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harvesting expert tutors

I think most people (if they had this amazing text 2.0 tool for conversation even) that could wrap their head around the idea of a personal learning network per passion – would sell out to it. Yes – even public school – even the politicians. {stay with me – don’t go off on some tangent argument – not even in your own head}

So – let’s say we all buy into that (call it a dream if you want) concept.. that personal learning networks per passion are the way to redefine school ..up your production at work ..optimize every area of your life.. every opportunity… every relationship…solutions to every problem in the world.

My passion has lost you.
Please come back.

Let’s just say… you think personal learning networks – per passion – have some merit.

The key element to making that work are expert individual tutors. In order to optimize.. we need to stretch.. and to optimally optimize.. we need someone to lead, guide, and facilitate that stretch.

One of the biggest questions we’ve been asked through all this redefine school push.. has to do with the expert tutors. They do seem to validate this in a lot of people’s minds.
Where will they come from?
How do we know if they are honest and really know their stuff?
Will there be enough? ..willing to give of their time?

Just yesterday – I got the privilege of being introduced to

I’m thinking Seeducation – might just be our harvest of expert tutors. I scanned their site as slowly as my passion would let me.. I checked out Noam Kostucki (founder of Seeducation) via his TedxWarsaw talk

I posted my biggest take away on his talk.
{gems like: all we need is the confidence that being good to each other is clever}
I started following the people of Seeducation.

I want to challenge you and encourage you to do the same. We need smart eyes and ears on this idea. Could this be a marriage of public ed  to a ripe harvest of giving experts?

I’ve spent the last two weeks thinking public ed as we know it just has to end. And it does. But this is the dream redefine school has had… to not just charter ourselves away.. leaving those who can’t behind. This truly seems a way to leverage the opportunity to optimize every student’s learning (young and old) and create the world we all dream of.

I found out about Seeducation because it was one of 3 in a vote for a the Linchpin Magazine’s Charity partner. Lucy Buck of Childsi is a dear friend, so I knew that was a Linchpin shoe-in. I have heard and seen all the great work Kiva does. I was very curious who this Seeducation was – nudging back and forth with Childsi.

So, Lucy Buck, – what if Childsi and Kiva now garnish all the support and expertise they need – through school children even.. because we are all working together.

What if school does become real life?

What if we assess a school on process (pln) rather than content?
I see the need for k-12 public buildings.  Places where wifi and tool of choice is available and pln facilitators are many – and face to face experts are happy to finally be face to face experts in their field vs discipline experts.
But esp by middle/highschool – we have to change it up to perhaps a food court look – of plns optimizing their time and space … accessing this Seeducation harvest of expert tutors.

Another hot topic – science and math – what about dr’s and chemists, etc..

Well – what if that is what the colleges and uni’s are all about. I mean – as it is – we don’t value the reason for coming together in ed. We just come together – because we always have. What if every time we determine a face to face… it’s because we’ve optimized all our intellect and research (by mashing up Junto and Text 2.0 even and checked into Kahn Academy) .. so that lab time – is keen lab time. And it’s only with those so passionate about the research and the chem and the bio and the engineering and the math…  specialized, empowered, innovative gatherings. Places like Avago – start happening in those uni buildings, in labs like Stuart Tobet’s.

What do you think guys?..

About monika hardy

a nother way


20 thoughts on “harvesting expert tutors

  1. Okay, Monika,
    I’ll bite.

    Playing devil’s advocate here, but with some serious questions. I have just finished (well, almost) Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America ( and I agree with the authors that elementary schools need to remain in place (although I wan them to look very different), partially for (realistically) childcare and partially to teach kids the skills of reading, writing, arithmetic and the searching/critical analysis skills they’ll need in your food court. (“But esp by middle/highschool – we have to change it up to perhaps a food court look”)

    However, where do we teach kids those democratic ideals we’ve referred to here earlier? Does that also happen in elementary schools? (I obviously say yes–

    BUT, where does the socialization occur? Where do they learn the common core of information/knowledge/facts about our life as Americans that tends to unify rather than diversify/separate us? Where do kids learn that we are more alike than different in being human? Where do kids learn that “public” viewpoint (as in Thomas Jefferson’s idea of public)–not the individualistic one that pervades our society now? When do kids learn common subjects/knowledge.etc. that we can use to begin conversations in cocktail parties or on elevators or in busses, or at the mall to meet new people? (I am NOT arguing for E.D.Hirsch’s core knowledge here, but a basic understanding of conceptual ideas, a context for understanding the news/what’s going on in the world.)

    If everyone is pursuing their own passions–or the ones pushed upon them by their parents as youngsters simply by the exposure of their lives, then where does the exposure to other topics, other opportunities, other avenues happen?

    I think perhaps when we have conversations about changing/revolutionizing schooling, we need to think differently about younger and older students. I also am beginning to think about what in the world re-visioning elementary school would look like.

    My next post here will share an idea our school is considering trying next year that could be incredibly powerful. . . .is in process now, concerning this very idea of tutors.

    Thanks for pushing us onward,


    Posted by Paula White | June 12, 2010, 11:11 am
    • Paula, you raise excellent questions that I have been pondering since I started following this blog. Essentially, what are the prerequisites of democracy?

      My own daughters just finished 4th and 6th grade. The routinely amazes me with scientific observations and explanations about day to day phenomenon. When I ask how they know, 9 times out of 10 the answer is, “Mythbusters.” When I think back to my own studies of science in school, I remember that even through my AP biology class, most topics were framed in my mind around how MacGyver could use those principals combined with a wad of chewing gum and a roll of duct tape to make his escape.

      I think that much of the common knowledge that needs to be transferred can be done through edutainment. Especially when there is the opportunity to rewatch episodes.

      This process could be automated much as Pandora Radio suggest songs based on how I rated previous items. And who provides all the content? Well isn’t that what middle and high-school students are for?

      Posted by Rick Ashby | June 13, 2010, 4:14 pm
    • Thank you for this response Paula.

      I want to echo this too Monika, a position I bring to you with a sense that much of what I have written in my life supports the break up and take down of public education as we know it.

      What, if any value, does the collective socializing institution of school have in our culture? What would be lost if we do away with it altogether? And who would suffer most?

      In other words, how can we ensure that what you suggest does not just serve middle and upper middle class students, those who are already deeply privileged by the accident of being born to middle class parents?

      Posted by kirsten olson | June 17, 2010, 9:04 pm
      • i love this place.. the push we’re giving each other.

        in reading the design of business by martin – i’ve heard a lot of his terminology before.. but the ideas have never resonated in me like they are now.

        one insight in particular martin is giving me is how to be bold with innovation.
        he talks of innovation – how you can’t map it out or prove it with data.. but only by validity -over time. and that validity most often is trumped by those that are reliability-oriented. which we know causes stunt in growth over time. so we must embrace both – reliability and validity – which is what he calls design thinking.

        so to your question.. how can we ensure… well i guess we can’t just yet with our particular model that starts in the fall. i do have a very intuitive, gut feeling that we will be blown away by the different students who will find their niche. there are a couple students already that i just can’t wait to see what they do.
        and we are asking teachers that if they have students just not connecting next year – to send them to the lab – try out a different approach. we’ve all heard of people coming from most unfortunate circumstances to become remarkable – all because someone helped them find their passion. i believe that will happen with personal learning networks.

        another piece i find outstanding.. the research i’ve done in wondering how kids would redefine school… top priority to a t has been that school has to matter and a bit part in mattering is in gifting back. within this model they’ve designed – kids are creating courses to help students with impoverished backgrounds.

        i believe leveling out of ed – scaling out of access and opportunity to learn – can happen best if we let kids design ways to level it.
        and if we take the time needed to listen to their hearts… and help set them on the venture toward what they want to be when they grow up.

        Posted by monika hardy | June 17, 2010, 10:40 pm
      • This is a good question to ask, Kirsten, and I appreciated it also in your comments on my democratic school green paper.

        I was at a professional development session yesterday playing the numbers game to help my school score some literacy intervention materials by virtue of my enthusiastic presence. It was exactly how I remembered traditional professional development.

        Needless to say, I engaged in several sidebar conversations, including a few about my school in which I sold the heck out of it to division teachers from general ed middle schools.

        Fortunately, I had worked at some of these schools before and could provide examples and counter-examples of kids whom I thought would thrive with us or not. I compared and contrasted pairs of students from all of the other schools’ different tracks and levels and grades and peer groups. For me, what was most successful in trying to recruit kids via students was direct knowledge of whom the other teachers had served.

        Should school-starters pay their dues in traditional public schools? Do they most effectively start schools in their home divisions? In your opinion, what are the best practices in school-starting and student recruitment? How should a non-traditional program structure and position itself to serve struggling or students or students under-served by TPS? How can such a school best pursue its start-up efforts to achieve its vision without excluding kids who bring additional challenges in teaching and learning to the school?

        This definitely needs done.

        What do you think?

        Posted by Chad Sansing | June 18, 2010, 6:25 am
      • i think if we have the pre-req to the innov lab, or to any gathering within or outside of the institution of school, be that a student must be finding/refining and exhibiting a passion – an intrinsic motivation – as opposed to any type of grades or success deemed by the current achievement process (standardized content), that will flatten the playing field.

        Posted by monika hardy | June 18, 2010, 8:53 am
  2. Thank you Paula.. great insight/questions.

    Did you watch Noam’s video.. the issue of learning a common core.. of becoming unified world citizens… seems to happen at an even greater level in conversation.. and working together. He said, “we learn more from stories, from each other, that by spending 5 years at uni (except dr, scientist, etc).”

    I would certainly imagine those ideas are grounded in early ed.. although – I think currently we unteach it more than we teach it. I think those ideas are more ingrained in us than we believe and we do more to dismantle the ideas of unity, etc, as kids travel through school.

    As far as pursuing passions – I certainly hope we can move away from pushing passions on kids by parents or environment, etc, .. that’s a big piece of what the web is allowing now.. you really can do whatever you want. We need more sophisticated ways to seek out authentic passions… I believe that is where true rigor and engagement shine.

    And the idea of us getting caught up in our passion and ignoring the rest of the world – flies in opposition of how I see passion. (again – here’s where a mashup of junto and text 2.0 would be lovely – we spend so much of our days swimming in semantics)
    To me, if you’re passionate about something – it’s your art – and to be a true art – you can’t help but want to give it away. (Linchpin thinking via Seth Godin and Element thinking via Sir Ken) That idea alone creates the bigger picture. Who am I in the world, what does the world need, how do I fit into helping with what I do best. You go to your individual passion with others of like mind – but you don’t stay there.. you just can’t. That pln becomes what stretches and sustains you – but it’s all for the big picture.. helping each other in the world.
    And if we truly rework the hours in our day (Rework thinking via Jason Fried) .. we have more family & friend & community time and authentic recreation time – as it should be.

    I agree – elementary – and even pre k years won’t be the same as 8-12ish… but I do believe it needs a revolution as well. Can’t wait to hear your take on it… some of my students have come up with some intriguing ideas.

    Posted by monika hardy | June 12, 2010, 12:00 pm
  3. That reads like what I had in mind. Thank you for sharing, Monika.

    Elementary class(es) with frontal lecturing. Beyond that, the mind-food court model, classroom size. Socialization during break time, as in past century, also in group work sessions, in open space circles and during school events.

    Sounds like fun to learn again?  

    Posted by Cocreatr | June 12, 2010, 6:05 pm
  4. Thanks Bernd… that is the goal isn’t it? Richard Feynman penned it well.. the pleasure of finding things out..

    Posted by monika hardy | June 12, 2010, 7:04 pm
  5. Kids, their passions, and mentors. Doing, making, and performing. Teachers should be platforms for this work.

    Our school partners with a local blacksmith who also knows glass-blowers who do demonstrations for our kids. Next year I want to connect us to a master carpenter and a green-roofing nursery. We can’t shrug our shoulders anymore and say that we can’t do what we or the kids want because we’re “in” school or have a set curriculum. People want to make a difference. Kids want to learn by making. Teachers can make it happen.

    Some of our kids who participated in the blacksmithing program met a ferrier at the horse-farm we visited this past week – the owner is a friend of the school and has hosted team-building activities and nature studies for us on his property. It was awesome to hear kids tell the ferrier what they’ve made at the forge.

    What limits of public education’s grading structure can we push to help make passion-driven, mentored learning happen? How can promotion by age be replaced by progress in a students’ chosen field? Who choses when? What exceptions can be made? What extra supports afforded? How can elementary/secondary be reorganized into something more authentic to students’ learning without dismissing their developmental needs? How can the efficiency of industry be replaced politically and practically by the deep understanding of apprenticeship?

    Happy to watch us forge ahead,

    Posted by Chad Sansing | June 12, 2010, 8:49 pm
  6. sounds like the job of personal learning networks.. facilitated by teachers.. guided by expert tutors… to each his own.

    as far as a political push on the grading structure.. i say we hire out Joe.

    Posted by monika hardy | June 12, 2010, 9:19 pm
  7. I had the good fortune to be just such an expert tutor this spring. Based on my experience, I’d like to offer a slight variation on the idea. From the images on TV and the internet, to the cars on the street our world is filled with products that are smooth and shiny. To use anything that is faded, scratched, or outdated is an “epic fail.” And to take them apart and hack them into something new is simply, “ghetto.” (hold on while my inner Macgyver shed’s a tiny tear…
    ok, I can go on.)

    I’ve struggled with myself students disengaged because they didn’t feel that they had the skills to create a polished product. Part of me wanted them to be humble enough to accept their limitations. That part was quickly slapped with a skillet by the part of me that remembered I was teaching teenagers.

    When time, and my student’s ability permitted, I would help them created what they wanted. On the other hand, there were times that I simply listened to what they wanted and produced it for them. Maybe they didn’t learn as much technical skill, but they learned how to articulate and refine their ideas, they learned that even experts make mistakes, they learned that it was safe to ask for help, and they learned that I genuinely valued their project.

    On a larger scale, I envision some sort of barter system through which students can outsource parts of the projects they are working on. They could hire professionals, or other students. A programming student could hire a digital artist, or a group of actors could hire a musician to create a soundtrack. Of course teachers and students would have to negotiate about which components could be outsourced.

    Posted by Rick Ashby | June 13, 2010, 5:26 pm
  8. i like that variation Rick.
    a lot.
    what a great idea.. hiring out..

    i think variation is the key.
    just like real life…

    kid to kid, project to project,..
    the learning is in – how do i do it this time… how do i do it this way…

    and with individual expert tutors that know their kids and know their trade … they determine how much to guide – how much to get out of the way.. per individual.

    Posted by monika hardy | June 13, 2010, 5:41 pm
  9. Monika,

    I’m so glad we were able to spend time speaking on Skype about Seeducation and the expert tutors idea. I think what you are doing is innovative and needed in schools. I think it is inspiring and motivating for students. Students who get to choose who they learn from and have the opportunity to have some of the best people in their fields mentor and guide them are motivated to achieve and strive through the obstacles. They also can confirm where their own passion lies. They should be able to see how expert tutors tackle problems and the challenges they face. I had a friend who told me he used to want to be an accountant till he spent a week with one in school. The accountant let him handle one of the books and he could not get the numbers to match. He decided that wasn’t the career for him. Students need to be able to follow their passion and be able to be so enthused and passionate about learning! They only get this enthused if they are given the choice to learn the way they want and seek the knowledge and experience they desire.

    Posted by Shelly Sanchez Terrell | June 15, 2010, 5:09 pm
  10. Our high school is trying something beginning in the fall that has been designed to “tap” into student’s passions but retain some of the structure of a typical high school environment. Courses have been organized into career academies and juniors are selecting an academy based on interests and curiosity as well as possible career goals. “Advertisements” were created for each academy to entice participation and teams of teachers have redesigned courses within their disciplines to align to the new model and school mission. Design21 at Weymouth High School ( has been created to engage students and embed the 21st century skills they need by offering more choices and re-framing student learning with expanded opportunities for internships, virtual learning, off-campus experiences, community service, project-based learning and portfolio assessment. We might be getting a little bit closer to your “food court” idea with student interests driving their learning.

    Posted by Mary Jo Livingstone | July 10, 2010, 12:50 pm
  11. wow.. very cool Mary Jo. thank you for sharing. i especially like the faq piece. i think that is a great way to ed the community.

    i would love to add that to a project i’m working on if you don’t mind.. just as an exemplar school…

    Posted by monika hardy | July 14, 2010, 12:32 pm

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