Michael Horn: The Next Generation of Teaching and Learning

February 19, 2013

In a recent article in Forbes magazine, Harvard Innovation Education Fellow Tony Wagner stated that America’s last competitive advantage — its ability to innovate — is at risk as a result of the country’s lackluster education system.

Echoing his remarks and building on next steps, Michael Horn, co-founder and executive director of the Innosight Institute, took the stage at University of Houston College of Education's Farish Hall on Feb. 15, to iron out the the root cause of our public education system and how educators and policy makers can work to create the interface for innovation.

The challenge, presented by Horn, is that our education system was built to standardize. It was designed to batch students in groups and fill them with memorizable content for a standard number of hours per day and repeat for 200 days out of the year.

While efficient and successful when the economy afforded a vast array of blue collar, factory jobs, it no longer satisfies the need for the new job market.

But how do we shift a system built so long ago that has grown into the Goliath we see today - 
into one that is individualized, customized and teaches the soft skills employers seek, like the ability to think critically, persevere, and think outside the box?

Fortunately, a large cohort of thriving innovative educational models can be found all around us. To help educators and policy makers draw on lessons learned, best practices and trigger ideas,  Houston A+ has compiled a list of our nation's model programs.

  • Listen to Michael Horn's Keynote: Video

Joining Horn after his keynote, was a panel of local school experts to discuss the efforts undertaken thus far in Houston: Sehba Ali, Superintendent, KIPP Houston Public Schools; Dr. Jennifer Blaine, Associate Superintendent, Curriculum and Instruction, Spring Branch ISD; Nella Garcia, Director of Teacher Development, YES Prep Public Schools; Nancy Gregory, Officer, Curriculum and Instruction, Houston ISD; Dr. Linda Macias, Associate Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability, Cy-Fair Independent School District; Melissa Pierson, Associate Dean, University of Houston, College of Education.

  • Listen to the Panel discussion:  Video

Carefully crafted disruptive innovation in our classrooms has the potential to provide many more students and families with quality choices for their education and revolutionize public education by transforming the current PK-20 system into a more student-centric learning environment to address the challenges of the 21st century. The answer lies not in discovering the one solution to fix the problem but in the assessment and application of a variety of solutions.