Book Recommendation: The Future of Smart

We’re so excited! Long time friend of Indigo, Ulcca Hansen, just released her book, The Future of Smart. It’s a must read for anyone interested in education reform. See the review from our CEO below.

From Indigo CEO Sheri Smith:

“I work in schools across the US and can personally attest to the failures of the current education system. This book really delves into how education must be changed to better support students now. A great read to better understand the issue and become a part of the solution!”

For more information about Ulcca Hansen and The Future of Smart: 

     Facebook: The Future of Smart

     Twitter: @ulcca @edfunders #FutureOfSmart


The Average Student Myth

The Average Student Myth: A New Study Focuses on the Importance of the Individual in Education

By Sheri Smith

In his book, The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness, Harvard scientist Dr. Todd Rose examines  the idea that there is no average person and that by ignoring individual differences – and what makes us each distinctive – we overlook potential and talent.  The End of Average not only shows that there is no average person but also demonstrates the importance of nurturing traits that define each of us.  

Dr. Rose’s  work is part of a new field – the science of individuality— that looks for solutions to social problems by studying  individuals rather than group averages.  It is a recognition that each person has diverse talents. As the CEO of Indigo Education, I was curious to see if our own research would support Dr. Rose’s findings. I wanted to answer for myself whether the idea of the average student is really a myth.

The Indigo Assessment captured 150 dimensions of students – covering behaviors[1], motivators[2], soft skills[3], and perceptions[4]. The survey included four well-known corporate tools that have been used for the past 35 years. 

The results were striking.  Out of 15,012 students, not one fell into the average. Our analysis supported that the average student is indeed a myth.

Yet the education system is built on the myth that you can and should teach to the “average.” If a student does not fit into a very narrow mold measuring only academic performance, he or she is considered deficient.  Students have little time for learning what matters: relationship building, developing soft skills, tapping into self-knowledge, and understanding how to exercise their constitutional right for the pursuit of happiness. 

Ending average in education changes teacher training programs, what we spend our money and time on, how our schools look, how we measure success, how we define ourselves, and perhaps most importantly, how we give people the opportunity for leading a fulfilling life.   

The real change that needs to happen in education is not 1-to-1 laptops, some amazing new common core, or the perfect super school – it’s a mindset shift from the system to the individual. 

[1] Behaviors are measured by TTI’s DISC. DISC is a behavior assessment tool based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston, which centers on four different behavioral traits: dominance, influencing, steadiness, and compliance. This theory was then developed into a behavioral assessment tool by industrial psychologist Walter Vernon Clarke.

[2] The Indigo Motivators Assessment is based on the research of Dr. Eduard Spranger and Gordon Allport and their study of human value, motivation and drive.

[3] Soft Skills are measured using a Likert scale survey developed by Target Training International based on the most important soft skills for workplace success. 

[4] Perceptions are measured with TTI’s version of the Hartman Value Profile. It is based on the science of formal axiology, developed by Robert S. Hartman, providing rational answers to many of our questions about human values. Our values are the keys to our personalities, to self-knowledge, and to understanding others.

Online Courses: A Different Option for the Modern Student


(Articles published in Best


In the job world of the 21st century, a degree can seem like a prerequisite to starting a career. The degrees are requiring more and more schooling, and the competition drives students to search out bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees. But many students don’t have the time, the resources, or the mobility to go to a campus and learn the way others can; their life, current job, family, or other life problems might require them to stay where they are, and only allows them certain, erratic times for study. This is where an online degree becomes invaluable. Studying online allows a student to complete their school when and where they want, with less money spent on living, travel, and supplies.


There are many different options out there, and so many students searching for online degrees, so it can be difficult to find a fit that’s right for a student and their life. These three articles from Best are a helpful resource for students trying to decide whether or not to pursue a degree online. For each of the following, some questions and concerns that you may be having are answered with this comprehensive list of the best options out there.

Look for an online degree for BACHELORS, MASTERS, DOCTORATE

Look for the 50 BEST ONLINE COLLEGES OF 2018

Homeboy Industries – A Story of Redemption

Homeboy Industries – A Story of Redemption

February 28th 2016, Written by Nathan Robertson

I’ve heard it said before that one of the most humbling human experiences is to meet someone who may have less than you materially, but who possesses joy and hope beyond your personal understanding.

This past week, I spent some time in Southern California doing workshops and meeting with a few clients. Friday morning was free, so I decided to head north up the 405 into Los Angeles to visit Homeboy Industries. For me, it was a humbling human experience.

HBI provides help, support and training to gang-involved or previously incarcerated men and women. Services range from college and technical courses, counseling, case management, and a tattoo removal center that has removed more tattoos than any other institution in the world. They put people on an 18-month program to prepare for integrating back into the community. That’s all I really knew going into it. I wanted to avoid scraping Google beforehand so that I could experience HBI with as little bias as possible.

When I walk in, it’s unclear to me if I am in an office space or a pep rally. The staff has gathered 75 or more of their walk-ins for morning announcements. Every single staff member that will be working with the walk-ins is introduced to sound of applause. An Irish-American Catholic gives a quick anecdote on the health benefits of laughing often. Where I am at is standing room only, and more people are coming in the doors throughout the announcement.

What was interesting to see was the diversity in the staff. Some of them were Caucasian, corporate, with buttoned up shirts tucked into slacks. Others looked like they came from the community – not just because of their skin color, but also because of how they dressed and looked. It’s not just a multiracial team, but also a team that clearly comes from a range of backgrounds.

The morning meeting breaks, and then the place turns into organized chaos as everyone moves to a class, meeting, or to take care of the community garden outside. I’m quickly passed on to my tour guide, Jimmy.

Here’s where the humility begins to kick in. I spent an hour with Jimmy touring the building and walking through the gardens outside, listening to his story. If you ever meet Jimmy, he will tell his story to you as freely as he did to me: he was incarcerated at 16 for killing a man in an act of gang violence. Despite the fact he began to reform and change during his sentence, it would not be until 30 years later that he was released. The woman he married during his sentence, who was waiting for him to be released, died less than a week before he was free. He came back into the world in June 2015 with his wife gone and her son in need of a guardian.

Now, this level of trauma is enough to shut most people down. Some may be able to power through, but they would do so with gritted teeth and a jaded outlook on the world. They would numb themselves to the pain in order that they may cope.

But not Jimmy. Jimmy is a man of hope. Even if his wife’s 14-year-old son is not his biological son, he said he must be an example for him to follow. Even if two-thirds of his life has been spent behind bars, he said he must be an example for his community. That’s why he came to Homeboy to start his 18 months, and that’s why he volunteers to lead tours. That he may share not only his story, but his excitement and vision for the future.

During this conversation my mind is reeling. As Indigo continues to grow into more inner-city schools, we are beginning to run into this undercurrent of gang culture. I was all questions with him, but the biggest question I had was, “Jimmy, how do you connect with someone if that person feels like they have no value, if that person thinks they can’t succeed?”

Jimmy looked at me levelly and just smiled. “It’s about compassion, brother. It goes beyond just understanding where they are at, it’s connecting them to people that have been where they are at, and can show them the way.”

I sat with my notebook afterward at Homegirl Bakery (a spinoff company next door that employs incarcerated women and helps fund the services provided at Homeboy Industries) trying to process everything. What does this mean for how Indigo approaches education, I wondered? How can I translate this back to what we do for students?

I suddenly recalled the words of an Assistant Principal at a Denver inner-city school with which we work. “Education is important. Sometimes, however, we as educators need to step back and realize that life is more important than education.”

Indigo as a company stands for expanding how schools and educators can interact with students, but this takes things to another level. How can Indigo support boots-on-the-ground staff in servicing not only students’ educational needs, but also life needs through Indigo? If life is more important than education, how can we help students conquer the problems in their lives so that they can move forward to excel in their future education and career?

A day at Homeboy Industries answered questions, but also created many more that need to be explored. However, it is the pursuit of answers to these types of questions that will make Indigo more and more relevant in schools.

If we are designed to be partnering with the schools to help them push students forward, then we have to meet them on all fronts. But when I meet guys like Jimmy, I know that any student, regardless of their background, beliefs or situation, can unlock their strengths and find an outlet that allows them to become fully realized in the person they are uniquely designed to be.

In short, it reminded me why I do the work that I do.

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