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Future Wise: Educating Our Children for a Changing World Hardcover – August 4, 2014
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From the Inside Flap
“Why do we need to know this?”
This standard student question can be annoying, but it is a version of one of the most important questions in education: What’s worth learning in school?
“When that ballistic missile comes from the back of the room, it’s a good reminder that the question doesn’t just belong to state school boards, authors of textbooks, writers of curriculum standards, and other elite. It’s on the minds of our students. This entire book is about how we answer that question.”
—FROM THE INTRODUCTION
In Future Wise: Educating Our Children for a Changing World David Perkins, founding member of Harvard’s Project Zero, offers a toolkit for thinking through “what’s worth learning?” There is no one answer, but with the information and insights Perkins shares, teachers, administrators, curriculum developers, politicians, parents, and even students can take a big step toward a curriculum that truly prepares learners for life in a complex, changing, and challenging world.
Throughout this vital resource, Perkins explores the key concepts, curriculum criteria, and techniques for prioritizing content so teachers can guide students toward the big understandings that matter. By reimagining the curriculum, teachers can go beyond the basic skills and cultivate critical and creative thinking, as well as the collaborative, leadership, and entrepreneurial skills that speak strongly to living and thriving in any era. With a new focus, educators can encourage learners to not simply master content academically, but also to notice where content connects to life situations, yields insights, and prompts productive action.
As Perkins explains, what is conventionally taught in our schools today may not develop the kinds of citizens, workers, family, and community members we want and need. The basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic, even if strongly developed, aren’t enough. Future Wise shows that only by reimagining what we teach our children can we lead students down the road to learning that is truly lifeworthy.
From the Back Cover
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR FUTURE WISE
“Rarely does a book come along that can change the way we view the world. This is a must-read book, not just for educators, but for anyone who cares about education or, indeed, lifelong learning. David Perkins does not tell the reader what should be learned in schools – he takes the reader on a journey to clarify his or her own goals and priorities for ‘lifeworthy learning,’ a truly enlightening journey.”
—Charles M. Reigeluth, professor emeritus, School of Education, Indiana University
“We are working so hard in this country on the details of school improvement that we don’t always stop to consider the big picture – if we are actually working on the right things. David Perkins has long helped us address the essential question of how do we know what students understand. In this important book he gives us a fresh vision of curriculum: how do we know what is worth teaching and learning?”
—Ron Berger, chief academic officer, Expeditionary Learning
“In Future Wise, David Perkins, the author of Smart Schools and Outsmarting IQ, continues his tradition of insightful, visionary and original analyses of the present and the future for education. Educators, policymakers, researchers—you cannot afford to miss this book.”
—Gavriel Salomon, professor emeritus, University of Haifa, Israel
“I have worked with David Perkins for close to half a century and whenever I am in his company, I still learn from him. In this seminal book, David powerfully and gracefully shares with the world of educators his incomparably deep thinking about teaching and learning.”
—Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
“David Perkins, preeminent authority on learning and teaching, offers profound insights into the purpose and content of twenty-first century schooling. For educators in the Information Age, this is an essential, enthralling read; a book for global excogitation.”
—Rod Rock, superintendent, Clarkston Community Schools, Michigan
Top customer reviews
One of the pleasures of being part of Jossey-Bass’s Teacher Ambassador group is the invitation to look at and to consider some of the new titles from Jossey-Bass and Wiley. Teacher Ambassadors within the program are invited to select from the Jossey-Bass/Wiley catalog of titles to choose one title per “cycle.” In this last cycle, I chose David N. Perkins’ 2014 title, Future Wise: Educating Our Children for a Changing World.
Professor Perkins meets head-on the most challenging question we teachers face within our classrooms: “Why do we need to know this?” The traditional response to this question may be along the lines of defense of one’s content area coupled with a pointing toward “the real world” outside of school. Perkins offers an alternate viewpoint in his book suggesting that if the question has been building within the student and has now been verbalized, it is now within the learning community and it can be discussed. Perkins uses the introduction of the book to explore this question from its “uppity” expression seeing it more as a means of asking, “What’s worth learning?”
From the introduction, Perkins invites the readers to go “beyond” this simple question with a framework he calls the “six beyonds.” For this reader, the six beyonds were a framework for essential questions that might be explored by a school leadership team as a sort of formative assessment. In what areas of our schools do we go “beyond” the traditional delivery of instruction and in what areas might we be “behind?”
Perkins makes no attempt to suggest what content areas or the embedded skills within a content area might be considered “lifeworthy learning” but asks the reader to consider this in the following ten chapters. What Perkins does offer is a framework which he calls “quests” from which educators can assess instruction for how it approaches “lifeworthy learning”:
1. Identifying Lifeworthy Learning
2. Choosing Lifeworthy Learning
3. Teaching for Lifeworthy Learning
4. Constructing a Lifeworthy Curriculum
In each of the ten chapters, Perkins comes back to these “quests” in order to discuss a little deeper the idea presented within that chapter.
Chapter 1: Lifeworthy Learning: Where Knowledge Goes in Learner’s Lives is the one wherein I did most of my annotating with arrows and underlines, I felt that Perkins draws the reader in to consider the introduction of the idea for thoughtful discussions to come. The groundwork for the book is laid out nicely within a chapter that explores what education is and what education could be. Embedded in this first chapter and found in the following chapters are a series of “Try This” boxes that make Future Wise an excellent choice for book study groups reading independently and then coming together in a group.
In the chapter, Learning Agendas, Perkins extends the metaphor of “soft tires” to describe how material is delivered and how it is received by the students in the room. Here is a quote that struck me as a reader: “Basic education should build expert amateurism more than expertise. The expert amateur understands the basics and applies them confidently, correctly, and flexibly.”
Big Understandings was another chapter that held me in the book as the annotating the ideas. The extended definition of “Big Understandings” was a place wherein I wanted to find a learning community around this book quickly.
Perkins goes deeper and deeper into the subject of content area delivery, the “seven seas of knowledge,” and the bigger picture emerging from themes expressed when we talk about twenty-first century learning. I come back to the idea that the ten chapters presented here would work very well for a book study group which might explore the Introduction together and then take the course of a school year to consider the ideas presented by Perkins.
For the number of titles I get to read that offer an approach, Perkins’s book offers an opportunity for thoughtfulness. There is an opportunity here for readers here to “go to the balcony” to consider deeply what learning is, what knowledge is, and what education can be if we continue to thoughtfully consider THESE subjects before we present OUR subject within the classroom.
A book review should be short, but there is so much to consider wihin this title. My next step as a Teacher Ambassador is to find others to share this title with me by way of reading together and sharing together from the ideas presented in Future Wise.
~ by paulwhankins on March 6, 2015 .
I had the privilege to attend Dr Perkins's lecture at the V International Visible Thinking Conference, March 2015 at FIU. In his book Future Wise Dr Perkins puts us in contact with "big understandings: learning that matters in learners' lives".
Perkins raised an important question for his readers, “what is actually worth knowing, learning and understanding for a student in the digital age?” The book has created both a dialogue and inquiry for teaching in the 21st century.
Perkin’s book provides an essential toolkit of ideas for educators to contemplate as we work to revamp the fundamental ideal of what will learning in school look like and matter in the current world we live and as we move further into the 21st century.The reader particularly found the ‘try this’ activities noteworthy. They provided as a Launchpad into the inquiry cycle. In addition, the thorough ‘re-imaging education’ analysis located at the end of each chapter.
If you are serious about making transformational changes in the sector of education, it is imperative that we begin to have the critical conversations on how and why to make more informed curricular choices-Future Wise is the start.
U.S. Department of Education Teaching Ambassador
White House Champion of Change Educator
Jossey-Bass Teacher Ambassador
Lover of learning and education!