using relevant and meaningful issues for our learners. And on the other end is, you know, one-off lessons. So for those individuals who are in a school with a pacing guide and a scripted curriculum or a very tight kind of curricular structure where there isn't a lot of autonomy, then it's about where might there be an opportunity for a one-off lesson, which can act as kind of a connecting.
You know, to have a connecting role, to bring together some of the learning that's happened in these discrete areas and bring meaning to it so that students can see how their learning relates to the wider world. And so I would say that what, and it goes back to your question about complex systems that we're navigating.
One complex system is education and it's nested, right? So you have the classroom, which is a complex system. The school itself was, it was just a complex system, which has, you know, leadership which is promoting particular types of behaviors in the classroom. Some of these may be more about, you know, autonomy giving students voice and what not.
And some of them may be more, you know, stick to the curriculum, standardized testing. And so that's gonna affect teacher's sense of self efficacy and then, you know, the district level or the state level and the national level with educational policy making. And so all of these things are interplaying.
But we argue that regardless of school context and how tight or how loose your curriculum is. There are always ways in with your learners. And it's about recognizing where you have control and leveraging that control for meaningful learnings with your learner, with your students.
[00:43:24] Brandon Stover: Hmm. I love that message because even a teacher that may be, you know, listening right now, that's embedded within that classroom. That's embedded in the school embedded within the larger education district. They may see the education system and say, well, I can not change that. Like, I'd love to implement this type of curriculum, but it's not possible.
But if you can start with the places that you have control and implementing in those small ways you know, from a bottoms up approach, you can start to have change in those systems.
[00:43:48] Elizabeth Crawford: I advocate for just listening to yourself. You know, there's seven hours in a school day. There are many opportunities to just listen to them, you know, what are they talking about? What do they care about? And then how can you draw from what they care about into, into your examples, when you're teaching, maybe you're working with a scripted curriculum, but you can certainly pull from your students and what they care about.
They may care about the latest game like Pokemon or whatever kids are into but show them that you care about them and that you listened to them. And you, you want to know them as individual human beings. And that goes a long way. And that goes beyond just designing the curriculum, but the kind of teacher that you can be in the classroom that shows that children matter and that their voices matter and that you care about who they are as individuals is something that has a lifelong impact on them.
[00:44:38] Brandon Stover: I also think that this education as wonderful as you guys have laid out for, you know, children and younger ages is also skills that we need as adults that we weren't taught because we never got an education like this. What would this curriculum look like at a higher education level? Like how would you design.
[00:44:55] Carla Marshall: I had done workshops with educators on things like systems thinking and. Which is one of those tools that we can use to really unpack and understand complex issues and think about how to move forward. And I use it in school as well. I'm in the senior leadership team at the school and I engage, you know, different groups of the school and, you know, let's think about you know, inclusion, but let's make sure we're not thinking purely about anti-racism, but we're also thinking about things like learning, support, inclusion, and counseling, and well student wellbeing.
And so we're looking at the whole system as opposed to, you know, partitioning it into pieces. And so I guess part of what this looks like in terms of working with adults is using, you know, it's similar to what we would do with our learners. What are issues that are actually relevant and meaningful for.
Things that people are going to find that connect to them as individuals and also in the area that they're working. So if their teachers giving them examples from the classroom of how this actually can be used and then kind of walking them through a process of going through that with real-world examples so that they have tangible case studies to be able to build a prom.
[00:46:04] Elizabeth Crawford: And so I'm also thinking about what's happening in the, in the contemporary times that you can pull from that would be relevant. I'm thinking back to 2018, when Wilmington was severely impacted by hurricane Florence, our university was actually closed for an entire month. We became very disconnected physically and emotionally from each other.
And I remember that first day back that we physically could return to campus. And of course I had specific concepts and skills. I needed to teach them in my instructional design class, but I, I can choose different issues to to address and still meet those same goals. And so we, we of course talked about the hurricane.
And how would you, if you were a classroom teacher and this had just occurred in your community how would you address this? So students can unpack it and talk about it, talk about their emotions, how it impacted them. And that was a really powerful class session. Cause I remember the students thinking it would, we would return to normal, you know, we'd returned to campus and get back on our syllabus and pick back up.
But we needed to actually stop and reconnect. And so teaching students who are becoming teachers, how to be human with their learners you know, we, we have a lot of moments where we have to just be real with each other, you know, about how different issues that are happening currently are affecting all of us, even as adults.
[00:47:25] Brandon Stover: Well, I'd love to talk a little bit about how this book came to be, because both of you again, have very long experienced careers in education. What were you personally seeing happening in education right now that you said, okay, this is the time for this book to come out and the world needs it now.
[00:47:42] Carla Marshall: So I think there were some happy or unhappy coincidences around the development of this book. So I had previously co-written another book called concept based inquiry and action, which was all about how to help students move from the level of fact and skill, knowledge up to the conceptual level, to have big ideas that transfer to new situations and contexts.
And Elizabeth happened to be using that in one of her graduate classes. And I think she mentioned me on Twitter or something like that. And I thought, oh, that's, that's so cool. It's being used in with, you know, pre-service teachers or individuals that are kind of exp expanding their, their repertoire in terms of pedagogy.
And so I said to Elizabeth, why don't I, you know, call in? And then they can ask some questions about the book. And after that we got talking and just realized that we had quite similar. And I said, yeah, you know, I'm thinking about writing a book about some of these things that I know that there isn't really anything for teachers yet.
So there's a lot of stuff out there about design thinking, but not so much about systems thinking there's not so much about, you know, bringing some of these ideas together. So how do you create kind of a humanizing approach to education where you involve the learner in a very deliberate and purposeful way while thinking about issues while using some of these strategies, like perspective taking or storytelling or systems thinking.
And so we actually have never met in person. We are, we, we know each other very well, but we haven't actually been able to be in the same physical space because of COVID. So it, it shows you what is possible for sure virtually, but basically this last 18 months with COVID has I think it's reaffirmed for us the ideas that we've put in the book, because we talk about globalization, the challenges that come from living in a globalized world, this is the first truly global issue that many of us have experienced in our lifetimes. And it's been very easy to see the ripple effect between systems from healthcare to supply and chain to food production, to education to the economic systems.
And so we finally have. You know, amazing, although devastating case study, to be able to show the relevance of some of the ideas in the book. And so we actually started writing the book January 20, 20 little. Did we know what we were getting ourselves into trying to write with kids at home doing remote learning and whatnot.
But it was truly a labor of love and so great to connect with, you know, the 30, some organizations and individual teachers who are, you know, doing such great work in the classroom and with different schools around the world for, you know, learning about issues and topical kind of contexts.
[00:50:23] Elizabeth Crawford: I think Carla has said this before some quoting Carla, that, you know, the book is a love letter to teachers. So I think it it honors the, the incredibly complex and important work of educators. And so I think we've seen a devaluation of the teaching profession that, especially during this past year of COVID the first year of COVID, I think people were honoring teachers.
And then now we've kind of gone back to, to taking teachers for granted. And we're seeing a mass Exodus of teachers for that reason and others in the United States, especially. So I think our book honors the incredibly complex art and science of teaching. So it's not just something that you can learn in a book.
Of course, we, we call it a teacher's guide so they can then bring it into their local context and shape the curriculum according to their local needs and their students. But I think the, the biggest joy of writing the book was all the stories that we compiled of the incredible work that teachers are doing throughout the entire world.
[00:51:25] Brandon Stover: Well, many of our listeners are founders and entrepreneurs who are in the beginning stages of their idea. And one of the hurdles that they'll have to face is working remotely with other people on these ideas. And so a lesson I believe that they can learn from both of you and this journey of writing this book is how did you navigate a project like writing a book virtually with somebody that you just met on Twitter?
[00:51:46] Carla Marshall: Yeah, a lot of conversations on zoom, I guess, would be the first one, the first thing, but it's really about that iterative process. You know, we never came into our conversations together with, I know what this should look like. And I think having ideas and being playful with those ideas is the, you know, that, that works for entrepreneurs doing a startup, just as much as her people writing a book.
If you get too fixed and you don't, you don't let yourself be open. To kind of change as a result of getting more information, then it's very difficult to make something that really fits and, and has that transfer ability. So I think that that was a really important part of our process. And then the other thing was, as Elizabeth mentioned, making sure that we didn't have an echo chamber of just the two of us talking together.
We kept going back and saying, well, who could we go and reach out to, to talk to them about what they're doing? You know, and these were different organizations that had, you know, sometimes niche specialties, you know, that they just do interactive storytelling for K-12 environments, or, you know, we talked to the water center for systems thinking individual teachers who may be experiencing you know, they're, they're immersed in grade two or grade eight or kindergarten, or, you know, working with multilingual learners or whatnot.
And so making sure that we can. Coming back to those different perspectives as giving us, you know, different facets of this really complex thing that we were trying to put together. I think what was vital.
[00:53:16] Elizabeth Crawford: Yeah. And I think an aha moment happened when we finalized our framework. So I remember those messages back and forth about, you know, what do we value?
What are we trying? What's the vision, you know, what are we trying to convey? And I think once we had our framework, it, which is sort of our, why, you know, for the book, it kind of flowed from there. But it's not to say that there weren't significant revisions even at the last stage. So Carla and I even after it went through peer review, we, we reshape this book in a matter of six weeks or so based on the feedback, because we really want the book to have an impact and to be clear, And practical.
And so being open to feedback and like Carla said that iterative nature of writing I've never written a book with anyone before, so this is my first time. It's, it's a lot easier in some ways to write by yourself, but it's, the product would not be the same. And I've learned so much from Carla.
Like this has been such a year and a half of growth for me personally and professionally and all the research we did the writing, the idea sharing. This book has had a profound effect on me as well.
[00:54:20] Carla Marshall: I would say the same about Elizabeth, that I've, I've learned tons from Elizabeth and also just, and I think this would be something that transfers to your listeners who are entrepreneurs.
You know, I've never co come into writing, thinking. I know it like I'm writing because I'm an expert. I've always come into the process of writing saying this is an opportunity for me to. Because I have to know kind of summarize my thinking. I have that be crystallized for myself so I can present it in a way that it's understandable to others.
And I think if you have that mindset of, you know, this is me as a learner, kind of engaging with something complex and trying to make sense of it. You end up with a better product because you're not so rigid about what it should look like
[00:55:03] Brandon Stover: Yeah. Can you both elaborate a little more about how it personally changed your education practices or your ideas and thoughts on education after writing the book?
[00:55:13] Elizabeth Crawford: while I'm using the book now in my instructional design class. So I've reshaped that course, which I continue to play with. It's really difficult to teach pre-service teachers in their first semester of graduate school. Everything they need to know about curriculum design. But I'll say how it shifted.
My practice was the co-planning chapter and the practices that we including in that chapter specifically around slow looking. So I've been using slow looking in my play and creative arts class, cause that's often used in museum work and you know, analyzing artwork and that kind of thing. So Shari Tishman his work with, with slow looking and thinking about how to notice the complexities and concepts that are around you.
And so my students. Apply these strategies when they go out and think about their own curriculum design, what, what did, what did their children see in their local communities? You know, what might they notice that you can then bring in? So just being a careful observer, and then co-planning with your students in terms of how to create those spaces, where students can share their perspectives and ideas.
I've tried to bring these into, I teach online right now. So this is a little bit more complex to apply these strategies into canvas where students feel comfortable sharing their perspectives in an online space is a little bit different, but I see that it has such potential also with adults, even within the constraints of online learning. Sure.
[00:56:37] Carla Marshall: I mean, I guess my process of change has been over a number of years. But when I first started teaching, my first class that I taught was a grade one class. It was very much like all the classroom is this magical place where, where the learning happens kind of thing. And I think My perspective has changed over time.
And that I think of the classroom as the, that, you know, it's a box, it's a place where you go to make sense of things, but it's not necessarily where the learning happens. You know? So I really do subscribe to this idea and it's one of the kind of four futures of learning that the OECD has put out.
It's the idea that school as a, a learning hub. And so it's about dissolving the walls between the school and the external environment, and actually using the external environment as launching a launchpad for learning. And so if students go out and they're spending one or two days in the week, out in their local community, Interviewing people recording, you know, note note-taking based on what people are saying, immersing themselves in problems.
And then they come back to the classroom as a kind of sense-making opportunity where they're representing, they're thinking they're developing some disciplinary knowledge and skills to be able to make sense of what they saw. To me, that's the role of the classroom, as opposed to this kind of like magical, sealed environment.
And actually we, we have a responsibility to our learners to be able to help them make that connection between what's happening in the classroom and the wider world. So I would say that was for me the biggest shift, and it only became more kind of crystallized in the process of writing this book.
[00:58:14] Brandon Stover: Before I get to my last question. Is there a call to action that you would like to leave our listeners with today?
[00:58:19] Elizabeth Crawford: Well, I think to summarize some of the key points that we've addressed thinking about slowing down, you know, the value of slowing down and our daily lives paying more attention to what's happening around us and how we can bring the community into the classroom relevant issues and, and listening to your students.
So I think key ideas that, to shift from a teacher centered to a student centered curriculum requires us to let go of some of the power and some of the control because as Carla mentioned, you know, classrooms are dynamic places. And so I think this is in contrast to the scripted curriculum.
How can you design a student centered curriculum by slowing down and listening?
[00:59:02] Brandon Stover: And the best place to find the book as well.
[00:59:04] Elizabeth Crawford: So it's
[00:59:05] Carla Marshall: available on Amazon and the core when websites. So Corban is the publisher. And I think also book depository and Barnes and noble now.
[00:59:14] Brandon Stover: Wonderful. Well, my final question for both of you and Carla, we'll start with you, how can we push the world to.
[00:59:21] Carla Marshall: So I think for me, if we can move away from seeing ourselves as discrete and separate from each other and start seeing our interconnections. Both on a kind of human level, our shared humanity, but then also the way that our systems interrelate and produce these outcomes for people, society and the planet, then we can evolve to a place where we're thinking in more complex ways and not making the same mistakes over and over that are producing.
These really negative impacts that we're seeing in the world today from, you know racism or sexism able body is up to things like climate change and extraction of resources and deforestation. So it runs the whole gamut.
[01:00:06] Elizabeth Crawford: Yeah, I think about what are the reasons. You may say we've devolved as society which a student actually said that when I was teaching a lesson on plastic pollution, a middle schooler said, it's almost like we've devolved as, as humanity. So as Carla said, you know, how do we increase our social connection with each other?
We're increasingly polarized and I think we need to find common ground and we need to talk to each other and listen to each other. And that involves, you know, the connections between teachers and their parents, of the children they teach and the community working with organizations and really partnering together.
So. That's how we actually close the book. You know, that surely with our collective might, we can do this together and that people do come together during times of crisis. We've seen that in many instances, we give the example of the Australian bushfires, how the entire world came together out of empathy and care and concern for a country very far away.
And so I think likewise, we can evolve together by coming back as human beings on the shared planet and in creating, you know, a common vision for the future that we want for kids.
[01:01:17] Brandon Stover: Well, thank you both for coming on the show today. I appreciate you guys writing this book. It's wonderful. It's a worldwide learning a teacher's guide to shaping a just sustainable future. And we'll put links for that in the show notes, but I recommend everybody giving it a read through because it's a great framework for giving an education that will help to solve some of these issues that we've been talking about.
So thank you again, both for coming on the show today.
[01:01:41] Elizabeth Crawford: Thank you for having us.
[01:01:42] Carla Marshall: Yeah. Thank you so much.
[01:01:44] Brandon Stover: Thank you for listening to the evolve. Podcasts links to everything we discussed today are available in the show. Notes. Transcripts are also available in the show notes and everything can be viewed on our website at evolve. The doc world that's evolve the.world.
My one ask for you is to share this episode with others. If you know someone who is interested in social impact, social entrepreneurship, or just making a difference in the world, please share this episode. The challenges in our world need all of those who can contribute to existing solutions or create entirely new ones. so please share the show with those kind intelligent people who are just like you until next time my friend keep evolving.