Education Reimagined, One Success at a Time: The Hawkins Model© – Implementation Plan

Chapter 7 – The Implementation of The Hawkins Model©

Step 1 – Clarifying Mission and Purpose

The purpose of education is to prepare our children to be responsible and productive citizens who have a menu of choices for what they want to do with their lives to find joy and meaning. As citizens of a democracy, we want them to abide by the rule of law, participate in their own governance, and be able to make informed choices with respect to significant issues of the day. This requires that children be able to learn as much as they are able about the universe in which they live and the people with whom they share it.

The welfare and success of all students must be a teacher’s over-riding priority and the instruction process and the very structure of the environment and each of its components must be molded to serve that purpose. It requires the same dedication an aircraft engineer utilizes to design a cockpit to support and enable every function a pilot might be called upon to perform.

An education must teach children more than facts and knowledge; it must teach them success is a process. Success and winning are not only immediate accomplishments, they are also a life-long process of getting the most out of one’s life by learning from one’s experiences, both good and bad. Students must learn the process of success and they must also learn self-discipline and character.

There is a point at which students must be made aware of our mission and purpose. Opinions might vary, but it is our belief that this would be most meaningful when students arrive in middle school. We expect that students who have advanced from kindergarten to middle school, having been taught within the context of our model, will have progressed far beyond where  sixth graders are, today. To lay the groundwork for agency, we recommend explaining that their first six years were devoted to laying the academic and emotional foundation on which they will build their futures. We want them to understand this next stage of their education will be devoted to helping them begin to take ownership of their futures and to understand what will be expected of them as members of a participatory democracy.  We want them to join us in our commitment to their futures—our mission and purpose.

Step 2 – Objectives and Expectations                    



Our objective as educators is to help children learn as much as they are able, as quickly as they can at their own best pace, beginning at that point on the learning preparedness and emotional development continuums where we find them when they arrive at our door for their first day of school. Each school must be a “Success Expectation Zone.”

As we suggested earlier, success in learning is a function of what we consider to be the essential variables of success; variables without which learning is improbable. The model you are about to read is constructed to ensure:

  • Every student will have an enduring, positive relationship with at least one teacher who cares about them.
  • We will give every child whatever time and attention they need to help their brains, bodies, and emotions progress along their unique developmental pathways.
  • They must learn mistakes are learning opportunities and they should never give up on themselves.
  • We will measure success against a child’s own past performance and not the performance of classmates.
  • On specific subject matter, we will strive for subject mastery, which is synonymous with “proficiency,” as defined by the NAEP. The threshold for mastery on various forms of assessment will be the equivalent of 85 percent, although more is better.
  • We need to think of all lessons as building blocks—as pre-requisite knowledge and skills  for life. Our objective is to help all children construct solid academic and emotional foundations that have been tailored to enable them to build whatever life they will choose for themselves. We must help them prepare to make such choices.
  • Students must learn well enough to apply what they have learned in real life situations including subsequent lessons; state competency examinations—until we have rendered them irrelevant—assessments for life’s opportunities; and, for facing the challenges life will present.
  • There are no arbitrary schedules or time limits as all students are on their own unique schedule; and, finally,
  • Learning is an adventure of discovery.

Education should not be triage where we choose to whom we will offer opportunities and it is not a race to see who can learn the most, the fastest. We must not ask students to keep up with their classmates and no child should be asked to wait for classmates to catch up. And, finally, there is no such thing as an acceptable level of failure.

Step 3 – What Do Students Need to Assure Success in Learning?

Let us summarize specific things children need if they are to learn:

  • Nurturing relationships with one or more qualified teachers who care about them and that endure for more than a single school year.
  • The involvement and support of parents/guardians, in partnership with teachers, to the extent possible.
  • An assessment process using varying approaches so we can start each student at the exact point on the academic preparedness and emotional development continuums where we find them when they arrive at our door.
  • An academic plan tailored to their unique requirements and where students who have disadvantages to overcome receive accommodations appropriate to their needs. much as we do for special-needs students.
  • Access, under guidance of their teachers and within the context of our education model, to leading-edge methodologies, approaches, and technologies from STEM to STEAM.
  • Our patient time and attention, utilizing time as a variable resource the quantity of which teachers have discretion to adjust to meet a student’s unique requirements.
  • A stable and safe environment in the community of their classroom.
  • The freedom to explore the world and pursue their own interests as well as the curriculum developed for them.
  • To learn how to be successful, we must teach them that success and winning are nothing more than a process of striving toward one’s goals and adjusting along the way as they learn from experience. 
  • To experience success, winning, and the celebration of every success and every win.  
  • We must give high-performing students the freedom to push ahead and explore the universe as their interests dictate.
  • We must understand that innovative technologies will be an integral part of the world in which our children will live.

This issue of technology will be a challenge for many parents and teachers because of their own reticence. Think of your smart phones as an example of something that was initially intimidating but has become an integral part of our lives. Notwithstanding that everything in life has tradeoffs, think about how our smart phones have benefited us in our daily lives. Educators must embrace such a future so our children can be well-prepared.


Step 4 – Where Do We Begin?

We will answer this question twice. The first answer will apply to where we begin with the implementation of our model in a school district and the second answer will be directed to where we will begin with children arriving for their first day of school.

Choosing Schools for Implementation

We begin the implementation of our model by selecting from among the lowest performing elementary schools in any of our targeted school districts and asking them to test our model in the Kindergarten classrooms of a struggling school. We also want to solicit the support of local advocacy groups representing the people residing within each school’s boundaries. Although our primary focus is to see the model employed in public school districts, because that is the only venue to which all society’s children will be assured access, the model will be available for free for any publicly funded and faith-based schools. When something works in public education, it will find its way into private, parochial, and charter school classrooms but the converse is not always true.

We intend to implement the model in no less than five public school districts willing to assess the value of our model because that will give us substantial evidence of the model’s utility. Given there are tens of thousands of elementary schools in which less than thirty percent of students are meeting expectations, identifying schools that would benefit from our model will not be difficult. The challenge is finding districts with leaders who are first adapters, willing to accept that outcomes will not change until their schools are willing to abandon the old and try something new and exciting. 

At any point along the way, as school leaders gain confidence in the model’s ability to fulfill what we believe to be its potential, they can move forward with other elementary schools in their district and each year they can start a new class of kindergarten students under the model. e Although the model will begin demonstrating its efficacy, formally, after students sit for their state competency testing in the second semester of what we now think of as third grade. we believe teachers will see a  pattern of escalating success before the end of their students’ third if not the second semester. Each semester thereafter, we expect to see accelerated academic achievement.  

Adapting the model for use in middle schools will proceed as we gain practical experience. It is both our hope and belief that the success of this model will require us to reinvent middle schools and high schools, as the students entering their doors will have experienced an accelerated pace, breadth, and scope of learning. Institutions of higher learning must be prepared to address the same challenge.

People in the targeted communities will be skeptical. They have spent a lifetime hearing false promises and enduring their own difficulties in school. We will need the help of leaders of every segment of the community to convince people this is something special that will truly give their children a path to opportunities for which they will be well-prepared.

What About Our Students?

After sharing our objectives with the community and identifying schools in which the model will be implemented, our agenda switches to a focus on children who are starting kindergarten, first, and second grades. Our strategy must be to meet each child at the unique point on an academic preparedness and emotional development continuum where we find them on day one. From that point of departure, our objective is to help each child—whether five, six, or seven years of age—move forward on their unique pathway at their own best speed on what will be the beginning of the first of three phases of their thirteen-year learning adventure.

Whether a child is initiated into this model beginning in kindergarten, first, or second grade, the model will follow them through to what we now think of as third, fourth, and fifth grades. At the end of the first year and each year thereafter, a new class of kindergarten students will begin the first year of their academic journey under The Hawkins Model© .

Step 5 – Organization and Structure

To enable teachers and students to accomplish our objectives we will begin by eliminating references to traditional grades K through 12, as well as any other arbitrary schedules in the educational process or embedded in academic standards and replace those grades with three phases of a child’s primary and secondary education:

  1. Elementary/Primary Phase, first through sixth years (formerly grades K through 5)
  2. Middle School Phase, seventh through ninth years (formerly grades 6 through 8)
  3. Secondary Phase, tenth through thirteenth years (formerly grades 9 through 12).

Instead of one year to prepare five-year-old boys and girls for first grade, we have six years (twelve semesters) to prepare them for middle school, another six semesters to prepare for high school, and eight more to prepare them for graduation and for life.

We envision that, at the end of the first year, as those five- and six-year-old students have completed two full semesters of learning under our model, the same classroom of students and the same teachers will reconvene in the fall for their second year (what we would have formerly referred to as first grade). Each year there after the same students and the same team of teachers will progress all the way through their sixth year that we formerly thought of as fifth grade, after which they would be prepared to move on to middle school.

One of the concerns that has been expressed by some readers is that they are not comfortable with the idea of dealing with the same classroom of students for six full years.

What I propose, in response, is that at the end of the third year the teachers and their administrators can evaluate the progress of their students over that three-year period and determine whether:

  1. It would they should proceed with years four, five, and six, or
  2. Keep the students together but assign a new team of three teachers who might be viewed as better prepared to teach what we would formerly think of as academic subject matter for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders, or
  3. Split the class up and assign them to new classes with different teachers and different students.

It is my belief that schools will choose between options one and two, above, as to do otherwise would amount to an abandonment of the model, altogether. My level of confidence that students will have made unprecedented progress, thus demonstrating the efficacy of my model, is high. Schools may or may not , think a different team of teachers would be better prepared to guide those same students through years four, five, and six but they will have been convinced of the model’s merits.

At the end of the sixth year, rather than guess what the needs will be of middle and high school students who have progressed through the first stage of our model might be, we will allow the model to help us do what it does best—adapt to what we learn as our first wave of students proceed enroute to the end of their sixth year.

Simultaneously, new classes of kindergarten-aged students will be initiated into the flow of the model at the beginning of each school year, and students completing year one, will begin their advancement from year two and beyond.

While addressing early childhood learning is not within our purview, what we will be doing will bring the importance of pre-school learning and development into sharper focus. The primary focus of public schools and teachers, however, must be on the children who stand before them. At some point along the way, however, we must prepare ourselves to address the needs of early childhood learners.

This decision puts both teachers and students in a new world in which we are no longer concerned about reaching predetermined checkpoints along the pathway delineated in a state’s academic standards. The objective will have shifted to helping students gain proficiency on as much of the subject matter in those standards, as possible, however.  Until our new model becomes engrained in the minds of educators, we must remind ourselves that learning trumps arbitrary schedules.

When it is time to move our first wave of students on to middle school, we anticipate we will have been able to develop a whole new student-centered way of preparing eleven- to fourteen-year-old students for the challenges of high school and fifteen- to eighteen-year-olds for life beyond high school, wherever that may lead them.

We must not allow anything to get in the way of our mission and purpose, which is to help each child learn as much as they are able at their own best pace in preparation for the unique futures they will be choosing. We must give them the solid academic and emotional development foundations from which they can build whatever life they choose for themselves. It is not necessary that all high school graduates go to college but whatever direction they choose for themselves they must be prepared for success.

The reality is our society has the need for an incredible array of roles all of which can be satisfying to the people who fill them while also contributing real value to the community. Although all are different they are indispensable and honorable. As my friend, the late Ron Flickinger said to me, “the person who fixes our plumbing is as important to our lives as the mayor of our city.”

At each stage, the role of helping young people progress down their unique life adventures must continue to evolve with students taking increasingly higher levels of ownership in the choices they will be making.  

Step 6 – Teaching Teams

The next component of our model design will be to rely on teams of three teachers with a teacher to student ratio no greater than 1:15, meaning not more than 45 students assigned to a team of three teachers. To optimize our chances of success we will solicit volunteers from among a school corporation’s most capable and innovative teachers. We want teachers who will be proud to be part of something new and be excited by the opportunity. Given the variance of classroom configurations in our schools, either utilization of one large classroom or two regular classrooms that are contiguous or adjacent will work. While modification of existing classrooms might be nice, it is not essential and must not be allowed to deter us.

Teams have proven beneficial in business and industry for many years, and they have a clear record of productivity and excellence. In many cases, teams have proven more effective in dealing with subpar performance and commitment than management. Individuals who are marginal performers and evidence low levels of commitment may be able to hide in the crowd. Within a team setting, there is nowhere to hide, and teams will be responsible for each other’s success, in addition to holding each person accountable.

Teaching teams have the added advantage that, if one teacher is having difficulty with a student, another member of the team can step in, thus increasing the probability every student will find a teacher with whom they can bond. Teams will also make it easier to develop a rapport with parents as we triple the likelihood a parent will find a teacher with whom they feel comfortable.

Finally, teams provide stability. If one team member is off due to illness or other reasons, the team is able to maintain its equilibrium, given the insertion of a substitute or replacement.

By reducing class size and allowing teachers to work as a team, which is a new skill that must be learned as part of the development of each teacher’s craft, teachers will have more opportunities to work with students who progress more slowly on the “standard’s pathway,” but it still gives teachers much to juggle. There is a difference, however, between individual teachers juggling the needs of 35, 30, 25, or even 20 students and a team of three teachers sharing the demands of juggling the needs of no more than 45 students. Keep in mind there are no perfect solutions, but excellent systems will adapt to the needs of its players.

Throughout this process, teachers are cultivating the bonds between the team members.  The stronger those bonds become and the more confident they become with one another the more effective will be the quality of their effort. They will also be free to be more creative and innovative and they will be able to regain the respect and support teachers so richly deserve.

We want to make it clear the object is not to divide students up among the team of teachers, we want them all working interdependently. Teachers must make a conscious effort to make every student feel like their favorite, which becomes challenging when the allocation of time and attention is unequal. We must remember that equal is not an exact calculation, however. Rather, what we seek is equilibrium with respect to the degree to which time and attention match the need.

Step 7 – Optimizing Teaching Staff

Our objective is to optimize our faculties because teachers are the most crucial resource and an essential variable in the education equation. For many school districts and corporations, most of which must operate with less than adequate budgets, adding teachers will present a financial challenge. Some schools will need to make sacrifices, and for some, grants may need to be sought.

Every school will need to make their own computations, but if we assume we will be replacing, within each grade level, three classes each with one teacher and thirty students (three teachers and ninety students) with two classrooms, each with forty-five students and three teachers, we will need to add three additional teachers for each grade level. So, for each school selected to implement my model, in its K to 2 classrooms, its superintendent and school board will need to increase the number of K to 2 teachers from nine to eighteen.

For districts with relatively low student to teacher ratios, it might be possible to rely on the reassignment of existing faculty throughout the district. Some districts may want to eliminate teacher aide slots for those classrooms and replace such staff with fully certified teachers. In some districts,  it may be necessary to add nine new teachers slots. Grant assistance may be necessary for some school corporation. As we have pointed out, we believe this investment in the teachers required to test our new model is a significantly better investment than spending money on tuition vouchers and subsidies and offers a substantially greater return on the taxpayers’ investment.

It is understood this is a formidable commitment school districts are being asked to consider, which is why we are recommending the model be tested in a single elementary school in each of a handful of school districts throughout the U.S. When the model has proven itself, schools will be able to show justification for the increase in teachers. It is our hope this book will make a sufficiently compelling case to the American people, to demonstrate the need for such an investment because of the dysfunctionality of the existing education processes. What we need is a handful of superintendents who are “first adapters” to recognize the implementation of our model is imperative if they want to assure every child learns. 

When the model has been implemented in a school we expect educators to see dramatic improvement in student achievement, over time. Leaders will be well-positioned to make a powerful case for expanding the model to each grade in a school and to other elementary schools in their district, along with the associated investment.  

            It comes down to where society ranks the importance of our children and their education, in the grand scheme of things. Zig Ziglar was as eloquent as anyone when he said, “if we keep doing what we have been doing, we will keep getting what we’ve been getting.”

It is our assertion that if we are unable to improve the quality of the education we provide for our children, nothing else we do will matter, in the long run. Hence, we are asking for the support of professional educators; parents; the American people; of officials of local, state, and federal government; of the business community; and of advocacy groups, foundations, and other organizations.  The only things preventing a transformation of education in America are inertia and intransigence.

            Students who begin learning under The Hawkins Model© in kindergarten, first, and second grade will be required to sit for state competency exams in their eighth, sixth, and fourth semesters, respectively.  It is our expectation that each succeeding year of test results will erase any doubts about the effectiveness of this new education model and about the associated investment.

Consider the impact if, each year, in schools in which less than twenty percent of students have been meeting expectations, historically, that this percentage increases to thirty, forty, fifty percent or more with each passing year. Other schools and districts will be compelled to act lest they be left behind.

What we can learn from marketing in a consumer environment is that nothing sells better than an exciting new idea. Our goal will be to demonstrate The Hawkins Model©, is, indeed, a powerful new idea that will begin to prove itself by the end of the first four semesters. Teachers will have begun to see the results in their classrooms before the end of the first school year.

We must remind ourselves that investing in any kind of infrastructure, physical or intellectual, is an investment in an asset that will enrich the future. The difference between physical and intellectual infrastructures is the latter does not depreciate, whereas a bridge or highway begins deteriorating upon its completion. Suffering the effects of the elements are enhanced by the effects of the wear and tear resulting from its utilization.  Investments in teachers and in a capable citizenry, on the other hand, appreciates as those new teachers and citizens mature and gain life experience.[1]

As academic success increases, over time, we believe the benefits will reverberate throughout each school, each district, and each community.  Now is the best opportunity we will ever have to begin the transformation of education in America.

Step 8 – Duration and Stability

The best way to maintain close personal relationships between teachers and their students, in a safe environment, is by keeping them together over a period of years. Why would we want to break up these relationships because the calendar changes? Once again we are guided by the adage the child who is hardest to love is the one who needs it the most. Sometimes, it takes teachers most of the school year to bond with some of their most challenging students only to have the relationship severed at the end of nine months, which is nothing more than a designated point on an arbitrary schedule. Far too often, there are students who never benefit from the special relationships we believe to be the difference-makers in education.

Students will remain together as a group and will be assigned to the same teaching team throughout their full elementary/primary academic phase. By the time those first three classes of

students complete their sixth year under the model, we believe we will have learned enough to make appropriate modifications so middle school teachers will be prepared for a whole new kind of student.

These types of long-term relationships also increase the likelihood we can pull parents into the educational process as partners with their children’s teachers. Parents cannot be forced to get involved but they can be enticed by positive changes in their children, which is what success creates, Finally, we believe keeping students together in such an intimate environment will strengthen the bonds between classmates and prevent students from feeling isolated.

Our objective is for teachers to become the people a student will least want to disappoint. Teachers will encourage parents to pursue that objective at home, as well, and we will strive to identify, in the minds of students, that both their teachers and parents, working together, are the people whom they least want to disappoint.

We know peer pressure can be a powerful influence in a child’s life and that it can be either a positive or a negative force. We believe the most important thing we can do to foster strong, positive relationships between peers is by always working to maintain strong, affirmative relationships between all members of the classroom community. Such an environment can be expected to reduce the probability of bullying and healthy relationship among peers will reduce the incidence of disruptive behavior in the classroom.

One of the most common complaints teachers have is first, that they spend far too much time dealing with behavioral issues in their classrooms and, second, that they get insufficient support from their administration. Administrators have no idea what to do about these students and their behavior because nothing they have been attempting to do over the last several decades has proven effective. Often, the office will send students back to class and this undermines the effort of teachers.

Teachers cannot teach while dealing with behavior issues and students cannot learn because they are watching the action rather than studying.  It is my assertion that the best time to deal with the behavior of pre-adolescent and adolescent students is at the ages of five and six. There is a great deal of wisdom in Robert Fulghum’s book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten[2].

One of the reasons for the dysfunctionality of the existing education process is that it has no comprehensive strategy for gaining the allegiance of our youngest students and it is such allegiances that make the difference. Once gained, these allegiances must be sustained. This can only be accomplished by sustaining the relationships teachers work so hard to build. Whatever their age, kids may act silly or joke around because, after all, they are kids. What they will be reluctant to do is to disappoint their favorite teachers.

The issue today is that teachers have been able to form and sustain such relationships with far too few of their students because our education process is neither structured nor tasked to attend to this priority, consistently. The Hawkins Model© is organized to sustain such relationships all the way through the fifth grade.

Step 9 – Reaching Out to Parents

Another essential variable, and hence a priority, is reaching out to parents. By partnering with their child’s teachers, the parent can play a vital role in a student’s success, but they must be willing to trust their child’s teachers and schools. Such trust must be earned, not demanded. There is a high expectation that, as students begin to experience success, their parents/guardians will notice subtle differences in their children’s demeanor, at home. Success is contagious, even for those of us on the sidelines. It is our hope that the desire to share in and help celebrate their son or daughter’s success will lure even the most skeptical parents into partnerships with their child’s teachers, thus igniting the trust that must be secured by demonstrating the learning and emotional development of their sons and daughters.  When parents are intractable, the teacher/student relationships become that much more essential. 

We also know when we form close relationships with parents, we also get to know their families. This creates an opportunity to intervene, if there are younger children in the home, to help ensure they enjoy improved enrichment opportunities thus optimizing their academic and emotional preparedness. This creates a wonderful opportunity for the students who are demonstrating success in the classroom to help at home. Our newly successful students can be encouraged to read to younger siblings. Such activity not only adds enrichment to the home environment, but it also gives our students a wonderful environment in which to practice their developing academic skills. Improved relationships between our students and their families is an invaluable bonus.

With each parent we pull into the process, we expand our presence in the community and raise awareness that our new education model is the special opportunity parents and the community have been hoping for.

Step 10 – Assessment and Tailored Academic Plan

The initial weeks and months of each child’s first-year learning experience under the The Hawkins Model© will be devoted to what is comparable to an “onboarding process,” that many employers have used to welcome new employees into the culture of their organizations. This is also a time for organizations to begin soliciting their new employees’ commitment to the mission of their organization. We have the same objective with respect to new students. We want them to learn about us and about what they can expect in the classroom, and we want to learn about our new students.

During this initial period in our classrooms our overriding priority will be the development of nurturing relationships with one or more of their teachers. We want to help children feel welcome and important. We want them to get to know their classmates and begin what will be an ongoing process of helping students become a part of the classroom community. We want to assess their level of academic preparation—what they know and what they have not yet learned. We must also strive to gage their pace of learning so that we can help them progress at their best speed rather than burden them with unrealistic expectations.

We want to understand their emotional development—how do they interact and get along with others, how well do they follow directions, pay attention, and focus on things they are asked to do. What kind of behavioral issues they will present. Do they have special needs with which we must deal. We want to observe their behavior both when things are going well and when they are not.

Mostly, we will rely on our observations as we engage them or watch them at work and play. Play is a wonderful tool to help us get to know our students as play therapy has demonstrated for many years. The initial lessons we will offer our students provide an important opportunity to observe and interact with these children. We want them to begin learning subject matter, but such lessons are as much a means to an end as they are an end themselves. These lessons provide a wonderful opportunity to teach children how to learn and to gently address issues of focus and self-discipline and other lessons of character.

We will use formal assessments, when and if appropriate, to help identify each child’s unique starting point on their academic and emotional journey. We want to understand what they know and what have not yet learned so we can begin to tailor an academic and emotional development plan to their unique interests and requirements. We must assure they begin at the cusp of what they know—at their learning threshold.

We want them to feel comfortable in the classroom and get to know their classmates, developing close personal relationships with them. Relationships between peers are of vital importance and a teacher must be prepared to manage the development of those relationships to ensure they remain positive. This is our opportunity to win them over.

What neuroscientists have learned about the “neuroplasticity” of the human brain is remarkable and must be leveraged to help teachers teach and students learn. It is only when we have learned as much as we can about the unique capabilities and limitations of a child that we can begin teaching him or her effectively. Our assessment prepares us for the development of an academic and emotional development plan tailored to the unique requirements of each girl or boy.

Good beginnings give us the best opportunity for success with a child. Imagine what we can do with a nation filled with young men and women who have learned the importance of relationships and whose brains have had the love and support they require to become the best versions of themselves. A child’s brain can only learn what is available to be learned. It is the job of teachers and the education process to feed and support the hearts and minds of our students, relentlessly. The heart is a portal to the mind.

Children who are dyslexic, have other learning disabilities, or have been reared in environments with any level or type of deprivation or abuse, are still blessed with a remarkable brain programmed to learn. The brains of these special students must develop the ability to learn a little differently than the rest of us, however, and it is the job of teachers, hopefully with the help of family, to manage what is available to be soaked up by their child/students’ brains. It becomes that much more important that teachers provide the help each student requires and that we not be deterred by behavior or attitude. However manifested, such behaviors are cries for help.

Fortunately, much research has been and is being done to develop methodologies and approaches that will help brains that have been wired a little bit differently learn how to create success for themselves in a dynamic and complex world.

 As people have become more open to sharing their experiences about such learning disabilities, it is astonishing how accomplished are the many adults who have found their own pathway. We are in a much better position to help our youngsters find their own pathways and we must continue to expand our understanding of these special minds. Notwithstanding the circumstances of these children, our role as the friends of these precious minds is essential, still.

The disparity in the classroom with respect to academic preparedness and emotional health of students will span the spectrum, and the time and support each child will require will vary. The Hawkins Model© will provide an environment that will make it easier for policymakers and administrators to support teachers and students with an adaptive learning environment and the discretion to differentiate.

Step 11 – The Learning Process

States have established academic standards and on a nation-wide level there is “Common Core.” These standards drive expectations of schools, teachers, and their students and they also drive the high stakes testing that assesses performance against those standards. While assessing standards and curricula is not my area of expertise, I see no apparent value in the expectation students will progress as a group and arrive at the same place whether at the end of a school year or at graduation. Given that students have different starting points, learn at a unique pace, and are headed toward different futures, such expectations set millions of kids up for failure. We must never sacrifice learning to honor arbitrary schedules or calendars and time must never be a scarce resource for students.

Often, innovation creates friction in our schools and classrooms, sometimes more than educators can manage. An adaptive learning environment can incorporate innovations with minimal friction because they are expectations, not exceptions. Education leaders and policy makers must begin to re-evaluate the efficacy of existing academic standards, so they are adapted to support not only the goals and objectives of students but also their needs and requirements.

Most educators would agree there are foundational academic knowledge and skills upon which a diverse population of young people can build different lives. The common denominator, however, is no longer limited to being able to read and write and having basic math and science skills, although these remain essential. Our challenge is to prepare children for life, not test-taking, and this demands new and better ways to help kids learn by doing. Critical skills such as creative thinking, communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and the ability to understand and utilize technology will be as essential to their success as reading, writing, and math skills. The compelling need to be better stewards of our environment will make science and engineering more important than ever. As citizens of the 21st Century, our students must not only be able to utilize what they learn, they must also be able to adapt to the accelerating speed of change.

Because of the disparity in the academic preparedness of children arriving for their first day of school, we need to help children progress along a tailored academic path from their unique starting point and we must help them assume ever greater responsibility for their own growth and development. As their interests and aptitudes evolve, students must begin charting their own futures, with the help of caring teachers.

The process for helping kids develop mastery/proficiency over an ever-widening array of subject matter must be adaptive and involve, in some form:

  1. Presentation, appropriate to the subject matter, through utilization of the full spectrum of media, methodology, and technology.
  2. Practice and review, giving the student the time they require to practice and learn from both their mistakes and successes.
  3. Specific and immediate feedback, help, and encouragement, beyond grades in a teacher’s gradebook. 
  4. Assessment of their ability to demonstrate mastery over subject matter, which we define as the ability to utilize it in the real world (proficiency). When that level of mastery is quantifiable, such as a grade on a test or other instrument of measurement, the target will be a minimum of 85 percent. An equivalent level of mastery must be adapted for the many experiential projects we might choose to utilize, and all assessments must have a “do over” provision. What we now refer to as chapter or module tests and exams we will call Mastery Assessments (MA). We must be cognizant of the fact that just because a student has earned 85 percent does not mean it is the best the student can do. That 85 percent is a threshold not a target or ceiling.
  5. The expectation is teachers will not push any child ahead before they can utilize what they have learned even if that means starting over, using other means, approaches, and teaching team members; and,
  6. A Verification Mastery Assessment (VMA), in each subject area, to confirm retention of subject-matter knowledge, will be scheduled in 6 to 8 weeks after initial success. We need to think of retention as applied academics, which is synonymous with proficiency. Kids are learning not just for the sake of learning; they are learning so they can do the things life will demand of them.

When a student achieves what we determine to be an acceptable level of success on an assessment, their success must be celebrated and formally documented. Students are, then, ready to move on to the next steps on their unique academic path, in each subject area, in possession of the necessary pre-requisite knowledge and skill.

It is envisioned such formal documentation will, someday, replace the need for standardized competency exams given once a year.

When we talk about assessments, we are talking about much more than quizzes and classroom tests. There can be as many forms of assessment as our imaginations can give us. We encourage teachers and administrators to collaborate on innovative ways to assess comprehension of subject matter and every other aspect of a child’s anticipated progress.

We are striving to achieve the same phenomenon, at a higher level, that story problems provide in basic arithmetic where learning even more sophisticated subject matter can benefit from the context of real-world problem solving instead of just working formulas and equations. We think it desirable to continue development of an array of experiential learning opportunities and methodologies to assess success and there are many such programs around the U.S. that have been successful and are worthy of replication.

This provides a good opportunity to talk about algebra, the subject so many people are quick to say they never, ever use. We beg to differ. Algebra is not just a set of tools for use in mathematics. Its tools provide a logical foundation that helps us analyze the relationships between any kind of variables in the real world; a skill that is essential in problem-solving at any level and in any scenario or venue. The absence of these analytical skills creates an unnecessary disadvantage.

One of our Twitter colleagues, @nkgalpal, reminded us students can also play a vital role in helping classmates who may be struggling on a given lesson or subject area. Educators have long recognized one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it. This suggests more advanced students benefit as much or more as the classmates they have an opportunity to help. Not only does this enhance the level and quality of learning it also strengthens the bonds between students. These are the same kinds of opportunity we suggested earlier, when we suggested our students could read to younger siblings. These are opportunities to enhance a student’s “growth mindset,” while also helping out at home. 

We want our classrooms to function like a family or like an athletic team on which team members have formed strong bonds that result from dedication to shared  purpose and objectives. We want them to cheer for and support their classmates, sharing the celebration of success like we observe when starters, at the end of a basketball game, cheer excitedly for teammates who work hard in practice but rarely have an opportunity to make a basket, a steal, rebound, or an assist in an actual game. These bonds are enduring.

Step 12 – Character, Creativity, Imagination, Service, and Civic Responsibility

As we have noted, our objective as educators extends beyond subject-matter mastery. Whether or not they are addressed in academic standards, it is easy to be distracted from non-academic objectives such as character, creativity, imagination, service, civic responsibility, or even simple kindness, particularly in our era of high stakes testing. Every day there are opportunities to teach about values, character, behavior and even common courtesy. Teaching the whole child is about seizing  these real-life opportunities as they present themselves.

These are characteristics that are every bit as essential to society as academic prowess. So many of the problems in our society, including the violence we see, have their root in fear, prejudice, and resentment, all of which are learned behavior. Perhaps, the more and the better we understand the world and its diverse population the less need there will be to fear, prejudge, and resent.

We suggest these things are interdependent. Think of subject-matter proficiency as laying a foundation upon which character, genius, and individuality will be constructed. An individual’s ability to explore and create is a function of fundamental knowledge and skill sets.

Step 13 – State-of-the-Art Technology and Tools of Success

Each student and teacher must have access to appropriate technology with which to work. We must be willing and able to utilize state-of-the-art technological tools, as they evolve to help teachers teach and kids learn. Among other things, this requires that teachers be willing to relinquish their reservations about the utilization of technology.

No matter what some education reformers might say, technology will not and cannot replace teachers. Like everything else in life, the value of a thing is determined by its utility to human beings and on the belief that people are more important than things.

This education model is premised upon the primacy of relationships in the education equation, with a particular focus on teacher/student/parent relationships. The world is becoming and will continue to become more technology-driven than it is today, and this trend will only accelerate and expand in scope, but the key to success will always begin with teachers, and with parents and teachers working together on behalf of our children.

Our children will live, work, and rear their own families in a technological world that surpasses anything most of us can imagine. Our job is to prepare students for that future, not find ways to avoid it because of our own fear and reticence. 

There are wonderful digital tools available for teachers and students, but many are specialized to the extent it is unlikely they will provide the full range of support teachers and students need to take full advantage of the opportunities The Hawkins Model© provides.

To assist in the optimal utilization of our model we will be seeking something comparable to an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tool that is real-time, cloud-based, and integrated with 360-degree feedback capability. In addition to presentation and assessment of subject matter, such technology must relieve teachers of as many classroom management responsibilities as possible so their time can be devoted to relationship building and teaching. Many large companies use these types of products across a range of operational settings. With ERP in place, it will enhance a school’s ability to integrate subject-matter.

It is envisioned that, as the scope of the potential market for such products in education begins to reveal itself, developers of such solutions will compete aggressively to capture sustainable market share. Astute providers of such solutions will work closely with their prospective customers to help develop the full capability of their product and ensure satisfaction.

A system must help the teacher manage the process as they will have students working at multiple levels, in various subject areas, utilizing an array of resources to meet the needs of a diverse student population. Students will be on a unique path even though many of the paths may be parallel.

Software must be able to, at minimum:

  • Keep attendance records,
  • Manage various subject areas and integrate digital resources that are specific to subject matter,
  • Help teachers and students through lesson presentations or experiential projects,
  • Generate practice assignments and grade them if they are quantitative,
  • Permit teachers to enter qualitative assessments of performance,
  • Identify areas where students need more review and practice,
  • Signal readiness for Mastery Assessments (MA),
  • Record the results of successful Mastery Assessments  of all types, and then direct students onward to a subsequent lesson module or back for more work on current modules,
  • Celebrate success much like a video game,
  • Signal the teachers at every step of the way,
  • Recommend when it is time for a Verification Mastery Assessment (VMA) or otherwise document mastery/proficiency,
  • Make this documentation part of the student’s permanent record; and,
  • Give students the freedom to pursue their interests, as they strive to explore the universe.

Our objective is to empower teachers so they can devote time to meaningful interaction with students who are progressing along their tailored academic and emotional  journeys. Meaningful interaction will include teaching, coaching, mentoring, consoling, counseling, encouraging, nurturing, playing, and celebration. That interaction must also include time spent with students’ parents.

We do not yet know how this new era of artificial intelligence (AI) will play out, but this, too, is something about which we must be willing to learn, and we can be sure it will test us. The one thing about which we can be certain is if the day comes when humankind exists to serve artificial intelligence rather than be served by it, human intelligence may no longer matter. This makes the quality of education more important than ever. Somehow we must acquire an elevated level of understanding of artificial intelligence through all its iterations, so that humankind remains in control. 

Step 14 – No Failure and No Waiting

Students must move from one success to another, whether mastering subject matter from their teacher and classroom’s curricula or subject areas identified by state standards. When a student has been participating in any of a wide range of experiential projects, they must be able to demonstrate a sufficient level of mastery to earn their teachers’ confidence in their ability to use the knowledge, skills, experience, and wisdom on future lessons and assignments, and in the real world. The goal must always be to lay a solid foundation of pre-requisite knowledge and skills on which students can build and strengthen their foundation for the future—both learning and life.

This reaffirms the importance of time as a variable resource of which students must have as much as they require. We must not push students ahead until they have achieved acceptable levels of mastery. Similarly, we must ask no student who is ready to move on to wait for classmates to catch up. Every student must move forward at the best speed of which they are capable. This creates opportunities for students to move ahead on their own initiative and take ownership of their own adventure of discovery, even if it means teachers must scurry to keep up.

We are striving to encourage kids to keep trying and not give up, and to accept responsibility for their own success. They must learn success is possible with determination and persistence. Our purpose is to help kids learn the process of success, doing our best not to make them feel pressured to perform and, more importantly, to experience the humiliation of failure. Nothing motivates students, or any of the rest of us, more than success and nothing dampens motivation more than humiliation and failure. One of the benefits of team teaching is our ability to have other members of the team share responsibility when a given student’s progress appears to have stalled.

Our definitions of “failure” and “making mistakes” are not the same thing. We all make mistakes. Mistakes become failures only when we allow or require students to stop trying before they come to comprehend. This happens every time we accept Cs, Ds, and Fs as the best a student can do. As we have said and will continue to say, this type of failure not only deprives children of an opportunity to experience success it robs them of the prerequisite knowledge and skills they will need to be successful in subsequent lessons, and to live productive and meaningful lives. It also deprives them of the opportunity to experience the joy of success.

A goal of our model is, also, to put the fun back in learning and teaching. If all we ever do is lose when playing a game, it is only a matter of time until we avoid playing. Teachers, please look at your grade books to see how many students experience and celebrate success in your classroom, and how often. That so many teachers, upon review of their gradebooks, will see more disappointing outcomes than successes, is not their fault. This is the way the education game is played, as dictated by the existing education process. Disappointing achievements in “present day” are a consequence of an education process grown dysfunctional and disconnected from its purpose.

We challenge educators to understand that one of the single greatest flaws in education, both public and private, is its acceptance of failure on the part of so many of our students, and how seldom their outcomes are worthy of celebration. Hopelessness and repeated failure have a devastating effect on motivation to learn. That we permit children to fail is unconscionable and inexcusable. Once a child gives up, it is incredibly challenging to restore their hope, determination, and confidence. These young people enter society with no idea that success and true accomplishment only come when they push themselves beyond their comfort zones. They must be able to imagine better outcomes.

Be reminded, once again, that children must be able to utilize what they have learned in “real-life” situations. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)[3] defines “proficiency” as:

“Having a demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter, including subject matter knowledge, application of such knowledge to real world situations, and analytical skills appropriate to subject matter.”

Anything less than proficient is unacceptable and that includes “approaching proficient.” As we discussed earlier, “approaching proficiency” is a good thing only if a student subsequently becomes proficient. Far too many students achieving at a level described as “approaching proficiency” on their state’s competency examinations or “approaching grade level” in other states, never actually become proficient or reach grade level. The work of our teachers and schools is not complete until students have achieved these targeted objectives.

Step 15 – the Arts, Exercise, and Athletics

We consider the arts and physical exercise to be essential components of a quality education. We must provide students with art, music, and physical-education classes where they will:

  • Exercise their young bodies.
  • Learn to appreciate and to express themselves through art;
  • Develop relationships with other teachers and,
  • Interact with children from other classes.

Inter-scholastic athletics, also, must remain a big part of what schools have to offer. Since the earliest years of my career, going back to 1970, it was apparent to me that employees who were most likely to possess skills having to do with self-discipline, practice, teamwork, and overcoming adversity had been involved in athletic competition, whether as an individual or on a team, and were mostly male.  Employees who had not been involved in sports, irrespective of gender, were noticeably lacking in these things. However intelligent they may have been, in all other respects, there were some skills their minds had never had an opportunity to learn.

The gradual evolution of women’s sports has highlighted their importance. Women who have had such opportunities have benefitted greatly, I believe, as their roles in life and work have expanded over the past half century.

Since only a limited number of students can participate in inter-scholastic athletics, it is vital schools offer intra-mural sports that allow much broader student participation, even though the experience may not be as intense.

            It is unfortunate many students are unable to take advantage of these learning experiences, although the arts—especially the performing arts, as well as debate and academic teams provide the same comparable experiences. Various kinds of experiential learning opportunities also offer many of these same beneficial learning opportunities.

Step 16 – Performance Management and Metrics

Identifying how performance against objectives will be measured is a vital part of any operational plan because how we keep score determines how we will play the game. We want to reward teachers and administrators for the quality of the outcomes their students achieve.

Students will be expected to pass not only a Mastery Assessment (MA) with an equivalent score of 85 percent or better on subject matter lessons or experiential projects before moving on to subsequent lessons, but also a Verification Mastery Assessment (VMA) administered to students at least 6 to 8 weeks after passing the Mastery Assessment. Parameters for mastery verification on experiential projects must be defined as part of the project design. The purpose of the VMA is to determine whether students have retained what they have learned and are able to utilize the knowledge and skills in real life situations. Getting students through this process is the expectation we place on teachers, and we must give them credit for their success in doing so.

We are not expecting perfection, however. Certainly, there will be students who will not pass their VMAs the first time around or maybe even their second and third attempt, signaling that they were not ready, as originally believed. A big part of teaching is helping children learn to negotiate the hills and valleys of their journey. Discovery, after assessment, that a student is still having difficulty with any area of study must be viewed as a positive event because our goal is true mastery, not the illusion of it. When our students can demonstrate success (proficiency) how long it took matters little. We want to document that success.

Teachers with students who are found not to be ready means nothing more than the fact that the teacher’s work is not done. This is not a negative event for teachers any more than patients who take longer to recover from illness and injury are the fault of physicians.

A negative event for either a physician or a teacher is failing to recognize that our patient/student is not progressing or being unable to respond appropriately. This results in patients who are pronounced well or sent home from the hospital prematurely or when a student is pushed ahead to a new lesson for which they are unprepared.

While we are not interested in the speed at which a lesson was learned, we do want to see an accelerated pace of learning, and this is something that can be measured, also. We anticipate that the pace of learning will accelerate faster for some than others. The fact that we are monitoring their improvement in this area is still a positive process because it ensures a student will get as much help and time as he or she needs. Our job is to recognize this in our student and plan and teach accordingly. It is when we do not know our students are struggling or understand the reasons for it that their futures are placed at risk.

We must ensure that “pace of learning” does not replace “comprehension” as the objective of teachers or the education process. The failure of a VMA by a student is nothing more than an opportunity for teachers and students to learn from their disappointing outcomes and signals the need for more time to study and practice. Always, we must be able to offer students “do-over” opportunities. Think of the verification mastery process, when successful, as the final confirmation.

Step 17 – High Stakes Testing

High stakes testing using state competency exams will not disappear until we have rendered them irrelevant. Teachers and students should spend zero time worrying about them or preparing for them, however. If students are truly learning, their ability to utilize what they have learned will be reflected in competency exam results. Such exams are, after all, nothing more than a real-life opportunity to apply what one has learned. Unfortunately, testing remains the least effective and efficient way to measure true academic achievement and the sooner we can dispense with these unnecessary disruptions the better. Similarly, cramming for such exams is the least effective way to prepare whether for exams, future lessons, or for life.

We will strive to reach a point when a student’s achievements are documented by verification assessments, not standardized tests, and we will rely on those verifications to validate the efficacy of the education process, not the quality of teachers and schools. What could possibly be a more positive consequence of our model than having rendered high stakes testing as irrelevant?

The objective of a performance management process should be the same as measuring student achievement. Our goals must be to assure the success of students, teachers, and schools!

Step 18 – Adaptability and Integrity of the Model

We will not concern ourselves with the arrival of new students or the departure of students during the process or with teachers who must be replaced, for whatever reason. These events will occur, and we will deal with them as they happen. We dare not allow these inevitable events to divert us from our purpose. An incident does not a pattern make. We must keep in mind there are no perfect systems or processes, but the best and most successful allow us to adapt to the peculiar, the new, and the unexpected.

Step 19 – Relentless, non-Negotiable Commitment

We must stress that winning organizations are driven by operating systems in which every single event or activity serves the mission. When we tinker with bits and pieces of an operation out of context with the system and its purpose, we end up with a process that looks very much like the educational process we have today. It will be a system unable to deliver the outcomes we want because many components work at cross purposes with the mission.

We are striving to create an environment in which the fact that some children need additional time to master the material is inconsequential in the long run, and in the big picture, much like it is inconsequential if it takes one child longer to learn how to ride a bicycle than his or her peers. Once children learn, they all derive benefit from the knowledge gained. That new knowledge also serves as a springboard to future success. We must make a simple choice. What is more important and will have a bigger impact? How much material we have covered or how much of what we have covered do our students comprehend?

Step 20 – The Power of Positive Leadership

As with any human endeavor, positive leadership is crucial. Administrators, whether superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals, or assistant principals, must be trained to be more than administrators. They must be powerful positive leaders who understand their success is a function of both their ability to keep their organizations focused on purpose and on the quality of leadership they provide to their people. The bottom line is that the over-riding priority of positive leaders is to help their people be successful at every level of their organization and its supply chain. In education, the supply chain includes students, teachers, parents, and the community.

Positive leaders must strive to forge the same quality of relations with their teachers and students that teachers are expected to forge with their students. Leaders are not cops looking for wrongdoing, although they must be prepared to respond to it. Their purpose must be to empower, teach, facilitate, support, and affirm, always striving to make teachers and students feel important. The first thing managers and supervisors must learn if they are to become powerful positive leaders is, “it’s not about you,” it is how you are able to help people, both teachers and students, become the best version of themselves. The success of positive leaders is measured by the success of their organization and its people.

When our eldest child was nearing high school age, my wife and I debated whether to send our Catholic daughter to the public school for the district in which we lived or to a nearby Catholic high school. The decision was made after attending an orientation program at the public high school and was influenced almost entirely by the principal who spoke to us one mid-summer evening.

This man began his presentation with the words, “I am big, and I’m black, and I’m ugly!” and in the next ten minutes he successfully sold himself and his school to us. He was far and away the best principal that any of our three children had while attending school.

What was it about this man that distinguished him from his colleagues over the twenty-year period during which we had children in public schools? He was a communicator. He sold us on his mission and his belief that our kids were special. During the several years that he was principal for two of my children, it was obvious that this man had a special gift. He spent time in the halls and classrooms and would stop and talk to kids, and also listen. At every opportunity he talked to them about pride and about respect and they listened, black kids, white kids, and Hispanic kids. He expected much from his students both academically and with respect to how they conducted themselves and they listened. Whether it was true or not, every student in the school believed they had a personal relationship with this man and that he had a special interest in them. The school was a special place, indeed, and not just for students. Every member of the school’s community, including teachers, administrators, and staff benefitted from the excitement this man’s leadership created.

Just how much a difference this man made for all his students was not fully apparent until he left for an opportunity as principal of a larger high school. His successors, respected  professionals all, were never quite able to reproduce the magic.

No doubt, not everyone comes to their role as a principal in possession of a special gift but what this principal accomplished, through his positive leadership, illustrates just how much of a difference positive leadership can make. Every principal should strive to model this man. They should be evaluated on the effectiveness with which they perform to these expectations, and they should be selected based on skill sets that would make that possible. They must be involved in incessant, ongoing leadership development. Leadership is learned behavior.

Principals have no business hiding in their offices any more than managers in business organizations belong in their offices. The challenge of organizational leaders everywhere is to help their people be successful and to satisfy their customers. In the business of education our customers are the students and parents whom we serve and the communities in which they reside, and our people are the professionals who teach those children and the staff that support both students, faculty, and administrators in that process. Any school district that allows administrative paperwork to obscure the mission and purpose of its principals will surely fall short of fulfilling its potential.

One of the chief characteristics of this remarkable principal is that he never ceased to speak about the things he believed to be the most important lessons for his students. Whether children or adults, reminding people relentlessly about mission, vision, and values is what positive leaders do. You may have noted while reading this book how many times I repeated some of the major points, ideas, and principles. If people forget what is important it is because a leader was insufficiently relentless.

Education departments in our colleges and universities must ensure the study of positive leadership is a core component in the education of school administrators, at every level. We must view them as leaders, not administrators.

Earlier, I referenced my book, The Difference Is You: Power through Positive Leadership,[4] which served as a basis for seminars I presented to the staff of my own organizations, to employees of several consulting client companies, and, in the 1990s, through seminars titled  “The Power of Positive Leadership” through the Continuing Education Program of Indiana-Purdue University of Fort Wayne.[5] The purpose of the seminars was to teach leadership skills very similar to that which the above referenced principal demonstrated, to new and prospective executives, managers, and supervisors..

Step 21 – Special Needs

At any time along the way, from initial assessment and beyond, if we identify students with  special needs we must offer additional resources, much as happens in our schools, today. Given the controversy that seems to surround the Individual Education Plans (IEP) utilized in Special Education, however, IEPs are not to be compared to the tailored academic plans that play an essential role in The Hawkins Model©.  The latter truly are designed to mold the instruction of individual students around the unique requirements of each.

Step 22 – The Role for Advocacy Groups

            Children of color, kids who are poor, youngsters from homes where English is not spoken have long been recipients of second-class everything, including education. Black children have suffered most egregiously. For the various advocacy groups for any of the unique communities from which any of these children emanate, there is an essential role for them to play. They cannot only become powerful advocates for implementation of an education model that works for their children, but they can also provide invaluable partnerships. The schools serving all our children are going to need the help of their communities and advocates.

The nation also needs the active participation of advocates to make sure their constituents are never again recipients of less than the best society has to offer. The leaders of such organizations are encouraged to consider that positive advocacy for a new idea or solution is a far more effective means of driving positive change than complaints and protests. The latter are like fireworks. They are exciting, stimulating, and even inspiring, but when the last echoes fade into the night sky and the smoke has dissipated, they are quickly forgotten. Only ideas and solutions, promoted through the advocacy of positive leaders working together, have an opportunity to become real and have a lasting impact on the world.

As we pointed out earlier in this work, we have surely learned we cannot legislate an end to poverty, racism, and hatred. Neither can whole populations of human beings allow themselves to be victims. This requires that members of population subsets that are perceived as disadvantaged, participate in transformational change as full partners, individually and collectively. They must develop the same powerful self-esteem we will be striving to provide for each of their sons and daughters. It is that self-esteem that gives us the power to control as many of the outcomes in our lives as possible.

The key to ending discrimination is to render our young people impervious to it. We are not suggesting that discrimination is not real and damaging, rather that human beings who believe in themselves understand discriminators are driven by their own weakness and insecurity. Individuals who discriminate are bullies by another name.

We protect our children by empowering them to become the best versions of themselves, which is exactly what The Hawkins Model© was designed to do. It has been created to prepare our young people not only for the challenges the balance of this 21st Century will present, but also to prepare them to reach for the stars, both figuratively and literally.

Summary and Conclusions

My question for the superintendents of those school districts throughout the U.S., with multiple elementary schools where less than ten, twenty, or thirty percent of the students can assess as “proficient” or “meet expectations” in both ELA and Math, in grades three, four, and five, is:

How can they look at the number of these schools in their district—and there are thousands of such schools nation-wide—and choose to do nothing different than they did last year, or the year before that, or the decades before that? And, what about the thousands of other schools where less than fifty percent can assess as “proficient” or “meet expectations?”

The goal toward which all schools must strive is that every young person graduating from high school must be able to utilize, in real life, the subject matter and other skills they were expected to learn during the thirteen years of their primary and secondary education. It is understood that we will be helping young people choose different paths, but our expectations of what kids learn must be defined by the direction students choose for themselves.

The only justification for preserving the status quo in public education would be if we believe the children who fail are incapable of learning. If, on the other hand, we believe all children can learn, we must feel compelled to act. What we know about the neuroplasticity of the brain provides powerful evidence that all kids can learn.

The fundamental premise of The Hawkins Model© is that all children can learn if given the opportunity and if they feel safe, secure, and cared about. The fact that we have clung for so long to an ineffectual educational process that sets kids up for failure and humiliation is unfathomable. Refusal to seize an opportunity to alter this tragic reality is inexcusable and will create long-term harm for both our children and our society.

Once a school district is satisfied that this new model produces the outcomes they are seeking, it will be time to implement it in every school in the district. When it is time for students to move onto middle school and high school, we will modify the model to fit the needs of students at those grade levels. It will be a move for which they will be well prepared.

The success of this model will also drive the need for revolutionary change in our institutions of higher learning. Colleges, universities, community colleges, technical schools, and vocational education programs must be prepared to reinvent themselves as the capability and needs of their students will have changed significantly. This is particularly true for those who bear the responsibility of teaching the future leaders of our system of education and of the teachers of our children.

Similarly, all producers of goods and services, both public and private, must be prepared to leverage a more capable organization, a more capable and visionary leadership cadre, and large complement of more productive men and women who will work diligently to meet or exceed the evolving needs of their customers and constituents.

There will be opposition to change, of course, most of which will be focused on concerns about accountability, manageability, and cost. With respect to manageability, it has been my experience that it is much easier to manage operations and organizations that are successful, where people are able to accomplish their goals, do excellent work, and are recognized for their accomplishments. In organizations such as these, morale is high, turnover is much less of a problem, and people are proud to be a part of it and are honored to serve. They are winning organizations.

When the communities of which schools are a part are excited about the success of their children, they will be supportive and must be willing to support their community public schools with tax dollars. It is tough when we focus only on the cost, therefore we must point to an exciting new product that will transform the future of their children their grandchildren, and their nation. True equality and equal justice may be expensive, but they are worth every dollar invested.

Faith-based schools will also flourish, and advocates of charter schools and micro schools can still pursue their objectives. If public schools are demonstrating success, however, the demand for charter schools may diminish unless they can develop education programs that set them apart.

Whatever the setting or venue, if schools can become laboratories where innovation is their mantra, it is good for the whole of education. The Hawkins Model© provides an opportunity for public schools to lead the way. Leaders must guard against complacency and be constantly looking to expand the capability of our entire education system to adapt and respond to the dynamic changes taking place around them.

We have already discussed the challenge of funding these changes and have pointed out that the education of our children and our entire population, for that matter, represent our society’s intellectual infrastructure. Such investments are not a cost to society they are investments in its most important assets.

We know the problems we will be facing over the next few decades as our physical infrastructure continues to deteriorate. We have already seen how vulnerable that infrastructure is in the wake of natural calamity. It will only become more vulnerable and more costly because we will bear the cost of the damage those failures will create, the cost of lost opportunities, all in addition to the cost of rebuilding.

Whether they are investments in physical or intellectual infrastructure they are not costs to our economy, rather they are just an exchange of one form of capital for another that we hope will gain additional value. In both cases, it will stimulate the economy by creating jobs, and increase business and tax revenue, all of which improves the quality of our lives. Investments in intellectual infrastructure will be more direct, as the tax dollars expended and the jobs those dollars will create will be local jobs stimulating local economies, as well as the national. They will also contribute to increased tax revenue for local, state, and federal governments.

The other great advantage of investment in our intellectual infrastructure is that the value of the assets in which we invest will appreciate rather than depreciate. A bridge, highway, or other physical structure begins the inexorable process of disintegration the moment it becomes available for public use. Not only will they grow old but the value they create will diminish as the world changes. Our investment in intellectual infrastructure will be in young citizens whose contributions will grow in value for decades. People will grow old and die, to be certain, but throughout their lifetimes the value they have created will be exponentially greater than the cost.

The truth about our intellectual infrastructure—that includes our children, their schools, teachers, and other education assets—is that we cannot afford to postpone or forego them. The cost of neglecting these things will be incalculable.  

[1] It is understood that people grow old, retire, and die but from the time a young person enters the world of work they can gain expertise over a course of many years, thus enhancing their value. 

[2] Fulghum, Robert, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Villard Books, NY, 1988

[3] NAEP, achievement level definitions.

[4] Hawkins, The Difference is You: Power through Positive Leadership, Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace, 2013

[5] In 2018 Indiana-Purdue University of Fort Wayne, was re-organized. Today, the campus is known as Purdue University of Fort Wayne.