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Learning today. Solving for tomorrow.

Tom Vander Ark, Mary Esselman, Laura Gilchrist, and Deidre Anderson
Tom Vander Ark, CEO of Getting Smart, discusses the implications of Artificial Intelligence in education, economics, and ethics with (from left to right) Mary Esselman, president and CEO of Operation Breakthrough; Laura Gilchrist, educator and co-founder of KCedu; and Deidre Anderson, executive director of United Inner City Services.

Community members and associates recognize the necessary balance of solving for today’s challenges while preparing for the promise of tomorrow.

Tom Vander Ark isn’t afraid of bold ideas, like how to reimagine education for a reality transformed by technology. That opportunity, cradled in the cusp of learning and work, challenges the status quo and our notion of the future of education for all students.

During Vander Ark’s recent visit to the Foundation, community members and associates recognized the necessary balance of solving for today’s challenges while preparing for the promise of tomorrow. And we grappled with many questions.

How do we address the urgency to solve for a rapidly approaching future? To prepare the 3.5 million students who, this year, will receive diplomas that are no longer a predictor of adequate preparation for college or careers? Or to prepare Generation A for jobs that don’t yet exist today?

“I want schools that are alive with the sense of possibility,” Vander Ark says. That means evolving beyond the traditional path of scholarship that has largely been the standard for high school graduation for a century.

In a recent blog that elevates two Kansas City-area schools using Expeditionary Learning, Vander Ark and co-author Corey Scholes, director of Education for the Kauffman Foundation, examine project-based learning programs designed to cultivate skills for an evolving world.

“A good challenge has the potential to change young people’s belief in themselves and their understanding of the world. An extended challenge uniquely builds self-management and growth mindset. A team project builds social awareness and collaboration. A well-developed project builds communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills,” says Vander Ark.

It may be these valuable skills that can take students beyond status quo to truly prepare all students for the endless possibilities of life and learning after high school.

Sense of possibility

Tom Vander Ark, CEO of Getting Smart, stresses the importance of high schools innovating to match the needs of life after graduation.