One view

When kids say “school is boring,” I listen. For years, I’ve heard this from the highest achieving students and the students that struggle with the structures of school. I believe its actually at the center of a complex problem in education. I’ve become a bit obsessed with this idea, because I believe there’s no excuse for boredom.  I believe it’s a choice students and teachers make everyday.  


Because school’s not boring when kids think of their friends, when they think of that teacher that made a difference, when they think of the clubs and teams to which they committed more time and endless energy. School is not boring because we live in the single greatest time in human history to be a learner, to be a student. We have more information at our fingertips than ever before and we can access it instantly.


So, when kids say, “school is boring,” it’s my job to listen and then to design and build experiences to change that perception.  


What kind of experiences will we design?  We want our students to be smart, brave and bold; or how about designing for courage, compassion, resilience as three virtues of education. We need to create experiences that help kids discover their strengths because of school, not in spite of school.


The Office of Ingenuity is our project to support this vision.  

Our belief drives us to…

1. Invest in "Innovators, NOT Innovations." = Teachers with the right support offer the greatest ROI for social  impact and change. = Professional Development


2. Broker and Facilitate Revolutionary Relationships between school communities, companies, and universities.  It's time for industries and universities to re-imagine their role in public schools through shared values, aka building the innovation pipeline. = Strategic Collaboration


3. Unshackle Ingenuity with Integration. Schools created silos of learning (isolated departments/disciplines) but the brain doesn't work that way, nor does the world. = Curriculum Integration


4. Grapple with Global issues, Locally. Technology as a tool will support scalable solutions, but transformational learning is still the result of thought, action, and empathy. = Purposeful Education

This is my way of giving structure to the value of the “velcro-pants” ideas that are needed to design the future of education, because learning has no limits.



Design Principles

Everything Changes, but Growth must be Guided.

These values will be our guide


Our mission is to create ecosystems of opportunity driven by our Design Principles


  • facilitate ambiguity  

(there’s no learning without uncertainty)


  • entertain the fantastic

(learning is an experience of awesome)


  • find or build the bridge  

(integrate to innovate and relationships will connect us to the greatest good)


  • observe and embrace anomaly

(solutions depend on perspective, perspectives reveal the possible)



Irony of Accountability(draft)

The irony of accountability is that it actually hinders the very conversation that needs to be had when it comes to instructional strategies and results from student work.

Transparency is the word that will help us have those conversations. If everything we do as educators is transparent then it will organically foster a dialogue. 

Big data is another catch22. Data tells us where we've been, not where we're going. 

The real question is what information do we need to push our practice.



Push Your Professional Practice

“The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill.

 I will not be out-worked, period.

You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be all of those things…in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’re two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple.”

- Will Smith


It really is this simple. 




learning magic (draft)

On a recent series of talks, I found myself saying, "the future of education will be..." or "the future of education has to be..." or "will be..." a lot. too much. with complete certainty and confidence.  It surprised me that i would be so bold. I'm not one to think about the future. which is akin to my role as chief innovation officer in the sense that i don't spend any time thinking about innovation, i actually spend most of my time avoiding mediocrity. The future of education will be found in the past. Not in a nostalgic way. I think nostalgia is a disease, but we'll save that for another post. When I say, "the future is in the past" I echo countless artists, philosophers, thinkers. Bob Marley wrote, "if you don't know your past, you don't know your future." But this isn't about history. Steve Jobs, "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards." Confucius, "Study the past and divine the future." Abraham Lincoln, "The assertion "that all men are created equal," was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain, and it was placed in the Declaration, not for that, but for future use." Especially "school" history. This idea is about essentiallizing, getting to the essence of things, both information and action. What I want us to do after I say this is to think about learning in its most organic way. not as it's manipulated through schools and training programs, not with some grand political agenda, just learning as it happens in the human brain, in relation to others and to the environment in which it's happening.


the best example is the mother and child, cooking together. the mother is making something for dinner. the child is making something to empower the princess and defeat the dragon. this is essential learning. not essential as in critical, but in the core of learning, this is learning boiled down to its most basic components.


it starts with relationship. and relationship is rooted in trust. mother says, i have to make something for dinner, child says, i have to make something for the princess. mother says how exciting let me get you a chair. and arranges the child right in the middle of the action, the learning. then the entire environment opens up. and magic can happen.


think about it, all these random ingredients are lined up, tools are arranged, then the precise distribution of those ingredients and implenetation of tools and poof, abracadabra - something entirely new appears. think about the best meal you ever had. - magic, right. how did they get this fish to taste so good, how can the simple chocolate chip cookie chemically and socially alter your mood.? magic. well we know it's not magic, in any harry potter sense, but i'll argue it's not the cookie or the pot roast that's magical in our story, its the memory, the moment. the environment that empowers learning.


the tools, the mechanics, the math, the chemistry, the politics, the policy, the economics of making dinner and a potion for the princess are all the example of essentializing learning.


that's the past. that's learning. magic.



Who knew Szent-Györgyi?

I just discovered Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (Nobel Prize in Medicine, 1937). I needed to share a few quotes from an article he wrote in 1964. He was brilliant in more ways than one.


Teaching and the Expanding Knowledge   (from Science, vol. 146, 3649, Dec. 4, 1964, pp 1278-1279)

"There is a widely spread misconception about the nature of books which contain knowledge. It is thought that such books are something the contents of which have to be crammed into our heads. I think the opposite is closer to the truth. Books are there to keep the knowledge in while we use our heads for something better. Books may also be a better place for such knowledge. In my own head any book-knowledge has a half-life of a few weeks. So I leave knowledge, for safe-keeping, to books and libraries and go fishing, sometimes for fish, sometimes for new knowledge."


"So what the school has to do, in the first place, is to make us learn how to learn, to whet our appetites for knowledge, to teach us the delight of doing a job well and the excitement of creativity, to teach us to love what we do, and to help us to find what we love to do.

My friend Gerard quoted Fouchet as advising us to take from the altar of knowledge the fire, not the ashes. Being of more earthly disposition, I would advise you to take the meat, not the bones. Teachers, on the whole, have a remarkable preference for bones, especially dry ones. Of course, bones are important, and now and then we all like to suck a bit on them, but only after having eaten the meat. What I mean to say is that we must not learn things, we must live things. This is true for almost everything. Shakespeare and all of literature must be lived, music, paintings, and sculptures have to be made, drama has to be acted. This is true even for history: we should live through it, through the spirit of the various periods, instead of storing their data. I am glad to say that this trend—to live things—is becoming evident even in the teaching of sciences. The most recent trend is not to teach the simpler laws of nature, but to make our students discover them for themselves in simple experiments."


"It is a widely spread opinion that memorizing will not hurt, that knowledge does no harm. I am afraid it may. Dead knowledge dulls the spirit, fills the stomach without nourishing the body. The mind is not a bottomless pit, and if we put in one thing we might have to leave out another. By a more live teaching we can fill the soul and reserve the mind for the really important things. We may even spare time we need for expanding subjects."

"By teaching live arts and science, the schools could open up the endless horizons and challenges of intellectual and artistic life and make whole life an exciting adventure. I believe that in our teaching not only must details and generalizations be in balance, but our whole teaching must be balanced with general human values."

"In spite of its many chapters, our teaching has, essentially, but one object, the production of men (and women) who can fill their shoes and stand erect with their eyes on the wider horizons. This makes the school, on any level, into the most important public institution and the teacher into the most important public figure.

As we teach today, so the morrow will be."