Larry Rosenstock: 2019 WISE Prize-Winner

At this year’s World Innovation Summit for Education in Qatar, there were over 3,000 attendees from over 100 different countries. Everyone gathered together to discuss innovations in global education and celebrate the trailblazers dedicated to quality learning for all. This year, the prestigious WISE Prize was awarded to Larry Rosenstock, founder of High Tech High (HTH) — one of the preeminent innovative schools in the world.

For decades, Larry has been committed to empowering student voice, pushing the limits of project-based learning and tackling inequality through education. After the film Most Likely to Succeed garnered momentous buzz and acclaim from the education community, HTH became a pilgrimage-like destination for educators. Everyone was interested in seeing what Larry and his team had built.

Much of the success of HTH can be attributed to a deep understanding of project-based learning and using “the city as the text”. In fact, when HTH began, Larry had already developed partnerships with numerous San Diego organizations, enabling the students to fully live into the community and recognize the resources around them. A notoriously quotable man, here are some of our favorite Larry Rosenstock quotes on the paradox of starting new schools:

1. When starting a school, ignore a few basic axioms. There are a lot of things you don’t need: bells, public address systems, separate bathrooms.

2. Keep it simple: complex structures drive complex behaviors.

3. Make it about adult learning.

4. People need to change conditions (Dewey); they should be in a constant state of reinventing things including themselves.

5. We should ask students to use their heads, use their hands, make things, and think about things.

6. We should think more about production technology than consumption technology.

7. Keep tinkering with your school, taking things apart and putting back together. Let people mix it up, keep it interesting.

8. Balance stability versus churning–not unstable but not stuck.

9. Let students do most of the talking and adults do most of the listening.

Six years after opening HTH, they implemented the High Tech High Graduate School of Education, a place for hands-on professional development and transformation opportunities. This program teaches the importance of equity, deeper learning and focus — key tenants of the HTH model.

Growth is an essential part of the HTH culture, something that Larry and his team put copious work into. In fact, Larry is renowned for using the words “fall in love with everyone” as a motto for how the HTH staff/faculty can succeed on a daily basis. They also implemented 3 core guidelines for the faculty to keep in mind:

  • Give permission
  • Give protection
  • Reduce policies

As a true advocate for all students and the power of high-quality education, Larry Rosenstock is an invaluable asset to the global education community.

For more on Larry Rosenstock, see:

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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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