“The students showcased in Most Likely to Succeed represent what’s possible when you give kids more responsibility that you think they can handle and ask them to bring all their knowledge to bear on a single task…” — Fast Company
It is the sad face of a young girl in the opening scenes that catches your attention first. This glum expression belongs to the documentary maker — Greg Whiteley’s — daughter as she appears to be tuning out of school at the grand old age of eight. In a parent-teacher conference, her teacher tells her that this disillusionment needs to be endured, that it is a good preparation for life — and thus we are invited to think about the stories we tell our young people about why they are learning and how we might offer something more authentic and motivating. This is the catalyst for the film, a journey into why largely-Western countries, such as the US, construct education systems as we do and what possible alternative pathways for schooling might look like.
Produced by Greg Whiteley and featuring some of the leading commentators in education today, the documentary film Most Likely to Succeed debuted at Sundance Festival to acclaim and then at festivals internationally
The film takes us first into the compelling story of how digital technologies have accelerated economic and social change, from IBM’s ‘Watson’ winning Jeopardy on TV to increasing unemployment after university for young people who would, in previous years, have been guaranteed a job. We hear about why the ‘industrial model’ curriculum came to compartmentalise previously connected ages and stages — and finally we are drawn into the story of High Tech High, a school in San Diego, California, that embeds deep learning in project-driven experiences. Through the eyes of some of their teachers, their students, their parents and the principal, Larry Rosenstock, we are invited to look at how schooling might be reimagined in ways that harness real-life opportunities, connected knowledge and shifting roles for teachers and students.
Regional screenings of Most Likely to Succeed…
In CORE, we jumped at the opportunity to premier the film in New Zealand at ULearn15 – and then to co-host regional communities around the country to kick off conversations around how we might do things differently.
Enjoy this glimpse of the Wellington screening, co-hosted with the educators’ network #WellyEd:
Described by Education Week as “among one of the best edu-documentaries ever produced”, this documentary has come at a time when educators around the world are responding to new understandings about learning; to drivers such as digital technologies; and calls to think about how we might be more inclusive of young people. From the OECD’s Schooling Redesigned (2015) to Fullan’s New Pedagogies for Deep Learning Clusters here in NZ, the time appears right to check how well we are really creating ‘connected, active, lifelong learners’.
Discussions amongst audiences at the film screenings so far – Hamilton, Kerikeri, Wellington – have been fast and furious. The documentary does not offer easy (or any) answers nor does it proclaim to have found the ‘solution’. Instead, it opens up questions for our own contexts. It seems that, here in New Zealand, it could be our opportunity to lose. Schools, kura and ECE centres enjoy much greater freedom to design curricula than in other countries, there is a growing culture of inclusive, culturally intelligent practice and strong professional curiosity amongst educators. Our curricula documents and devolved systems support the sector to put the learner at the heart and to offer experiences that reflect young people and their communities.
Audiences have commented on the urgency to make changes, the challenge of managing differing expectations of what schooling is and the need to make the most of the freedoms we have here in New Zealand.
Questions to consider
At the screenings we have explored questions such as:
- How can we design programmes that connect previously discrete learning areas in ways that are ‘real’ and authentic for learners?
- How can we share the secret of learning with students so they can take increasing control of their own experiences?
- How can we work closely with whānau, communities and parents to explore how schooling might be redesigned to foster well-being, curiosity, agency and collaboration?
Five ideas for your next steps
For those who attended the screenings, and for those of you still do do so, here are further opportunities to explore the ideas in the documentary:
- Join us at ULearn16: Larry Rosenstock, of High Tech High, will be keynoting! View his address to the ULearn15 audience here.
- Watch the film: The final CORE screenings have been scheduled for 2016, in Christchurch (17th February) and Queenstown (16th March). Watch this space for registration.
- Professional learning: CORE’s online programmes, consultancy and UChoose mentorship offer a wealth of opportunities to unpack learner-centred, collaborative learning for your own school, kura or centre.
- Explore resources: The MLTS website includes a host of resources to stimulate discussion in school. Follow the discussions online #MLTSFilm or even host your own screening.
- Read the book:Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era (Wagner and Dintersmith).