Fixing High Schools: Ted Dintersmith

“Set the conditions that lead to great learning.”

Ted Dintersmith is an education reform advocate and author of What School Could Be: Insights and Inspiration from Teachers Across America. We discuss how schools fail students and how we can create innovative, high-quality learning around the country.

Ted Dintersmith is an education reform advocate and author of What School Could Be: Insights and Inspiration from Teachers Across America. We discuss how schools fail students and how we can create innovative, high-quality learning around the country.

Innovation in the Classroom

Classroom innovation stems from teachers and students working together to pursue subjects that excite students to learn. Examples include allowing students to design robots and make documentaries about local landmarks. In the age of Zoom learning, keeping students engaged by letting them solve community problems or pursue independent learning goals will achieve much more than endless worksheets and standardized test prep.

Standards V. Standardized Tests

Implementing and upholding academic standards are not the same as demanding high scores on standardized tests. Engaging and exciting students about a topic should be the focus, like teaching students to think critically like scientists. Information retention rates are abysmal when the emphasis is to just regurgitate scientific facts for a test. Other basic standards should include knowing how democracy works, reading, writing, and thinking critically. 

High School Education

A high school education should unleash the full potential of all students to solve big, important problems in creative and cost-effective ways. It should also prepare them for a life of civic and economic success. Our current education system fails to deliver this promise, which has resulted in many of our current social problems. Maintaining a functioning and thriving democracy requires high-quality education that equips students with pragmatic life and civic engagement skills.

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Ted Dintersmith is one of America’s leaders in innovation, entrepreneurship, and education.

Ted has become one of America’s leading advocates for education policies that foster creativity, innovation, motivation, and purpose. He knows what skills are valuable in a world of innovation, and how we can transform our schools to prepare kids for their futures. His contributions span film, books, philanthropy, and the hard work of going all across America. He’s funded and executive produced acclaimed education documentaries, including Most Likely To Succeed, (Sundance, AFI, and Tribeca). With co-author Tony Wagner, he wrote Most Likely To Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era. During the 2015/16 school year, he went to all fifty U.S. states, meeting with governors, legislators, educators, parents, and students, and encouraging communities to work collectively to re-imagine school and its purpose. The culmination of that effort was his recent book What School Could Be: Insights and Inspiration from Teachers Across America.

Ted’s professional experience includes two decades in venture capital, including being ranked by Business 2.0 as the top-performing U.S. venture capitalist for 1995-1999. He chaired the Public Policy Committee of the Board of the National Venture Capital Association. In the public sector, he was a staff analyst in 1976-78 for the U.S. House of Representatives, and was appointed in 2012 by President Obama to represent the U.S. at the United Nations General Assembly. Ted earned a Ph.D. in Engineering from Stanford University and a B.A. from the College of William and Mary, with High Honors in Physics and English.

Learn more about his work from his website or by following him on Twitter @dintersmith.

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