Evolve Podcast
A podcast about heroes solving the world's greatest challenges.
Orange email iconOrange Spotify iconOrange Apple icon

How to Solve the Education Crisis

Headshot of podcast host.
hosted by: Brandon Stover
Thesis Last Updated:
December 6, 2021


Despite the transformation of our world in every context, education has not updated it's models to address the needs our current world. Education has failed to fulfill it's purpose in helping each student thrive individually and helping to better humanity as a collective. This article sources problems and solutions discovered during interviews with experts, leaders, and entrepreneurs in education on the Evolve podcast.

Key Takeaways

  • The traditional framework of schooling has multiple elements that are contributing to the scope of the problem: curriculum, isolated disciplines, focus on external motivators, division by age groups, and restrictive boundaries of formal institutions.
  • If the education crisis is not addressed, our society faces large consequences such as an $8.5 trillion dollar skills gap by 2030.
  • The education lies at the root of all other systems including but not limited to the economic system, the political system, the energy system, the transportation system, the legal system and the healthcare system
  • If we want to solve the education crisis, we must address other systems outside of education that influence it including all stakeholders, higher education, and money and resource allocation.
  • The building blocks for solutions include: connecting curriculum to real challenges, connecting curriculum to personal interests, developing the entire student, taking an interdisciplinary approach, online-learning, cultivating student relationships, engage learners in application of knowledge, and using competency based assessment.

listen to the podcast now

This research is sourced from the Evolve Podcast. Listen or subscribe below.

Where to subscribe: Spotify | Apple Podcast | Google Podcasts | RSS

Scroll below for the in depth dive into this research.

The Problem


The dawn of the 21st century has proven to be a critical time in global transformation. Every context including social, technological, cultural, and ecological has rapidly changed. One can look no further than our global pandemic, raging wildfires, addictive social media, rates of depression or list of other trends in the last decade to see this transformation has not entirely been positive. Although history suggests that education plays a critical role in positively changing these world systems, it has not seen a substantial update since the indoctrination of the industrial model of education in the 20th century.

How can we possibly solve problems of today and tomorrow, if we are still developing human capabilities with the tools of yesterday? The rate of transformation and global problems has outpaced education's ability to fulfill it's purpose - to prepare students to address this transformation personally and collectively to positively push human progress forward. Many of the challenges our world faces are primarily educational in nature. If we address the education crisis, we can have hope for solving these other problems.

But how do we solve the education crisis? In this article we uncovered the outdated practices and systems keeping education from fulfilling its purpose and the building blocks that can be used to develop new models of education that will properly prepare students for solving our worlds most pressing problems.

The Problem: An Education Crisis

Our education system has reached the point of crisis because it has not been fulfilling its purpose. Education should be about helping each student thrive individually and helping to better humanity as a collective. Education's focus in the last decade, however, seems to be the anthesis of this goal. Victoria Ransom, co-founder of Prisma, stresses that education has focused to narrowly on traditional measures of success: good test scores or a schools rate for getting children into college. But she believes that education should be giving children the tools and mindsets they need to thrive in their adult lives. We can not wait to do this in college, we must start when their minds malleable at a young age. Raya Bidshahri, founder of the School of Humanity, likens the education system to the ideal of being a system for human development, flourishing, and collective human progress. Although many schools are mission driven, the fall short of this lofty goal because they are still operating within the confines of the traditional framework.

Education has also failed to help prepare students for the problems they face in this century, in their local communities, nations, or world at large. Zoe Weil, co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education, points out that the U.S. Department of Education's mission is to "promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness..." and even this goal is insufficient when this generation face problems like climate change or economic poverty on a global scale.

Personally, students have observed a loss of meaning, purpose, and connection to school. 75% of students, according to a recent Yale study, reported having negative feelings towards school. Raya believes this is occurring because students must prioritize exam results and traditional subjects, rather than being given the opprituntity to explore personal interests or passions in 21st century skills that are aligned with the needs of our world.

The traditional framework of schooling has multiple elements that are contributing to the scope of the problem: curriculum, isolated disciplines, focus on external motivators, division by age groups, and restrictive boundaries of formal institutions. Far from an exhaustive list, we will use this as a starting point to understand the education crisis.

Problem Scope


  • Curriculum is still largely driven by the industrial model with a focus on rote memorization and knowledge recall. (Raya Bidshahri & Victoria Ransom)
  • Not putting emphasis on most in demand skills in the workforce. (Raya Bidshahri)
  • Not putting emphasis on key competencies to find oneself or meaning in life. (Raya Bidshahri)

Isolated Subjects

  • Learning is abstracted and divided in separate subjects; however in the real world these disciplines are required to work together. (Raya Bidshahri & Carla Marshall)
  • Learning is isolated from how a particular knowledge set is applied in real world problems causing students to ask "Why am I learning this?" (Carla Marschall & Victoria Ransom)

Focus on External Motivators (Exams, Grades, Diplomas)

  • Learning is driven by external motivators like exams, grades, and diplomas which removes connection to internal motivation (Raya Bidshahri & Victoria Ransom)
  • Student's question how learning applies to them or their life (Zoe Weil & Victoria Ransom)
  • With stress and focus on external motivators there is a loss of curiosity or joy for learning (Raya Bidshahri & Victoria Ransom)

Division by Age Groups

  • Students are divided by age ranges rather than competency levels which results in students either falling behind or not being challenged enough appropriate for their abilities (Raya Bidshahri & Victoria Ransom)

Formal Institutions

  • Formal institutions remain the credit barer that certifies what is and is not education; not recognizing the vast amount of learning that happens outside traditional schooling. (Raya Bidshahri)

What’s at Stake if We Don't Solve This

If the education crisis is not addressed, our society faces large consequences because of how embedded our education system is in all other systems. During the interview with Raya, she mentions that we could face a $13 trillion dollar skills gap because students are ill prepared to meet the skill demands of the workforce. By 2030, a global shortage of skilled talent is projected to result in an $8.5 trillion loss in foregone annual revenues according to extensive new Korn Ferry report. But our economy is only but one complex system that education is interconnected with. Zoe Weil reminds us that education lies at the root of all other systems including but not limited to the economic system, the political system, the energy system, the transportation system, the legal system and the healthcare system. If we continue to neglect changing the education system, then we won't be able to give young people the skills they need in addressing some of the potentially calamitous problems that we're facing.

Other Key Considerations

If we want to solve the education crisis, we must address other systems outside of education that influence it including all stakeholders, higher education, and money and resource allocation.


In order to create new models of education, each of the following stakeholders must be addressed: (Raya Bidshahri)

  • University Admissions
  • Accreditation Bodies
  • Parents & Families
  • Industry Partners

Higher Education

  • Higher education stifles innovation in K-12 because it holds the entryway into careers by way of degree requirements for jobs. (Victoria Ransom)
  • Entry into a "good college" puts stress on kids to receive outstanding GPA's and take advanced placement courses. (Victoria Ransom)

Money Inequality and Resource Allocation

  • School districts receive varying levels of money and resources based on tax revenue for their given neighborhood. (Victoria Ransom)
  • Inefficient school systems cause resources to be used unwisely. (Vriti Saraf)
  • Individual poverty among students from low income families creates obstacles for students learning (Elizabeth Crawford)

Potential Obstacles


Because the education system is one of the largest, oldest, and interconnected systems, one potential obstacle we will face in changing it is regulation.

  • Strict mandates at both the national and state level (Raya Bidshahri)
  • Regulations stifle individual teachers creativity for implementing or experimenting with innovative ways of teaching (Elizabeth Crawford & Vriti Saraf)

the interviews

the solutions

So, where does this leave us? How do we solve this problem? Well, I specifically interviewed each of these experts that you've heard today because they have some innovative solutions to the education crisis. The following list is comprised of building blocks that are pulled from these solutions that can be used to build new models of education. It’s hopefully obvious that no one solution will be the entire answer, and we’ll use some of everything, but we present each solution as model which can be imitated, allowing you to mix and match what will work best for your context.

Solutions Studied

Institute for Humane Education: Creating Solutionaries

Zoe Weil, Co-founder and President of the Institute for Humane Education, offers a roadmap for addressing the challenges we face by transforming how and what we teach in order to empower students, enliven the teaching profession, and help build thriving schools and communities. The Institute for Humane Education offers graduate programs, training, and resources for teachers and changemakers looking to create a more just, humane, and sustainable future by educating about the interconnected issues of human rights, environmental sustainability, and animal protection and building a society of solutionaries.

In the revised second edition of her book, The World Becomes What We Teach, she offers a vision along with practical ideas for re-imagining education, rooted in teaching students to be solutionaries who apply what they learn in the classroom to solve problems in their community and world.

The Office of Education in San Mateo County has made Zoe Weil's solutionary approach the philosophy and framework for their entire county that serves 113,000 students in 23 school districts. They’ve trained hundreds of teachers using Zoe Weil’s book The World Becomes What We Teach. These teachers have, in turn, created solutionary units for their classrooms. San Mateo County has also launched an annual Solutionary Fair, through which students have been sharing their solutions to problems they care about.

Worldwise Learning

Carla Marschall & Elizabeth Crawford are the co-authors of Worldwise Learning, which presents a “Pedagogy for People, Planet, and Prosperity” that supports K-8 educators in nurturing “Worldwise Learners”: students who both deeply understand and purposefully act when learning about global challenges. The book features dozens of stories that spotlight Worldwise Learning in action from diverse student, teacher, and organization perspectives and an exemplar unit plan that illustrates how the planning process links to and can support teaching and learning about global challenges.

School of Humanity

Raya Bidshahri is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the School of Humanity, a revolutionary online high school with a progressive model and skill-based curriculum. School of Humanity uses interdisciplinary, personalized learning paths and constant query to create real-world connections and enable deeper understanding. Each learning path consists of workshops, mentorship sessions, and learning activities that are designed to imbue you with the competencies, mindsets, and behaviors you'll need to thrive in the world. Their unique curriculum is informed by the most in-demand skills in the emerging workforce, the catalysts for a meaningful life, and the requirements for human progress. According to Raya, one hundred percent of learners who participated in their part-time programs wish to continue full time.


Victoria Ransom is the Founder & CEO of Prisma, a Connected Learning Network; a whole new category in K-12 education and a replacement for traditional school. At the heart of their model are two things: (1) a small cohort of geographically co-located kids learning together with the support and guidance of a dedicated learning coach, and (2) a network of these cohorts spread around the world where kids can make friendships, work on projects, form clubs and share ideas. Their vision is that Prisma learners get the best of both worlds: the intimacy and support of a “one-room schoolhouse” (the cohort) and the breadth and diversity of the world’s largest kid-focused learning community (the network). The ability to learn from home and the use of technology and online tools enhance our model, but they are not the heart of our model. According to Victoria, one hundred percent of parents say that they'd seen significant growth from their kids across the outcomes addressed at Prisma. Additionally one hundred percent of Prisma kids have said they're happier at Prisma than they are in their previous school.

K20 Educators

Vriti Saraf is the Founder & CEO of K20 Educators, the social learning community for global educators. k20 is creating an ecosystem and environment that will allow educators to learn from each other anytime they want. k20 was created to connect educators from around the world in order to realize our collective brilliance. k20 aims to be the largest networking, learning, and career hub for educators, with the most comprehensive directory of professional learning. They are enabling knowledge sharing to dismantle global silos in education.

Solution Building Blocks

1. Connect Curriculum to Real World Challenges

  • Students should be able to identify unsustainable, unjust and inhumane systems, and then devise solutions that do the most good and the least harm for everyone. (Zoe Weil)
  • Make challenges appropriate for age and cognitive abilities by limiting or widening scope of a challenge from local to global contexts (Carla Marschall)
  • Connect curriculum to the real world as much as possible or create scenarios that closely resemble real world problems (Victoria Ransom)

2. Connect Curriculum to Personal Interests

  • Students need help developing a compassionate disposition where they actually care about others and wanting to solve the problem. (Zoe Weil)
  • Connect issues that  students care about to their lives, their passions and their concerns. (Elizabeth Crawford)
  • Create emotional connections to curriculum as student's immerse themselves in challenges through spending time in environments, perspective taking in interviews, or engaging in stories. (Carla Marschall)

3. Develop the Entire Student

  • In order to effectively create solutions, students need to develop critical thinking, systems thinking, strategic thinking, and creative thinking. (Zoe Weil, Carla Marschall)
  • Nurture a desire to better oneself and better the world (Raya Bidshahri)
  • Dedicate personal coaches for students to reflect on their learning and development (Victoria Ransom)

4. Take an Interdisciplinary Approach

  • Connect traditional disciplines like mathematical reasoning, scientific literacy or key communication skills, with equal emphasis on skills related to new emerging technology, proficiencies, morality, ethics, emotional intelligence, existential intelligence, or creative expression. (Raya Bidshahri)
  • Create interdisciplinary paths using global challenges, like the future of medicine, that require the combination of skills to understand and solve. (Raya Bidshahri)

5. Be Online First

  • Allow student to access learning material from anywhere in the world. (Raya Bidshahri & Victoria Ransom)
  • Provide community spaces for learners who are in the same location if they wish to have in person socialization. (Raya Bidshahri)

6. Cultivate Social Community and Relationships, Online and Off

  • Schools need to cultivate relationship building, forming friendships, & social interactions (Carla Marschall)
  • Create virtual spaces that encourage live interaction and engage learners (Raya Bidshahri & Vriti Saraf)
  • Create cohorts of students that engage through workshops, games, projects, & community events (Victoria Ransom)

7. Engage Learners in Application of Knowledge

  • Connect larger global issues with local issues in communities students have direct agency in. (Carla Marschall& Elizabeth Crawford)
  • Provide the space and opportunity for students to engage with communities that are affected by an issue and to do something about it. (Carla Marschall & Elizabeth Crawford).
  • Use projects to have learners apply what they are learning and demonstrate they know how to use those skills (Raya Bidshahri & Victoria Ransom)
  • Allow students to engage in hands-on learning by building the solutions they create (Raya Bidshahri & Victoria Ransom)

8. Measure Using Competency Based Assessment

  • Allow students to advance at their own pace and competency level. Student must master subjects before moving on to more advanced topics. (Raya Bidshahri & Victoria Ransom)
  • Align assessment with ways that skills are used and assessed in the actual workforce. (Raya Bidshahri)


Conclusion: So what do we do?

Education has the opprituntity to become a positive driver for solving our world's greatest challenges. By welcoming these types of innovative solutions, educators, innovators, and entrepreneurs like us can not only change the education system, but begin to change all the other systems we prepare students to tackle. Now my goal for these episodes is not just to tell you what the problems are and a few solutions that are being used, but inspire and help you to begin creating new solutions. My recommendation is study these models and use the building blocks that work best to develop new models of education. Additionally, we must continue to change and develop the current systems because a majority of students are already embedded in the traditional model, and while new solutions are great, they only reach a small percentage of the student population. So solving the education crisis is not an either or situation, it's one that calls for solutions in existing systems while simultaneously building new ones.


Links & Resources


How To Solve the Education Crisis

[00:00:00] Brandon Stover: Hey, you welcome to evolve a 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 how to solve the education.

The Dawn of the 21st century has proven to be a critical time in global transformation. every context, including social technological, cultural and ecological has rapidly. One can look no further than our global pandemic, raging wildfires, addictive, social media and rates of depression or list of other trends In the last decade to see that this transformation has not been entirely positive. Although history suggests that education plays a critical role in positively changing these worlds. It has not seen a substantial update since the indoctrination of the industrial model of education in the 20th century.

How can we possibly solve problems of today and tomorrow, if we are still developing human capabilities with the tools of yesterday, the rate of transformation and global problems has outpaced education's ability to fulfill its. To prepare students to address this transformation personally and collectively to positively push human progress forward.

Many of the challenges. Our world faces are primarily education in nature. If we address the education crisis, we can have hope for solving these other problems, but just how are we going to solve the education crisis

and exploring the answer to this question. I've had the opportunity to speak with leading experts like Zoho while Elizabeth Crawford and Carla Marshall education entrepreneurs. Like.

Riah bit Shari And Victoria ransom and community builders like, maria de Seraph

in the coming episodes. These leaders will be your guide in understanding the core problems in our education system and how we can fix it. In this episode, we uncovered the outdated practices and systems, keeping education from fulfilling its purpose and the building blocks that can be used to develop new models of education that will properly prepare students for solving our world's most pressing problem.

In the weeks following this episode, I will be releasing each individual interview I had with these experts, which dives deep into their solutions, how it works and the.

This episode is a part of a series of research theses about how to solve the world's greatest challenges from climate change to poverty, to education. All of these are living documents. Meaning as I conduct more interviews, I will continue to update the thesis about how to solve that particular. These episodes are meant to be an introduction, a starting off point for you to understand a global challenge from first principles and the solutions that exist. So you can contribute to these solutions or be inspired to create new ones.

You can find a comprehensive summary of this thesis about how to solve the education crisis by going to evolve the.world/research/education. Now let's dive in.

I think it's hard to work towards something. If you don't define what you're working towards. So we must first ask ourselves, what is the purpose of education

[00:03:16] Victoria Ransom: Oh, great question. cause I think we've forgotten that I think somewhere along the way we came to believe that schooling is for kids to get good test scores or perhaps to get into college.

[00:03:28] Brandon Stover: That was Victoria random. Co-founder of Prisma a full-time virtual education program for kids grades four through eight, that fully replaces regular school and is a low lift for parents

[00:03:40] Victoria Ransom: I think education is to prepare kids to really thrive in their adult lives and ideally to want to positively contribute to their communities and their worlds in this. Adult lives. Yeah, that, that is ultimately what we should be doing at school is, is giving kids the tools they need to really thrive as adults and to be positive members of society.

But I think along the way, we've narrowed it down to sort of school is school is succeeding. If you get good test scores or, or perhaps school is a school is doing well, if you get kids into college, but you know, they there's giving kids the tools and the mindset and the skills they'll need to succeed in adult life. You can't wait until college for that. You've got to start really young. That's when kids are most sponge-like and malleable, I think

[00:04:30] Brandon Stover: Thriving and creating positive members of society. Our goals of many education institutions, but our next expert. Riah bit Shari shows, why that must be taken? One step further. Riah is the founder and chief executive officer of the school of humanity, a revolutionary online high school with a progressive model in a skill-based.

[00:04:50] Raya Bidshahri: One of my founding team members and I, Chris he has a great phrase for the education system. He calls it the human development system. And when you call it that it encompasses not just schools and universities, but informal learning experiences, all of that is this human development system. And what I like about that term for it is the purpose of it is embedded in the name. And for us, we see it as a way to better serve our species and push humanity towards a positive progress. What's interesting though, is a lot of schools will say, that's their purpose, right? They'll say. We're mission-driven or we want to create caring citizens and global citizens, or they'll phrase it in different ways, but we're all trying to say the same thing, but then we do the opposite. when we come to action, we still fall back to systems and frameworks that orange actually designed to push humanity forward.

[00:05:41] Brandon Stover: so education should be about helping each student thrive individually and helping to better humanity as a collective. But our current education system is falling short because it's not designed with this goal in mind to help understand this problem from first principles Zillow, while co-founder and president of the Institute for humane education is going to explain the root of the educational crisis.

[00:06:02] Zoe Weil: So one of the primary problems is that we are not by design or purpose, preparing young people to address and solve the challenges that we face. In our world and whether those are challenges and students' own communities or the states they live in or their nations, we're just not preparing them to do that.

And in fact, the mission statement at the United States department of education, the, the goal is to prepare students for global competitiveness. And when we think about that goal in the context of climate change or in the context of inequities in our world, or in the context of a globalized. Economic system in which the choices that we make in our daily lives all the time are affecting other people, other species, and the environment that sustains all of us.

When we think about the world we live in being prepared for global competitiveness, isn't a sufficient mission for today's world. so that's a core problem that goes to the very root of the educational endeavor, if you will. And I would say that they're interrelated goals. So for example, when we address an issue like, okay, students perhaps are not graduating with sufficient literacy and numeracy and scientific skills, that may be true.

And it's also true that even if they were to graduate with exceptional skills, they still wouldn't be prepared to address and solve the challenges that we face because that's not what they've been taught to do.

[00:07:58] Brandon Stover: and how has this lack of preparing students to face global challenges, affecting them on a personal level, RIAA shares a bleak view about the loss of purpose, meaning and a connection to school.

[00:08:08] Raya Bidshahri: We're seeing that 70% of students, according to a recent Yale study report, hating school in the United Kingdom, the mental health among students is in such decline that newspapers like the guardian have an entire section on student mental health. And I really believe one of the challenges I see as well with working with learners is often they want to explore all these passions. They want to pursue 21st century skills and expand their portfolio, but they don't have time to do so because the system puts so much emphasis as to give so much importance and way to these exam results and test results that everyone in the system, including the educators and the schools have to prioritize that that comes first. Like if you want to take a course on Udemy on building virtual reality, like, I'm sorry, but that's going to have to be. Secondary thing because you have to prioritize your exam results. And at the same time, if that's just not what motivates you, you, you know, somewhat excites you because there's really no deeper meaning or transcendental cause behind doing an exam. It can really contribute to a lack of feeling of a lack of purpose and just overwhelming stress with no real direction or meaning to that stress. So I think it's just straight up unethical what we do to these students.

[00:09:25] Brandon Stover: The education system is not preparing students personally or professionally to address their lives or the global challenges we face. Let's explore what elements in the Korean education system are contributing to this corporate. We're going to explore this through the lens that RIAA introduces of what we are learning, why we are learning, how we're learning and where we are learning.

[00:09:46] Raya Bidshahri: there's multiple layers of issues and dimensions of issues with what we're learning in schools, why we're learning how we're learning it, and where the learning is happening.

So in terms of what we're learning, the curriculum itself, the things we choose to focus on in high schools, and to some extent in universities are very much still driven by the industrial era standards. There's a lot of emphasis on information and content and memorization of content.

There's a lot of emphasis on these isolated subjects, which really exist in our minds more than anything. Reality is actually very interdisciplinary. And that's one layer of the issue. You have this what we're learning, we're not putting enough emphasis on the most in demand skills in the workforce, for example, or on interdisciplinary things, or even the key competencies required to find oneself and to find meetings..

[00:10:37] Brandon Stover: Carla Marshall co author of worldwide learning a teacher's guide to shaping, adjust and sustainable future agrees that isolated subjects and a lack of connection to the wider world are present in current curriculums

[00:10:49] Carla Marshall: So there are obviously quite a few issues. 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.

[00:11:38] Brandon Stover: and a separate disciplines and knowledge concepts. Really how we experience the world, Victoria believes not. So then why are we teaching our kids this way?

[00:11:47] Victoria Ransom: I think is just the focus on traditional education of knowledge to knowledge recall, and also breaking, learning up into academic disciplines, which is not how the world works.

And so, you know, we certainly have a perspective at Prisma that learning should be interdisciplinary because that's how it makes more sense. And also because that is how the world works and that it should be as hands-on and applied to the real world as possible. I think for so many kids, they sit in classrooms and they say, why am I learning this?

When will I ever need this? Which again, takes away that motivation. But there are many ways to apply the learning that kids do in schools to real world problems that are relevant to kids.

[00:12:34] Brandon Stover: Why am I learning this? A question that plagues every educator and one that we have probably asked ourselves at some point in our educational career, if we were honest with our. and the traditional education systems, why focusing on exams and grades is not aligned with the students, why as RIAA zoo in Victoria will share.

[00:12:52] Raya Bidshahri: In terms of why learning is happening to incenses of learning in today's world are largely driven by exams, and standardized tests. There isn't enough of an incentive of learning happening to fulfill curiosity or learning happening to better oneself and to better the world. In fact, most young people don't even know what that feels like.

[00:13:12] Brandon Stover: Yeah.

[00:13:13] Raya Bidshahri: And that's the real tragedy.

[00:13:14] Brandon Stover: Yeah. I think at the core that comes before, you know problems that we have with assessment or, you know, connecting their learning to real-world problems and projects that are going on. And even students perceiving if the education is valuable to them, them having an interest in a meaningful connection.

[00:13:32] Zoe Weil: Exactly. Right. So, we are assessing some of the wrong things. We are not deeply engaging students in issues that they actually care about. So many of them feel like the whole system is either boring or irrelevant to their lives. They don't see the purpose. I mean, some of them do, but we're talking about a lot of kids who are not being prepared for the world that, that they live in.

[00:14:00] Victoria Ransom: Another problem is I just think there's been a loss of focus on the inherent joy of learning. learning is amazing. It's interesting. It's exciting. I think kids are born wanting to learn, little kid at play and they are, they're working all day long at play and they're learning and somewhere along the way, focus on testing is one of the reasons which I'll touch on, but just we've forgotten that learning can and should be really exciting and really interesting and really engaging. And if you don't start with that, how can we really expect kids to bring their full selves to school if they're not loving it?

[00:14:41] Brandon Stover: No, I think a big part of it is this shift from the intrinsic motivation that we're born with. You know, humans are very malleable. We're not an animal that's already born with everything program. We're programmed to keep learning, to adapt. And we shift that from intrinsic to enter exotic things like grades and trying to get into a college or, fitting in these subject silos. And I think that's a, a real crime for the students

[00:15:07] Victoria Ransom: Yeah, because then you get out into a world where you're not given ABC D grades anymore have to learn to find your own motivation and to find your own way. And yeah, I absolutely agree. Kids are naturally intrinsically motivated to learn and challenge themselves, but it gets taken away along through the, through the process, through the system..

[00:15:27] Brandon Stover: So what we are learning is broken, why we are learning is broken, but what about how this learning is happening.

[00:15:32] Raya Bidshahri: In terms of how the learning is happening. If you think about what unites most of education today, despite all the variety of international curriculums and geographic differences there are fundamental features or education systems that are pretty much the same, most places in the world. We organize learners by. And an ages into the classrooms. We have classrooms, we have lessons right there, usually maybe an hour, a bit longer long we do the semesters. Like I know it sounds like I'm sitting here obviously describing these frameworks of the education system, but we kind of accept these things as a given. But what we're trying to do is say, why, why are we doing that?

Why can't learners progress as a curriculum at their own age, right? Like why can't why can't we learn through a different framework other than courses, for example.

[00:16:22] Brandon Stover: Yeah. Can you go a little bit deeper into the lack of personalization that we have for students within the education system now?

[00:16:31] Raya Bidshahri: Absolutely. There's multiple issues with the lack of personalization when there's a lack of personalization curriculum, and a lot of like international private schools, like to claim that they provide optionality for learners. Like you can choose between all of these different subjects, but really it's still picking from pretty standardized menu.

And once you pick that subject, you learn the same thing that everyone else learns and you're assessed in the same way that everyone else is assessed. And so there's this lack of real. Variety in terms of the journeys that you can take in your, in your curriculum. There is the issue with pace. We set these structures and boundaries around semesters and grade levels.

Assuming that everyone has to move at the same pace. Whereas I might take longer to master sorta numeracy skills, but my move very quickly and communication skills, but I still have to kind of be at the same level as everyone else on my age. So that's another issue. And then the third thing is also a lack of personalization around assessments.

We assess everyone the same way and some learners. Genuinely don't test well under the traditional system, but they're absolutely brilliant if you put them in a different context or if you have them do a project based assessment or a presentation based assessment, or even a conversation based one.

And we're really failing young lines by failing to measure and effectively evaluate their strengths and weaknesses by focusing on standardized paper-based exams that are often very arbitrary measurements of what someone is capable of.

[00:18:09] Brandon Stover: Victoria further relievers of this problem of rigid age groups and grade levels, rather than having students progress at their competency level.

[00:18:16] Victoria Ransom: One of the first things that comes to mind is just this very sort of convey about nature of education, where kids come in at a certain age because they're that age and they're putting a certain grade level. And because of that grade level, they're expected to know certain things and to move at a certain pace.

so the kids that are capable of moving faster, Too bad. They just have to be a bit bored or a bit frustrated. And the kids that need a little more time unfortunately get left behind. And, and so you have kids that are expected to move into fifth grade, but they never really fully grasp fourth grade.

So then that problem only compounds. So I think there's inability of the traditional education system to differentiate based on kids. Differing speeds of learning. And even with the same kid, you're going to have one kid that can move very fast and is very advanced in math, but needs to really take their time with writing, for example, or reading.

[00:19:10] Brandon Stover: And what about where the learning is happening?

[00:19:12] Raya Bidshahri: we've unfortunately come to set these kind of boundaries around learning schools and formal institutions are seen as the main barriers of education and learning. Whereas there's so much of education that happens outside of those formal structures that often goes unrecognized, or it's given a secondary status or less preference because it doesn't fall under those formal structures.

[00:19:35] Brandon Stover: but learning doesn't have to happen behind institutional walls. In fact, trends from the workforce are demanding that it doesn't as Ray explains.

[00:19:43] Raya Bidshahri: What some research is showing actually that more and more parents that are working remotely are now seeking that flexibility in the education system for their children.

It's one of the reasons either homeschooling or online schooling or hybrid models are now increasingly popular is because once parents starts experiences different way. Working and contributing value society. They start to rethink those structures for their children as well. So that's one thing. The other is, of course, we're seeing this increasing global skills gap.

So given how slow our education system has been to change and given the constant, you know, acceleration of pace of change in our world we're seeing these, this widening gap between the skills that are currently. Th the workforce and the skills employers are looking for, and that gap is estimated to cost you 20 countries alone, something around 13 trillion dollars.

And of course that's putting a lot of pressure, mostly on higher education, but to some extent on K-12 education to really rethink the curriculum and the kinds of skills that we're equipping learners with. The last point I'll add with regards to the future of work is around automation.

What we're seeing with technological automation is the tasks that are routine monotonous, mechanical, repetitive are most easily taken over by machines. So that's changing the kinds of roles the people are doing. It's redefining.

[00:21:10] Brandon Stover: Hmm,

[00:21:11] Raya Bidshahri: And that's putting again, pressure on us and education and a good way to focus more on higher order thinking, creative thinking, strategic thinking, interdisciplinary thinking the stuff that machines aren't very good at yet.

[00:21:24] Brandon Stover: So if we don't solve this problem, we're getting experienced a $13 trillion skills. What else is at stake in the world. If this is not salt to answer that Zillow helps us through systems thinking to see just how linked the education system is to our world.

[00:21:38] Zoe Weil: If we don't understand the interconnected systems that come into play with solving any problem, we are a not going to be able to solve that problem. B if we come up with solutions, they're bound to be unintended negative consequences, because we haven't looked at all of the systems and there's almost no problem that you can identify that doesn't have the following interconnected systems, the economic system, the political system, the energy system, the education system the transportation system.

Our legal system. Our healthcare system. So these systems all come into play so much of the time when we are trying to address a problem. And they're all connected to our education system.

And the education system is the root system that underlies all of them. And this is really important. So many people will think, oh, we want to solve X problem. Well, we can't go to the education system because that is a really slow system that, that takes a long time to educate people, to change, whatever it is we need to change.

We have to go straight to our political system and pass a law, or we have to go straight to a policy system, or we have to go straight to protests or our legal system. And those things are really important to do. But if we don't fundamentally change the education system, we are just going to have to keep trying to put out fires for ever. So the education system, if we can really transform it , if we can really achieve that goal, then what we will start to see is that all of these other systems will be made more equitable, more sustainable, and more humane because a generation of young people will have learned how to do that.

And it is a slow process. But it is absolutely essential. And if we continue to neglect, changing the education system, then I don't see us being effective at, at ultimately addressing some of the potentially calamitous problems that we're facing.

[00:24:03] Brandon Stover: Could you elaborate a little more on what's at stake in the world? If we don't address how we're educating our children and giving them the skills and the tools that they need to solve these problems?

[00:24:13] Zoe Weil: Well, climate change is one that we can always come back to. It is not a future prospect. It is happening right now. We are losing species at a, at a rate that we haven't seen since the last great extinction. Of course, we didn't see that for ourselves because we weren't here to be here for that to be here for losing so many species everyday.

We can't even count them to see the fires that are raging in north America and Australia. And in other parts of the world, Witness what is happening right now and fail to address it. That is that's immoral that, that essentially failure to bring these issues to students and prepare them to solve these problems is immoral.

And we are seeing more and more young people expressing hopelessness and despair and they don't have to feel hopeless and despair. None of the problems that we are facing are, incapable of being solved. They're all solvable problems. But when they are seeing all of these problems and all of these injustices, because it's easy to see them now that we live in a globalized world in the internet age, or inundated with that when they see that, but they are not given the tools to actually solve the problems around.

Of course, they're going to feel hopeless. Joan Baez, the singer songwriter said action is the antidote to despair and David or the professor at Oberlin college, said, hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up and we need to help students to roll up their sleeves and take action and build them cells up with the hope that comes from the positive changes they'll create..

[00:26:07] Brandon Stover: So if we are going to address these problems in the education system, what other systems and stakeholders are we going to have to.

[00:26:15] Raya Bidshahri: You can't just create a school With a whole new model and new way of assessing a new curriculum. Without, for example, dealing with university admissions, you can't do that then without first also dealing with the accreditation bodies. And then, but in order to get a deal with accreditation bodies, first, you have to get opt-in from families and we need to deal with the parents. And then at the same time, you want to establish industry partnerships and figure out what the industry demands are around high school educator.

So you have government, private entities, parents. So is this entire weapons system of education in place and you can't change one component without dealing with the rest. It's like multiple chickens and multiple eggs on at the same time. And then there's this interplay between the education system and the world at large.

I really do believe that a lot of the issues that we're seeing manifest in today's world can be traced back in terms of the root causes of the problem to the wrong kind of education. And at the same time, you can embed the right kind of solution into the education system to solve a lot of issues in the world.

[00:27:17] Brandon Stover: ryan mentioned at universities, but how does higher ed actually play an influence in the K through 12 system? Victoria explains that it creates a mindset for everyone involved that keeps the system from.

[00:27:28] Victoria Ransom: I think the university system is really stifling innovation in the K-12 system, because it's just got such a hold on, entry, the entryway into careers.

you know, there's, there's such a sense and it's true that you have to have a college degree to have a great career. And now it's sort of, even, you have to have a master's degree. the, you know, It's upping the ante. And therefore there is so much focus on and fear from parents and, and their teenage kids about getting into college.

And you know, it it's believed that to get into college. You have to have good grades and good GPA. You have to take in advanced placement courses. You have to test it well, which really encourages the focus on all of these sort of more traditional approaches to education that we just discussed with extrinsic motivation and the focus on knowledge recall.

And I think it just, even with parents who can look and school administrators and teachers who can look and say, this is not the best way for me to educate my kid, this kid, they are so focused on, on not taking any risks that would mess up this path to college that you just plow forward doing what doesn't seem right to the kid.

[00:28:45] Brandon Stover: But one of the biggest influences on the quality of education in our systems money and how that is allocated to schools and districts.

[00:28:53] Victoria Ransom: Resource allocation given to schools is so incredibly different across different neighborhoods. And I think it's that problem exists around the world, but it's really exacerbated in the us, given that property taxes are used to allocate school funding.

I think you know, there's problems enough in the system, but then when you have some schools being given far greater resources and others, much better teachers, much better resources that just creates a whole other level of problems. And it's so often the kids that anyway, we're at a disadvantage because they weren't getting the preschool education or they weren't getting as much focused on education in their homes for a variety of reasons. Then going to schools that are inherently not as good from day one

[00:29:40] Brandon Stover: But sometimes it's just not how much resources each school gets, but if they are allocating resources, founder of a network of educators on the forefront of teaching practices and technology describes how the structure of schools actually, proliferate. They have a resource allocation problem.

[00:29:58] Vriti Saraf: Most of education is not. And the systems that that are undergirding, these non-profits and these organizations are, are massively broken right there. There's this big misconception that schools don't have enough money in the United States that, you know, state schools or government schools don't have enough money and that's actually not true.

They do have lots of money. They, they get in New York, for example, they're, they're receiving $18,000 per student, right. And that's for, for general students and then for special ed students who receive any more, the problem is that there aren't allocating their funds in the right ways. And the, the structures and the infrastructure that's set up in these schools are, are not being allocated or being set up in the right ways.

And so funds will go into really weird places that like aren't the most.

[00:30:47] Brandon Stover: And this economic inequality permeates not just the school system, but the lives of students as well. Elizabeth Crawford, coauthor of worldwide learning with Carla Marshall, who we heard from earlier, shares her firsthand experience with children facing this.

[00:31:02] 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.

[00:32:59] 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.

[00:33:31] 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.

[00:33:54] Brandon Stover: the education crisis is large, deeply rooted and need solved. And for those who have decided to take upon themselves to solve this issue, they're facing a huge obstacle regularly.

[00:34:06] Raya Bidshahri: So one of the biggest bottlenecks I've experienced personally, my team has experienced. And you hear complaints about often is this heavy, heavy regulations in the education system, especially with K-12 education. A lot of countries in the world and in the United States, this varies from state to state, but a lot of countries in the world have very strict mandates about who can start a school.

The processes required to start the school and the standards that school has to meet in order to effectively. No, of course any functioning society wants to have quality assurances in place to make sure that anyone who's claiming to provide a quality education and is officially considered a school, is doing certain things right.

To do justice by the site, and to make sure that their children are taken care of. My parents had that kind of security that the government is moderating and making sure things are okay. But some countries have gone as far as you have to teach subject based education. You'll have to use traditional report cards in many regions in the world.

You go, if you decide to revamp things into a skills transcript or a portfolio transcript, which is what a lot of people are saying, we should start doing. Instead, the ministries of education won't attest those. They won't recognize it as a legit transcript because it doesn't look like a traditional subject based report card.

There are all these regulations around how, how often or how many. Students have to be in schools. So the moment you start trying to do hybrid or online first, or giving learners flexibility to come in whenever they want to come in you start breaking the law. So, and then there's curriculum mandates as well.

In some countries, even in some states in the U S there's mandates around, you have to teach X, Y, and Z, and you have to teach up to the standard of that and the standard of English. And if you want it to challenge that and say, you know what, we would like to redo our math curriculum and focus more on practical, everyday math, like financial literacy or data and analytics and make it.

Not everyone needs to know advanced quadratic equations. And we want to make that optional some countries and some states, this really won't allow that it's like everyone has to meet these standards. So all of these different regulations make it so, so, so difficult for someone say, I want to start a new kind of school.

That being said, there are loopholes. A lot of what a lot of people do is they start registering out of states where they get more freedom or out of countries, they get more freedom and they operate as an online first approach. Some countries like Netherlands, as a great example of this, they have an entire category of schools called special schools, and they have a different quality assurance standards for those schools because they're so innovative. And so they've created a whole system to quality assure those schools in a unique way to allow that freedom of education and choice from the parents, but also the innovation to happen on part of the education providers. And so you're seeing a few nice case studies globally, but I think systemically that's probably the biggest bottleneck right now to real change in the space.

[00:37:03] Brandon Stover: And those heroes that Elizabeth spoke about before the teachers who can actually be advocates for children's education, they feel how much this regulation choke holds their superpower.

[00:37:13] 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.

[00:38:02] Brandon Stover: And sees this problem all the time in her community of educators, but reminds us that it is not the educators fault.

[00:38:09] Vriti Saraf: Educators, I think are inherently very creative and they desire to create new experiences and problem solve on a daily basis. And so when educators are presented with a problem, which they are about a thousand times a day and they have to put out fires a thousand times a day, they are constantly coming up with solutions that are that that could create really impactful experiences for students.

But as soon as they think of a solution that doesn't fit the frameworks of a school they have to constrain their their solution. And so that leads to poor outcomes that leads to poor you know, systems and creativity. And the reason those constraints exist is mostly because of government, government regulations.

Right? So schools for example, are beholden to how they perform on test scores or how the school overall is graduating students in order to actually be able to get more funding per student. If a school tries something that's more innovative and doesn't necessarily succeed in its first year, then they are at risk of losing funds and re losing students.

And so, so, so that's highly. And then for example, if you know, certain schools, for example, charter schools, they have all of these sort of you know goals that they need to achieve for state tests. And so what you will find is that charter schools, many, many charter schools will start off with the best of intentions.

Right. And there'll be like, yeah, we're, you know, about project based learning. And we're about inquiry-based learning critical thinking and blah, blah, and they'll start off really great programs. And then state tests will arrive. And if their students don't do well, then the following year they'll spend three months just preparing students for state Right. So, so I think these, like these regulations around standardized testing and these regulations around like these competitive, like, you know success rates really lead to sort of like handcuffing teachers into doing more creative.

[00:40:11] Brandon Stover: so let's recap where we are so far, we have established that the goal of education should be about helping each student thrive individually and helping to better humanity as a collective. However, the current education system is not preparing them with the skills they need to solve the challenges our world faces, nor is it creating any personal meaning for their lives.

We identified the scope of the problem includes curriculum focused on rope memorization rather than railroad applications, disciplines being isolated, a focus on motivators, such as exams and grades division of children by age groups and not by their cognitive ability, uh, lack of personalization of material. and credit for learning only being given to learning that's happening within traditional boundaries of the school. We also learned that the education crisis is exacerbated by other systems such as regulation, Higher education influences and the resource inequality available to school districts. And finally, we discovered that if we don't address these issues, the education crisis could result in a $13 trillion skills gap for the global economy. And many of the world's most pervasive challenges like climate change or poverty are unlikely to be solved because people will not have the skills to do.

So, where does this leave us? How do we solve this problem? Well, I specifically interviewed each of these experts that you've heard today because they have some innovative solutions to the education crisis coming up. You're going to hear a comprehensive introduction to each person solution. Then in the following weeks, I will be releasing each person's individual interview. So you can hear in depth how their solution works and the story of the people behind each story.

Now I'm quite biased towards building new solutions, but before we hear how these solutions are revolutionizing education, Carla Marshall is going to share what values and practices still work from the current system that we should keep before throwing everything.

[00:42:06] Carla Marshall: 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.

[00:44:06] Brandon Stover: what are these active models of education? Well, our first solution comes from who you may recall is the co-founder and president of the Institute for humane education. And the author of the world becomes what we teach educating a generation of solutionaries Zelle believes that in order to create a more sustainable, equitable and peaceful. We must re-imagine education and prepare a generation to be solutionaries young people with the knowledge, tools, and motivation to create a better future.

[00:44:36] Zoe Weil: Our mission is to educate people, to create a world where all humans, animals, and nature can thrive. And we do that by preparing teachers to educate students, to be what we call solutionaries, who are able to solve problems that we face.

[00:44:55] Brandon Stover: Can you explain what a solution.

[00:44:58] Zoe Weil: So a Solutionary is somebody who is able to identify unsustainable, unjust and inhumane systems, and then devise solutions that do the most good and the least harm for everyone. And when I say everyone, I mean people, animals and the environment. So a Solutionary, isn't the same thing. As a problem solver, a problem solver could be an engineer. Who's not thinking about the human rights implications or the animal protection implications or the environmental implications of that thing that they're trying to solve. But it's Solutionary always is. And solutionaries have an ethical component that is attached to their work in solving problems.

[00:45:43] Brandon Stover: What are the critical skills that they would need in order to be a Solutionary?

[00:45:47] Zoe Weil: one of the sort of habits of mind or the, or the dispositions would be a compassionate disposition where they. Actually care about others and wanting to solve the problem. And then there are some thinking skills that, that comprise Solutionary thinking. So Solutionary thinking is comprised of critical thinking systems, thinking, strategic thinking, and creative thinking.

And while that is not a linear process, you know, thinking is not just a linear process. it is important to think about them in this order because critical thinking lies at the foundation. So with how good, critical thinking skills, without being able to research carefully, without being able to assess what's true and what's false, or being able to tell what's a fact from something that's an opinion without that.

Core critical thinking ability. It becomes difficult to be a systems, thinker systems thinker takes it to the next level. And then you start to understand all these interconnected systems through your critical thinking. And then the next step will be to be a strategic thinker because in order to be a Solutionary, you have to be strategic about how you address and solve the problem that you're facing.

How do you find the right leverage points for creating change? And then you bring all of those thinking skills and, and you add to them creative thinking. And then you've just got this beautiful recipe for becoming a Solutionary and solving problems in ways that are good for everyone.

[00:47:19] Brandon Stover: But how do we begin connecting these large global problems to the curriculum? Students learn Parla points out that these problems can be connected to a student's local context, a place where they can take action and have. and extending that to the global context. As students begin to understand more

[00:47:36] Carla Marshall: 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, fractals or examples of things happening, 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.

[00:48:44] Brandon Stover: and though experience, this can be very empowering for students,

[00:48:48] Zoe Weil: one thank you. Letter in particular has stayed with me and this was from an eighth grader and I had gone into her class for a week, every morning, doing a humane education block. And I got all these letters and this one girl wrote that spending that week with me was the most inspiring week of her life.

And when you read something like that, you know, you first feel pretty good about yourself. And the more I thought about that letter, the more disturbing I found it because spending a week with me should not be the most inspiring five days of any teenager's life. And it felt less a compliment to me than actually an indictment of our education system, because our education system should be inspiring.

I learning is intrinsically wonderful, fascinating and livening exciting, and we know how many students feel bored in school and, and the very concept of school being boring. It should be the biggest oxymoron in the world. Schools should be as, as thrilling a period of time as there could be.

[00:50:11] Brandon Stover: But how effective is those solution?

[00:50:13] Zoe Weil: In terms of our actual success at, at transforming the educational system, we have a very long way to go, but we have the right solution. So if you have the right solution, then what the next step would be. We need Solutionary strategies for getting this solution to be implemented all over the planet. And I would say that Andra's work in San Mateo county. Would fall into that category of most Solutionary for getting this implemented in an entire county.

[00:50:56] Brandon Stover: Andrew Yang coin Is it coordinator in the office of education in San Mateo county, which has made the Solutionary approach, the philosophy and framework for the entire county That serves 113,000 students in 23 school districts. They've trained hundreds of t-shirts using Zoho Weil's book. The world becomes what we teach These teachers intern have created Solutionary units for their classrooms. San Mateo county has also launched an annual Solutionary fair through which students have been sharing those solutions to problems that they care about.

[00:51:28] Andra Yeghoian: So my role is I'm the environmental literacy and sustainability coordinator at the San Mateo county office of education. And so we were one of the first county offices in the state to have a role like this. That really, it was about launching this broad environmental literacy initiative. And for us, the county office, everything we do is really suggestive to our school districts.

We can't force our school districts to do anything. We have 23 school districts in our county and that's about 170 public schools. And then we also have about a hundred private schools. What I'm excited about is that when people participate in our programs, we usually see, like, if it's an administrator in our program, they'll buy a whole set of books and have their staff read it.

Or it's a teacher who's in the program, she'll be like, oh, I'm going to have my whole, department's going to read this book and then we're going to bring it in. And they come through our program. So it's, it's spreading, like without us having to do the work, now it's spreading because we've built the capacity of leadership in our county to actually spread that message and to embed that philosophy.

And what we always see is like, teachers are always commenting, like, oh, my students came alive. Or, oh, those English language learners who had been really struggling to engage, like are super engaged now, or, oh my gosh, when we took the kids outdoors, I saw kids interacting in a way that I've never seen them and they really came alive. We had a kindergarten class that it did a whole thing around clean water and they got on the local news and it was just like this huge moment. Their little faces were beaming. We had a third grade classroom that. Went to the board, the school board and was like, why do we have, you know, single use disposables, we had, you know, fifth graders really advocating for safer streets. So we just kind of see it all the way up the chain.

So we've seen middle schoolers and high school schoolers tackle like real big challenges and really make, make an impact in their community. And then in our own program for the youth, because we run a high school program a climate leadership program, We use this framework when we work with them. And same thing, we're seeing kids like ma build gardens in their schools. We've seen kids advocate for switching to renewable energy. We've seen kids bring in, you know, get rid of plastic and single use disposables on their campuses, bringing in compost bin.

[00:53:30] Zoe Weil: This can all happen. It's happening in San Mateo. It can happen in other counties across our country. It can happen across the world. this is not that hard to do. What it takes is it takes leaders at administrative levels like Andra, who are helping teachers to integrate this into schools. It takes schools and school leaders being on board.

And and, and then the sky's the limit. And if we can do this, if we can really do this, there's just no question at all, that we will see entrenched problems begin to get solved because there will be a generation of solutionaries that as practice. And has the disposition and has the skillset to do it.

[00:54:19] Brandon Stover: Exciting and progressive curriculum, but How do we actually make curriculum like this? Our next solution comes from Elizabeth Crawford and Carla Marshall, who are the authors of worldwide learning, a teacher's guide to shaping, adjust and sustainable future. These experienced educators have developed the framework called the worldwide learning cycle that supports educators and nurturing students who both deeply understand and purposely act when learning about global challenge.

[00:54:44] Elizabeth Crawford: 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.

[00:56:24] 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.

[00:56:35] 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.

[01:00:07] 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

[01:00:28] Carla Marshall: Sure. I'll give a early childhood example 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 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.

[01:02:59] Brandon Stover: Elizabeth, I mean, you'd like to share your example.

[01:03:02] 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 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, inform adults about what you know about the harm and trauma that's caused by perpetuating these histories.

[01:05:15] Brandon Stover: Now what happens when you take this kind of curriculum to an entire school? Let me introduce the solution, from Riah bit Shari founder and chief executive officer of the school of humanity, Which is an online first high school with an interdisciplinary curriculum and progressive learning model

[01:05:31] Raya Bidshahri: our mission at the school of humanity is to really contribute to human progress and push humanity forward through the right kind of education. And we think we can do this through education that is interdisciplinary outcome base that is guided by a desire to better oneself and better the world and where the outcomes and standards and intentions aligned with the needs of humanity in order to ensure we move in a positive direction.

[01:05:56] Brandon Stover: Yeah. Well, one of your favorite quotes from Buckminster fuller is you never change things by fighting against the existing reality to change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete. So what is the solution and new model with the school of humanity that you're proposing an opposition to the traditional model that we've been talking about?

[01:06:17] Raya Bidshahri: Yeah, I do love that code. I think it captures what we're doing beautifully. So what we've done at the school of humanity and for listeners who aren't aware we've created an online first school where we re-imagined everything.

And in terms of what we learn, we've actually created our own unique curriculum. We've created something called a human development standards where we it's, it's kind of like a graduate competency framework, you will. And we've mapped out over 600 competencies, mindsets and behaviors that we think every high school graduate should have.

And it includes some of the traditional stuff like mathematical reasoning, scientific literacy, and, you know, key communication skills, but we've placed equal emphasis on. New emerging technology, proficiencies, morality, and ethics emotional intelligence, existential intelligence, creative expression. And for us, those things are equally important.

And how learners learn is by embarking on interdisciplinary learning. So an example of an interdisciplinary learning path might be around sustainable fashion or future of medicine or creating virtual worlds. And all of these paths are mapped to these learning outcomes. So we're actively assessing and evaluating whether, what skills the learner is, learning, what mindsets they're picking up along the way what projects they're creating, what connections they're making as they embark upon these kind of interdisciplinary paths, every path is different.

So, you know, on a certain path, you work on different projects as a learner. So that ultimately becomes personalized to you. Another key differentiating factor is there are no grades. We catered to high school students that's between ages 14 to 18, but learners can progress and advance through the curriculum in a really fluid way at their own pace.

We don't box them into certain paces. We just know where they, we want them to end up how they get there. It's up to them. And in terms of where the learning happens, We are an online for school, but we're already in conversations with some big part potential partners. Like we work to move in a hybrid directions or what we call co-learning spaces.

So that learners can continue to kind of have those in-person experiences. And finally, one of my favorite things that we've done is we've completely eradicated summative, standardized paper-based exams. We don't just, we just don't do that. So every skill has its own way of being assessed. And we do this through regular project based what we call on education as formative assessments which are more realistically aligned to how your skills would get assessed in the workforce.

And for us. A more effective way of measuring competencies rather than just relying on one people based tests. But it also means that you can change the incentives of learning, shifting away from this obsession with exams towards I'm learning to better myself and better the world around me, which I find that the whole process is just more engaging for the learners.

And they're just more excited to come to school and to learn when that is why they're going to school.

[01:09:15] Brandon Stover: a huge component of the school of humanities you know, curriculum and trying to help move humanity forward is integrating challenges that are happening in the world with, you know, a student's interests so that they creates this purpose-driven learning for them. How do you guys integrate those two things and really prepare students to solve these challenges?

[01:09:34] Raya Bidshahri: Sure. So I'm going a little deeper into our learning path. So there's three types of learning paths that Interlake with one another and our programs wonder are these challenge paths where the learning is guided by solving a local or by designing a solution to a challenge. Now, this might be an entrepreneurial solution.

It might be a creative one. It might be a scientific one. It could really be lots of different things. We had these skill paths where you focused on specific co mastering specific competencies. So there might be a skill path on systems thinking right. And you might need to take certain skill paths in order to solve a certain challenge.

And then towards, for the older learners, we also do career paths where they start doing apprenticeships and internships and actually getting real work experience and that being a way of them building up their outcomes. Now, how do we get to that place? So I think what would be useful is if I share a few examples, we just wrapped up our six weeks, summer school, and we had learners from nine countries.

Call it, participating in this program even more, if you count their nationalities, these were just where they were calling in from. And they embarked upon different challenge paths, like future of money, future of medicine, self knowledge, and wellbeing and many more. And so, for example, for the learners under future of medicine pathway different learners pursued different sub challenges.

So one learner was really passionate about pursuing female healthcare, and she narrowed in specifically around diagnosis of endometrial. And she designed a really cool solution that will use biomarkers and other tools to better diagnose it early. And in the process of doing that, she actually learned a lot about anatomy.

She learned a lot about app development. holding her communication skills. So there's real hardcore learning that we are assessing regularly happening, but she's doing it in a way that really excites her another example I can give it had one learner on there, the designing space, settlements pathway that basically she, her challenge was around.

How do you make sure, how can we produce oxygen on Mars? And she was designing a robot, a prototype of a robot that would use electrolysis to convert the raw materials on Mars into oxygen. And she was learning. He signed skills, chemistry. She learned a lot of 3d prototyping. She made some really cool videos.

So she posted some awesome communications and branding skills. And these are some really powerful skills to have going into today's workforce. But again, it was done in a way where it was driven by the desire to better the world.

[01:12:05] Brandon Stover: but how effective is Riah solution?

[01:12:08] Raya Bidshahri: Of course, there's always areas that we know we need to work on, do better. And, you know, we always received good constructive criticism as well. But what has been so amazing for us is this, this, the program that we did, the summer school that we did. And again, I wish I could show you the raw data. I'm not making this up. A hundred percent of the learners wanted to participate in more programs. Other percent of them want it saw themselves called time. We have learners now asking us actively, when is full-time program going to launch, you know, parents who reach out to us.

One of the things that was really validating for us is, you know, we, we knew that as an online first school, we had to do a lot of extra. To make sure that there was a vibrant community and a vibrant social life. So we went as far as creating an entire virtual world on a spaceship on gathered tab where, you know, learners have scavenger hunts.

And, you know, we had like almost as much as we could bring it closer to that in-person experience. And it was really successful. Like when we surveyed the learners, you know, most of them were hanging out with each other and that's virtual world socializing just for fun and informal ways. Most of them made lots of friends from around the world, which turned out to be a huge value add is that global kind of cohort.

And most of them felt loved. We actually asked them, did you feel loved? you love the community? And the lower love just kept coming up a lot? Last thing I will add as well as just an indication of, I really think the time is right is we've had registrations of interest across the board for all four of our programs from families and over 16 countries across four continents.

[01:13:47] Brandon Stover: now let's turn our attention to another innovative online school Prisma, which is for fourth through eighth graders who want an education tailored to their interests, abilities, and goals. Victoria ransom co-founder and CEO of Prisma guides us through what Prisma is and how it works.

[01:14:03] Victoria Ransom: So we are a comprehensive solution for fourth through eighth graders who are learning from home or frankly from anywhere they like anywhere in the world. We are not like a typical online school though. I would say sort of online schools have tended to take the traditional model of education and deliver it online, which to some, in some respects is the worst of both So, you know, they still have grades and they still have lectures. You know, some online schools that we know of, your kids can't even talk. They just have to listen. They still have textbooks. They may be delivering. Chronically, but they feel a lot like textbooks. And so we are very different from that because we're very much focused on project based learning.

Hands-on learning into disciplinary, tying, learning to the real world. We're very much focused on kids moving at their own pace. So we take a very innovative or progressive approach to education and deliberate online.

We are very different from traditional homeschool. Because we focus a lot on community and making Prisma a very social experience. So kids are a part of a cohort of kids that they see and interact with and learn with really regularly. And sharing with one another in social, emotional development, our workshops are super interactive.

The other thing is that we have coaches, they have small group of kids that they get to know really, really well, and they are there to help bring out the best in that child. Understand what they're excited about, understand what they're capable of, give them very rich iterative feedback.

Cause we don't have grades at Prisma. We believe in the process of giving feedback to a kid as they're working their way through a project or through a piece of writing so that that learner can go back and revise. And theoretically, by the time they finish, it is their best work versus sort of a traditional approach where a kid doesn't assignment gets a grade moves on and never gets a chance to go back. And even if you get an a there's always room to do better. Always room to do better. So very different from a homeschooling, but have some similarities.

[01:16:12] Brandon Stover: Well, from the elements that you mentioned in the description of Prisma, can you walk me through, if I was a learner today, what a day in the life of a student would be like?

[01:16:21] Victoria Ransom: Yeah, absolutely. So it is a mix of synchronous experiences and asynchronous because there's a lot of value to getting kids to get the live, but you shouldn't be doing that all day long. Like schools did do COVID that gets exhausting. So no two kids have exactly the same Prisma day because we actually, one of the first things that our coach will do with a learner and their parent is create a custom schedule that really works best for that child.

But Roughly a Prisma day will look like the following starts with stand up. The same group of kids, same coach. Focused on sort of building community and a support group for kids. There's quite often sort of sharing with one another. How you doing, how you feeling what's going on in your life? Talking about what's happening in the world. Sometimes it's just playing fun, interactive games and team games and that sort of thing.

And then there's usually a block of time where kids would be working on their projects. We do, we're really focused on project based learning. Then they have a one main daily workshop. But among the, a lot of workshops that kids might have on a given day, we have a ethical decision making workshop, which is really we give kids real scenarios. Something that really happened in the world or at least an adaptation of that. And they have to work their way through you know, decision-making related to that scenario. We have problem solving workshops where kids are working in small groups to solve real problems often in a hands-on way.

Kids also work through what we call missions. So they have math missions and writing missions and reading missions, which really sort of augment and reinforce the interdisciplinary work that they're doing in their projects.

We have student run club. That are scattered throughout the week. Although a lot of those run on Fridays and they, we will build breaks into a kid's schedule. So there'll be a break for some kind of physical activity, whatever the kid is into that we build into their schedule.

Most Prisma learners would be roughly working on their prisoner work, but there's some breaks in between from, let's say nine to two 30 or three. And the idea is they're done, then there's no wrangling over homework in the evenings. You get your work done during the day and the rest of the day is free for you pursue other interests.

[01:18:41] Brandon Stover: well, in another interview, I heard you mentioned that students going through Prisma had grown 175% in their literacy rates and 150% in math and gigging double-check beyond those numbers. What are the other results or outcomes that you've seen with Prisma that speak to its effectiveness?

[01:18:57] Victoria Ransom: Great question. Yeah, because we care just as much that kids are developing their communication skills, their critical thinking skills their, what we call designer's mindset is something we focus on a lot at Prisma. We care as much about that is what their academic growth is. If, if not more, frankly because we really think when you get into the real world, those are the things that make the difference between you really thriving and having a lot of options in your career. So we have through surveying of parents sort of.

Kid comes in and in the middle of the year, and at the end of the year, how do you think your child's collaboration skills have developed their critical thinking skills, their ethical decision-making their sort of design design is mindset. That is one major. It's not perfect, but we've, we had a hundred percent of parents saying that they'd seen significant growth from their kids across those sort of key outcomes that we look for in Prisma.

So based on parent's perceptions kids, Growing a lot in all of those areas, we also ask coaches to sort of assess kids, the mentor coach of kids. How do they think they've grown and coaches across the board saw growth in all of those areas?

Another thing that's really important to us is this love of learning. Like sort of first and foremost, we want kids to be really excited about learning about Prisma. And so one of the questions we ask is how happy are you at Prisma relative to your previous school?

Whatever that was. And a hundred percent of Prisma kids have said they're happier at Prisma than they are in their previous school. that is something that we really measure and track. So yeah, I think love of learning. Academic growth as measured by the math and literacy stents that you just mentioned, which were very close and sort of this perceived growth across these holistic skills are some of the things that we're really focusing on measuring

[01:20:50] Brandon Stover: These are only, but a few examples of the ways of educators, innovators, and entrepreneurs have been addressing the education crisis. But Riah alerts us that this movement is being picked up across the globe and alternative schools continue to play.

[01:21:04] Raya Bidshahri: So there's a new youth school in Boston. It's spelled N UVU. They're following a different pedagogies and architectural studio pedagogy. So it's so much more hands-on bulbs, a lot of building and makerspaces. Once again, they're a school with no subjects, no exams, no classrooms.

They have a completely interdisciplinary curriculum as well. And they do these two week modules and sprints where they focus on different skills and different area. So similar mission in some way, but different approach and pedagogy. I love the work that they do, and they've been around for a while and have learners that have gotten into amazing universities as well.

There's the Gora school and Netherlands again, a school with no classrooms, no subjects, even though teachers, they have learning coaches and steps and every learner has their own personalized learning plan. The no lessons they learn whenever they want to, it's just like, it's a really fun environment, beautiful architecture for the school.

There is the think global school. What's awesome about the think global school. It's a traveling high school. So think of it as a boarding school, but that moves around the world. So you spend a semester in a different country each time and they embedded the curriculum around the country that you're in.

So if you're an Athens, just, you can imagine the philosophy and the history you would be learning about. And they're currently in Dubai actually, which is very cool as well. And again, completely false to falling a competency-based model. They have their own unique curriculum. I believe it's called the Changemakers curriculum.

And they also adopt the mastery transcript and do a project based portfolio based kind of format. And they also have students that have gone into Oxford and some of, you know, the leading universities in the world.

[01:22:42] Brandon Stover: now let's review the building blocks and the solutions and how they are addressing the problems that, that traditional. First each of these solutions use real problems. Often global challenges. Our world faces to make the curriculum relevant to the student and prepare them with the skills that they can use in their careers and lives. Not only does this make students more effective as solving problems, but it also helps them to bring meaning to a student's learning, increasing internal motivation and the joy.

Second students learn in an interdisciplinary fashion Using this challenge based curriculum as a scaffolding to plug in the academic subjects like math, science, or history in order to help students create solutions. Oftentimes creating solutions requires an intermixing of these subjects. We also see that these subjects are taught with projects where students must apply in the disciplines in tandem with one another, in order to complete the. Which really reflects how we operate in the real world.

Third, in the case of Prisma and the school of humanity, the solutions focus on competency rather than grades or age levels, combining a student's cognitive ability with their passions or. These schools are able to create personalized curriculum that is engaging and appropriate for each student's abilities to progress at the speed appropriate for them. And then students are assessed in a way that is more appropriate for them to demonstrate that they have mastered the skills that they've learned.

And finally, these schools are broken down the boundary of school to allow students the flexibility, to learn from anywhere, encouraging them to extend their learning far outside the classroom and understanding that learning occurs every day in every situation.

Education has the opportunity to become a positive driver for solving our world's greatest challenges by welcoming these types of innovative solutions, educators, innovators, and entrepreneurs like us can not only change the education system, but begin to change all the other systems. We prepare students to tackle. Imagine the type of world that we could live in.

Now my goal for these episodes is not just to tell you what the problems are and a few solutions that are being used, but inspire and help you to begin creating new solutions.

And with that, our guests have a few pieces of closing wisdom to share for those who feel compelled to answer this call, Carla and Elizabeth reminds us that the education system is large, but you can make it.

[01:25:07] Carla Marshall: 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.

[01:25:58] 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.

[01:26:23] 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 care about who they are as individuals is something that has a lifelong impact on them.

[01:27:13] Brandon Stover: And there are people like Andrew who are embedded in the current system who are changing it from the inside out.

[01:27:18] Andra Yeghoian: And I think the thing that. Keep me grounded is just looking at my children every day. And then therefore in six years old, and every day I look at them and I say like, we gotta do this like you know, it's their future.

[01:27:30] Brandon Stover: In fact, there are entire communities of educators and entrepreneurs who are passionate about changing the education system. T is building an immersive community for educators to come together and fight this.

[01:27:42] Vriti Saraf: We're creating an ecosystem and environment that will allow educators to learn from each other anytime they want. And so imagine New York city imagine if New York city, every single building vendor Institute you know, booth was dedicated to education and it was open 24 hours and there were always events happening and it was always daylight.

So that's essentially what we're building in an avatar based environment. So like educators can pop in any time they want for free and be able to walk into our innovation center and see what projects other educators are working on. Be able to walk into a career center and find some supplemental income if they want be able to walk into our cafe or lounge and be able to work with other educators that are there, maybe meet with them and set up meetings there. So imagine if there's a new set of standards that gets rolled out, or if there are new regulations that get rolled out, imagine if educator could just pop into our city and basically say like, Hey, what are the resources that are available that, you know, can help me with this new hurdle or, you know, they can organize among themselves and be able to meet in the city whenever they want and be able to create groups that that could support each other.

[01:28:59] Brandon Stover: and yes, we're going to come up against obstacles like overwhelmed, despair and complicity in our fight to solve this problem.

[01:29:06] Zoe Weil: There are days when I feel despair and I, there are days when I lose hope, not most days by any means, but certainly there are times. But at the end of the day, for me, it also just comes down to my own integrity.

I have to look in the mirror every day. And do I want to have respect for the person who's looking back at me or not? One day I'm going to die as are we all. And I want to know that I tried, I want to know that I did my best. So there well, hope and well, while hope is important and despair can be debilitating.

Hope is not a prerequisite for doing good work. Integrity is a prerequisite for doing good work and. Integrity just means you walk your talk, you live according to your principles and your values. And I think that all of us would find that our lives have greater meaning and that we feel better about ourselves, whether or not we have hope on that particular morning or not.

If we live with integrity. So I would invite anybody who's listening, who has those moments where they succumb to despair to remind themselves that you just got to roll up your sleeves and, and hope will follow most likely. And even if it doesn't keep rolling up your sleeve,

[01:30:35] Brandon Stover: Because each of us can make a change.

[01:30:37] Elizabeth Crawford: you know, that surely with our collective might, we can do this together and that people do come together during times of crisis. We can evolve by coming back as human beings on the shared planet and in creating, a common vision for the future that we want for kids.

[01:30:54] 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.