Advancing Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Leadership
Feature article
Five Takeaways from Most Likely to Succeed
 by Ryan Schubart

Greg Whiteley's documentary on education, Most Likely to Succeed, reenergized me as an educational leader. It inspires us to push forward in reimagining how our schools should educate students. Here are my takeaways:

Our system has not changed much in 124 years.
We still divide our core curriculum into four distinct courses as we did over a century ago. This division was based on the advice of 10 University heads whose decisions have defined education ever since. At the turn of the 20th century this design may have met the needs of society. However, today employers need independent thinkers capable of innovating and problem solving. When we approach a real problem, we do not first solve the math associated with the problem and then address the aspects that relate to social studies. We synthesize all of our skills to develop the best solution to the problem. 

We need to honor our students by making their work more authentic.
We treat our students as if they are not worthy of doing real work. Often they complete assignments that have no value to them or the world they live in. We ask them to work hard, only to present their work to one person who is likely grading over 100 similar products. The message we send is that student work is required for students to move forward in school but it is not important anywhere else. Students do not want to spin their wheels, practicing all the time without a chance to play in the actual game. They need opportunities to get their feet wet, trying multiple approaches and building confidence in their own skills and abilities. Many students are not yet sure what their strengths and weaknesses are because they have never really been put to the test. We need to allow students to create real solutions to real problems and receive feedback from real experts.

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This month's Book/Movie Review

One Child, One Teacher, One Book, One Pen
I Am Malala 
He Named Me Malala, 
Book and Film about Malaya Yousafzai
 by Phyllis Milne, VASCD Board of Directors

"When You Educate A Girl, The World Changes!"  According to UNESCO, more than 60 percent of the 110 million children out of school in developing nations are girls.  In 20 Prominent nations, gender inequality not only stifles the education of women, but also damages women's sense of self worth.  Girls in India, Cambodia, Nepal, Afghanistan, Chad, Papua New Guinea, Haiti, Egypt, and Guatemala face cultural and social challenges such as  child marriages,  domestic violence, and forced servitude.   In Pakistan, Malala's home, over half of the girls are not educated, and female employment rates are second lowest in the world (World Economic Forum Gender Parity Report).

He Named Me Malala opens by describing the Pakistani folk hero for whom Malala was named. The legendary Malala rallied and fought beside Afghani warriors who were victorious at the Battle of Maiwand in 1880.  The film continues with glimpses of Malala Yousafzai's family life and video of the schools her father founded as well as scenes from the hospital where Malala recovered after she was shot by the Taliban. 

In recognition of her courage and advocacy, Malala was recognized with the International Children's Peace Prize in 2013 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.  Although she is certain she would be killed if she returned to her home in the Swat Valley, Malala continues to champion education for girls through public appearances and through the that supports educational advocates around the world.
"I speak not for myself, but so those without a voice may be heard." 
Yousafzai, M. (2013). I Am Malala. New York, NY: Little Brown and Company.  ISBN 978-0-316-32240-9
Guggenheim, D. (2015) He Named Me Malala. Produced by Imagination Abu Dhabi FZ and Participant Media (This 88 minute film is rated PG-13 due to description of the shooting.  The documentary has been listed with fourteen other films submitted to the 88th Academy Award in Best Documentary Feature category.)