Tuesday, October 1, 2013

MacGyver vs. Bond (Thoughts from Blach)

One of the interesting things about being on the Board is that I get to see the weekly newsletters from all of our schools.  Sandra McGonagle over at Blach always has an inspring story to lead off her newsletter.  I've asked her permission and may occasionally share some of her thoughts, because she's really tuned in to what's going on in kids.  I loved this one because I think it speaks to the change in how we need to prepare our students for the real world..

Blach Banner News
Dear Blach Families,

Not sure if you know this, but I am a pop culture junkie. I love clever references and was recently thrilled to watch a TED talk about the problem solving skills our kids need today that had a great link to two of my favorite pop culture icons, 007 and MacGyver. Marc Chun, an Education Program Officer at the Hewlett Foundation, gave a convincing talk about the need for our kids to be able to transfer their learned skills and knowledge throughout life to solve problems.

When we look at the problem solving skills of James Bond, they are fairly predictable. At the beginning of each film, Q gives Bond a few nifty new tools. It might be an exploding pen, decoding device, or a tape recorder hidden in a camera. At some point throughout the movie, each of these tools is used just in the nick of time. From my experience, this is how much of the problem solving experience at school works. Students might be taught a new strategy or skill and then be given a problem to solve. It’s effective and necessary, but it’s not that exciting.

Cut to MacGyver now. Mac always had a Swiss Army knife and some basic supplies on him, but his genius was in the area of creative thinking. When a problem arose, he was quick on his feet to scan his surroundings and jerry rig some random supplies into something that saved the day. Our kids need to know how to solve problems in this way as well. They should have an entire tool kit of skills and knowledge to choose from and use what works best to solve the problem at hand. In my opinion, this is much more real world than the world of Bond.

Here’s to having both 007 and MacGyver skills!