S3: E4 - Innovation in Progressive Education feat. Bennett Jester, Ted Fujimoto, Deanna Hess, & Sophie Fenton

By far the most inspiring thing about living in the communication age is seeing school innovation at work throughout the world. Sometimes we can get trapped in our microcosm obsessing over what doesn’t work in schools - after all, there is a lot that needs changing. But that doesn’t mean, of course, that there aren’t awesome things happening.

To expand on the word "innovation" - I know that these word can be "fad worthy" - if you will. The education community tends to look at every new initiative as innovative, including those that just do everything most normally do - better. But that's not what I'm getting at here...innovation is taking a risk against the status quo, doing something that little to no other people are doing. It's important to highlight and express these ideas are not only legitimate, but extraordinary - we should celebrate work and be careful of solely critiquing the established system.

In this episode, we’re speaking to a variety of people - from students in high school to business leaders - on what innovation looks like in schools. However, instead of focusing on broad, sweeping topics on progressive education (which lends itself to a lot of banal conversations about “inspiring creativity” or “preparing for life”), we want to hone in on specifics. Each person we’ve invited has a different specialty. Whether it be going gradeless, mastering a portfolio, enabling student/teacher relationships, tackling AI and digital literacy, or scaling progressive education to multiple schools, I guarantee you’ll learn from these conversations!

The expectation isn’t that we jump into our classrooms tomorrow and rapidly change everything based on what we’ve heard here. No - our goal is to have these conversations in order to shift the pedagogical dialogue. There’s not a set curriculum or step-by-step you can purchase, or a podcast that you’ll hear, that will make changes in your school. Instead, developing a mindset of progressive education - hearing these thoughts and bringing your perspective, then (of course) taking action is the only way we’ll see true innovation in schools.

In other words, listen, dissect, question, reflect, and engage in this field. Don’t let time and “that’s just not realistic’s” wear you down. Any measure of progressive education is possible anywhere - our guests on this podcast have been from all walks of life, all stages of teaching, across the United States and many countries. Once you understand what you feel when it comes to what “restoring humanity” means in schools, have the ample research and expert voices to back you up, and form that into mitigated risks you can take, we’ll see more and more communities embracing positive educative change for the souls of our students. After all, that’s the Human Restoration Project’s goal! A one-stop for everything you’ll need: research, resources, pedagogical guides, expert opinions, and opinionated, targeted blogs that actually push some boundaries. Let’s push forward together.

GUESTS IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE

Bennett Jester, a high school freshman at the progressive Clark Street Community School in Middleton, Wisconsin, who blogs and speaks on issues of grades and traditional education at-large.

Ted Fujimoto, the president of Landmark Consulting Group, a business that focuses on scaling, leadership, and redesign, and whose hand shaped the growth of New Tech Network and Big Picture Learning, both of which have seen massive whole-school progressive redesigns.

Deanna Hess, an English educator at Dover High School in Dover, Delaware, who teaches a range of classes including dual-credit courses, where she focuses on developing purpose in writing and reading in what is typically regarded as a traditional setting.

Sophie Fenton, the Head of Education Design at the Asia Education Foundation in Melbourne, Australia, who focuses on promoting intercultural and communicative schools in an increasingly connected world.

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