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Hope and the New Year
#1
Hope may spring eternal, but the end of the year is a strange time in education. January represents a new year, but in the game of school - the holidays represent half time. Summer break made sense in the pre-air conditioned agrindustrial society, but is it still wise for schools to shut down for summer break? Would it be better to provide shorter breaks interspersed throughout the year? Do students regress during the 90 consecutive days of summer? Is this conversation relevant to the current state of education? Are we even asking the right questions about teaching and learning? Ted Dintersmith is.

[ http://wapo.st/1P8RxGe ]

Ted is a former venture capitalist who began questioning our system of education while his own kids were going through the process. The answers he found and highlight in the article above reflect the intent and purpose behind the design of InfusionMatrix. Early in my career I was fortunate to have the opportunity to help students with disabilities. Their challenges ranged from attention deficit, to dyslexia, to mental illness, to down syndrome, to traumatic brain injury. These students were frustrated with school, but I quickly learned that if you could tap into their individual passion - without exception they would exceed expectations.

Later, I was given the chance to develop a gifted education program from the ground up. Not only was it a unique opportunity to create challenging curriculum, but I had access to technology resources that would allow my classes to transition to 1:1 as early as 2006. The fact I had complete freedom to create an entire 3-12 program was never taken for granted. Most teachers spend their lives teaching curriculum that’s a mile wide and an inch deep, and as an educator that terrified me. I hated school. The whole experience of ‘school’ had jaded me toward learning, so I vowed to create an environment that was contradictory to the traditional game of education.

REAL learning focuses on helping students explore their passions by placing them in situations where they can discover creative confidence, be exposed to the tools of problem solving and collaborative learning, and begin developing project management skills that will help them navigate learning. From there we began exploring the biggest challenges facing humanity. Students were hooked, and so was I. Over the next 10 years and countless students I’ve refined the approach to meet each student where they are, and challenge them to begin reaching above and beyond to help both themselves and their communities. Through implementation of technology we’ve been able to make our efforts exponential. As we enter another second half, I reflect on the future of education and the efforts of people like Ted Dintersmith. Once again hope springs eternal.
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