School & District Management Opinion

Scott Hartl on Growing Schools That Foster Wonderful Ideas

By Tom Vander Ark — March 06, 2017 2 min read
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The Primacy of Self-Discovery.

The Responsibility for Learning.

The Having of Wonderful Ideas.

These are three of the 10 beautiful design principles ofEL 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 in this recording:

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.

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 academic program, the adult learning, the blueprint for culture and climate.”

EL Education leadership has shared lessons in four books (including Leaders of Their Own Learning and Learning That Lasts). 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:

The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.