Since we’ve launched the applications for our second crop of Ed to Save the World Fellows, several of you have expressed interest in hearing more about us and about the fellowship program. So, if you’ve already read the general Fellowship description and have been thinking about applying, but aren’t sure if this is for you, here’s some more information about the Ed to Save the World and the Fellowship experience.
Where did Ed to Save the World come from?
Julie, Juliet, and I (Krista) are educators who met as colleagues at a charter school in Washington, DC. Working as teachers, administrators, and consultants over the past ten years we have come to recognize the desperate need for transformation in American education. Here’s the way we see it:
Our world faces unprecedented challenges:
- More than a third of the world’s forests have disappeared in the past fifty years.
- Over 70% of the world’s fisheries are chronically overfished.
- Many diseases (including many cancers) have become far more prevalent due to toxins in everyday products like food and children’s toys.
- From 1980 to 2000 the bottom quartile of the world’s people saw their share of global income fall from 2.5% to 1.2%.
- Approximately 500 million chronically underemployed people currently live in squatter camps and slums and it increases by 50 million each year. (figures from The Necessary Revolution by Peter Senge)
Our economy demands that job seekers bring creative approaches to solving human problems:
- U.S. employers rate creativity/innovation among the top five skills that will increase in importance over the next five years.
- 69% of senior business executives in 12 countries agreed ‘today innovation is more driven by people’s creativity than by high-level scientific research’.
- 77% agreed, ‘the greatest innovations of the 21st century will be those that helped to address human needs more than those that created the most profit’. (from the research of Tony Wagner in Creating Innovators)
And young people have a deep desire to address global humanitarian challenges through creative means:
- Many young people are deeply worried about the future of the planet, seek healthier lifestyles and want to make a difference more than they want to make money.
- Most have no desire to climb the corporate ladder and wait twenty years to do something interesting or worthwhile. They have dreams and ambitions that demand time and space – and active nurturing. (Wagner, Creating Innovators)
But, our schools are not tapping into these needs and, thus, students are abandoning school:
- 30% of U.S. students drop out of high school.
- 54% of students who start college do not complete it.
If we want to meet the demands of the 21st century, we need schools that cultivate collaborative innovators with an entrepreneurial spirit who will serve as ambitious, engaged global citizens and make our world more just, healthy, and sustainable.
We know that in order to do this, we need to harness the power of existing movements in education — like the current push for more technology in the classroom or the proliferation of “makers spaces” — to transform away from the industrial model of schooling toward a model that develops the citizen-innovator in every student.
What is the fellowship all about?
The Ed to Save the World Fellowship brings like-minded educators together to collaborate and support one another as we work collectively to transform education. Current Fellows are classroom teachers, school administrators, and leaders in non-profit educational organizations. Here’s how our community works:
1) In-person Fellowship Summit – July
The Fellowship kicks off the first week of July in Washington, DC. We meet for three days, during which time we explore the need for dismantling the industrial factory-model of education and transforming school to meet the demands of the 21st century. We develop collaborative groups and specify goals for a year of working together toward this ultimate vision. For instance, some of our current Fellows have committed to making their classrooms more democratic and student centered. Others developed goals around parent and community engagement. Still others have been working on innovative assessment measures to ensure that we “measure what we treasure.” We hold a symposium where Fellows share their ideas with and get feedback from other leaders in education.
2) Virtual Collaborative Critical Friends Groups – Monthly throughout the year
After our three days of intense work together, we stay in touch and continue to support and learn from one another. We meet virtually in small groups to discuss ongoing challenges and successes.
3) Engaging people outside of the Fellowship – A few times each year
Fellows also commit to writing blog posts or hosting gatherings to involve others in their vision for 21st century schools.
Let us know what other questions you might have — we’re excited to share our vision and hear your thoughts!