Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Alan November’s TLA Keynote: 1 Feb 05

Alan’s thoughts on what schools and teachers need to do, focus on work ethic and academic rigor, shift balance of control in classrooms more from teacher/school to student, to restructure schools and get kids learning in authentic learning contexts.

Alan November
1 Feb 2005


had minister of education from Singapore came to metroplex to
– question: how do we create leaners who are innovators, creative thinkers, think outside the box, have a sense of entreprenueruship, have a sense of technology, for design and breakthroughs

Alan’s keynote

Texas is such a center for innovation, not surprised people from Singapore came here to learn about innovation

wish I could talk with you instead of telling you things

I have 2 kids
– constantly asks: what is the #1 skill
— has to do with work ethic
— never hears the word “technology”
— kids seem to have a native ability to learn technology

What do you think the trendline of the American worker in terms of work ethic
– do you think the work ethic is as good as it has ever been, or if it has declined
– majority of educators think we are in a decline

scariest part: if you are a MNC, and you need software design, engineering, marketing, architecture
– you don’t need to hire an American today
– can hire someone overseas because of the Internet
– our technology has created a global network of communications

work any desk jobs: law, accounting, engineering, etc: can be moved anywhere where someone can do it faster, cheaper, and better
– if they can do that, it is going to move
– currently, our nation is in massive shift
– Ohio lost 2.5 million manufacturing jobs in last 4 years
– fully expect all manufacturing in Ohio to move out

real concern is not manufacturing
– what is not as obvious: we have 14 million jobs

my brother is a chemical engineer who will lose his job in next 5-10 years

lawyers in Bangalore India makes 20K per year and lives like a king
– in New York City, lawyer makes 80K

first time in history: the competition for the local job (even here in Austin) doesn’t need to be taken by someone in Texas

will come back to the work ethic theme
– when visiting with companies, it is not the school’s fault (not saying that, or blaming the family, not sure what to say)
— seems to be on decline

– none of these are about technology
– I love technology, I am a nerd, but I think we need to ask the right questions

Step 1: end the technology planning committee
– we don’t need to plan for technology, we need to plan for creativity, critical thinking, and a world class work ethic (those 3 things)
– let’s assume every child needs a wireless, handheld devices
— we can assume we cannot move forward as a nation unless all students

if you have not engaged your students in online learning….

if you believe work ethic needs to go up not down, here are Alan’s prescriptions..

1- we need more rigor, not less rigor
— #1 skill corporate clients want: someone who can work without needing a boss to tell them what to do (people who are self-directed, can masure the value of their work, they are tapped into networks, understand networks and change)
— these are hard people to find in the US, not hard to find in some other overseas locations
In early 90’s, IBM lost $90 million a year, they told a bunch of people in chicago to go home and work
– Alan was there
– all of a sudden, people had to organize their own work at home
— many people quit, because they could not handle the work at home, organizing themselves– THEY COULDN’T HANDLE THE FREEDOM

overriding question right now: what is the balance of control between the organizatioin of schoolo managing learning and the learner organizing and controlling learning
– today: school owns too much of that control
– we need to shift some of that to our students in a highly rigorous, disciplined way
– the education design we have inherited (please read today’s NYT editorial section on the history of the American high school)

American HS was purposesly designed for only 10% of our students to succeed at highest level, calculus, etc.
– we have designed schools (according to NYT) to filter more and more students out of the highest levels of academic achievement
– average US elementary school in US does not have a single teacher with a math degree

mathematics is an absolute keystone to understanding complicated programs
– set a goal that 100% of your students will study calculus
– good leaders set high expectations

we have handheld PDAs that can graph falling objects
– can take middle school kids and teach them calculus
– we have underestimated what middle school kids can do

Map on preentation: way the economy works, outsourcing to Bangalore
– india has 350 million people under age 18 has a very elist educational system
– China and India have far more kids than we do

Shanghai has largest online university in the world

another goal to set: within 5 years from today, all of your high school students will take at least 1 course online in order to graduate
– if your grads don’t have the discipline and skills to work online, they are not self-directed and do not have the skill set they will need to succeed

starting tomorrow: you should offer every AP course we have, they are all online
– don’t worry if you have a teacher or not
– American HS was designed so students can only learn what teachers already know
– the limit if what you teach is limited by what your teachers know


quote: my job as a student is to go to school and watch adults try to work

Shanghai produced more computers and cell phones than the US last year
– new high school, every student in this high school has their own office
– producing students who are fearless learners

let me define work ethic:
– old definition in industrial economy: work all day and do what you are told, you won’t talk back, you’ll do a good job
– new work ethic: you don’t need a boss, all curriculum will be online

– they cannot compete with online content
– the limit of paper is signficant compared

doesn’t mean your teachers are less important, they are more important
– you are going to be able to increase what they can do

in this school for 400 kids (that is a magic number for some reason)
– day is divided in half: half the day you are in your office, half the time you are in classes
– because curriculum is online, teacher doesn’t need to be delivering instruction in the traditional / industrial sense

person who runs this school asked Alan to come to school very early
– each of computer stations serve 2 kids: halfway through the day kids go to classrooms from their workstations
– which group comes to school first? the group who has their office come 45 min before the classroom kids, and are already working when class start

irony: by changing the structure of school and empowering students to have more responsiblity for their learning, you can have more rigor than when you try to improve teaching
– for a long time we have tried to improve teaching
– what we really need to do is improve learning
– you can have good teaching all day long without improving learning

this school believes in a lot of student presentations to live, authentic, adult audiences

Alan ended up sending his daughter to the local community college in preCalc
– she is the only teenager
– she said she is not going back to high school,

we need to treat teenagers as if they are adults, get them involved in adult work, we need a rigorous transformation

Gates foundation:, find teh 24 schools they have identified across the nation gearing up for the economy
– not really about technology, it is about shifting control so students have more self-discipline and accept respnosiblity for managing more of their own work

all curriculum online, everyone has a tablet PC, never seen more polite middle school kids

Kids are going at their rate, their pace, which is way beyond our traditional expectations

Where is the teacher? in the room, but the role of the teacher is fundamentally going to change

we are in an amazing and exciting time
– have an opportunity to raise the expectations for the majority of our students

For remaining time, we are going to leave that

state of georgia just signed agreement to provide a wireless hub over the entire state, one antenna covers 33 mile radius
– this means: Georgia is wireless
– this means the state’s students are going to be online 24/7
– just like you build highways, you will build highways for everyone to get online

weird time coming up….

what comes

basic question for internet: who is responsible for the information you read owned by stormfront

MY COMMENT: Alan uses the zoom features in OS X to zoom in on websites

Internet is now #1 source for content
– over 70% of kids today say they use internet 1st for research before print

Google works with crosslinks

219 million hits is the maximum number of hits Google will work

Alan knows how to manipulate search engines, so he can manipulate search engines

kids need to understand the architecture of the web

teach every student to be information literate!
– the real revolution is not technology: it is just used to get to the TTU curriculum, it is what the content is that is flowing through the wires and boxes that is the key

to make himself #1, he took every webpage he has online, made a pointer to his new website

we must teach kids who the author of the website is, kids are being manpualted all the times

challenge teachers to create NEW web based assignments, rather than taking OLD assignments and having them use the web

I was subbing the other day, every child had a laptop

type in hamlet go to free papers website

visiting high school in metroplex, brought a folder with 60 plagiarized papers
– said technolgoy is worst thing that has ever been invented, laid out 60 papers that were plagiarized
– teacher wanted to get rid of technology
– response: we probably can’t

challenge now: create assignments that are much more rigorous and challenging

what is 1 word that comes to mind when I say school: for most kids it is BORING

never met the kid yet who says “school is too easy”

we need more rigor

altavista search “Texas History” and

here is an example assignment
– assignment: find the websites of teachers across Texas based on your curriculum
— compare and contrast nuances and differences between those websites
— you are also teaching teachers to find a lot of content and materials
— this is huge fun

learned something about kids: when you teach kids to find the websites of other teachers…

when you type in Texas history for
– you get 17 hits

do you think the British have a different point of view than Texas history than you do

different kind of assignment: teach every teacher to find a website so kids can understand different points of view by the time they graduate, so they are prepared to work in the global environment

how many of you have blogs?

2 people here do (Patsy Lanclos and I)

Alan recommends every education leader should subscribe to at least 1 business/industry magazine
– fortune magazine lists top 10 technologies that will change the US: blogging is #1

had a big impact on Presidential election

read outside your field

Every English teacher should have a blog
– all her student’s essays are online, you can provide feedback
– can read how other people are commenting on this story
– this teacher did not want to have a blog: if I post all the kids work, my lower level kids are going to feel bad– Alan said it is the opposite, the openness of the student work with ramp up the quality and rigor of the work

LAST DECISION: expand the boundaries of learning
– provide your teachers with powerful learning tools
– let teachers connect kids to the world, connect teachers together
we are at this amazing juncture of the economy, where we will lsoe 14 million jobs, next presidential elections won’t be talking about loss of Ohio manufacturing jobs, they will be talking about Austin

this is a 10-20 year massive transition
– this is a tidal wave that has already started
– need more rigor, more science, more math

technology is not the vision: Fearless Vision
– any student can learn anywhere, anytime, with anyone

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On this day..






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