Play, passion, purpose: Tony Wagner at TEDxNYED
books link to amazon
They are also clueless about what kind of teaching best motivates this generation to learn
What we urgently need is a new engine of economic growth for the twenty-first century
We must outinnovate our economic competitors.
And 77 percent agreed, “the greatest innovations of the 21st century will be those that have helped to address human needs more than those that had created the most profit
hope to have companies that are increasingly productive and many workers with jobs that pay decent salaries
the challenges of mentoring and managing them.
There is much more we in their language.
challenges of managing the Millennials
questions I never imagined asking,” she said. “They want to know what they are contributing—what is the larger significance of their work. And if you can’t give them a satisfying answer, they’re gone.
“We’re at risk of losing this generation when they come back [from the war],” he said. “Unlike previous generations, they are unpersuaded by the twenty-year business case [the appeal of retiring at half pay after twenty years in the military]. They believe what we told them: ‘Be all you can be.’ They want to continue to be developed, and we must do that in order to keep them.
It isn’t just employers and the military that need this generation to stay involved and to be effective. It is all of us. The Millennials are our future. They are the generation who can and must create a healthier, more secure, and sustainable way of life.
So you’ve got to have an idea, or a problem or a wrong that you want to right that you’re passionate about; otherwise, you’re not going to have the perseverance to stick it through.”
In the lives of young innovators whom I interviewed, I discovered a consistent link and developmental arc in their progression from play to passion to purpose.
“What you study is not that important. Knowing how to find those things you are interested in is way, way more important.
Almost like moving them through a buffet of opportunities.
“Exeter was very offended,” Lea told me. “They threw every roadblock in front of him. They did not want him to leave because they thought it was a commentary on them
Kirk’s parents supported his unconventional and seemingly risky decisions to drop out of both high school and college.
In fact, after completing eleventh grade at Exeter, Kirk was admitted to Stanford without his high school diploma for a combined bachelor of science and master of science degree program. Kirk then ended up leaving Stanford as well—just two courses shy of receiving both his MS and BS degrees
A child has to get bored before he can figure out how to get himself out of boredom, and a lot of that happens out of doors.
But we really loved being with our kids. That was another thing that was different. A lot of parents didn’t seem to think it was very much fun to hang out with their kids, and we did
It’s important that when a child speaks, there is an adult who listens, when they look out, there is someone looking back at them.
We just found our kids to be very interesting human beings, and we spent a lot of time with them. A lot of people undervalue that.
the potential advantage of giving children more free playtime is worth the risk.
He learned to trust and to follow his instincts—perhaps one of the most important qualities of an innovator
they didn’t care all that much about what I was interested in; they were far more interested in the process of my finding out what it was that I was interested in.
what was important, I think, is that his parents did not then assume that he would become a scientist and try to manage him toward a career, as I’ve seen many parents of precocious children do. They continued to encourage him to explore
Apple is not successful just because it has the ability to conceptualize new products better than anybody else. It’s because they have an engineering and design process that’s all about creating conflict.
there’s a conflict-resolution process that enables the values of the organization to get expressed in the way decisions are made and the way people work together.
If Ed wanted to go to Mars, he’d shine his Batman light into the sky, and his alums would come from all over the world, and he’d be on Mars in six months
“Ed Carryer was both my teacher and my mentor,”
Research universities tend to look down on people like Ed. They think about these guys as trade school guys. His class was about how to build stuff, nothing truly academic about it, but he creates more value than the research guys.
Having an element of whimsy in the project is really highly motivational.
fearless about diving into things.” “So in a sense they are providing you with cover—they are living evidence that your classes get results.”
“If I was in it for the money, I would definitely be doing something else.
when you look at the future of our country, what stands out for me is that we don’t need more PhDs, we need more students like the ones you’re graduating.
What most intrigued me, however, was his use of two words: empowerment and whimsy
Play, then, may be an element of passion and purpose, as well as an intrinsic motivation that stands by itself.
“had to really want.”
Kirk had said not one word about the many academic courses he’d taken at Stanford. His best teacher and most important mentor was an outlier at the university: Ed Carryer—a PhD from Stanford with decades of experience in industry as a designer—has been on a year-to-year contract since 1992, with no chance of promotion or tenure, and he has to scrounge money for his lab every year from his famous alums
he now evaluates everything he does not just in terms of what he might learn—which has always been a passion of his—but also what he can contribute. My sense is that he is developing a deepening sense of purpose.
We basically let Shanna show us where she wanted to go.
“She has an indomitable quality—to just go figure things out. She’s unafraid. Incredibly persistent.”
Both sets of parents actively encouraged them to pursue their passions without worrying about where they might lead in terms of a career
creating a school where “you want to come every day, where your day is about feeling your presence in the world.
Everything at school is about discipline, not learning.
it was his imagination that really stood out. He’d take a theme like a Lamborghini sports car or a Disney character and explore what a shoe might look like, based on the theme.
I sometimes thought his approaches seemed ‘naive,’ but now look at how he’s integrating biofibers into shoe design—state-of-the-art! So often in school, the what-if question is eliminated, but that’s the source of true creativity and innovation.
fruit—she never says, ‘So when are you going to earn some real money?’ She continues to believe in him.
perhaps most important, Kurt suspended judgment of Jamien’s seemingly outlandish designs and encouraged him to keep at it.
As adults—parents, teachers, and mentors—it is sometimes too easy for us to treat the dreams and fantasies of someone like Jamien as peculiar or even ridiculous.
Some of us respond in this way in the belief that we are being helpful and saving someone from wasting
Jamien had to actively resist the pressures from both his high school and college teachers to go after a well-paying STEM career. Then he had to ignore his college teachers’ advice in order to pursue a double major. He had the courage not to take a tried-and-true path to career success,
wonder how many reluctant STEM college majors would actually produce more social and economic value and be happier by following their passions, rather than heeding the conventional advice of adults who say that a STEM career is the best way to a more lucrative future?
I was struck by the lack of arrogance or pretense among these five highly accomplished young adults,
To scale up innovations in science, technology, engineering, and math and to develop the skills of entrepreneurship, we need many more teachers and mentors like the ones whom you’ve met so far—and different kinds of courses
To maintain our standard of living and improve our world, every young person needs to become an innovator
“We’ve always encouraged our children to explore things they were interested in, but also to stop when they were no longer interested.
“I feel stressed about next year and what happens after. It’s hard to be a student and get the credits I need to graduate and do all these different projects. . . . I’d like to go to graduate school to study how to identify, teach, and assess the competencies to be a social innovator—but I don’t know of any graduate programs that teach this.”
His response helped me to better understand Stephanie Barksdale’s comments that Laura and others of her generation sometimes need “permission” to pursue their passions.
Many more students than we realize have a belief in the public good
the independent-study courses she created with the help of John Howard were the only real opportunities she had to earn credit for her many projects and to have help in connecting change practice to theory, but the number of independent study courses students can undertake as a part of their degree is restricted to two
He is a highly innovative teacher, like all of the STEM teachers we met earlier. Unfortunately, John Howard is also the latest member of our “outliers who will never get tenure” club.
Applications have more than doubled in the last four years, and when we read the essays of those who enroll, more than eighty percent say they applied because the message of community engagement resonates with them
“It bothers me every single day,” Scott acknowledged. “I know that these test scores do not have great meaning, but that’s one of the metrics that US News and World Reports uses, and so we can’t ignore it.
Without a reason—without passion and purpose—many disadvantaged young people simply can’t tolerate the tedium of school.
So I approached these kids like colleagues or professionals, by going to where they were, respecting them, looking them right in the eye. I loved hearing what they had to say
I’m a scientist, and I observed after two summers’ experience that many of the students in the program were not there by free will. Parents had forced them to go, and those students never followed through because science research involves a huge investment of time and energy and passion
Their brains were not developed enough to be able to apply what they’ve learned at the level required in the advanced classes.
So if we are to transform high schools in America to better educate young people for an innovation-driven economy, we will need to start by rethinking college—the curriculum, the teaching methods, and the admission requirements
Dick Hersh told me that college has increasingly become merely “a sorting and credentialing mechanism. What you get out of college is largely a function of accident: You manage to get into the right program or you have the right professors or you take initiative on your own. It’s unconscionable that so much is left to chance when we know what is powerful learning and good teaching. It’s a very inefficient way of giving people an education, and it is a very costly endeavor.”
“The value of explicit information is rapidly dropping to zero,” he told me. “Today the real added value is what you can do with what you know. And it is really in the doing—in the probing of the universe, the pursuit of a query—that the real learning takes place.
Miller continued. “Today, it’s not what you know, it’s having the right questions. I see three stages in the evolution of learning: The first is the memorization-based, multiple-choice approach, which is still widely prevalent; then there’s project-based learning where the problem is already determined; finally, there’s design-based learning where you have to define the problem. That way of learning is part of every class here. We are trying to teach students how to frame problems versus repeat the answers.
One thing that distinguishes entrepreneurs is the belief that ‘I am master of my fate, and that I can make decisions that will make a difference,’ but that’s not what the education environment has fostered in the past.
am interested in the problem of how to develop intrinsic motivation, self-direction, and lifelong learning
I also require a lot of self-reflection and self-evaluation,
Alyssa has created her own major in environmental engineering. Students are encouraged to create their own majors, and at least a third of the students do.
I’ve learned how to learn new things on my own, teach myself.”
“We also send surveys to the managers of companies who have hired our graduates, and they report that our students behave as if they’ve been in the field for three to five years, and that our graduates have exactly the skills they need.”
Problems in today’s world are simply too complex to be solved using only the intellectual tools of a single academic discipline.
Students’ risk aversion in conventional classes takes a particular form. To get an A, students learn to discern what their teachers want—the “right” kinds of answers or papers for each class—and give it to them.
As one student told me, “I don’t even think about ‘failure’ here. It’s not a word we use. Instead, we talk about ‘iteration.
empowered in multiple ways. First, they are encouraged to create their own majors—an option that exists in some colleges such as Harvard, but one that’s rarely chosen by students due to the bureaucratic hurdles involved
the importance of people who could stand at the intersection
My advice to my students—and to my own children—is to study what interests them the most; to excel in fields in which they have the most passion and ability; to change the world in their own way and on their own terms.21
“The challenge is to set up systems that allow students to follow their interests. People tend to dichotomize approaches in education: The teacher is either telling students what to do, or standing back and letting them figure it out. I think that’s a false choice: The issue is not structure versus no structure, but rather creating a different structure.
“Here at the lab, we take our inspiration from the ways people learn in kindergarten, where kids have opportunities to create, design, and build collaboratively. The best way to develop creativity is to design and create things in collaboration with one another. We also find that people do their best work when they are working on things that they care deeply about—when it’s their passion. Finally, the work here almost invariably leads our students to cross academic boundaries, just like in kindergarten where finger painting is also about learning how colors mix, which is science, and often the kids will write a story about their painting as well.
“The Media Lab allows me to work on many different projects at the same time.
“What I like best is the freedom to do whatever I want to do,” David said.
A friend of mine made an electric cello, and another guy made a flute using a 3-D printer—things other people would think are crazy or stupid. Plus I still play soccer on the MIT graduate-student team, I coached the men’s club soccer team at Harvard, and I taught a class in Creole there, too. I’m not sure I’d have this freedom anywhere else.
Olin, the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University, and the MIT Media Lab were “start-ups,” founded by education visionaries, who set out to create a new kind of school. It is far easier to create a very different kind of learning culture for both faculty and students in a start-up
The d.school is actually not a school at all in the conventional sense. It does not admit its own students, hire its faculty, or grant degrees. Rather, the school sponsors classes and projects that attract students and faculty from every school in the university
Our bias is toward action, followed by reflection on personal discoveries about process. Experience is measured by iteration: students run through as many cycles as they possibly can on any project. Each cycle brings stronger insights and more unexpected solutions.
“Many of the problems we’ve faced are related to the culture of academia,” David told me. “Sometimes it can be quite subtle. The professors’ vested interest is to try to find people to be in their research group—people they can turn into PhDs and do work for them.
Yet I worry that too many faculty who have achieved tenure have been ruined as design thinkers. They will have established their reputation in the world for their pure analytic research and will be reluctant to give that up in order to work with us
“The good news is that once you’re over the hurdle, the work is self-sustaining because it’s so gratifying.
Dean, like so many other famous innovators, was a college dropout.
The battle to gain these seals of approval has consumed
It is perhaps not so much a matter of “either/or” as it is “both/and.”
see graduate students here at Vanderbilt who have gone to Brown or other good schools, and they have worked very hard to get in. But they’re really not sure what they want. It shocks me the number of young people who have no idea what they are interested in because they have been pushed to achieve versus pushed to explore. I want my daughters to have more time to breathe and think and use their imagination.
“A child has to get bored before he can figure out how to get himself out of boredom,
“Sometimes she will say way more in a text—like ‘I love you, Mom’—than in person.
we are driving ourselves off a cliff all in the name of safe driving.
I think the larger sense of purpose that these young people feel is partly because they have been exposed to so much information about the
the importance of focusing on something larger than oneself.
As you get older, you think about ‘what am I spending all this time for?’ There has to be something bigger, besides just liking to do something.
Creative problem-solving comes from being engaged with what you are doing. What I want most for my kids is that they care about and are engaged in something that matters to them—that their life is authentic.
The school wanted to test him for ADD (attention deficit disorder) because he wasn’t reading the way other young kids were, but I observed that he was always asking questions, and so my thinking was that he didn’t have ADD—he just didn’t want to read the books the school gave him. I said to Mac, ‘It’s okay, you can get reading later.
It’s not about us, we’ve already been to school, and it’s not about the school. It’s about them. Most of my work and social set are insanely pressured about achievement. I want my children to enjoy their childhood. I’m trying to resist all the craziness around me.
Roy Russell, who is chief technology officer at GoLoco and held the same position with Zipcar, have two children in college. They were also “resisters” who refused to engage in the common parenting practice of managing their children’s young lives to position them for admission to the “right” college. “We didn’t tee them up for college, didn’t push them to fill their résumés,” Robin told me. “We felt it was much more important to teach our kids to be learners and to know where to go for learning.
Leslie Andresen said that she was sometimes criticized by other parents for seeming to allow her children to “dabble.” Leslie Lee observed how “risk-averse” many parents are today
First, trust in yourself as a parent—your intuitions, judgments, and values.
Then trust in your child—in his or her unique interests and talents, in the hunger
“Convert most classroom experiences into collaborative problem-solving events led by
some of that is about learning more, but much of it is also about reflecting on who you are as a human being, what’s important to you, why you are on this earth, and then how you translate that deeper understanding
More reflective executives are better able to assess their impact on the lives of people they are leading and so make decisions that are more deliberate and less reactive.”
If you are an innovator, compliance is not in your nature
The questions are, can those of us who have positional authority develop this different kind of earned and enabling authority?
So your country needs you to create new ideas, products, and services that are sought after around the world and that will generate jobs and wealth and enable happier, healthier lives in this country and elsewhere
Think of failure as iteration, as learning.
Listen for the melodies around you.
discipline you need to cultivate is self-reflection.
I sensed this one blind spot in these young people—the lack of a clear understanding of how their innovations can be converted into value that sustains their enterprises, their communities, and themselves
detox – because we actually have to learn how to learn.. since we taught ourselves not to learn .. but to obey..
Learning to learn was a theme with everyone I interviewed.
Tony Wagner (@DrTonyWagner)
interview on innovation in schooling sept 2013:
iterations over grading
making a difference over making money
play, passion, purpose
doc coming out 2015 (trailer):
What does today’s technology mean for tomorrow’s jobs and how can we better structure our education system to ensure that the future working population can prosper in the labor market?
what if – prospering – tomorrow (and today) has less to with jobs and labor market than we think (or could even imagine)…
what if we’re spinning our wheels toward efficiency – on the wrong things…
We need to create schools that coach students for skill and will, in addition to teaching content. If we don’t make this transition quickly, a growing number of our youth will be unemployable at the same time that employers complain that they cannot find new hires that have the skills they need. – Tony
again – what if employable\ness becomes obsolete.. what if – in setting people free from assumed betterness of education – we find authentic betterness of humanity (ie: where our current concept of money/economics/credentials is completely disrupted…
so all seem to think… taking care of children, elderly, and gardens.. are huge.
working on documentary – trailer (2014):
talking about his book – creative innovators – 2014
5 contradictions between cultures of schooling and creating innovators
1\ innovation demands teamwork.. not individual achievement
2\ ways we categorize/compartmentalize content and favor expertise
3\ classroom itself – too much time listening
4\ failure .. fear of failure drive to compliance… innovation demands you take risks – iterating from 1.0 to 2.0 – my fav new word
5\ motivation – we rely heavily on extrinsics.. found intrinsic motivation from: play, passion and purpose… bringing in an element of whimsy
in pursue of passion is where we find grit
implications… what’s really important is that we teach and assess the skills that matter most..
we need to teach/assess 4 c’s: critical thinking, collab, communication, creative problem solving
look at culture of classroom.. encourage teachers to try new things: interdisciplinary courses, portfolios..
allow time for students to follow own interest.. then ie of google 20%
which no longer is used at google no..? we found that things that were compulsory eventually drowned out this time.. needs/bets to be 100%
from 2014 – interview by Greg Behrman
One Simple Idea Could Repair Our Education System
content should no longer be king… competencies… you should gather merit badges…
urgency.. we’re graduating students with no skills.. they’re not going to be able to pay back their debts..
college may no longer be return on investment..
inequities are horrendous today .. and they’re going to get worse not better until we solve this problem..
let’s do this first: free art-ists.
most likely to succeed.. film and book w Ted Dintersmith (not moved)
ie: from trailer .. we’re trying to get that kind of complexity and curiosity get inculcated (instill..an attitude, idea, or habit.. by persistent instruction) in our students..
rather.. we have the means today.. to not squelch that curiosity in the first place.. as well as detox the 7bn who have already lost it.. at the same time.. let’s do that..
watching mlts thanks to hawaii pbs – can’t believe how much of this is from what i was involved with 10 yrs ago.. ie: krishnamurti free will law – esp the high tech high stuff.. dang.. and according to hawaii.. it’s being applauded so much now.. and can’t believe we aren’t being more drastic (because we have the means to) when ie: the film starts out with daughter in tears.. and we know she’s thinking.. this is bs.. yet we keep her going to school.. to shameful conferences.. guy in middle saying what kids need today in order to compete.. who decided life is about or even should include competition.. then at 45 min castleview kids say.. ‘hs if for acing the test so you can get into college.. and that’s where you get to apply it to life’.. well .. not really.. so let’s call bs on all of it.. do our kids.. do we.. not matter enough.. (again.. because we have the means.. would take no more effort that ie: what went into making this film/book.. sir ken’s talks.. whatever).. 47 min – clip from Eric Mazur that i got 10 yrs ago.. 48 min – when we hire at kahn academy.. (really..? that’s what we’re going for in life)
huge.. google guy (Lazlo Bock @laszlobock – people ops at google) at 50 min – had just said.. kids are curious naturally.. we teach them how not to learn.. but to memorize what others expect.. then interviewer says.. so not what’s good for econ.. and google guy says.. or good for your soul.. that should be the whole flim right there.. we should figure that out.. how can we make life good for 7 bn souls.. everything else is blah blah
let’s try this guys.. quit spinning wheels.. get off the cycle
yet.. goes on .. comparing workers.. and jobs.. and fear of losing them.. we’re so sick/intoxicated.. graeber jobless law .. et al
52 min – parents asked to make a bet.. 1/ keep same 2/ reimagine school..
there’s a third option.. rev of everyday life.. if equity is everyone getting a go every day.. redefining public education becomes revolution of everyday life.. aka: global equity
Peter Russell (@gokindling) tweeted at 1:58 PM – 19 Jan 2018 :
https://t.co/y03g7xbqQf In just 4 min @DrTonyWagner synthesizes how we need 2 guide & inspire our next generation of leaders. I will never tire of his wisdom & insight @CathyNDavidson @AdamBraun @MikeHynes5 @joshk @jencarolan @daar17 @DonWettrick @abbyfalik @Connie @dintersmith (http://twitter.com/gokindling/status/954457968782782465?s=17)
we are born curious creative imaginative.. that is the human dna.. untill things happen in school that tend to diminish those capabilities.. that’s the challenge.. to reverse that.. it’s a cultural transformation.. i think it begins w leaders modeling diff kinds of behaviors.. a leadership role here that is very critical..t
how about.. it begins with listening to & facil ing 7 bn curiosities..
can’t solve problems creatively w/o competencies..
oy.. i thought we were born w it..
the problem is to reimagine ed for 21st cent
Kate Barton (@KateBartonEY) tweeted at 7:01 AM – 1 Mar 2018 :
It’s hard to prepare children for the professional world when so much is in transition. @DrTonyWagner shares skills that will be critical regardless of technological and cultural shifts. https://t.co/JwAYgprI0j (http://twitter.com/KateBartonEY/status/969210926279942144?s=17)
from global achievement gap: 1. Critical thinking and problem-solving.. 2. Collaboration across networks and leading by influence..3. Agility and adaptability.. 4. Initiative and entrepreneurialism.. 5. Effective oral and written communication.. 6. Accessing and analyzing information.. 7. Curiosity and imagination
7. curiosity.. perhaps that is enough.. ie: cure ios city
Tony Wagner (@DrTonyWagner) tweeted at 6:14 AM – 3 Mar 2018 :
Want to know some personal trials and tribulations of my career? A sneak preview of my coming memoir-to be published next year? See my half hour candid interview streamed from Hawaii PBS after Tuesday night. https://t.co/5gHG5buzve (http://twitter.com/DrTonyWagner/status/969924083310833664?s=17)
Tony Wagner (@DrTonyWagner) tweeted at 7:06 AM – 9 Mar 2018 :
So how does a 1 time high school dropout & 2 time college dropout end up with 2 Harvard degrees and 6 books published? I tell my story in this 1/2 hr PBS interview. Sneak preview of my memoir, coming in 2019. https://t.co/VYXmWpOqZx (http://twitter.com/DrTonyWagner/status/972111489258713088?s=17)
summer camp all summer long for 6 years..? and boarding school..?
when did you interact w parents..?
5 min – merit badges.. really what highschool should be..
12 min – bachelors from .. friends world institute.. study world problems
13 min – by that time.. i knew i wanted to be a teacher
14 min – revolution: transforming individual virtues into social values.. reason i wanted to become a teacher – put on harvard app
i hated harvard ed classes.. loved my electives.. my most fav class was a non credit class.. prof of that said.. teacher’s job was to provoke a convo
15 min – first teaching.. found school w/in school students started by walking out.. so i started writing about how ed wasn’t working for kids.. i being one..
16 min – i knew we needed to develop diff models.. and could do that by trial and error.. so.. met w a student every week.. what do you want to read/write about.. i learned over 5 yrs the importance of intrinsic motivation.. my job as a teacher is to learn that spark of curiosity and give it life.. nearly every kid found it.. some took longer..
today we have the means to listen to and facil daily curiosity of 7bn people..
18 min – cambridge friends school.. disaster.. hardest set back of my entire career..
19 min – focus.. to become conscious of our profession.. by writing curriculum…
? whoa.. conscious .. telling others what to learn..?
20 min – what is critical thinking.. how do we teach/assess it
24 min – schools aren’t failing.. they’re obsolete..
25 min – first identify what does it mean to be a hs grad in 21st cent.. then develop assessment to that..
that’s re imagining ed..? based on hs graduation..?
Tony Wagner (@DrTonyWagner) tweeted at 6:41 AM – 31 Mar 2018 :
Researchers debate the characteristics of this generation, but the results thus far speak for themselves – including new gun control legislation just passed in Vermont. They are our hope for the future. Let’s work with them in every way we can. https://t.co/aY45J04dwI (http://twitter.com/DrTonyWagner/status/980062586745090048?s=17)
perhaps we can listen deeper.. ie: as it could be
(email ted & tony)