A Note From Ted: 2021 Is Our Opportunity

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About a decade ago, I connected some dots. Machine intelligence is completely reshaping what adults need for careers and citizenship. Yet our education system is driven by high-stakes accountability metrics that reward the narrow skills that machines perform perfectly, while crushing our children’s creativity, curiosity, and audacity. These policies undermine the futures of our children, the morale of our teachers, and the stability of our democracy.

Well, one thing led to another. I started by producing the film Most Likely to Succeed which — thanks to remarkable director Greg Whiteley — has been a runaway success. An official Sundance selection, MLTS has been screened by some 10,000 school communities, in 35 different countries, sparking thoughtful discussion about the power of trusting teachers to create learning experiences that equip students with essential competencies.

Then, I hit the road, traveling non-stop for five years — from Alaska to Florida, from Finland to Tokyo — to listen to and learn from remarkable educators in the field. And learn I did. I saw that educators know how to engage, inspire, and prepare our students, if only we’d support them. Many shared that their training experiences were as obsolete as our education model, and offered perspective on how I could support their efforts.

And then came the pandemic. For many, the instruction-driven standardized model — already so ineffective in person — was a Zoom disaster. The good news? Students soared if they have the skills to lead their own learning, and are challenged to create ambitious initiatives.

At this critical juncture, we’ve tripled down on our efforts, using Most Likely to Succeed as our launchpad. Our What School Could Be initiative is a community-powered platform that — we immodestly claim — is the best professional development ever offered to educators. Based on your great work in the field, its confidence-building steps will unleash student — and teacher — potential. This short video provides a quick overview of what we’ll be launching next month. Stay tuned!

Make no mistake. The year 2021 is our opportunity. If school returns to ‘normal’ this fall, we’ll miss the opportunity of our lifetimes. Share this Why Not Now?! video with your colleagues, and invite them to join you in moving into the 2021/2022 school year with a powerful vision of what your school could be.

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