The Future of Smart
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Our ideas about what it means to be smart need to change. Being smart continues to evoke images that were birthed in the “factory model” of school, tied to a relentless focus on efficiency, effectiveness, quantification, competition. Our schools continue to operate as though the purpose of education is to sort and rank kids based on how quickly they can absorb knowledge and how long they can retain it. They divide knowledge into discrete subjects, decontextualize learning from life, and assess all students by the same criteria.

But since the early 20th century, schools have emerged that emphasize a different set of values: interdependence, community, diversity, and deep, dynamic learning. We now know that this way of teaching aligns with natural human development, facilitates learning for different kinds of brains, and prepares young people for a changing society and evolving workplace. Yet, these programs are still marginalized within America’s education system.

Blending history and science with stories from inside, The Future of Smart is a must read for anyone concerned about the future of education. Here Dr. Hansen explains the disconnect between what we want for our children, and what education today provides. She shows how we can build an education system to nurture the unique, human capabilities of each child, and lay the groundwork for a more equitable, just and humane future.

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Early praise for The Future of Smart

Having Dr. Hansen’s special expertise and passion for change in education takes us even closer to ensuring that we can achieve the transformative movement in education we need for schools everywhere.

– Sir Ken Robinson

In The Future of Smart, Dr. Hansen reminds us that the challenges of education in America have their roots in a complex system of values. Weaving together science, history and the examples of educators and young people, she challenges us to examine these foundational values and to imagine an education system grounded in a different view of the world, one that embraces the jagged and highly individual nature of human development, learning and human capability as a strength rather than a pathology.

– Todd Rose, Author, The End of Average, Director – Populace

Dr. Hansen provides a refreshingly, new, optimistic and compelling perspective on truly revolutionizing American education. Addressing systemic challenges, she provides clarity for a future that can truly unleash the potential of all of our children.

– William Browning, Chief Strategy Officer, United Way

Dr. Hansen is a scholar, researcher, thought leader and practitioner, whose 20 years of research and analysis is particularly valuable and needed as we, as a nation, rethink and attempt to transform our centuries old, industrialized schooling, into a student centered, community based learning ecosystem, that serves and supports all learners, particularly those who have been marginalized and not well served in the current system. In this time of COVD19 disruption and education systems rethinking, Dr. Hansen is truly a gifted and purposeful human resource.

– Peter McWalters, Big Picture Learning Board Chair

Dr. Hansen deeply understands the complexity of the type of work that we do at High School for Recording Arts, the work our partners and allies around the country are doing. More critically, she has a deep understanding of the ways in which this work moves us towards the equity we say we want, in ways that have been missing in decades of conversations about how to “fix” American education.

– Tony Simmons, Executive Director, High School for Recording Arts

For decades, our national discourse for improving the quality and outcomes of American education has been dominated by narrow and technical solutions that tinker on the edges of the factory/industrial model, without ever making true leaps towards a new vision of the system that will cultivate young people in all their infinite potential. As a consequence, we have been spinning ever faster on an ossified paradigmatic carousel wishing for new insights while recycling old approaches. Dr. Ulcca Joshi Hansen’s brilliant examination is radical in its effort to deconstruct the assumptions and values that prop up an outdated model of learning and fuel failed policy solutions that will not meet the needs of this century. This book is urgently needed as we wrestle with the ramifications of widening income-stratification and deeply rooted racial injustice, of which our educational system is complicit. If we are to meet the challenges of our age and solve seemingly intractable problems through public institutions, we must embrace new mental models and habits of being. Dr. Hansen offers an astute and historically grounded approach for how we might begin that worthy journey. 

– Jenee Henry Wood, Head of Organizational Learning, Transcend

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The Future of Smart

Available on Amazon

The Future of Smart is available now!