innovation meets education
I have an unusual, maybe distinctive, vantage point on the future of our children and our nation. I spent my career in the world of innovation, and my track record there points to real expertise. And I’ve invested considerable time in immersing myself in the world of education. I don’t claim to have the kind of expertise our classroom teachers have, and I respect their insights — celebrate them, actually. But I do know a lot about the world our children will live in as adults, and that ought to have a profound impact on the way we educate children. I fight every day to do what I can to help give children the kind of education that will launch them into lives of purpose. Make no mistakes, the challenges are serious. But so are the opportunities.
During the 2015-2016 school year, I went to all fifty states, visiting some 200 schools. I was stunned by the innovative classrooms and schools I found across the country. My new book, titled What School Could Be: Insights and Inspiration from Teachers Across America, brings these stories to readers. I do my best to highlight the common elements of the powerful learning experiences I observed, and the ways leaders are changing schools at scale by establishing the conditions that let teachers and students thrive. The book can be pre-ordered here.
I organized and funded Most Likely to Succeed, a feature-length documentary on education that was directed by the remarkable Greg Whiteley. The film has been an official selection of thirty major film festivals, including Sundance. To date, more than 5,000 communities around the globe have screened the film, using it as a powerful resource to spark discussion and inspire change. Here’s how you or your school can view it.
Some of the articles I’ve written include:
What Secretary DeVos Needs to Hear (the Washington Post)
A Basic Flaw in the Argument Against Affirmative Action (with Linda Darling-Hammond)
Not Bill Gates (A Q&A with Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post).
The Purpose of School (The Washington Post).
Rethinking College Admissions (with Sir Ken Robinson).
I’m active on Twitter (@dintersmith). And with far fewer resources than our mega-foundations, I feel honored to have supported a number of great initiatives. To see my total list of commitment (I ‘m a believer in complete transparaency), here’s my Portfolio.
In 2012, I was appointed by President Obama to represent the United States at the United Nations General Assembly, where I focused on education and entrepreneurship. I think academic credentials are overweighted, but for those curious, I graduated from the College of William and Mary with High Honors in English and Physics and went on to get a PhD in Engineering from Stanford, where I also taught.
I’m on a mission — helping catalyze and accelerate progress in our schools. We need to equip our children with skillsets and mindsets that are essential in a world of innovation. I can’t overstate how fast machine intelligence is accelerating (although this short video makes the point), and no school can be complacent. My travels have convinced me that our best path forward is to let our teachers do what they entered the profession to do — engage and inspire these kids — and draw on the insights of our most innovative teachers.