Validation for MCL

Bea McGarvey and I had a great day yesterday in Lindsay, CA.  We felt validated!  Humble, but validated.  The Lindsay Community School District is one of ten recipients of the US Office of Ed Race to the Top competition.  Lindsay's proposal was based on Inevitable: MCL and their district will receive $10 million to make the MCL vision a reality.  Such an opportunity!

We are confident that Lindsay can transform the Industrial Age, Assembly Line approach to education . . . and not so much because of the $10 million dollars, but because of the leadership of Superintendent Tom Rooney, his leadership team, the Lindsay staff, Board, and Community.  Lindsay has been working toward a MCL system for a few years with some very good success already.  It all started when Bea helped Lindsay to create a Strategic Design and when Tom Rooney consciously and consistently made their mission and customized learning vision the basis for all decisions . . . decisions large and small.

Yesterday, the 50+ people who will be most responsible for the implementation of the Lindsay plan had the opportunity to listen to the impact that MCL has already had on learners.  Eight HS learners talked with our group about their experiences and accomplishments.  The subtitle to Inevitable is "Learning in the Age of Empowerment," and learner empowerment was ON DISPLAY when the learners told their stories.  Responsibility for learning had obviously moved from the teacher to the learner.  Extrinsic motivators had given way to intrinsic desires to learn and succeed.  Learners were talking about their futures past HS graduation.  Lifelong learning no longer a slogan on a wall, but being demonstrated by teenagers.  Bea and I left "pumped" and more positive than ever about the future of learning and learners. (cjs)

The Research Question

The “Research” Question

WWII Pilots:

“The flak only gets heavy when you’re over the target.”

Innovators and visionaries know that, when their vision begins to gain traction, those who have something to lose should the old paradigm change, will eventually challenge the new vision.  This is particularly true regarding education.  It is to be expected . . . still hurtful, but to be expected.

Educational visionaries who have been around for a while and who have been through a tussle or two, can quickly spot the opposition.  Typically, the signal that your vision is being challenged comes in the form of a question, a question that is made to sound protective of young students but, most frequently, is a veiled challenge that is protective of the adult and the status quo.

“Do you have any research that shows that this works?”

The question requires a response.  And actually, the question might signal an opportunity for the visionary to get his/her act together, to provide a strong rationale as to why educators, parents, and learners should be willing to trust him/her, to be clear in communicating that rationale to a variety of audiences.

The problem with most transformational visions is that there IS NO PLACE to go to see the vision in operation.  The very nature of a bold vision is that it has not been proven.  Even though the Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning vision is backed by a solid rationale and has nearly universal support, “where is the research.”

The MCL Rationale

The “research” question is based upon a false assumption, one that must be challenged quickly and upfront, i.e., "the question assumes that today's Industrial Age schools are research based."  They were not and they are not!  They were designed to be "administratively convenient," just like all other Industrial Age systems and structures. And, in all sincerity, THAT WAS RIGHT FOR THE TIME, IT WORKED! . . . in the Industrial Age.

Research.  The four statements that follow, written in laymen’s terms, have consensus validity with nearly everyone who has studied learners and learning.  We might call them research findings, opinions of experts, accepted theory, common understandings, or whatever, but educators, past and present, believe them to be solid truths regarding learning and learners:

1.  That learners learn best when they are challenged but not overwhelmed or bored, when they are met at their individual learning level . . . "do you agree with that statement?"
2.  That learners learn best and fastest when they are learning in one of their strongest learning styles . . . "do you agree with that statement?"
3.  That learners learn best when they are interested in the content that is being used to facilitate their learning . . . "do you agree with that statement?"
4.  That learners learn best when they find the content relevant to their lives and the lives of their parents . . . "do you agree with that statement?"

Well, if you agree with those four statements regarding learning and, more specifically,  "intrinsic" motivation, then MCL is very research based as it allows, encourages, and makes it possible for teachers and school systems to consistently apply all four of our most solid beliefs and understandings regarding learners and learning.

Our present bureaucratic, Industrial Age assembly line:
1.  Encourages teachers to teach all learners at one level when we know they do not learn at the same rate, at the same time,
2.  Encourages teachers to lecture and make assignments when we know that the learning styles of today's digital learners requires more interactive modes of learning,
3.  Forces the teacher to limit the content options available to learners and therefore significantly diminishes learner interest, and
4.  Leaves teachers with the challenge of teaching content, concepts, and skills that learners find irrelevant . . . like, "when will I ever use this!"

“Mass Customization” in general is highly “researched” and has proven to be highly successful.
·      Apple and iTunes used mass customization to take over the music industry.
·      Amazon used mass customization to flip the book market.
·      Wikipedia used mass customization to become the encyclopedia of choice.
·      Google and Bing used mass customization to make libraries a place to store “print” books.
·      Yahoo home page used mass customization to make the NYT just one of the newspapers we read in the morning . . . and it’s the digital version, for free.

We might ask record companies, bookstores, Encyclopedia Britannica, librarians, and news paper publishers if they think mass customization has been “researched.”

If we want research-based learning, it must be some type of MCL.  If we want our present Industrial Age school structure to continue, then don't expect teachers and school systems to be "research based."  We are kidding ourselves if we think that today’s schools are research based.  Industrial Age schools were never designed for learners and learning.  They were designed for "administrative convenience."  (If you have been a secondary principal and have constructed efficient master schedules, you readily acknowledge that this statement is true.)  The best that our best teachers, and the best of our best Industrial Age schools can ensure . . . . is that they are applying the best research of the best outdated Industrial Age schools.

Significant research is about learners and learning, not about how to best learn in a system that is not designed with the learner in mind in the first place. (cjs) (bmcg)

Mass Customizing Clarified

Sorry that my last post didn't take . . . let me try again.

Mass Customizing:

  • Not just meeting your individual needs . . . 
  • But meeting everyone's needs, simultaneously . . . 
  • Other professionals get to work with one client at a time . . . great, but that's not mass customizing . . . 
  • Teacher have 25 - 30 clients at a time . . . 
  • Now that's "Mass Customizing . . .  

Mass Customizing Clarified


Great news today! It's Inevitable: Customized Teaching and Learning -- a Fieldbook For and From the Field has been completed, published, and is now available on

Those of you who have read Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning know that the book describes, in detail, a desirable and doable vision that makes it possible to meet the learning needs of every learner, every hour, of every day. But how to get started? How to get your team or system moving? Those are the questions we receive from our colleagues who want to make something happen . . . and want something to happen now. It's Inevitable: Customized Teaching and Learning answers those questions and provides step-by-step suggestions as to how to get moving . . . moving in the right direction. Each "tool" also includes a story that makes the process inviting, real, and doable. The writing style of the Fieldbook is much like Inevitable -- serious, yet conversational and fun. Think of the Fieldbook tools as the "on-ramp" to the MCL freeway. (I love that metaphor that Jim and his team coined.)

Dr. Jim Parry, founder and former director of Technology and Innovation in Education, is Lead Editor of the publication. Dr. Nancy Hall and Dr. Patricia Peel, two highly regarded innovative thinkers, are also members of the "executive team" who made the practical "how to do it" field book a reality. We are most grateful to Jim and his team . . . and to TIE, our Inevitable partners. (cjs)

Thank You Advocates

We (Chuck and Bea) watch our sales of Inevitable closely of course. Egos are involved . . . we admit! We wonder when Inevitable might be found in the bargain/discount/sales section of stores. We are aware that books, even rather popular books get their month or two of fame and then tend to flame out.

So this note to our friends, colleagues, and MCL advocates is to give you all a big thank you for promoting the Inevitable: MCL Vision. We don't, and haven't, advertised Inevitable. Advertising has all been "word of mouth," and you are the "mouths."

After being out for about 2 years, here are the sales stats for the past 30 days:

Kindle sales 125 copies sales 450 books
Direct Purchases by School Districts 600 books
Total Inevitable Sales for past 30 days 1175

We are all eager to have the Inevitable Fieldbook available to our advocates . . . Jim Parry and his team are working through the publishing process and we are confident that the Fieldbook will also be a big hit.

So, thank you all for helping us to change education, one hemisphere at a time!

Careful When Ordering Inevitable on Amazon

We announced earlier that we had updated/revised Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning to include a chapter describing our Elementary School Vision. The addition of the Elementary Vision chapter expands our relevance to elementary school educators and parents significantly.

But because of some rules and policies, it is a bit difficult for buyers to know which book is being purchased. We asked CreateSpace, our publishers, and to stop giving buyers an option as the new version of Inevitable includes everything that was in the first edition . . . and all for the same price. We are afraid that buyers will not know that there is a new version and will be disappointed . . . and maybe a bit angry . . . when they learn that they have purchased an outdated version of our book.

So, when you go to to purchase Inevitable, make sure that you see the little note on the bottom left of the book which states "Includes New Elementary Vision." The new version has a 2012 copyright. (cjs)