Schools aren’t good at innovation, said Grant Lichtman in a TEDx talk given to teachers in Denver. They are big, bureaucratic, risk averse and affected by politics more than smart education policy. Still, Lichtman spent 89 days driving around the country visiting schools and interviewing teachers, students and administrators about their struggles and solutions to common problems. He saw a lot to give him hope and many schools that have hardly changed at all, partly because change is uncomfortable and messy. But, change is necessary and schools need to embrace the idea of “teaching into the unknown,” since the rapid pace of change makes it impossible to foresee exactly what the future will look like for current students.

Instead, schools need to teach students to be self-evolving, so they can adapt to change as it comes. That means that schools need to become self-evolving institutions themselves, embracing change and preparing kids for their future, not looking back at the past. His challenge to all educators: stop talking about it; start doing it.

  • Grant Lichtman

    Thanks so much, Katrina and Mindshift for highlighting my TEDx talk. My #EdJourney trip last year was a real privilege and the follow-on interactions with 1000+ educators has already led to fascinating insights into how we can more quickly and effectively more the needle of transformative learning. I have a book in progress, have just completed two major articles, and am collaborating with people from all over the country, both inside and outside of education. I would be more than happy to share my learning through these rapidly growing connections with you at any time!

  • Curtis

    I completely agree with you about our educational system being slow to change, if at all. However, everyone puts the burden on the teachers. What few realize is how powerless teachers are to affect the kind of change you are talking about. With the minimal resources and training teachers are given compiled with the laws, regulations, testing, and other demands placed on them, asking teachers to radically change the entire entrenched system is unrealistic. We, our entire country, needs to get behind education.

  • Corey Topf

    Agreed. While Grant Lichtman, Tony Wagner, Will Richardson and others have worked tirelessly to shed light on the need for transformations in education, it’s time to start focusing more on the schools that ARE making a change, rather than the ones that remain stagnant.

    We’ve implemented a new academy at the American School of Lima that we would be happy to share with Mindshift and others. It’s a model that can be implemented anywhere, because it combines four common courses–English, business, media literacy, and an independent project–two days a week. On those days, students remain with a cohort of 15 of their peers, which gives them time to do real projects for real audiences. Students also have the opportunity to leave school to work on internships with professionals in the community.

    The one lead teacher for the academy acts as more of an expert learner and guides students through the projects and helps organize the important content. In the process, students learn valuable skills and content that will help them in whatever they choose to do after graduation.

    If you’d like to know more, here is our website:

    Again, I always enjoy the content on Mindshift, and I look forward to reading more about progressive schools that are making learning more relevant and customized for each child.


    Corey Topf

    • Parienve8137

      мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт…­ ­ViewMore——————————————&#46qr&#46net/kkEj

      I have a book in progress, have just completed two major articles, and
      am collaborating with people from all over the country, both inside and
      outside of education. I would be more than happy to share my learning
      through these rapidly growing connections with you at any time!

  • Fantastic to see someone who gets it delivering this powerful message! We must teach our youth to take their ideas, passions, skills, knowledge and combine with all the tech options to become self reliant entrepreneurs.

  • Jesse

    I find it curious how those that demand change go around spouting buzz words and jargon but they never give meaningful examples of success stories, just anecdotes. Instead of complaining why not actually lead. Use scientific evidence to support your claims. Highlight detailed success stories. Don’t just talk at us. Really is it that surprising that people born and raised in a system, people who were successful in that system, have a difficult time changing. They need tools and actual leaders, not just inspirational leaders.

  • Marshall Hampton

    This talk was all at a high level of abstraction. It would be nice if it had included even a few specific suggestions about how to accomplish a positive change. Without some specifics there will be no impact, just some brief feelings of vague inspiration.

  • Pingback: Bridgewater, Pryor and Smith Make Preseason Award Watch Lists – Card Chronicle | Accessories()

  • Moni Singh

    Well said Grant Lichtman that our goal is to prepare children for an unknown world. In the world of Google, content know how can be easily acquired. So, shouldn’t the focus be on developing intrinsic skills like the motivation to seek knowledge, learning agility, effective communication and collaboration?
    At STEM For Kids, we accomplish that through hands-on activities and coaching to enable them to make meaningful and realistic connections for themselves.


Katrina Schwartz

Katrina Schwartz is a journalist based in San Francisco. She's worked at KPCC public radio in LA and has reported on air and online for KQED since 2010. She's a staff writer for KQED's education blog MindShift.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor