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The story begins with media producer Howard Blumenthal interviewing children and teenagers in and near Kampala, Uganda, and in Hong Kong. He asked about their lives, learning, and their plans for the future in the form of video interviews. You can watch some of them on this website. As Howard interviewed more kids, in more places, he began to understand how much they wanted to learn, and how they were disappointed by school. Curious why, Howard connected with Robert Pianta, Dean of The University of Virginia's School of Education & Human Development. They decided to work together, in part to define the issues, but mostly, to devise a better plan for children and teenagers growing up in the first half of the 21st century. The book offers a clear-eyed view of growing up in modern times, then explains learning in contemporary terms -- with an emphasis on cognitive science, memory and relationships. Then, the authors examine the current version of school ("Old School"), offer a more modern framework ("New School") and highlight the importance of all that is learned without school ("Not School"). There are new roles for adults, too. Unlike most authors, we are reaching out to the community to figure out what we've done right, and what we could do better. We hope you will spend time with the new book, and offer your ideas to make it better in our comments section.


Howard Blumenthal is a field researcher, scholar, television producer, author, journalist. He is especially curious about what, why, and how people learn and understand. Howard has worked with children and teenagers for much of his career, winning a Peabody and Emmy Awards for his work with U.S. public television (Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?), and a United Nations Public Service Award (On the Other Side of the Fence). He is a former New York Times syndicated newspaper columnist, the author of more than 20 books about creativity, marketing, media, music, and U.S. history. For several years, Howard has been the Executive Director of the 21st Century Learning Project at The University of Virginia, and continues as a Senior Scholar at The University of Pennsylvania's Positive Psychology Center. In 2022, he received an Honorary Doctorate for his work in global citizenship education from The State University of New York.

Robert Pianta focuses on the intersection of education and human development. In particular, his work has advanced the conceptualization and measurement of teacher-student relationships and documents their contributions to students’ learning and development. Pianta has led research and development on measurement tools and interventions that help teachers interact with students more effectively and that are used widely in the United States and around the world. Pianta began his career as a special education teacher and joined the University of Virginia faculty in 1986. Pianta regularly consults with federal agencies, foundations, universities, and governments. He was named a Fellow of the American Education Research Association and received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Minnesota in 2016. Pianta served as dean of the UVA School of Education of Human Development from 2007-2022 and remains a member of the faculty.

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