“Most Likely to Succeed” (#MLTSFilm) and CTRL-Shift

I drafted an email to the CTRL-Shift email list, and decided it would be more appropriate as a blog post. For a little background information, there have been several email threads on the CTRL-Shift email list and a Tuesday night conversation about an educational documentary called “Most Likely to Succeed“; I have been reading the book.


The more I read Tony Wagner’s and Ted Dintersmith’s MLTS book, the more I think about how important it is that we have these conversations with people who fundamentally disagree with the premise of the book. Why?

There is already a huge audience of people who agree; both Deborah Meier and Sir Ken Robinson each have sizable followings, and I would say all their viewpoints align with those of Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith (Meier and Robinson are both referenced in the book). Everyone I have talked to at CTRL-Shift also seems to share these ideas. Are we not the choir?

Wagner and Dintersmith want communities to have these stirring, impactful, district-shaking conversations. They want teachers and administrators to be bold enough to get off the sinking ship and sail a new one. So it seems to me that we should seek out those who are resistant (for any number of reasons, some that are actually realistic and sound, perhaps *grin*). Not to beat them over the head with a 10-pound bible, but to have a healthy argument, a dialog, to debate.

It feels good to surround oneself with a bunch of “yes” people. But I think that would be a wasted opportunity. Having said that, there are already lots of you sailing new ships, and I celebrate that; the work at Kenwood is amazing, Katrina Kennett is working on a “school-that-is-not-school” and EdCamps, and Laura Taylor is spear-heading social justice efforts from the Mellon Center, just to name a few. Even though it is unwritten (I believe), it seems that the purpose of CTRL-Shift is to get administrators, teachers, students and parents marching to the beat of a different drum. That’s the “shift”, I think.

To wrap it up, I love how the book asks the fundamental question “What is the purpose of education?” I have asked that many times, of many people; unfortunately, sometimes the ideal in our head does not match what we actually practice in the schools. I have also come to realize that it is a moving target. For me, the ubiquitous and interminable undercurrent is that we are humans, and we are wired to live in community, and there a few axioms that make the machine of society run well and long. First and foremost, love others as we love ourselves. What would happen if that is what we learned in school?

6 Responses to ““Most Likely to Succeed” (#MLTSFilm) and CTRL-Shift”

  1. pattsi petrie Says:

    Looking for suggestions as to the implementation of what you have written, aka engaging the general public in discussions, not just the same small vocal group of individuals.

    • charlesdschultz Says:


      I think one has to find a niche that they are passionate about and make a commitment to take small steps. I also suggested that any discussion on this topic would most likely be most productive if representatives of different viewpoints were allowed to deliberate.

      Here are some suggestions for action:

      • become informed: research the facts, find out what is already happening
      • volunteer: help with an effort that is already underway; help out in a classroom; become a mentor
      • ask others what they need: sometimes just listening is the biggest first step
    • charlesdschultz Says:


      Page 236:
      “Each of us can begin transforming education by taking one simple step: Stop glorifying it. Much of school today involves jumping through pointless hoops with the end goal of a college degree. If we insist that a college degree is mandatory for a high-potential career path, we force many lower- and middle-income families into financial hardship just to get their kids to the starting line.”

  2. charlesdschultz Says:

    The State has obviously failed its constitutional obligation to provide adequate funding. What blows my mind is why the heck the State (13.5% of the income) and the Feds (10.8% of the income) get to mandate how we do school. If 75.7% of the budget is purely from local taxes, then why don’t local taxpayers get to dictate a majority of the rules? Something is very much not right here.

    And to top it off, of course the education system is not churning out citizens who are equipped to become informed taxpayers; no, just “college and career ready.” There is a part of me that thinks this whole K-12 college feeder system is a huge ponzi scam; so many college grads racking up massive debt with mediocre chances at a job. The most damning evidence is that the voters clearly don’t do much about the widespread corruption in Illinois – one would think there should be a huge outcry at all the injustices.

    • Rebecca Patterson Says:

      I have a big issue with the guidance given to students about school choice, finances, and which classes to take. Very few of the students seem to get good advice. That alone could prevent a lot of the debt. And if the public schools could get them better prepared in the first place they would be off to a better start. I saw this story recently, and I realized we are repeating the same things instead of seeing if things are changing.
      It’s better out there than we think but if everyone keeps saying the same old thing we believe it, right? We keep blaming Madigan, he’s only one person, he only has one vote. He has the same vote that every other person there does. They give him that power. We give them that power. We are responsible. Not them.

      • charlesdschultz Says:

        Right, I agree, we the voters are ultimately responsible. The problem is so few voters embrace the power they have through the democratic system. For various reasons.

        The MLTS book is making the case, I believe, that there no longer is a justifiable reason for college/university as it exists today. It seems to make more sense to me that if we wanted to prepare kids for work, we would focus more on apprenticeships and internships. The authors do not speak kindly about our current educational models. 🙂

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