So much of what we do in education is based around “getting through the curriculum” and checking off skills that students have “mastered.” It’s safe to say that this isn’t working, and it frankly never has.
Every child is different and every child learns at a different rate. The notion that you can teach concepts in a string of ideas and that students will latch onto them in order is archaic.
There’s a different way to approach teaching and learning and this week’s guest, Catherine Saldutti of EduChange has found it. In this episode, we talk about how students and lifelong learners alike can deepen our understanding of concepts over time, the most important thing we need to do as a society if we want students to learn, the role trust plays in education, and what mastery really should look like.
This is such an important conversation stuffed full of resources and tools you can take back to your own school or initiative so we can truly start changing education for our future’s benefit.
About Catherine Saldutti:
Catherine Saldutti has over 28 years of experience in secondary education and has served as a teacher, administrator, professional development provider, program evaluator, and learning systems designer. She founded EduChange in 2000 to fundamentally reimagine and redesign the systems and structures that deliver formal education.
Catherine’s team of senior designers, master educators, and researchers built relationships with over 350 schools in New York City, several school districts across the USA, and in Sao Paulo, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Culiacan, and Tijuana. After a 12-year implementation period in eight global locations, alongside three rounds of academic & scientific peer review, The Integrated Science Program is now powered by Sustainable Open Educational Resources (SOER) that removes disciplinary silos, is competency-based, is grounded in the Sciences of Learning & Development (SoLD) and UDL, is digitally deployed internationally using four different models, and may be customized to local and national requirements.
Catherine also holds a patent for Concept Construxions, a pattern-recognition system that helps learners construct concepts and acquire academic or technical language in social, collaborative ways. Catherine earned degrees from Stanford University, where her independent study on International Technology Education contributed to J. Myron Atkin’s work on TIMSS development, and The Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she served as Chair of the Dean’s Advisory Committee.
Jump in the Conversation:
[2:15] – How Catherine is creating change
[4:19] – Some of the basics of supporting learning
[4:53] – What we’ve learned about learning
[7:43] – Why the one and done model doesn’t work
[8:43] – Students aren’t blank slates
[10:45] – The #1 thing we need to do if we want kids to learn
[12:09] – the heart of the work at Educhange
[14:28] – What needs to happen to start to make this change
[16:46 ] Humans have an emotional relationship with time and it’s one of our biggest problems
[19:40] – The role of “mastery” of standards and what it means
[24:38] – What about systems and structures we have in place need to be/can be dismantled
[26:30] – Turbo time
[31:04] – What people need to know about the concept of time
[34:09] – How others can become activists and transform schools
[37:18] – Catherine’s Magic Wand
[39:02] – Maureen’s takeaways
Links & Resources
- 10 Design Shifts for Open Learning Architecture
- Catherine’s Design Blog
- Programs, Courses, Projects, Lessons: Reshaping High School Content for Equity
- Research: Implications for the educational practice of the science of learning and development
- Video: The Physics and Philosophy of Time with Carlo Rovelli
- Book: Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows
- Book: The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery by Sarah Lewis
- Book: Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
- Book: Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art by Stephen Nachmanovitch
- Dame Stephanie Shirley’s TED Talk
- Podcast: The Promise of a Brighter Kingdom with Kim Hudson, author of The Virgin’s Promise
- Talk: Redefining Economic Value with Mariana Mazzucato
- Episode 72: Bringing Psychological Safety to Our Teachers with Michael Vargas
- Episode 89: Achieving Excellence Through Equity (not Equality) in Education with Steven Cleveland
- Email Maureen
- Maureen’s TEDx: Changing My Mind to Change Our Schools
- The Education Evolution
- Facebook: Follow Education Evolution
- Twitter: Follow Education Evolution
- LinkedIn: Follow Education Evolution
- EdActive Collective
- Maureen’s book: Creating Micro-Schools for Colorful Mismatched Kids
- Micro-school feature on Good Morning America
- The Micro-School Coalition
- Facebook: The Micro-School Coalition
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 0:03
Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at education evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education evolution, micro school coalition, and co founder of edactive, I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review?
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:08
Welcome back education evolution listeners. As we all see behind the curtain to what does not work in our present school system. It’s a perfect time to listen to Catherine Saldutti of educhange. She has spent a career understanding and redesigning academics. Listen to how she focuses on the components of time, trust and mastery.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:34
Hi, Catherine, it is so good to have you on education evolution today.
Catherine Saldutti 1:39
Maureen, thanks for having me. I’m so excited to be here. And listeners.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:42
today I’m chatting with Catherine Saldutti of educhange. She has over 28 years of experience in secondary education, including as a learning systems designer, she founded edgy change in 2000, and is fundamentally reimagining and redesigning systems and structures in education. And today, we’re just gonna look at some gentle pieces that we can all take and apply to make learning work better for today’s students.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 2:12
So Catherine, let’s hear how you’re making this happen. And I want to start with just your Genesis. We know schools have to evolve to serve all of our learners. How did this begin? Where did this story of school transformation start for you?
Catherine Saldutti 2:29
Yeah, so I have been dedicated to education, and the power that learning can bring to a person for many, many years. Since I was 17 years old, really, I knew I wanted to go into education, because I just felt its power. I felt its power as a student. I came from a family that valued education. But I just thought, wow, you know, my teachers are so dedicated. They felt real to me, you know, they felt like real people who weren’t trying to do anything, but just share with us and support people. And I loved that. I like, I want to be like that, you know, if you’re looking at role models, yeah. And then I got into science, and I really loved understanding human biology, which is what I ended up majoring in college. And there’s so many aspects to that. And my major actually was quite integrated. So it pulled in a whole variety of aspects. And that’s how I started getting into Oh, wow, if we start really breaking open, this understanding and the ways we create knowledge, we can really go deep and broad all at the same time. And it was just so fascinating to me. So that’s how I got into learning more general, how does teaching and learning actually work? And I’ve just sort of stayed there now for about 28 years.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 4:06
Wow, that is impressive. And you have so much knowledge at so many levels. If we were just starting out kind of bigger picture. I’m wondering, what are some basic things that we know that support learning? How would you start to break that down?
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 4:26
Yeah, so the great thing about where we are, is that I would say over the last two decades, we’ve really learned about learning and the sciences of learning and development, I think have really gone from emergent to Central in terms of the way we as educators talk about learning. So, I think I can say that there are a few things we we do really know and I think your listeners will know that we know these things. So So one of them is Is that different students will learn skills and concepts at different rates? How do we know loosely?
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 5:08
Catherine Saldutti 5:08
we all know this, right? And learning itself is not linear. So this notion that you can put little bundles of knowledge bytes together and string them together, and then have students, you know, progress through them. That does not, we know that doesn’t work. Yep. So those are two things. You know, we know to start, I think another thing that really gets out this notion of time, and how we think about time in schools, is that really for learning? Students require more practice, and over a longer periods of time than our conventional secondary school curricula, permits and even university level curriculum.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 6:06
I want to stop, will you please say that, again? I think it is just super important.
Catherine Saldutti 6:14
Yeah. So students, and all learners, I mean, really, it’s not just students, it’s anyone who’s learning something. We require a lot of practice, and over very long periods of time, to actually do what we call learn something. And the curricula and the conventional structures that we have in place now in schools and have you know, since the beginning of really formal schooling, they don’t serve that neurological need.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 6:52
No, no. And I think when I think of Driver’s Ed, my daughter’s had to have 50 hours of practice, without even the academic piece, and how long it took to figure out where all the pieces were, and then how to put them in place and monitor the different pieces and do the head checks. Stop behind the white line. And I think all learning is that way, that’s just an example we can grasp. But all of us need to put all these pieces together, and practice and keep adding them in and get more fluency in learning. And yeah, when we’re one and done, okay, we covered that. We’re, we’re so not serving how our brains learn our way.
Catherine Saldutti 7:35
No, we’re not. And I think there’s another layer though. I mean, I think, you know, you and I, and educators everywhere and parents and everyone, we know about skills, we know that we need to practice things like, you know, because we know this from music, and we know this from sports, you know, you got to practice, right. But I think there’s this other piece that has emerged, and it’s not new, but it’s emerging in conversation, which is we actually learn concepts, like skills. So we actually must deepen our understanding through intentional revisits over time. And this is really, truly why the one and done model doesn’t work.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 8:27
Intentional re visits. That makes sense, the end when we have had curriculum, or lessons that spiral and weave in different pieces.
Catherine Saldutti 8:39
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 8:41
What else? What else? Do we know this is important?
Catherine Saldutti 8:46
Yeah, well, I mean, I think another thing that’s important that we think about all the time, because you know, you get into high school science and open of high school science really isn’t part of normal everyday life, right? I mean, in some ways, yeah. Good. You know, oh, good, Lord. What’s molarity? You know, is do we not talk about the day long, right? So but what we have to remember is, even though some things are new, and we’re exposing students, and that’s sort of the point of education, but it’s lovely. Students aren’t blank slates. So their cultures, their families, their community experiences, their personal experiences, have begun to help build schema in their brains. And so the more that we can create conditions and experiences where they can draw from and connect to their own schema, and their own experiences and their own cultures and their own backgrounds, the more likely it is that the Learn molarity or whatever you’re trying to teach them right
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 10:00
So we know that we know connections, and oh my goodness, I did not master World Geography at all in school. And then once I started living overseas, it’s like, oh, right, I’m in the Philippines. Where’s Cambodia? Where’s Angkor? Wat? You know, we needed to connect it to something that had importance to us and right, we Why wouldn’t we think that’s the same with kiddos
Catherine Saldutti 10:22
is the same and and they come to us with such rich experience. Right? And they’re just I mean, adolescents are some of my favorite people. You know, just, they have such energy and, and drive and emotion. You know, and I think that’s, that’s another piece that we really have to take seriously. And I think we’re starting to take seriously but we have to take seriously in terms of the way we design academics, and that is, if we want students to learn, we all know, we must attend to their psychological, emotional, physical and social safety. Full stop.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 11:07
Absolutely. I say that line again, Catherine, say that line again to please.
Catherine Saldutti 11:14
Yeah, no, it’s it’s just if we want students to learn, they have to feel safe in a variety of ways that had nothing to do with, you know, learning academic science, we have to attend to their psychological, emotional, physical and social needs. And that means that the structures of assessment and learning and curriculum and incentives and all of that that goes into classrooms and schools has got to center on all of those SEL pieces. You know,
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 11:55
I don’t think you’re saying anything that every educator doesn’t know.
Catherine Saldutti 12:00
Everyone knows we can have a party.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 12:03
No, and I’m not saying like, no, Catherine, I’m saying, we all know that. And then we’re told, especially in schools driven by state testing, or tradition, we’re told, get in there and cover that curriculum. So it’s like, part of me knows this kid has this heart, this kid needs to feel safe. And then another part of me is told to get through all of this checklist of tasks and have content. So I, yes, we know this. But I don’t think that there’s permission to unpack this and to stop education if something feels unsafe, or if something feels like a bigger priority than covering content. So yes, I agree safety, we have to attend to that. How can we slowly start to let that shift and become more of a priority? When content is such a push?
Unknown Speaker 12:52
Right? Well, this is where we get to sort of the heart of our work at edgy change. And what we had to do is grapple with that very conundrum. Right? We do have content that we want to teach, we do have standards, we have local graduation requirements, especially at high school, you know, becomes central, right. But there’s a way in which we have structured disciplines, courses, units, projects, that simply do not serve the things we just talked about. So if we really can look at the structures, and the systems and the incentives, then we can start thinking about it differently. So I want to say to your listeners, all of the designs that we have worked on for secondary science, meet every single standard local graduation requirement, lab time requirement, all of it. And yet, we have completely dismantled, right. A lot of structures that have been conventionally just sort of what we know and do as planners of curriculum, things like that. We’ve changed all that.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 14:17
So Catherine, what kinds of decisions did you have to make it edger change to start making this happen?
Catherine Saldutti 14:27
Yes. So all of the things that you just mentioned, the standardized tests, the standards themselves, you know, the curriculum list, all of that is compliance based, right? And it’s also very top down. Teachers get that from the state or from the nation or from wherever. And when you have designs that are top down, they tend to be grounded in fear. That’s how compliance works, right. So we’ve flipped that, instead, we don’t want to ground anything we do in fear, we want to ground it in trust. And so here are the things that we have trust, we have trusted, what nature tells us that diversity is a source of strength, and sustainability. And so our designs have got to support diversity, it works for nature, is going to work for learning is going to work. The second thing we trusted is we trusted nature to deliver the content. So that in science, we study natural phenomena, we study nature, we studied the way the world works, and the planet works and how humans interact with the planet, all that good stuff, right? We have to trust that the content we need to teach and all those standards is actually present in the nature that students find interesting. And the third thing we trust, is that what all the STEM professionals, the scientists, the engineers, the mathematicians, the technologists, all these great people, what they are doing also will interest, teenagers. Yeah. What they’re talking about what they’re learning about, the problems they’re working on, will also be interesting to teenagers really well.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 16:26
I love that I love shifting from fear to trust, I love looking at time and how long it takes to learn a concept differently. So you’ve looked at time you looked at trust, is there another key concept that would help us reframe?
Catherine Saldutti 16:44
Yeah, you know, just to stay on time for for one more moment, you know, one of the ways that I really came to sort of a sense of peace, if you will, about how to really revamp our structures and systems, in terms of time, goes back to what I learned from theoretical physics. And this is going to sound strange, but there’s a scientist Carlo Ravalli, who basically says, humans have a very emotional relationship with time. And this is one of our biggest problems. So a physicist is talking about emotions. I mean, here we are, right? Social emotional aspects, right. But what he talks about is, the emotional aspect of time relates to loss. So humans tend to think about time in terms of time that’s lost. With time is a construct, we just time happens and time moves on is this, this is no, there’s no loss. And right now, marine, right, we’re hearing a lot about learning loss. And this, and when I sit back and think about this, I think about Carlo Valley, I think about what he says it’s because it’s almost like that’s the only way humans think about time is this emotional sense of loss of it. And possibly, that’s because we think about ourselves sort of moving closer to death or something, I don’t know. But, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of psychological aspects to it. And if we can just, you know, meditate on that a little bit and just say, Okay, I’m having an emotional response to this. And and sort of just recognize that and say, Okay, how can I step away from this for a minute, and then maybe come back and think about this more from a design standpoint, or more from problem standpoint, or something like that? I think it will be helpful, because our initial instinct is to be very emotional about time. Wow.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 19:05
When you say that I am immediately drawn into all the ways Oh, my gosh, how much time will I get with or I wish I’d had more time with booth. And to me, that’s scarcity, thinking, and I’m guilty of it. So let’s, let’s make sure we put a link in the show notes about his work.
Catherine Saldutti 19:21
That’s yeah, sure. And there’s a great talk that people can listen to that. And he’s, he’s so wonderful to listen to. I heard calling nice. You know, you wouldn’t you wouldn’t think about that from a theoretical physicist. Yeah, that’s good. Love it.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 19:38
What else is there anything else says we’re just kind of looking more gently at how learning can be in 2022 for learners?
Unknown Speaker 19:48
Yeah, I think one of the things and you know, we can we can come back to this, but when we think about standards, and we think about standardized tests, and assessment more generally, this word mastery can sort of come into play. And people have really different ideas about what mastery sort of is. So one thing I can I can share with you is, we might want to reframe what we actually think mastery is. And what we did is we went into both universal design for learning. And I know you’ve had folks on your podcast talk about UDL, and also the creatives in talking about mastery. So Sarah Lewis has written a wonderful book called The Rise, Creativity, the Gift of Failure in the Search for Mastery. And she talks about mastery in a very wonderful way. The pursuit of mastery isn’t ever onward almost. Isn’t that beautiful? And it’s because she’s talking about masters not being experts, because they reach this final point, right, this final apex, where there’s no more learning that needs to happen. What she says is that masters are masters, because they realize there is no conceptual end. So mastery cannot be about a checklist. And if we treat standards, like a checklist, and not like a framework, and all the people who write standards say that we should do this and all this stuff, but then they give us a checklist. So you know, I just the whole, the whole framing of everything has to really change. And the way that we plan curriculum and learning experiences, also needs to change.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 21:56
I love that reframing because mastery, we think is I mean, we use that at my micro school. And if you need a lot of time to unpack an algebra concept, let’s take that time or if you pretest out of it, let’s move you ahead. We really like mastery for letting kids have learning at their own pace. But is it a framework? Or is it a checklist? And in our math, it’s a checklist, so that okay, you’ve mastered exponents, let’s move on. And oops, there’s more from what you’re saying. There’s more, we can be doing more, there’s more.
Unknown Speaker 22:33
And I think that that is a much deeper, sort of more complex reframing, but it is also completely congruent with everything we know about learning. And can students become more deeply expert? Can they become an expert learn or switches UDL? Yes, they can. Do I personally think the role of schools is to help students become expert learners? Yes, I do. Yes, I do. Because if you can understand yourself as a learner and know what you need to learn. And then if you’re confident that you can learn something, then the future is your oyster, right? I mean, you can go into the future, just knowing you know, new things are going to come along, I’m going to be faced with challenges and situations. But I can learn. And I’m confident that I can learn. So I’ll be okay. I just think that’s the biggest gift we can give learners, right? Maureen?
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 23:44
Absolutely. And there are tools. And when we get out of that one size fits all one pace fits all. And when we attend to trust and safety, then we can we can really help them figure out what they need and feel confident advocating for it, hey, I need more time or hey, could I have a visual representation? Or Please, could I just have quiet I need to process?
Catherine Saldutti 24:07
Yes, yeah. And you know, as you know, sleep is so important for learning. So if we try to cram too much within too few sleep cycles, then the brain can’t do its thing, really solidifying those networks. So sleep is important, too. And that goes back to the physical well being that we talked about, and it all works together. It really does and, and everything that we know to be true really does work together. So I think the next stage for all of us is to say, Okay, what about the systems and structures that we have in place, need to be dismantled? And what about what we have in place can be dismantled. And you know, I’m just here to tell you that it can be done. It really can be done. And it can be done in a way that still has you meet Your standards, your requirements and not make anyone mad. Yeah, all of that.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 25:06
Yeah. This is so hopeful, Catherine and I think this is a first step, how can we each look at what’s happening with our youth? Whether we’re a parent or school leader or a teacher? And what look around us what needs to be dismantled? What do I need to do as a parent to make sure my teens or kids are getting the sleep they need? Or have the physical safety they need? What do I need? In my classroom? In my school? What do I need as a business person to support learners? So I think that’s a very doable first step.
Catherine Saldutti 25:42
Mm hmm. Yeah, it is. And I think, you know, as we move into the new year, it’s a great opportunity to just sort of recast our understanding of how we relate to time, and how we think about all of these time structures that we have in place, just to relax a little bit, and say, Actually, human beings need a lot more time. And we have a really emotional relationship with time that we need to explore a little bit.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 26:15
I love that. And I definitely want to have you back on. And we’ll unpack some different pieces of designing amazing learning. But for today, I want to take a little bit of time, and get to know you, the person behind edgy change with some turbo time questions. Are you ready?
Catherine Saldutti 26:33
Yeah. Let’s go turbo. Alright.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 26:37
And I’ll put your answers also in the show notes so that people can refer back. So what’s the last book you read?
Catherine Saldutti 26:46
Yeah, so I’ve just become a couple of new books that I’m happy to share in there. They’re not about science. One is Mariana mazzucato is the value of everything. And she’s this brilliant economist who is questioning our historical mindset about value, value creators and value extractors and how all of economics is actually designed and what we undervalue in terms of who is actually creating value in our role. So that is fascinating. I mean, she’s brilliant, big brain on her. And then the other book is called The virgins promise by Kim Hudson. And Kim Hudson is a Canadian writer. And she’s developed sort of this new story structure, which is different from the hero’s journey. And so her book is all about this new way of telling stories about protagonists, and protagonists who find their own power and authentic self, and then they break with tradition. And then, you know, explore their own self actualization. So it’s just, I just, these women are awesome, and I love it. Everyone should be
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 28:06
Whoa, okay. I’m intrigued. Thank you. How about two inspirational folks you’d love
Catherine Saldutti 28:14
to meet? Yeah, so one of them? Is Dame Stephanie Shirley. And I don’t know if you know her, she was probably the biggest example of a tech pioneer. And she broke glass ceilings in the 1960s. She built a woman dominated software development company in the 60s. Whoa. And so amidst so many gender barriers, and so many naysayers, she, it really just is an example for what can be done as a pioneer as someone bringing something new and new ways of working into the world. I just, Ben, she’s an amazing philanthropist. Oh, okay. I just, she’s great. She’s great. I think another another person, sadly, I can’t meet because she’s passed, but Donella Meadows, who was really revered as a major systems thinker in the 70s and 80s and 90s even until her death, she really is amazing. And she has very accessible work on systems. So if you’re interested in learning more about systems you should read
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 29:44
absolutely yes. Yeah. Margaret Wheatley, some of the you know some of the author’s like yes, please thank you for making it accessible. I am not a scientist I am not a
Catherine Saldutti 29:56
she’s she’s fully accessible. All these people are so excited. but then that’s also I love them because they’re brilliant, but they’re not. They’re inclusive right there. They want to include their readers. Yeah, in in their world, which is what I love.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 30:13
Love it. How about a TED Talk that inspires you?
Catherine Saldutti 30:20
Yeah. So I actually want to point people to Dame Stephanie Shirley’s TED talk. I’ll give you that. That link. Yeah. It’s not one of the longer TED Talks. But honestly, you should know her. She’s just wonderful. She I think she’s about 87 years old now. But this was done a few years ago. And definitely, definitely, it’s great. Okay, yeah,
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 30:46
I am. I love this podcast, I think I learned so darn much. And then a lot of it, I can apply right away to my micro school. So thank you.
Catherine Saldutti 30:56
You are so welcome. It’s been fine. How about
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 30:59
the biggest thing you wish folks knew about the construct of time you’ve talked about a lot of elements is a one synthesizing point.
Catherine Saldutti 31:09
Yeah, I think just just in general, maybe a takeaway, for those who are sort of ready to go there. The common practices that we have in place, the course the project, the unit, the curriculum map, we really need to rethink those structures, because those structures are too short term for the way learning needs to happen. And we can still have the same amount of time, you know, four years of high school, but we really need to think about what the smaller structures within those four years related to time, we need to think about what those need to do or not do. Good. Yes. How about yours? You know, I have a lot of things to complain about when I work. I have to say, I love that part. I think a pet peeve I have is more about the way the larger field thinks about time and innovation. And I’m going to center on the grant cycle. No real innovation happens in the grant cycle, period. And that is the way innovation continues to be funded, continues to be funded that way in education, and academic science. And I think innovation has is really hamstrung by the grant cycle. So it is it’s a pet peeve I have Yeah.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 32:45
Okay. Yes, definitely. How about a passion you bring to edge you change?
Catherine Saldutti 32:52
Yeah. So I would say and I guess the pandemic has, has given me a moment to reflect on this as well. I really love to learn. I took you know, the past few years to to learn some things. I learned a new computer language I learned I learned things. I love to learn, I love when other people learn. I love the confidence. And this long term sense of well being that the ability to learn can foster. So I feel like learning how to learn is like creating your own sustainability policy or something. I mean, I really believe that. So yeah, I think that’s, that’s really at the heart of my passion and what drives me to wake up every day and confront all these big structural challenges. Maureen,
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 33:41
I love it. And when you say that I hadn’t framed it that way. But it’s like, yes, technology can make me really nervous. But I know how to get on Google and figure out why I can’t get this setting changed and what I need to do. So yes, the ability to learn, does foster our well being I hadn’t framed it that way. So that’s really a nice spin on that.
Unknown Speaker 34:05
Yeah, yeah. It helps me a lot. It
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 34:08
How can others be activists to transform schools?
Catherine Saldutti 34:13
Yeah, so I’m actually going to pull some ideas from these brilliant female economists who are really reshaping the way we think about value. I think we really, as educators need to shift away from the notion of a zero sum game. And that is, frankly, somewhat fueled by the grant Psych and the fear of no funding. So like, you know, there’s the sense that people are competing with each other. But really, we need to move more towards an abundance mindset. So I think if you want to be an activist, you have to be grounded in the sense of collective action, the sense of larger purpose. You have to believe in diversity Do you have to believe that there are many winners? We are all winners? Because schools education, none of our institutions will change. If we keep trying to say, there can only be a few winners and everyone else is a loser. We just this is a go into sensual, all hands on deck moment. And we have got to come together for collective activism, real partnerships, collaborations that work. And inclusive, abundant communities.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 35:39
Yes, yes, please. A last written question, what is something that most people don’t know about? You?
Catherine Saldutti 35:50
Know, yeah, some people don’t. Yeah. So I think, you know, people say, Oh, well, Catherine, she’s science, you should just find stuff. You know, so that’s why she likes systems and designs and structures and talks about all that. But really, where I learned that is music. So my first love was the piano. And I got pretty good at piano, and then went on to play the flute. So I could be in the band, the school band, elementary, middle and high school band, right. And then in college, just for fun, I learned to play the sax. And I wasn’t ever any good at that. But it was a blast. I had so much fun playing in college. So I learned about systems through music. Oh my God, that’s really? Yeah. How I learned it,
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 36:46
which ties back into that whole idea of interconnections and interdisciplinary. It’s not linear. It’s not lockstep.
Catherine Saldutti 36:54
No, yeah. Yeah.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 36:57
Ah, Catherine, this is so fun. And so rich, I want to wrap up with magic wands. If you had a magic wand, and could do anything to change the framework of learning in schools, what would you wish?
Unknown Speaker 37:21
I’m going to just think about science education right now. Because that’s sort of where I, I said, we really need to be more inclusive about the people who come to the table and talk about science education, about ways of knowing there are many different cultures, who observe nature, who have a history, indigenous peoples, people from different geographies and demography is, and everyone has a way of knowing. And if we don’t start bringing this into education, and I’m thinking particularly about science education, we will not solve these wicked problems that face our world.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 38:10
I completely agree. Wow, Catherine, you are an amazing resource. And we are definitely having you back on the podcast because there’s so much more to unpack. I love it. Thank you so much for your time today.
Catherine Saldutti 38:25
Absolutely. Now, I’ve loved every minute of it. And I just want to say to your listeners, you know, we’re all in this together. Just reach out, grab hold of someone you know, in love. And we’re going to get through this we really well, there’s we know a lot about what we know and what we know works. And if we’re there’s another side to this, we will get to the other side. We will
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 38:49
Yes, we will. Thank you for ending on such a hopeful note.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 39:03
Catherine, as a scientist has put so much research into her approach to how we look at time, trust, and mastery. It’s a wonderful blend of scientific thinking, and acknowledging the soft aspects of learning. I look forward to reading her resources about time. We all know that we learn different topics at different paces. Much of the time our greatest success comes when we get to practice and we have longer periods of time to unpack the content. My hope is that we can create intentional revisits of the material as Catherine suggests. To do this we would need to use reverse engineering or the model of Understanding by Design. We’d have to know the essential question or key concept and skills that we expect the student to take away I think sometimes our teachers have a checklist that is so long, they can’t possibly prioritize the one or two takeaways that need extra time. And intentional revisits. It’s definitely a skill to synthesize. And it takes time, time seems to be something teachers have in short supply.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 40:21
Which reminds me of a comment of a recent guest, Stephen, the professor Cleveland. He said, We all need more time to dream. What if we could give teachers time to design learning around priorities, and allow time for very debases and additional practice time, and maybe even allow teachers time to dream. doing less better, make sense, and it takes time to create time. It was also a great reminder when Catherine said the children are not blank slates. When we can center their experience of culture and life in the learning, we can help them pin new learning and meaning to their real world connections. This is vital.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 41:13
Catherine also talks about trust. I appreciated my interview with Michael Vargas, when we talked about psychological safety. I’ll put that link and the others that we talked about in the show notes. What are we doing, at school and in each class, to attend to psychological, emotional, social, and physical needs. We all have to feel safe to trust and to be ready to be vulnerable in the pursuit of learning. My hope would be that teachers can step back and look at what they provide through the lens of safety. And they could add a few tweaks that personalized learning allows students to have confidential ways to provide feedback. And even do simple things like greet students by name on their way into the class. And like read a person’s text TED talk, we need to make sure every student has a trusted adult at school. Trust is so vital time trust and mastery we know with the UDL universally designed learning lens. That’s up to us to help students know their learning styles and have tools they need to access learning. Then we need to create a safe environment where they can practice getting their learning needs met, which includes feeling safe to speak up and ask for what they need.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 42:42
I appreciated the Catherine reminded us this goal of mastery is a false concept. There is no end to learning. So how can we encourage growth in each student without a sense that there is Completion? It seems like reframing mastery creates room for Wonder and possibility far beyond a checklist of standards. I’m looking forward to learning about Dame Stephanie. Surely she wasn’t on my radar. Catherine has sent links to the resource she mentioned and they are all in the show notes. How fun to be schooled on education and learning from such a humane scientist. What a pleasure it was to have Katherine Sal duty of edgy change as our guest today.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 43:34
I know how challenging it is to make changes inside your own school or community. I’ve spent years working with schools around the world on creating learner centered programs. And it always struck me how much schools were able to get done with the right tools and guidance. If you’re ready to make changes like this in your own school, let’s talk and put together an action plan. Visit education evolution.org backslash consult for a free 15 minute call. And let’s see if we’re a good fit for more work together.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 44:10
Thanks again for listening. To support the education evolution. Subscribe so it lands in your podcast app and gets out to more decision makers. Then rate and review it. For more information in shownotes go to education evolution.org education evolution listeners. You are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen heard, valued and thriving. We are in this together and we need you. Let’s go out and reach every student today. Thank you for listening, signing off. I am Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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