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 Smartis 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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Praise for the best-selling 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

It’s one of the biggest pleasures I know when you read something, get past the wish that you had been the person who wrote it, realize you couldn’t be the person who wrote it and then just stand there in the new light that you are experiencing, being grateful that someone brought that light to you, and the rest of us through the uniqueness of her being. Thank you for writing this book, for inviting me into your world and into what these combinations of people and knowledge will bring to others. I am so incredibly appreciative.

– Dr. Pamela Cantor, Founder, Turnaround for Children


Educators do care about the whole child. However, the systems that they teach in/counsel in/lead in are intractable and based on a very (very) old model of education. Continuing to “reform” the existing system through draconian means leaves everyone at a loss. Dr. Hansen provides us with a thorough analysis of the ways in which our current system was built, is maintained, and leaves our children in educational deficit. She then offers us ways in which to look at our current system and build towards opportunity and abundance for all children. I highly recommend this book to anyone who cares about our children and our nation.

– Dr. Lynn Gangone, President and CEO, American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education

I’ve known Dr. Hansen to be someone a step ahead, signaling where we need to be to support learners and the systems of learning that (should) support them. In this book, Dr. Hansen does it again – grounding us in what has been, making sense of what holds us back, and offering sensible and smart paths forward – if only we are intentional about remaking the learning landscape for America’s youth.

– Gregg Behr, co-author, “When You Wonder, You’re Learning: Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring Kids”

Well-written and cogently organized history of how we got into the education mess we’re in followed by a critical and compassionate view of where we are now and, most importantly, where we can and must go. Essential reading for parents, educators, policy-makers, and business leaders interested investing in our nation’s future through the most useful channel available — the means by which we choose to educate. I especially appreciated Hansen’s challenging questions about the values we enact in contrast to the ones we espouse. This book is will wake you up and move you to think, talk, and act more intelligently about education in America.

– Stewart Friedman, Wharton Business School

Ulcca Joshi Hansen’s book is the one that ties it all together … If you care about the deep underpinnings that shape so much of our society today, and are yearning to see some glimpses of how a different approach to public education could help us minimize hate, optimize trust and humaneness and emotional safety, re-align our communities around truths we do recognize as individuals (but that our systems have long come to ignore), and help each child find fulfillment, service and success…. this is the book for you. As Hansen puts it: “Choosing to live in harmony with others is not the same as sacrificing one’s freedom. Within true community, freedom is responsibility in cooperation.” Her book points the way.

– Andy Calkins, Co-Director, Next Generation Learning Challenge

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, Board Chair, Big Picture Learning 

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\The 

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The Future of Smart

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The Future of Smart is available now!