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  • Heather Clayton Staker

8. What School Could Be

Updated: Mar 9

This resource accompanies Podcast 8: What School Could Be, with guest Ted Dintersmith.

Most schools are not geared for the jobs that await today's youth. Memorizing content, replicating low-level procedures, and following instructions are consuming the time that children could spend gaining applied knowledge, developing agency, and practicing higher-order skills to survive in the high-tech world ahead.


So says Ted Dintersmith, a successful venture capitalist who now spends his time and wealth spreading a message that schools need to keep up with future careers.


After visiting more than 200 schools in all 50 states, Dintersmith is convinced that K-12 schools could better match the jobs that will be available when today's youth grow up. He's packaged this message into a hit film, Most Likely to Succeed, and more recent book, What School Could Be.


Watch the Film: Most Likely to Succeed


After I watched Dintersmith's film, it became my go-to answer when teachers and parents asked how they could spark a conversation in their communities about the need to innovate. I recommend scheduling a community screening of the film, followed by town halls to discuss what your own school could become in the years ahead.


Five of the best discussion questions from Dintersmith's Discussion Guide include:

  • How would your school change if college admissions and standardized tests disappeared?

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, what level of urgency does your school community place on innovating to keep pace with the fast-changing demands of career and citizenship?

  • During a typical school week, how much agency do your students have?  How much agency do you feel your teachers have?

  • Would you consider inviting speakers to your school who have achieved success and fulfillment through certificate programs, community college, and entrepreneurship? If you have college pennants and posters visible in your school, would you consider celebrating students who had pursued alternative paths to a fulfilling career?

  • What are your state’s high-school graduation requirements, and are they tied to competencies essential for adults?

Dintersmith has created an Innovation Playlist that suggests realistic ways for teachers to innovate.


I enjoyed interviewing Ted Dintersmith on this week's podcast, Episode 8: What School Could Be. He's sparked a critical, international discussion about the misalignment between rote instruction and testing versus the powerful incubators for successful adulthood that our schools could be.

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