Education & School

The Dilemma of Schools

Linda Darling Hammond is one of the most looked-to education researchers in the world.  She works at Stanford and her latest book, “The Flat World and Education” was voted by Education Next readers as the 2nd most important education book of the last decade. Here she is speaking in Sydney about education in the United States:

 (You can download her powerpoint slides here)

The Dilemma of Schools: The skills that are easiest to teach and test are also the ones that are easiest to digitize, automate and outsource.”

– Linda Darling-Hammond (3:39 in the video above)

Darling-Hammond is driving at one central point: if our schools are meant to bring about opportunities in this changing economy, they must adapt to meet the challenge.  She explains that “non-routine interactive skills and non-routine analytic skills are the two types of tasks that have risen in importance in our economy”.  Certainly these are  not the dominant skills taught in the past 100 years of American schooling – but they will be the skills necessary to be successful in the next 100.

She goes on to to add that we need to prepare people to be “motivated and self-reliant citizens; risk-taking entrepreneurs, converging and continuously emerging professions tied to globalizing contexts and technological advances”.

Linda Darling-Hammond (source:
Linda Darling-Hammond (source:

“Teach less, Learn more” is the motto in Singapore, a renowned global leader on the PISA testDarling-Hammond explains.  She continues that, in Singapore they are “clearing out the curriculum to provide more space for deep learning” where assessment happens by the teacher and allows for more collaboration, revisions and higher-order learning.

Her explanation of the PISA test results:

“The nations that are doing best in the international horse-race are those that have invested in a strong equity component … and they have made strong investments in the quality of teaching”

Whether or not you care for the horse-race,  many education advocates can find common ground caring for the future of our youth and the design of our education system as heartily as Linda Darling-Hammond.


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