Stories are powerful. They stick with us. The Heath brothers captured the power of stories in their book, Made to Stick. So true.
We talked about stories a lot this week. Since the Sloan Fellows program started this year, we’ve also shared a lot of them. A classmate sent an email around today inviting everyone to share their stories over the course of the year at MIT’s infamous Muddy Charles on Friday afternoons after class.
Stories are powerful.
This week I heard the stories of various entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, some of whom were once Sloan Fellows. Powerful stuff.
Ric Fulop, co-Founder of A123 and partner in a venture capital firm, Northbridge
Steven Holtzman, Infinity (previously of Millenium Pharma)
Lou Shipley, GM and VP Xen Products
Ling Wong, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
William Sanchez, Cleantech Founder
We also heard from Bill Aulet, Director of the MIT Entrepreneurship Center and entrepreneur of several successful businesses in his own right, and Fiona Murray, Faculty Director of the Entrepreneurship Center.
The week was incredible. There was a lot to take in and a lot to quickly consume and apply. Tough stuff.
Like any new framework or mindset, it’s one that would be incredible to learn early on. Students should be doing this all the time. I’m convinced it’s one of the most powerful things we can be doing in our schools. Academics are a must – you have to know your content to do this work. You also have to have great people skills.
I want to write more, but I’m too tired. Needless to say, I could mine this week again and again. There is so much to process. As a student, there is also so much to try to understand. I am in awe. There is also a lot that’s similar to working for non-profits where you have to pitch donors. Lots of parallels there in terms of preparation, relationship building, and pitch.
Well, many of my colleagues are probably on their 2nd or 3rd beer by now at The Muddy, sharing more stories. Here I sit processing my own.
Spoke to a middle school art teacher today about projects he’s working on with his students. He shared that he’d spent a lot of time first talking to students about how they like to approach an art project – dive in, sketch out ideas, play with different mediums – and how they like to think about the work they’re going to do in relation to their worlds. No surprise, but he found that helping his students connect their classroom work to the world beyond the classroom changes everything for him and them. It gets them talking about what they see outside of school and how it relates to what they’re learning – gets them to bring the outside in.
By the way, he’s asking them to create sculpture projects this year that are functional – they have to be able to “wear” them. Should be very interesting . . .
Treisman wanted to figure out why the African-American students in his college calculus classes performed poorly in relation to their white peers and even more poorly in relation to their Asian-American peers. His curiosity led him to follow students outside of class. In doing so, he learned that the key to Asian-American students’ high performance was the fact that they worked together in groups to understand and solve challenging math problems. They didn’t go it alone, and they didn’t view their group work as separate from their social lives. They enjoyed their social time through their math group time.
These observations led to subsequent research and, ultimately, Treisman setting these groups up specifically for women and for African-American students in his courses. The results have been astounding.
Fascinating what curiosity and a desire to reach every student can do!
5. In a Good School There are High Standards and Expectations for All
6. In a Good School Adults Tell Children the Truth
7. A Good School is an Intimate Community Where Children Find Unconditional Acceptance
8. A Good School is a Thoughtful Place that Honors the Thinking and the work of Teachers and Students
9. A Good School is Simple, Dark, and Deep
10. A Good School is a Place Where People Make a Difference
I’d add that a good school is a place where everyone has opportunities to learn – students, teachers, staff, parents, administrators, etc. – and where learning is valued, where the cultivation of wisdom and reflection is encouraged, and where questioning and curiosity rule the day . . . oh . . . and where laughter and mistakes go hand in hand . . . and where we bring the outside in, where we draw on experts from around the world, and where we encourage self-directed learning . . . thoughtful technology integration is seamless . . . and is about solving real-world problems.
Two new films on education are headed our way. I’m sure they’ll give us lots to discuss and debate. One is titled, Race to Nowhere, and is playing at the IFC theater in Manhattan September 10-16, 2010. The IFC descriptor reads:
A concerned mother turned filmmaker aims her camera at the high-stakes, high-pressure culture that has invaded our schools and our children’s lives. Race to Nowhere points to the silent epidemic in our schools: cheating has become commonplace; students are disengaged; stress-related illness and depression are rampant; and many young people arrive at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired. Race to Nowhere is a call to action for families, educators, and policy makers to challenge current assumptions on how to best prepare the youth of America to become healthy, bright, contributing and leading citizens.