I’m just playing with strands of ideas here…imagining one possible weave or braid.
Strand 1: 10,000 Hours
In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, as well as in earlier work by Howard Gardner, the 10,000-hour rule is posited. Essentially, to become expert, or deeply disciplined and proficient, one typically must commit to at least 10,000 hours of dedicated practice. Hold that thought for a minute…like you’re holding one strand between your fingers.
Strand 2: Tracking Time
Not too long ago, I wrote about tracking my time at Unboundary, and I imagined what a similar practice of tracking time might be like in schools. Now, hold this second strand between another set of mental fingers.
Strand 3: The 7 C’s
In Trilling and Fadel’s 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times, the authors advocate for the traditional 3 R’s (reading, writing, and arithmetic), as well as 7 C’s:
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Communications, information, and media literacy
- Collaboration, teamwork, and leadership
- Creativity and innovation
- Computing and ICT literacy
- Career and learning self-reliance
- Cross-cultural understanding
Now, we can braid and weave.
Do we know how much time our students – the individual students – spend engaged in these seven activities? If a parent asked me, “Bo, I’ve been reading and listening about 21st C education. Can you tell me how much time your students spend in the 7 C’s? Can you explain some examples of how they might engage in the 7 C’s?”
I think I could knock the second question out of the park. I would totally strike out on the first question.
What if we had some sort of “dashboard” that could show us how much time our students are spending in these various C’s? Yes, you know…like the dashboards in our cars.
In our cars, the dashboards give us real-time feedback on speed, oil pressure, engine temperature, fuel remaining, battery voltage, etc. In 2012, couldn’t we have some sort of tech-enabled dashboard for how much time students are actually getting to immerse themselves in and practice the 7 C’s? It’s so easy now for me to examine how I spend my time at work by using the time tracker. I can see what projects I am working on, I can review what and how I am researching, and I can understand where I might need to rebalance my time allotments.
Wouldn’t it be insightful and informative to know, even if just for one day or one week or one month, how much time a student…
- sits in lecture passively listening
- practices communicating with an authentic audience
- engages in collaborative problem-solving for a real-world problem (like a school’s recycling versus trash quandary)
- participates in 3D printer activity to create something useful via Maker methods
By looking at the dashboard, I could see how close my son PJ is getting to 10,000 hours in “Creativity and innovation.” I could review how much time he is getting to engage in “Communications, information, and media literacy.” We could make some great, informed adjustments with this information. Just like we know when to stop for gas, when to adjust our speed, when to add oil to our car.
As a school we could examine aggregates and grouped data. We could look at departments to see if one department contributes more to certain C’s and another department contributes more to a different sub-set of C’s. We could see our bright spots and our areas for growth.
There could even be an app for that!
Driving without those gauges and instrument panels on the dashboard could cause a disaster! Using our dashboard makes us a better driver…and helps us get to where we are trying to go with greater success.
Developing and utilizing such tools could really help a school trying to create its finely tuned pedagogical master plan!