by Ted Dintersmith 

    What School Could Be

    “What Schools Could Be: Insights and Inspirations from Teachers Across America” is written by Ted Dintersmith about a journey he took to investigate schools across America. The purpose of this book is for the readers to rethink education and its purpose in our fast paced society. The book starts off by describing a history of education and how our current school structure came to be. Dintersmith believes that our current system is based off of what he calls the “factory model” which prepared students for a life in the new industrialized society. Dintersmith argues that this model is obsolete in our new innovative ara. He claims that schools are preparing our students to “do obsolete things better” instead of “doing better things.” When discussing education reform with foreign education leaders they state that “we get out best

    ideas from America. The difference is that we act on them, and you don’t.” This lays out the rest of his book where he recounts stories of educators who are breaking the mold and using innovative strategies to shift education’s purpose, practice, curriculum, and systems throughout America. This book leaves the reader inspired and ready to help be a solution towards innovative education reform. Educators, parents, and students would all benefit from reading

    this book, even if they do not agree with every point made there is inspiration in the examples he describes of the educators who are “doing better things.”

    Dintersmith explains the four principles of powerful learning that he believes school reform should be based on.

    PEAK Principles of powerful learning

    Purpose: Students work on problems that are important to them

    Essentials: Creative problem solving, communication, collaboration, critical analysis, citizenship, and aspects of character

    Agency: Students have voice in their work… They learn to set their goals, manage their efforts, assess their progress and persevere to completion. As they learn how to learn, they free themselves of the need for formal instruction.

    Knowledge: Students master deep knowledge. They teach others. Their knowledge is reflected in the quality of what they create, build, make, and design.

    “What Schools Could Be” outlined by Dintersmith:

    1.Conventional School’s and Their Context: “century old factory model”

    2.Real gold amid Fool’s Gold: Examples of classrooms that follow PEAK.

    3.Prepared for What: Delves into consequences of an education system singularly focused on

    “college ready”.

    1. The Ivory Tower: The college model is broken. Innovations and disruptive alternatives in the college setting.
    2. Letting go: Parents need to let their children discover, fail, and find their success.
    3. Social Equity: Those who need the most get the least, and vice versa.
    4. Human Potential: Ranking potential versus developing potential in our children.
    5. Doing (Obsolete) Things Better: How U.S policy in education is based off of the idea of “do things better.”
    6. Doing Better Things: Educators who are making change through innovation change models.
    7. It Takes a Village: When a community celebrates the aspirational goals of reimagining learning.


    Courtesy of April Ginsberg, Sonoma State University, Graduate School of Counseling, Spring 2019.

    Posted 2/27/2019