Chris Lehmann

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US

“If we understand that an active, engaged citizenry is the only pathway to a better world, then we understand that the role we play in school has to help it, right?”

CEO, the Science Leadership Academy school network; Founding Principal, Science Leadership Academy – City Center, Philadelphia; Co-Founder, Inquiry Schools; Co-Author, Building School 2.0: How to Create the Schools We Need; Co-Founder, Educon (annual conference)

(5) Big Ideas from the Podcast: 

  • why inquiry-based / real-world learning models foster the “21st Citizenry that we all need”
  • we must create “cultures of caring” that serve both students and educators
  • why the principal’s office should be located in the physical heart of a learning community, accessible to all by design
  • what purposeful systems-based coaching makes possible
  • why Ultimate frisbee is a powerful team / player experience (and catalyst for learning)

Kiran Bir Sethi

Ahmedabad, India

“I never say that we’re the most successful school in the world. But we do know that we are the type of school that the world needs most right now.”

Founder, Riverside School, (Ahmedabad, India); Founder, Design for Change (in 63 countries); Ashoka Fellow (since 2009); Founder, aProCH (making cities children-friendly)

(5) Big Ideas from the Podcast: 

  • how a mother’s dream to create something for her own children grew into something truly global in scope and impact
  • why joy matters so much when it comes to schools that matter – to their kids, to their families, and to their community
  • why you should challenge an over-designed curriculum (“it can get so heavy”) by offering lighter frameworks that even the youngest child can take advantage of 
  • the ‘one thing’ that a school leader could do next to uncover incredible opportunities for her / his school
  • while students now have access to limitless content, what they truly need is more time to pause, reflect, and notice

Dr. Brett Jacobsen

Atlanta, Georgia, US

“You cannot have innovation fatigue unless you are in the arena constantly trying to innovate.”

CEO of The Mount Vernon School (Atlanta, Georgia), The Mount Vernon School Online (global) and Mount Vernon Ventures (global) portfolio of campuses / organizations; “Most Admired CEO” by Atlanta Business Chronicle (2017) 

(5) Big Ideas from the Podcast: 

  • the vital importance of choosing to “fail up” as a community
  • one benefit of the pandemic: realizing that learning is no longer tied to time, space, or place
  • why leaders must ensure all colleagues are given space and support to have a “revival of meaning and purpose” in their daily practice and career
  • advice to other Heads of School: “take the long path” by thinking of yourself as an “ancestor” of future generations from now
  • how the school’s faith-based foundation naturally led to Mount Vernon becoming one of the most recognized leaders in the US (and beyond) in human-centered design thinking methodologies, inquiry-based learning practices, and innovation on and off campus

Dr. Christopher Emdin

Los Angeles, California, US

When the indigenous and neoindigenous are silenced, they tend to respond to the denial of their voices by showcasing their culture in vivid, visceral, and transgressive ways.

Robert A. Naslund Endowed Chair in Curriculum Theory & Professor of Education, Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California (USC); Scholar / Griot in Residence, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (NY); (previous) Associate Director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education and Director of the Science Education, Teachers College, Columbia University (NY); Creator, #HipHopEd, Science Genius BATTLES, and the CREATE Accelerator; “New York Times” Best Selling Author,For White Folks Who Teach In the Hood and the Rest of Ya’ll too

(5) Big Ideas from the Podcast: 

  • the ‘A’ in STEAM is more than the ‘Arts’ – it is also ‘Ancestory’ and ‘Authenticity’
  • “Every day is your chance to manufacture a piece of magic in the world.”
  • advice to schools and school leaders: “When we begin at learning, we devalue curiosity. When we rush to foster learning without invoking curiosity, we end up with a life-long accumulation of empty facts that have no roots. Curiosity provides the roots. It allows you to make meaning.”
  • music as the ultimate co-teacher
  • why ‘discovery’ may not be as important as ‘recovery: “School at its best is a process for recovery, particularly for the black and brown children I work with” because “school can devalue who you were before you arrived.”

Gever Tulley

San Francisco, California, US

“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work though difficult problems…When we protect children from every possible source of danger, we also prevent them from having the kinds of experiences that develop their sense of self-reliance, their ability to assess and mitigate risk, and their sense of accomplishment.”

Founder, Brightworks School; Co-Founder / Toy Inventor, Tinkering Labs; Co-Founder, Tinkering School; Author, “Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)” & “Beware Dangerism!“; Speaker, TED (big stage in 2009)

(5) Big Ideas from the Podcast: 

  • his school purposefully “looks for evidence of magic” and was launched to defend the idea that “everything is interesting”
  • why would you invite a kid to “be a robot on Mars” as a strategic response to Covid and how do you scale that invitation to kids around the world?
  • build in “improvisational collaboration” across a school -> “create serendipitous overlaps where things emerge”
  • why an accessible power tool wall (drills, drivers, saws, etc) implicitly says to a young person: “We trust you” and “Use what you need to explore your idea”
  • letting elementary, middle, and high school kids co-build a 2-3 story structure called “Kid City” in an empty warehouse helped the school’s vision and pedagogy become real to everyone in year one

Saba Ghole

Boston, Massachusetts, US

“We teach students how to navigate the messiness of the creative process, from inception to completion, by prototyping and testing.”

Co-Founder / Chief Creativity Officer, NuVu Studio & School; Urban Designer (Masters, MIT); Affiliate, Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society (research focus: the intersection of youth, education and technology); INK Fellow.

(5) Big Ideas from the Podcast: 

  • when visiting NuVu, you see high-visibility “works in progress” and “a culture of visualizing and sharing process” where it becomes possible to see how an idea evolves over time, where you can “see everything that a person is thinking”
  • NuVu instructors don’t often “know where things are headed” most of the time, but they are experts at building a foundation to help students know how to think
  • projects like “cyborg enhancement” are about enhancing human abilities by imagining both the future and also deep diving into diverse cultural legacies
  • how their students figure out that “learning rests on their shoulders” once they begin to “honor the strength of their work”.
  • they architecturally designed their spaces “to shift over time”.

Rosan Bosch

Copenhagen, Denmark

The pandemic has made it very clear that we need to be able to learn anywhere. By placing the learner at the center – not only in the build environment but in all learning situations – learners can unleash their natural born curiosity and achieve 21st century skills that prepare them for an unpredictable future.

Founder / Creative Director, Rosan Bosch Studio (Global) focused on “creating playful learning spaces and innovative schools for creative and critical thinkers,” Author, “Play to Learn: Designing for Uncertainty;” “Designing for a Better World Starts at School“; and “Planning Learning Spaces: A Practical Guide for Architects, Designers and School Leaders.

(5) Big Ideas from the Podcast: 

  • “Space isn’t the solution; it is a tool.”
  • the “Pedagogy of Play”
  • you can’t force anyone to play but you can “train your playfulness”
  • why does everyone – including teachers and administrators – need to learn how to fail to design better possibilities
  • a question for school leaders: Do we treat our community as a living, breathing creatures who need different things or do we treat them as efficient machines moving towards the same outcomes?

Daniel Kinzer

Honolulu, Hawaii, US

“My experience during COVID has strengthened my belief that our industrial, educational systems need to be transformed into decentralized, highly autonomous, community and place-based units connected in a learning and living ecosystem.”

Founder, Pacific Blue Studios; Grosvenor Teacher Fellow, National Geographic Society; Leader Community Technologist, Purple Mai’a Foundation; Community Huki Leader, Malama Maunalua.

(5) Big Ideas from the Podcast: 

  • how do you build a global network for exploring ideas together?
  • “Great teachers are not delivering great content; they are nurturing great communities.”
  • being a National Geographic Society ‘explorer’ on expeditions from Antarctica to Hawaii
  • being part of a research project to connect the ‘myth’, ‘magic’ and ‘science’ of sharks to the ancestral pathways of ancient and modern island cultures
  • collaborating daily with hundreds of classrooms and thousands of students from around the world as his team livestreams new discoveries while mapping the deep ocean floor

Scott Witthoft

Austin, Texas, US

“One of the cheapest ways to make a place active is to actually activate it with people—this is intuitively obvious, but is actually often overlooked. One of the most successful techniques people share with us is simply occupying an otherwise vacant spot—an off-cycle conference room, a lobby, a hallway. Find a place and do something there. Someone will either join in or send a memo. Either way, mission accomplished.”

Adjunct Lecturer, (d.school) Institute of Design, Stanford University; (previous) Associate Professor of Practice, University of Texas; Co-Author, “Make Space: How to Set the Scene for Creative Collaboration” and “This is a Prototype: the Curious Craft of Exploring New Ideas.”

(5) Big Ideas from the Podcast: 

  • be awesome at asking questions; linger longer in the questions
  • the positive power of “not-working-ness”
  • the negative irony of creating a ‘space for prototyping’ (like a formal maker space) can sometimes mean that prototyping doesn’t happen anywhere else
  • why Scott advocates for the inefficiency of teaching collaborations: “my knowledge is as not the boundary for any topic.”
  • prototyping isn’t ultimately about the ‘thing’ you design or the ‘solution’; it’s about “embodying questions” that need to be explored

Raya Bidshahri

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Founder / CEO, School of Humanity; Senior Project Manager, SciFest Dubai; Founder, Awecademy; BBC’s “100 Most Influential Women” (2019);

(5) Big Ideas from the Podcast: 

  • make “more time to make more mistakes”
  • they offer no classes; they only offer interdisciplinary challenges (and workshops) 
  • School of Humanity invites learners to ‘act’ upon great challenges; they are not pressured to ‘solve’ those challenges
  • designing Orientation Week for the entire family, not just the learner: “Support from and for the entire family is critical in a truly online school.”
  • everyone (learner, facilitator, family, partner) arrives with her/his own ‘why’

Jaime Casap

Phoenix, Arizona, US

“Don’t ask kids what they want to be when they grow up. Ask them what problems they want to solve.”

Venture Mentor, Coplex; (previous) Chief Education Evangelist, Google; Co-Founder, Phoenix Coding Academy; Co-Author, “On Our Street: Our First Talk About Poverty;” Founder, Ghetto People Productions; Education Video Blogger.

(5) Big Ideas from the Podcast: 

  • “Education often gets in the way of learning.”
  • “The world of education is not broken. It’s doing exactly what it was made to do. The world around education changed.” Thus: “our Education system is no longer relevant.”
  • “You don’t fail or succeed; you just constantly iterate.”
  • “Google for Education” launched two weeks after Jaime joined the Engineering team at Google; they wanted to “change communication and collaboration in education.” There was no expectation of entering the K-12 market until they noticed iPads; the K-12 work began with one client in Oregon to show proof-of-concept that the Chromebook made it so that any kid is “on campus” no matter where they are
  • key to the future: doubling down on “Human Skills” like storytelling or managing a problem: “I don’t care what my daughter’s subjects are. I just want her to be able to collaborate, solve problems, etc.”

Dan Garvey

Hampton Bays, New York, US

“Too often we catch ourselves up in the seriousness of life and overlook the importance of laughter. I appreciate the opportunity to act as an “adult”, but we can never forget that even as adults we have to smile whenever we get a chance.”

Science Teacher, Mount Sinai High School (New York); (previous) Educator, THINK Global School.

(5) Big Ideas from the Podcast: 

  • why he believes: “Show kids you are willing to step into an uncomfortable realm of learning yourself.”
  • building a process so that you as a teacher can step back so that the students own what lies ahead
  • why he believes an ideal PBL project is one that “slows time down”
  • 2 barriers to PBL adoption in traditional schools: 1) schools measure the quantitative (from college matriculation to schools impacting local real estate values), and 2) existing learning cultures in a school or the larger community itself
  • what years of spearfishing have taught him about honoring the ‘learning’ process. Hint: the fish is not actually the goal.