Scott Hartl on Growing Schools That Foster Wonderful Ideas

The Primacy of Self-Discovery.

The Responsibility for Learning.

The Having of Wonderful Ideas.

These are three of the 10 beautiful design principals of EL Education, formerly Expeditionary Learning, a non-profit school network that partners with schools and districts to raise the bar on student achievement by offering research-based curriculum, professional development opportunities and other resources designed to help schools meet higher standards.

For more than a quarter-century, EL Education has demonstrated that you can combine intellectual and character education. CEO Scott Hartl shared with me more detail on what this organization is and does:

With its Outward Bound roots, EL Education is built on ten design principles that reflect the educational values and beliefs of Kurt Hahn, founder of Outward Bound. These principles also reflect the design’s connection to other related thinking about teaching, learning and the culture of schools.

The 165 EL Education schools (half charter, half district) that have joined the EL Education network share the 10 design principles (three of which he feels are really resonating right now with current events) and how they tie into personalized learning:

Click here for more details on the 10 design principles shown in the graphic below.

EL Education Design Principles.jpg

More Than A Network of Powerful Schools

Hartl and his team have learned a lot about school networks over the past decade, and think of their work as the “software” for the network. “We’re not an operator,” said Hartl. “We’re the software—the guts of an academic program, the adult learning, the blueprint for culture and climate.”

EL Education leadership has shared lessons in four books (including Learning That Lasts and Leaders of Their Own Learning). They are launching a new nonprofit publishing entity to share open content whole course curriculum, and have provided hundreds of videos reaching more than a million teachers.

But it is the literacy curriculum that has had the biggest reach:

I asked Hartl if this will be delivered on a platform and if they’ll welcome teachers’ feedback on changes, updates and improvement as well as ways to connect with other teachers using the same content:

When asked about what it will take to prepare leaders to lead the types of schools we discussed, Hartl said it is an area of significant focus for EL Education right now. “Leadership is key to sustaining quality,” said Hartl. “EL Education is launching a leadership development program focusing on positional coaching with the view that “leadership is not a person, it’s a function,” one that is spread across a school ecosystem.

For more, see:

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Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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