Search term: dominic randolph

“We have put up too long with schools that are devoid of hope, humor & potential.” – Dominic Randolph on Rethinking Schools …*

Here are some excerpts from Dominic’s If I Were Secretary of State for Education post, which is a series of 41 articles written by leading international educationalists about what they would do if they were Secretary of State for Education in the UK. The articles were commissioned by the Sunday Times Festival of Education and Summerhouse Education, and sponsored by Pearson. Read them all at IfIwereSoSforEducation.tumblr.com.

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I would tackle what I think are the three principal issues that plague educational systems in the UK and in much of the world: how we undervalue the work of teachers, how we undervalue the task of educating our young people and how vitally important it is, and how we undervalue the crucial necessity for supporting lifelong learning so that people have the opportunity to learn new knowledge and skills throughout their lives. Therefore, I would concentrate on vigorously reframing the place of schools in our culture by making schools the most exciting place to be in any given community, making them the core of communities.

. . . *

Schools would be places that would inspire and normalize intellectual development but also the development of character and good ethical decision-making. They would be places that are truly human and, rather than reducing people industrially to summative scores or grades, would encourage ongoing formative development of the full range of their capacities. They would be preventative care health centers. Schools would become the community resource center. People attending schools would develop their potential and grow. They would focus on the delta of their development in an ongoing way rather than measuring it statically at certain points.

. . . *

Making schools positive, productive and cool places at the heart of each community would be the aim. We have put up too long with schools that are devoid of hope, humour and potential. Starting a movement to change this reality and bring learning to the centre of what we are about could be a great dream for us all to have.

Read Dominic’s full post here.

imagine, reframe & rethink …

“I believe in and surrender to solid quality, serendipity and nomadism.” – Our Interview with Dominic Randolph, Head of School & Rethinked Co-Founder …*

"I believe in and surrender to solid quality, serendipity and nomadism." -Our Interview with Dominic Randolph, Head of School & Rethinked Co-Founder ...* |rethinked.org

I may be a bit biased here but I could not be any more excited to share Dominic’s interview today. Dominic Randolph is the Headmaster of the Riverdale Country School, where he has been prototyping various ways to rethink what it means to learn to and for change–notably by exploring the intersections of Design Thinking, Integrative Thinking and Positive Psychology with education. He is the co-founder of our team and, on a more personal note, my father and one of my very best friends. Connect with Dominic on Twitter @daar17.

What was the last experiment you ran? 

Changing spaces where I work. Finding small “in-between” spaces to work with my computer. Changing work spaces all the time. Not being in a fixed spot.

 

What are some of the things that you fear and how do you manage your fear?

Life is fear and finding ways to embrace fear. I believe that we all have a “Woody Allen voice” in our heads constantly narrating our anxieties. I think you achieve things by listening to the voice indeed, but basically ignoring it. Things tend to turn out most of the time quite well, but the little voice assumes the worst. Acting positively and confidentially mitigates the voice’s affect on one’s decisions. And yet, without the voice, the fear, life would not be as amusing nor would one do anything really. It is the comparison between the status quo of the “little worried voice” and taking action that makes you feel a sense of achievement.

 

What breaks and delights your heart? In other words, what do you believe in and surrender to? 

I believe in and surrender to solid quality, serendipity and nomadism.

 

What is the most provocative idea you’ve come across in the past decade

Carol Dweck’s “Growth Mindset” is one of the most provocative, elegant and most difficult to employ idea that I have come across in the last decade. The other one would be “design thinking” that I read in Dan Pink’s book A Whole New Mind and on Tim Brown’s blog “Design Thinking”. The concepts of human-centered design, prototyping and divergent thought as elements of design thinking have changed my life.

 

Can you tell me about a transformational moment in your life?

I often think that the most transformational moments are not the most groundbreaking or the most striking. They are small moments that lead to change. The most transformational moments in my life were dinner debates with my aunt, mother and brother while growing up and meeting, Kris, my future wife, and Elsa, my future daughter, at a small gallery in Sarlat, France.

 

 WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO LIVE A GOOD LIFE?

Finding meaning and purpose in one’s life leads to living a good life.

 

 COULD YOU SHARE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE ABOUT THE ART OF BEING HUMAN?

Empathize with others–really try to put yourself in their shoes and listen well. Also, draw your thoughts out on a regular basis. Drawing is deeply human.

 

WHAT IS YOUR DRIVING QUESTION?

How can I be my better future self? What legacy will I choose to leave on this earth?

 

 ANY BOOKS OR MOVIES YOU RECOMMEND?

Movies: Withnail and I by Bruce Robinson, En Sus Ojos by Juan Jose Campanella, Mifune’s Last Song by Soren Kragh-Jacobsen, The Trip by Michael Winterbottom, Naked by Mike Leigh

Books: Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne, Le Citte Invisibili by Italo Calvino, Distant Relations by Carlos Fuentes, And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos by John Berger, In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin, Any short story by Alice Munro, La Peau du Chagrin by Balzac…

Music: GoldbergVariations played by Glenn Gould, Exile on Main Street by the Rolling Stones, Every Breaking Wave by U2, Ink by Coldplay, Heysatan by Sigur Ros, Wait it Out by Imogen Heap, Afterlife by Arcade Fire, Bien Avant by Benjamin Biolay, 400 Lux by Lorde, Creep by Radiohead…

Images: Morandi still lives, Piranesi etchings, Cartier-Bresson photographs, Cindy Sherman portraits, Klein blue paintings, Henry Moore sculptures…

THANK YOU, DOMINIC!

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Tune in to CUNY TV this Saturday/Sunday to Watch Dominic Randolph & Dave Levin Discuss Teaching Character…*

Tune in to CUNY TV Saturday, May 25 at 8:00 pm or Sunday, May 26 at 10:00 am to watch a new installment of EdCast: Can “Character” Be Taught? This segment will feature two of the three co-founders of the brand new non-profit, the Character Lab, which seeks to unlock student achievement by bridging the worlds of psychological research and K-12 practice to change how research is done and how character is taught. Dave Levin, co-founder of KIPP, and our very own Dominic Randolph will be discussing what it takes to succeed in school and in life. Angela Duckworth is the third co-founder of the Character Lab.

This segment will include:

What does it mean to succeed in school and in life? Linda Hirsch interviews Dave Levin, Founder KIPP Charter School Network and Dominic Randolph, Headmaster Riverdale Country School about their Teaching Character initiative and its new approaches to building, teaching and assessing character beyond the usual definitions of what it means to succeed. Additional interviews with teachers at Riverdale Country School.

To tie you over until Saturday, here is a small excerpt from a discussion on teaching character that Dominic and Dave had with John Merrow and Paul Tough as part of the JCC’s Learning Matters series this past December

John Merrow, Paul Tough, Dave Levin and Dominic Randolph on the importance of failure in schools | Learning Matters, published December 20, 2012.

Learning Matters ~ Dominic Randolph, Paul Tough, Dave Levin & John Merrow on Teaching Character…*

Learning Matters ~ Dominic Randolph, Paul Tough, Dave Levin & John Merrow on Teaching Character..

 

On December 5th, our very own Dominic Randolph, along with Dave Levin (co-founder of Kipp), Paul Tough (author of How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character) and John Merrow (veteran reporter for PBS and NPR) gathered for an installment of the JCC’s Learning Matters series entitled Teaching Character. The discussion centered on the importance of teaching children skills such as perseverance, grit, optimism and curiosity–how to communicate and instill character strengths and how these characteristics relate to the short and long term success and happiness of our children.

You can view a 3 minute video excerpt of the conversation (on structured failure)  here or listen to the full podcast here.

Enjoy & rethink…*

 

 

Rethinked’s…* Dominic Randolph on Design Thinking for Educators: Short Documentary on His Collaboration with Ideo

 

Dominic Randolph, rethinker…* extraordinaire and Head of Riverdale Country School, won a grant in 2012 from the E. Ford Foundation to teach Design Thinking to Educators and to spread its adaption and implementation across the country. This seven-minute film documents Dominic’s collaboration with legendary design firm, Ideo. A collaboration which resulted in the DesignThinkingForEducators.com website and deep, collective rethinking about the nature of teaching, learning and design at the Riverdale Country School while amplifying and nurturing the global conversation about what it means to teach and learn in the 21st century.

Enjoy & Rethink…*

Design Thinking for Educators – Dominic Randolph from paul dewey on Vimeo, published November 6, 2012.

 

It is the willingness to confront one’s assumptions that counts ~ Dominic Randolph on Creativity & Inspiration

In the Spring of 2009, as part of an oral history project centered on creativity and inspiration, I interviewed artists involved in a wide range of mediums, spanning from film to etching including painting, poetry, writing, music, and photography. I started off each interview with the topic of inspiration or its absence. One of my interviewees was Dominic Randolph–Sketcher, Etcher, Writer, Singer and Educator–on his creative process & sources of inspiration. Here is the interview in full, reprinted with his permission:

I get inspired by words, metaphors, provocative images, also other stories… many from memories. You take an idea and run with it…sort of brainstorming. For example, I remember being invited to a tea with the abbot of a Finnish Orthodox Monastery, I was living and working at the monastery for the summer. He was a Russian–sort of out of a novel living in the Abbott’s house–a Victorian house overlooking a lake. He had one of the old samovars that whistled away. It was odd to be with a number of young students meeting with the Abbott, but unable to speak with him. We had tea and then walked in the orchard. I can still remember that the air was cold, but it was sunny. The apple trees were in bloom. The next day we were again peeling potatoes and raking leaves. I wondered what the Abbott was doing since we never really saw him walk around the rest of the monastery.

There are many things I could mine in this–the apple trees, the cold water of the lake, the odd Russian/Finnish/global thing. I would probably sketch around and doodle and write–see if anything interesting emerges to then move on the next level. The next level is something that is more of its own–a drawing or a story or both–something that is connected to the original inspiration, but has its own integrity or life. Perhaps there is some image of apples and water that I could play off of. “Apples+Water”,  not a bad title. I could link this to other places where apples and water play off of one and another–remember “The Orchard” in Cambridge. That also links the idea to poets that I know–could be some interesting linkage there between British and Russian poets.

Of course sometimes they are just sketches or doodles or failures. I wait for something to catch my imagination. I don’t really think it has much to do with a creative mindset, no I think it is more of a constant thing but I do think that to produce something worthwhile (at the next level) one needs to get into “flow”. Here are the components of “flow” from Wikipedia: Csíkszentmihályi identifies the following nine factors as accompanying an experience of flow:

  1. Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one’s skill set and abilities).
  2. Concentrating and focusing, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).
  3. A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.
  4. Distorted sense of time, one’s subjective experience of time is altered.
  5. Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).
  6. Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).
  7. A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
  8. The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.
  9. People become absorbed in their activity, and focus of awareness is narrowed down to the activity itself, action awareness merging.

Not all are needed for flow to be experienced…

For me the flow is when you just forget that time exists and become super-involved in a certain task; you are interested in something and your interest takes over completely. I guess it happens naturally. I do think that there are some things that help–getting good sleep and having a space that is conducive to concentration–those things help. I think that it is also helpful if one has experienced flow before in one’s life… I think that it is addictive. The first time I experienced it was probably when I was playing an instrument when young–I think that you also need to attain a level of proficiency doing something so that it can become automatic to some degree, doing sports as well, running…There are periods when I don’t experience flow–when I am tired, distracted by other things, depressed–It makes me more frustrated than anything else. I’m not certain that I fear losing the potential of flow since I find I can get to it pretty easily.

Being around people who are idea generators helps. I think that there are people who are always thinking about different, new things; there are actually loads of people like this–much more common than we are led to believe. There are creative waiters and bus drivers, but we make out that only artists have real creative capacity…bullshit and a really unhelpful myth. Everyone has the potential to create, to experience the flow, absolutely. I think that we could all be more creative in our lives. It is just a matter of acquiring a certain mindset, of assuming that things can always be improved upon whether it is an idea, a drawing or the way that you cross the road…

Any experiences that are different from the routine are possibly an aid to creativity. Creative tension arises when one’s assumptions about something are questioned. So drinking mate from a gourd instead of Earl Grey out of a porcelain cup is going to make me think more creatively about tea. I don’t think that travel is a must, though–some of the most creative people didn’t travel much at all. It is the willingness to confront one’s assumptions that counts.

I just saw a bee outside of the window and remembered going to Corfe Castle in Dorset with my mother, brother and aunt. We were having tea in a garden next to the castle when we were attacked by bees interested in the jam. We were swatting them, running around trying to not get bitten…had to run into the house and let the bees win. Interesting idea of how nature can confound us, we think we are in control and then suddenly, we are no longer in control. I could think of drawing something that played with this conflict.

 

I have always been fascinated by the idea of the labyrinth–think of the Minotaur, the clammy walls, the fear, the thread. Why do we want to walk in a labyrinth? Do we always want to be on a journey or path to find something? Is it something grotesque, or something enlightening?

I love the idea of punctuation as being something more than a protocol for making sense. I am obsessed with ellipsis right now–the path, the potential, the dots moving our minds along, to what?

They’re cool, image-wise, and then you start thinking about what they can mean…perhaps it is a matter of looking for the extraordinary in the ordinary, like Morandi and his bottles. He just sat in his room and painted bottles again and again.

 

 

The Russian Formalists talked about this idea of estrangement. Roman Jakobson described literature as “organized violence committed on ordinary speech.” Literature constitutes a deviation from average speech that intensifies, invigorates, and estranges the mundane speech patterns. In other words, for the Formalists, literature is set apart because it is just that: set apart. The use of devices such as imagery, rhythm, and meter is what separates “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what the seraphs, the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs, envied. Look at this tangle of thorns (Nabokov Lolita 9)”, from “the assignment for next week is on page eighty four.” This estrangement serves literature by forcing the reader to think about what might have been an ordinary piece of writing about a common life experience in a more thoughtful way. A piece of writing in a novel versus a piece of writing in a fishing magazine. At the very least, literature should encourage readers to stop and look closer at scenes and happenings they otherwise might have skimmed through uncaring. The reader is not meant to be able to skim through literature. When addressed in a language of estrangement, speech cannot to be skimmed through. “In the routines of everyday speech, our perceptions of and responses to reality become stale, blunted, and as the Formalists would say ‘automatized’. Literature by forcing us into a dramatic awareness of language, refreshes these habitual responses and renders objects more perceptible (Eagleton ‘What Is Literature’).” In 1917, Russian Formalist scholar Victor Shklovsky coined the term ostranenie to describe the artistic strategy of presenting the well-known as if seen for the first time. The term is translated into German as Verfremdung, which became the cornerstone of Bertolt Brecht’s anti-Aristotelian dramaturgy of estrangement. The traditional means of estrangement in theater are epic devices central to Brecht’s strategy of breaking theatrical…taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary….taking the little girl’s walk through the woods and making it into Little Red Riding Hood…taking advertisements and making them into artistic statements.

The duckrabbit confronts one’s assumptions about things, it challenges one’s perceptions (what you think is a duck is actually a rabbit)–how can you have an image of one thing be an image of something else? The duckrabbit is key…It creates the paradox, creates the tension, read something one way and understand that there is another way of reading. Interpretation and meaning.

Restlessness…Chatwin was right…always seeking…always uneasy…get unhoused…to drive from a house or habitation; to dislodge; hence, to deprive of shelter…it also means to make people feel uncomfortable, to shake up…

 

                                                        

 

How Might We Ensure That Our Young People Thrive Rather Than Becoming Just Part of a Credentialing System?

“I remember David Levin, one of the founders of the KIPP charter schools in the United States and a co-founder of The Character Lab talk about dual-purpose teaching: the idea that you can teach “character skills” such as grit, optimism and self-control while one teaches disciplinary subject matter. Great teachers do this naturally. Most of us just have to plan more intentionally to foster good character simultaneously as we develop our students’ academic capacities. He represented this dual-purpose teaching as a double-helix, a double-helix that has become part of the icon of IPEN.

As we continue to work on implementing strategies and cultural experiences within our schools that have people develop character skills, I think it is a multi-purposed approach. We need to suffuse “character thinking” throughout schools. We need to change our school missions to explicitly focus on the development of character skills. Faculty members need to model these strengths in their own lives and their school lives. We need to understand how small moments and interactions, micro-moments, have such strong potential for learning about character, and we need to look at the system of school, the macro-structures, that support or diminish a focus on character skills development. This is important work. It is work that we have all done, but it demands more intentional focus and attention within all of our schools.”

Dominic Randolph

This excerpt is taken from a recent article, Butter Late Than Never, that Dominic wrote for IPEN (International Positive Psychology Network). In the article, Dominic raises three critical “how might we” challenges that we should all be keeping front and center as we collectively rethink learning for the 21st century:

How can we ensure that our young people thrive rather than becoming just part of a credentialing system?

. . . *

How might we develop a sense of permission in our students that allow them to develop as engaged and motivated learners? 

. . . *

How might we reframe challenge positively for young people and have them understand that positive challenges lead to expertise, purpose and meaning? 

. . . *

Some Ideas & Resources to Celebrate World Book Day 2015 …*

Some Ideas & Resources to Celebrate World Book Day 2015 ...* | rethinked.org

HAPPY WORLD BOOK DAY TO ALL …*

I thought that today I would put together a list of resources and ideas to celebrate books and the people that write them:

Finally, I’m always on the lookout for book suggestions, so please let me know what were the best (however you define best–gripping, thought-provoking, beautiful, heartbreaking, transformative) last five books that you read? Let me know in the comments section below

Mine were (in no particular order):

  1. Maps by Nuruddin Farah
  2. Keeping A Rendezvous by John Berger
  3. A Certain World: A Commonplace Book by W.H. Auden
  4. The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa
  5. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

read & celebrate . . .

[ Re ] Thinking Character & Opportunity…* New Series of Essays

Rethinkers delight, the Brookings Institution has just published a new series of essays, put together by Richard Reeves, which explores the philosophical, empirical and practical issues raised by a focus on character, and in particular its relationship to questions of opportunity.

This essay collection contains contributions from leading scholars in the fields of economics, psychology, social science, and philosophy. It provides a kaleidoscope of views on the issues raised by a policy focus on the formation of character, and its relationship to questions of opportunity. Can ‘performance’ character be separated from ‘moral’ character? Should we seek to promote character strengths? If so, how?

The series feature a contribution, Schools of Character, from our own Dominic Randolph, which explains why character outcomes must become part of our entire educational system; As well as an essay, Free Will: The Missing Link Between Character and Opportunity, by rethinked * favorite Martin Seligman, which explores the need for character and opportunity to be accompanied by optimism and hope, the bulwarks of a robust future-mindedness. Head over to the Brookings Institution to browse and read all seventeen essays of the collection.

read, question & rethink …*

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