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The Best of 2023

A look back at some of the most memorable education stories of the past year
2023 Year in Review stock image

With the final days of 2023 approaching, we look back at some of the most inspiring stories, videos, and conversations of the calendar year. In this list, you’ll find content that drew many readers or got a lot of likes, while others are pieces we simply loved writing and producing. As you read through the list, we hope you find a few mentions that get you thinking — and maybe even wanting more.  

The story you may have missed that you should go back to

In December, history teacher and author Wade Morris sat down with the Harvard EdCast to talk about a subject not often talked about: the history of report cards. As EdCast producer Jill Anderson says of the episode, “There’s something really fun and interesting about how looking into the history of education tells us so much about where we are now. This episode gave me so much more insight into the origin of report cards and how that has truly shaped the education system and in a way holds us captive.”

That time we created a Spotify playlist to celebrate the new incoming class

Formal letters and emails with exploding confetti are nice, but what better way to say “congratulations, you got in!” to our newest class of admits than giving them the gift of amazing music?

The quote that made us feel hopeful 

From Azucena “Zuzu” Qadeer, a student at Beacon High School in New York City and an Education Now webinar guest speaker, on how to help young people see that they can make a difference when it comes to climate change: “I was hopeless for a really long time, and it was all kinds of depressing but starting small was helpful for me. I started … focusing on what I could do in my community to benefit the Earth. In terms of empowering young people, you need to show them they are part of a community, and they can make a change in their community, because oftentimes you don’t see change in the big earth.”

The story that left us surprised but not surprised

Our coverage of a fall Askwith event focused on the impact wealth has on college admissions at highly selective private colleges, and while not completely new news, the data shared left us shaking our heads. It also left us more determined than ever to write about inequity and gaps in education.

This video interview made math sound almost fun

This summer, our video team followed alum Grace Kossia, Ed.M.’17, around New York City, where she works for the playfully named nonprofit called Almost Fun. Last year, Almost Fun helped 1.5 million middle and high school students with free, online math lessons that use non-math concepts students are familiar with, like explaining “slope” using an illustration of a roller coaster.

The winner of this year’s best headline

Writing headlines isn’t always easy, but this one from a story in the fall/winter 2023 issue of Harvard Ed. magazine about how a winning high school football team and determined principal helped keep their tiny school from closing almost wrote itself: “Saved by the Ball.”

2023 was the year of the AI takeover

Stories on AI intelligence dominated in 2023, both in the volume produced in our office and in reader interest, including a Usable Knowledge piece about how educators need to embrace artificial intelligence (AI) in the classroom. “You have to stop thinking that you can teach exactly the way you used to teach when the basic medium has changed,” said Lecturer Houman Harouni. “Where we want to get to” with AI “is a place where you’re dancing with it, dancing with robots.”

Speaking of AI, MIT’s Anant Argawal reminded us of our fear of calculators

In September, Anant Argawal, founder of edX, calmed our nerves when he talked on the Harvard EdCast about AI. “This is not scary,” he said. “I think the fear has come from not knowing about the unknown. When calculators first came out, people were concerned. Oh my God, what's this thing? I remember my dad, he would complain. He was a professor of pathology in a medical college. And he said, "I don’t know what this is, what is this thing, you have to punch these numbers. Just give me paper and a pencil.” But once he overcame his fear, he was able to use calculators. I think using AI is as easy as using a calculator. In fact, it’s easier, because you can talk to it like a human being. You don’t have to use a finger to hunt and peck.” 


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