Compositive: Top education thinker – Compositive is THE model for future

Alan Gottlieb, Compositive Staff

We recently checked in with Marc S. Tucker, one of the world’s leading thinkers on education policy and how it interacts with our ever-changing economy. We wanted to tell him about Compositive and hear his thoughts.


We were heartened to learn that Tucker sees the Compositive approach to educating the whole child as precisely what is needed to prepare our children for the economy, and the world, of the near future.


Tucker heads the National Center On Education and the Economy, a prominent Washington DC-based education policy think-tank. He has written some of the most influential studies of the past two decades on how education in the U.S. must retool if our children are to become contributing members of an increasing complex and interconnected world.


He spends much of his time studying education systems in other countries, trying to pinpoint what the top performers are doing that we in the U.S. are not. One conclusion he has reached in recent years is that whole child education is the only type of education that makes sense. But, he stressed during a wide-ranging, hour-long phone conversation, old definitions of whole child education are obsolete.


“We’re not far from a time where most jobs requiring only basic literacy skills can be done with machines. Jobs requiring humans will more require a deep understanding of stuff kids learn in classrooms plus a whole set of capacities they get from after-school clubs, activities, sports, and experiences outside of school.”


This, he said requires a “much more planful” approach to educating the whole child.


Tucker has always been a believer in a progressive, whole child approach to education. But what he’s seen in recent years in top-performing places like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Denmark have forced him to redefine what educating the whole child means.


“My conception of whole child education is a little different now. Back then it was all optional. In world I am envisioning all these things (educating the heart and body, and forging connections with larger communities) are as important as academics. Teachers have to make sure each child is engaged in all these activities in a pattern that create the attributes kids need to succeed.”


That sounds a lot like Compositive, doesn’t it? The attributes Tucker went on to describe closely mirror our four capacities: Reflect & Learn, Recognize & Act, Care & Connect, Engage & Serve.


And how does one go about creating a school that provides this kind of education? It’s not easy, Tucker cautioned. “it is easy to use the words but much harder to organize a school that really does it.”


Job one for any individual or group hoping to create such a school is finding the right teachers, Tucker said. A Compositive teacher must not only be well trained: she must also be deeply educated in both the liberal arts and the subjects she is to teach, he said.


“I think we’re headed toward type of economy where jobs available for kids who have had a fairly traditional curriculum delivered by not very well educated teachers are going to shrivel up,” he said.


Where does one find such teachers? Tucker said the best universities in the world are training people – not necessarily to be educators – in cross-disciplinary institutes where “students get deep insights that drive thinking forward by taking frameworks that underlie one discipline and applying them to another.”


This is heady stuff. It inspires us to keep blazing this new trail.




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