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THINK Global School’s teachers connect with Harvard’s Project Zero

Project Zero has been around for a number of years analyzing and creating ways to best understand metacognition, or in laymen’s terms, how people think. They have recently been working on global competency skills and thinking strategies that will be relevant to any student around the globe. Project Zero aims to create a classroom culture where Global Thinking Routines (GTRs) are the norm and student thoughts and inquiry are at the forefront of learning.

When we first met with the researchers at Project Zero they asked, what does it mean to be globally competent? I am not sure if they were aware that we had read most of their book before hand. Regardless, their book was fantastic and added focus to my teaching philosophy. My response was that a globally competent student can think, connect, and create – someone that’s aware the Earth is way different than its ever been, and is willing to act.

Yes, this means that even Harvard agrees that standardized testing is a waste of time and money, and that our current educational system in the US and abroad is antiquated and inadequate for keeping up with the 21st century. Thinking, flexibility and design need to be the focus of today’s learners. Ken Robinson, educational theorist, has explained that our model of education was designed during the Industrial Revolution to create workers, and that an educational paradigm shift is crucial to our survival.

Last year, I read an article in Fast Company magazine titled “Generation Flux,” and it described the workforce that todays students are going to be entering into. It is vastly different than what we now know, it will have jobs that currently don’t exist, and will rely on workers creating smart solutions to the problems that the previous generations have caused. They will need to be able to see a problem, be willing to act on it, and most importantly be able to create a solution. This was not the first time I had come across the idea of students as ‘solutionaries,’ I remember watching an excellent TED talk given by Zoe Weil while I was writing my essays for Virginia State Teacher of the Year in 2012.

Project Zero outlines three main global changes that make GTRs essential:

  • Migration – with globalization running its natural course we are seeing culture clash in nearly every country with the exception of Bhutan perhaps (which is also doing a whole lot of modernization). Openness and cultural understandings are pivotal to making these migrations harmonious. In classrooms around the world this multicultural can take place through digital connections.

  • Human Rights – with growing populations the world over and food shortages and drought comes important questions of survival and compromise. Through learning empathy and compassion our student leaders of tomorrow should be better prepared to navigate the ethnic divides and avoid repeating some of the worst events in history.

  • Environmental Sustainability – with the changing climate and population growth, we are doing more harm then good to the environment. We live on an ever-changing planet and have stopped adapting to it, and are falsely trying to make it adapt to us. Students will need to rethink a lot of the 20th century practices that deplete our ozone layer and contaminate our oceans and streams.

I am excited to continue working with the educational researchers at Harvard on this project!

Cross posted on THINK Spot.

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