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Participation is Preparation

Together we can re-design our "end in mind"

Why we must transform our preparatory mindset so today’s learners can participate in the challenges of re-imagining our communities.

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Manuscript

Professional Education
50,000 words
25% complete
Berthoud, Colorado
2 publishers interested

Who should read this book? 

Maybe you’re an educator wondering about staying in—and fighting for—our profession? Maybe you’re a student wondering about staying in school, or whether you might want go into teaching? Maybe you’re a parent, citizen, or business owner wondering whether the cost of education is worth it in terms of your child’s time, or taxpayer dime? Teachers, students, and citizens all over the world realize that 20th century models of education are no longer delivering on their promises. Worse yet, they're not helping to deliver the promise of the next generation. We know there’s a problem, and we know there is no shortage of proposed solutions coming from academics at leading universities such as Linda Darling-Hammond, Peter Senge and Daniel Goleman, Tony Wagner, or Yong Zhao. So, why write yet another book about education? My experience in over 100 schools, conversations with education policy makers and politicians, and a strong social media network on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked-In tells me educators don’t need another model that prepares them to transform education. Educators need a learning experience that empowers them! Educators want to get started on the work they believe needs to be done to support learning in their community.

A Synopsis

In this book I’ll argue that the problem is not that we don't know what to do, or that change is hard, or even that change is too difficult to manage. The problem is that we educators cannot escape our own preparatory mindset. What is the preparatory mindset? We’ve all been taught to think education is about giving learners a model, a plan for implementation, and a system for assessing the impact of that model. Trapped in a didactic paradigm that is as old as Roman prescripts for teaching handwriting, all we do is recreate more models for succeeding generations to follow despite the fact that succeeding generations no longer want models.

Why not? The “end in mind” of our current model is an individual who is prepared for a productive life in society as it exists today, or as we imagine it will exist tomorrow. As we stare down the challenges of the 21st century, we are radically changing the standards we believe necessary to prepare youth to meet those challenges. Yet merely changing our notions of the well-prepared individual does nothing to change our preparatory mindset of education, or the societies in which that model exists. Our societies are changing in spite of our models. Contrary to even Dewey’s most basic assumptions, today's young learners come to education far more ready to participate than most adults are willing to admit. 

Succeeding generations equipped by digital technologies with the ability to both learn and produce on their own are no longer willing to wait. They no longer seek such explicit preparatory instruction, because they no longer find it is necessary. They seek instead a chance to participate with their learning, and to assess for themselves whether that learning was useful. In the end, it is we educators who need to change our "end in mind," we who need to transform our preparatory mindset about education. We need to join today’s young learners as they participate in the challenges of re-imagining our communities. 

Why Read this Book?

This book will not be a “how to” manual or an implementation guide. This book is an invitation to a conversation. The first draft, hopefully available in time for summer professional development conversations, will offer a set of learning experiences in which any reader who purchases a draft copy can participate. Each learning experience is grounded in "problems of practice" faced by individual teachers or teams in actual schools with which I’ve worked around the world. Those of you who participate with the first draft may also find a place in the final draft, participating with people like yourself who want to work toward your own goals rather than remaining faithful to someone else’s model. 

As a reader of either draft, you may begin where you wish, and will have the chance to explore "problems of practice" related to Standards, Outcomes, and Global Competitiveness; Student-Centered and Personalized Learning; and Project-Based and Community-centered learning. Once you start participating, you’ll be able to design similar exercises for yourself and your learners, and you’ll be participating in re-designing the educational opportunities you offer. This work--and this book--should be our invitation to learning. Participation is the only thing that will prepare us for what lies ahead in education, and only together can we re-design our "end in mind." If you agree, you'll want to read and participate in this book project.

         Check out myTEDxTalk, Participation is Preparation, from June 2015!


     How Does Funding Help Us Participate in this Book?

Publishizer is an exciting platform for an education author. I opened my TEDxTalk (above) saying I don't like speaking at large groups, but prefer to speak with them. I don't like writing at generic audiences or publishers either. That's why I want to use Publishizier as part of a large social media conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and Linked-In to generate the interest necessary to attract the right publisher. That only happens if you buy a book! Your funding helps convince existing education publishers that you, the readers, want a different kind of book about education: one that will sell because its the book you think might propel your own efforts, not because its full of education buzzwords or canned solutions you're expected to take to scale. 

Assuming we reach the goal of 500 copies sold, much of that funding will go toward working with a publisher to actually produce the book you and I want to produce. Beyond that, some of the larger rewards are an invitation to see this project as an opportunity to participate in this conversation even before the book is finished. If you'd like to discuss the draft, I'm happy to drop in on your conversations. That will help raise money to produce an even higher quality final product. If you want to work together around the draft, that may require a visit to your school. Those funds will be used to cover all travel costs for such work. How much you spend depends on what you want to accomplish! You can always just order a book, but why not make the commitment to be a participant? 

Here are a few more details to consider...


                               TABLE OF CONTENTS

I.    Intro: Why Are So Many Waiting for Someone to Turn 

      Schools Around?

II.   Where Would You Begin?

III.  Standards, Outcomes, and Global Competitiveness? 

IV.  Student-Centered and Personalized Learning? 

V.   Place-based and Community-Centered Learning?

VI.  Reimagining Education as Participation: Three Signs 

      You're Headed in the Right Direction

VII.  Epilogue: A Word about “Authors” and “Authorities”


Chapter Outline

INTRO: Why are So Many Waiting to Turn Schools Around?

A "preparatory" model of education implies one must be prepared before one can participate. Many feel the situation today is only more complicated, and that students must master even more before being allowed to participate. So we and our students are forced to wait. The exercises in this book are designed to help you answer your own, specific questions about all the knowledge that is out there. You don't need to be prepared, you just need to start. 


Chapter I.   Where Should You Begin?

If you put down the book, right now, where would you begin? Would you “begin with the end in mind” and re-imagine the standards and outcomes your students need to master in order to be prepared for the future? Would you begin with where your students are, personally and developmentally, and design learning experiences to help move them where they want to go? Would you begin with your “community” and its “needs,” and if so, how would you define those? These are authentic "problems of practice," and where you choose to begin matters for your own journey through this book.  Dive in where you want to, and later we’ll discuss why I think our preparatory mindset is crippling schools, and the next generation of learners.


Chapter II.  Standards, Outcomes, and Global Competitiveness  

Standards and Outcomes based education is the greatest accomplishment of 20th century progressive education, and there has been no shortage of suggestions about how we might modernize the attributes, knowledge, and skills (ASKs) in the system for the 21st century. Yet all  assume a preparatory mindset where these ASKs must be instilled in the learner rather than “co-created” by learners as appropriate to their needs, and those of their community.

Creative participation can be an act of individual expression. In this section, we’ll explore practices fostering individual creativity and how learners at case study schools create beyond the scope and sequence of the intended curriculum. If THIS resonates with you, you'll continue on to Chapter III. 

Creative participation can also be a response to community needs. In this section we'll explore practices fostering collaborative creativity and how learners at case study schools address community needs beyond the scope and sequence of the intended curriculum. If THIS resonates with you, you'll continue on to Chapter IV.


Chapter III  Student-Centered and Personalized Learning? 

Student-centered personalized education is considered by many to be an antidote to the 20th century industrial model. Yet a preparatory mindset persists whether it is the technology-intensive use of computer-based adaptive learning programs to tailor instruction to individual students, or the labor-intensive shift to personal relationships built upon smaller school and class sizes.

If we truly centered on students, we would be forced to acknowledge that --  despite the very real digital divide -- 21st century learners are well-established as dis-coverers and producers of technically sophisticated content and applications. In this section, we'll explore practices that recognize this capacity, and how learners at case study schools are creating the standards and outcomes they need. If THIS resonates with you, you'll continue back to Chapter II.

Though there is indeed an economic and cultural divide in regard to appropriate social modes of communication, 21st century students are engaged in imagining all sorts of communities that could replace those failing in our contemporary world. In this section, we'll explore practices that see students as community builders, and we’ll discuss how learners at case study schools are creating new modes of social and political discourse and organization that address equity in and beyond their schools. If THIS resonates with you, you will continue on to Chapter IV.

IV.   Place-based and Community-Centered Learning

Place-based or community-centered education is considered by many to be an antidote to the isolation of the 20th century industrial model. Yet a preparatory mindset persists when the community collaborates to create more authentic and challenging learning experiences for students, or when learners are encouraged to leave their formal education at key junctures in order to make more of those formal learning experiences. 

Students’ interactions with the community through authentic projects can only lead to the acquisition of important ASKs if they have a personal stake in those projects. In this section we’ll explore practices that empower students to formulate their own ASKs, and how learners at case study schools are changing the very questions their communities decide to tackle. If this appeals to you, you will continue on to Chapter III.

Students’ interactions with the community through gap years, travel, or internship/apprenticeships based on their interests can only lead to the acquisition of important ASKs if they are allowed to make choices about which ASKS are relevant to their experiences away from school. In this section we'll explore practices that see ASKs as negotiable, and how learners are taking the lead in project design with professional educators to change the ASKs necessary for the 21st century. If this appeals to you, go to Chapter II.


V. Reimagining Education as Participation: Three Signs You're

    Headed in the Right Direction

If the preparatory mindset is the problem, how do you get out of it? Do you need a manual? By now you'll appreciate that participations less about what learning should like, and more about what it does look like once you get going. In this section, we'll consider indicators of evidence to look for in order to know whether you're re-designing the "end in mind." 

Conceptualizing Participation – The Importance of Collaboration as an Experience rather than a Skill to be Taught 

Mapping Participation – The Importance of Delimiting the Field Together rather than Preparing to Cover Everything

Relating to Participation – The Importance of Feedback as a Collaborative Relationship rather than as Something Given.

Epilogue: A Word about Authors and Authorities

For years I’ve declined to write this book, even though many have asked. Given the work I've done in schools the last ten years, why would I want to author a book that offers answers? My answer is that this book speaks not only for me, but for many others: all the voices that contributed to it over the last ten years, and also all those who are inspired as they watch this book come into being. This book is not meant to be an authority. Its meant to be an acknowledgment, and an opportunity. I cannot insist that you read this book as something on which to act, but rather as something with which to act. I look forward to hearing not about your implementation of these ideas, but your appropriation of them. Take this book and do something with it. It’s the only that we can transform our "end in mind."

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Tim Kubik

Tim Kubik

I'm Tim Kubik, and I’d like to invite you to participate with me as I write this book. A nationally respected educational facilitator and speaker with degrees from Yale and The Johns Hopkins University, I've participated in education innovations with over 100 schools in more than a dozen states and six countries. I've also collaborated with three national networks -- Asia Society/International Studies Schools Network, Buck Institute for Education, and World Leadership School--and the local but deeply effective New Mexico Center for School Leadership. I started Kubik Perspectives, LLC in 2010 to bridge the gap between education and politics, and helped to launch Project ARC, LLC in 2014 with colleagues dedicated to empowering teachers and students to be the potential difference in their own growth and development.

And now? I’d like to invite you to participate with me as I write this book. Get a draft version, get into the conversation, and get participating! Together we can re-design our "end in mind."

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