Why people under 30 always mess things up

There’s a lot of talk these days about the power of disruption to drive change in often outdated industries. Change is disruptivefamous late author Clayton Christensen says, and industries must respond to threats, or they risk becoming obsolete. According to Krishnan Kaushik, “Disruptive change occurs as a result of innovation in industries, change in business structure or transformation of business models. These fundamental changes disrupt the way an organization conducts its business… According to Forbes, 70% of organizations fail in their transformation efforts and ultimately with change.

This is precisely what is happening across the education sector: new entrants to the field are capitalizing on the public appetite for better learning opportunities for students and the clear need for quality. And the major “industry” giants — for example, public education — have lost their ability to meet consumer demands. The emergence of new technologies and innovative products and services bypasses bureaucracies to impact student outcomes in new and exciting ways. Here are just three examples of how innovators are changing the face of education, all winners of the Forbes 30 Under 30 Education List 2020.

Change what it means to be in the classroom. Classrooms were once filled with quiet students working, reading, or listening to a lecture. The teachers were known to have all the insight and the answers. The students were instructed to absorb this information by listening. In a research study As of 2012, John Hattie found that “teachers speak between 70% and 80% of class time, on average. Teachers teach by speaking. Students listen and regurgitate.

Today, it is widely accepted that students learn best when they actively participate in the learning process alongside their peers. Class discussions are an innovative and necessary teaching method as it promotes verbal articulation, peer teamwork and retention of ideas. But it is often difficult for teachers to generate discussion among a diverse set of learners and ensure that the discussion contributes to student outcomes. This is why Berk Coker founded TeachFX, which empowers teachers by providing them with tools and data to strengthen their classroom discussions. The app uses voice to gather information on ‘student engagement, voice equity and speech patterns in a teacher’s virtual classroom or in person. Like an educational coach, the application provides teachers with targeted educational feedback on their teaching practice.

Take the time to create holistic student-centered learning environments. In the past, teachers were only responsible for educating students about their content, whether it was math, science, language arts, or a foreign language. Mental health was taboo and support was often outdated.

Today educators seek to work alongside experts and families to provide emotional support to students. While providing excellent content instruction is still the essence of the K-12 classroom experience, companies like KlickEngage and Institute of the Spirit of the Child are reinventing the way teachers approach learning to embody a holistic approach to working with students. KlickEngage is a social and emotional learning technology app, where students answer daily questions about their mood and emotions. The app creates tools for teachers, such as a real-time classroom mood preview, and identifies students who are constantly struggling and in need of 1: 1 support. The Child Mind Institute School and community programs work with school stakeholders to “prevent and treat student mental health disorders in schools and communities”. These mental health services are built into the foundation of successful schools, knowing full well that students who are emotionally and mentally fulfilled also have the greatest potential for academic success.

Make technology the key to the future. Before the era of iPads, Chromebooks, Zoom, and Google Classroom, students and teachers used textbooks, chalkboards, and encyclopedias to acquire information. Research reports were compiled after students spent hours in the library using books as their sole source of information. Assessments were almost always done using paper, pencil, and the bane of a student’s testing experience – the scan-tron.

But today, technology is no longer ignored or only a tool for the rich and the fortunate. The importance of technology came to the forefront of the classroom experience during the COVID pandemic, serving as a way to connect and learn, during an otherwise isolated period. Innovators are using the power of technology to provide students with high-quality, rigorous and creative STEM courses and programs. By educating more than 4,800 students in 28 states, MakerGirl is a non-profit organization that seeks to provide 3D printing and design instruction to young girls to bridge the STEM gender gap, where women make up only 28% of the STEM workforce. Since 14% of all jobs in the United States are in the tech industry, educators need to use programs like MakerGirl to take advantage of technology as a project-based learning mechanism.

While these are promising efforts, we still have a long way to go before the K-12 learning environment is radically different from what it was 100 years ago. In many schools across the country, students still sit on desks in vertical rows, face to face, listening to a lecture for hours. The power to disrupt any field is the power to change the outcome. With the continued reinvention of the way education is delivered, we can hope that education will begin to function more as if it were part of the 21st century.


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Norma A. Roth