Dr. Michael Crawford is the co-founder of EdSpace, LLC, the social learning network for teachers. A researcher by training, with passion at the intersection of human development, social impact, and entrepreneurship, Michael drives all things product and community. Prior to EdSpace, he worked at Real World Scholars and the Kauffman Foundation, and he recently completed his Ph.D. in educational psychology, focusing on adolescent development and non-formal learning environments.
I am currently living in the city I was born and raised in, Novi, Michigan ––a Detroit suburb. I played a lot of sports, as a young person. I had a great time in school when I was younger, at least I thought so at the time. I didn’t have to study too hard and got mostly good grades until I went to college. I thought I was smarter than I was when I took an ECON class during my first semester and that set me back a bit. I had to study more than I had ever done before.
After graduating, I worked in an organization called Michigan State Youth Soccer Association which is the governing body of youth soccer in Michigan. That is where I saw coaches and parents interacting in a way that moved me to want to learn more and understand how adults could help and harm young people. That’s when I decided to get a Master’s degree in Sports Psychology; a field that can go in a number of different directions. I had this sports background and recognized the power of teams with motivation, perseverance, physical fitness, and mental health. I wanted to learn more about improving team dynamics and at Michigan State University they have a great organization called the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports. I wanted to know about the sports context that can contribute to young people. Sports is one context where young people have developmental opportunities and experiences to grow and learn to become adults.
I needed to zoom up and get a broader understanding of my interest in adolescents. I saw them as the jump-off point between childhood and adulthood. If I could make a difference among teens, then I could positively affect the trajectory of their world. That’s what led me to the University of Kansas for my Ph.D. in Educational Psychology under the work of Dr. David Hansen studying adolescent development, research methods, and exploring learning in school in a different kind of way.
Both of my parents are retired, public school educators. My mom was an elementary physical education teacher and my dad was a high school math teacher. Both were coaches so I grew up with teachers and was versed in the grammar of schooling. It made me wonder what was school was, what it can be, how it influences young people. What doesn’t get talked about enough in school is the hidden curricula. What are young people learning when everything is provided for them? What are they not learning? What are the impacts of those things for their future?
I met my wife, Maureen, in high school. She was two years behind me and was the best soccer player. We dated in college. My son Lars is in Kindergarten at the same school that my wife attended and we have a 9 months old named Lennox.
What are your AHAs?
I’m fascinated by people and how they think and make decisions, influence one another. Young people go to school for a long time, but they also spend a lot of time outside of school and formal academics.
One of the AHAs I got that I didn’t know was that adolescents are much more capable than adults give them credit for. They are closer to being young adults than old children. The programs that we provide to them don’t align with the kinds of desires and critical experiences that they need.
Students are getting bored over time, disengaging, and not seeing the relevance. The environments that we are giving adolescents is less appropriate than when they were younger. The kinds of things that children are provided when they get older become less aligned with their needs, goals, and aspirations. I’m not surprised that engagement goes down with years of schooling. My AHA is that this is becoming more apparent where we are focusing more now on student voice, agency, young people being able to design their own projects, and showcasing their learning. This is in the right direction.
Question from Michael for you:
What are the ways in which we are empowering, supporting, and engaging young people in the creation of themselves, their future, and their environment?
EdSpace, a social network for educators
A project born from our work with Real World Scholars, EdSpace (www.edspace.live) is a social network where educators use short video posts to connect and grow together, without the toxicity of followers, likes, and view counts. Think Snapchat meets Slack, for the world of education.
EdSpace aims to play that key role in keeping you connected, by helping you access the people, resources, and tools you need to survive and emerge better than ever.
I know we have to distance — social distancing. But that’s not the right term. It’s physical distancing, because we have to stay social, and help each other.
[This is Barbara: keep listening to Michael from 27:00 on. He’s so right on that I don’t want to transcribe anymore. I want to make sure you listen to all of his thoughts about moving in the right direction especially for our adolescents. Check out Edspace. I’m honored to be a featured Spotlight and have my own channel. In fact, you can set up your own channel. Please log in and ask me a question. )
Michael Crawford, the co-founder of EdSpace, LLC, is the lead on all of the software development, from conception to delivery to management, working directly with the development team to build and maintain the platform. He is the point person for partnerships, which includes strategy and execution for branding, design, marketing, and launch, working closely with both internal and external teams. Michael drives recruitment and community cultivation, engaging users on the platform, and managing all platform and user needs as the sole system administrator.
As Director of Strategy and Partnerships at Real World Scholars, Michael was perpetually on the prowl to broker connections with dynamic people and organizations (e.g., curriculum providers, community foundations, school networks, for-profit companies, rockstar educators, etc.) to maximize our collective impact. He guided strategic decision-making, establishing and refining resources and systems for teachers, students, and partners. Michael collaborated with external researchers to extract key learnings and manifest valuable improvements.
How can we sustain and build on these innate drives [innovation, creativity, collaboration, community building] once young children enter school? One answer is teaching entrepreneurship education.
Michael’s Favorite Quote:
“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Interested in checking out more of the Rethinking Learning podcasts and reflections, click on the podcast tab at the top, the logo below, or go to https://barbarabray.net/podcasts/
For more information about Barbara’s new book, Define Your WHY, go to this page or click on the image of the book for resources, questions, and links.