Becoming Brilliant: Reimagining Education for our Time

brookingslogoBecoming Brilliant, a new book by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff explores the definition of brilliance in the modern information age. Below, excerpts from a post in the Brookings Blog provide an overview of this new way of thinking:

The amount of knowledge available in books and online is doubling every two and a half years. The consequence? Even if we knew every bit of information available today, we’d be at a 50 percent deficit by 2018 and 75 percent by 2021! If our education is founded solely on our ability to learn facts, we will not succeed in a Google and Wiki world.

Education is often relegated to our schools, but sadly across the globe there are cries that our systems are failing our youngest citizens. Children graduating from the K-12 system are largely unprepared for workplace challenges. CEOs across the world look for strong communicators, creative innovators, and expert problem solvers. Yet, formal schools remain narrowly focused on a definition of success that includes only outcomes in reading, writing, and arithmetic with little attention to the needs articulated by the business community.

Becoming Brilliant reimagines what successful learning looks like in a dynamic, global world.  The American education system must move from the more traditional definition of success as good test scores in reading, writing, and mathematics (with a little science and social studies thrown in) to one that prepares our children to become competitive business leaders, entrepreneurs, and scientific pioneers.  Success should be best judged by outcomes that nurture happy, healthy, thinking, caring, and social children who will become collaborative, creative, competent, and responsible citizens.

Ways of achieving this goal can vary dramatically; however, a common core of skills should feed the new definition of success. Based on research in the science of learning, we propose six key competencies:

  1.    Collaboration: the ability to work with others, to have social-emotional control, and to form communities.
  2.    Communication: the ability to develop strong language skills, excellent listening skills, and strong reading and writing outcomes.
  3.    Content: competencies in subject areas but also in learning to learn.
  4.    Critical thinking: the ability to sift through information intelligently and to weigh evidence.
  5.    Creative Innovation: the ability to use information in new ways to solve obvious and undefined problems.
  6.    Confidence: the ability to learn from failure, to persist in a problem, and to have grit.

Each of these skills is interrelated and builds on one another, continually improving across a person’s lifespan. Each is malleable, and each is measureable. Further, each is as adaptable to the classroom as it is to the boardroom. Collectively, the “6Cs” offer a dynamic and systemic way of achieving a new vision of successful education.

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