September’s Worthwhile Reads, Part II

Not Your Father’s School, “Let the Dialogue Begin: Another Take on Our Public Purpose”
“This might be just a modest and slightly romantic proposal, or perhaps it’s an idea whose time has come; since our pathways began to diverge widely right around the start of the No Child Left Behind–standardized testing era, the things [independent schools] have been free to do have been in some contrast with the constraints under which that public schools have been living. We have been free to experiment and try things out that even charter schools—subject to testing mandates—have not been able to attempt, and some of the work our more forward-thinking schools are doing is pretty exciting. . . . I don’t think that we have all the answers or that our schools are ‘better’ than others, but I do think we have both an opportunity and an obligation to express our public purpose by inserting ourselves more energetically into the national conversation about effective education—for all kids.”

The Historical Society, “The Battle of Antietam and War Photography”
“Photographer Alexander Gardner, working for the great photographer Matthew Brady, brought his camera to Antietam two days after the guns fell silent. . . . The import of Gardner’s images from Antietam stretched far beyond the fall of 1862. Never again could war be distant, so long as photographers could be there to record what they saw. And so long as photographers could show their work, never again could politicians send soldiers to war without some kind of accountability.”

Education Rethink, “An Unexpected Ovation”
“I watch, almost from a distance, then involuntarily I cry. It’s been years since a class has seen me cry. I say that it’s ‘enjoyment’ that gets me here everyday, but it’s more than that. It’s this. It’s love. It’s grace, not as a religious concept, but as something spiritual, powerful, profound.”

The Learning Pond, “The Tao of Innovation in Education?”
“Education used to be a slow, deliberate, almost cautious business, long study and talks between cloistered dons and young men with time.  Since the dawn of the Progressive Era the pace of education has constantly increased. . . . On the other hand, we know  that the deepest understanding, moments of greatest clarity, epiphanies, the stuff that sticks with us and makes all the other stuff make sense, in other words the wisdom in our lives, comes not when we are racing down the 6-lane highway, but when we get off on the blue road, the trail, the quiet spots, the meditation space. . . . What I think Alan was saying (and if not, it is what I realized about an hour east of Kansas City on the two-lane section of Highway 50) is that leaning left and right of a central tipping point won’t achieve this balance. The calm centers of tradition, reflection, slowing down, and understanding our center in the moment have to exist at the exact same time as we rapidly ideate, pilot, and innovate.  This is the new Tao of education.”

for the love of learning, “The end of testsandgrades”
“Because the origins of public education and testsandgrades are mired in goals that have less to do with citizenship and critical thinking and more to do with compliance and labour, it is important that we engage those who have never been invited to reconsider their unexamined assumptions about school. The truth is that many people are reassured by signs of formal-traditional school and are disturbed by their absence, and what’s worse is that these same people are often offended when they are invited to rethink their preconceptions for what school should look and feel like.”

Living the Dream, “Kids, Voting and the Classroom”
“As educators, we are in a spectacular place to help bring awareness to students and empower them in this process of participating in the democratic process.  To waste this opportunity means that we do not value an active and informed citizenry.  Let’s move this goal up, in the long list of priorities we have for the classroom.  It matters.”

To Keep Things Whole, “Aiming at Goal”
“This past Saturday I was watching an English soccer match between Everton and Swansea. Everton was dominating the match, but the score remained nil-nil. One announcer brought up what has become a popular statistic the past few years by mentioning what a large percentage of possession Everton had. The other announcer, a former player, argued, ‘That’s technology driving that stat, that is. And it doesn’t matter. Only stat that matters is goals.’ While I am not that old school, his comments started me thinking.”

it’s about learning, “Making reality a school. #IDreamASchool”
“Typically, schools sub-divide into departments called “Math,” “Science,” “History,” “English,” etc. Curriculum tends to be categorized by these departments and divisions – by subject-area or topic. Often times, silos develop…sometimes intentionally, but more understandably in unintentional ways. But what if we re-imagined curriculum to be more about the issues and challenges that we face? What if we had departments like…

  • the Department of Energy
  • the Department of Justice and Equity
  • the Department of Education
  • the Department of Health and Human Services
  • the Department of Environmental Sustainability . . .

Imagine a Department of Energy in school. Student learners could explore and work in the fields of energy research and investigation, and they could employ mathematics and statistics as lenses through which to understand energy – math in context. They could hypothesize and experiment as genuine scientists working to discover the emerging, integrated sectors of biofuels, solar energies, and other non-fossil-dependent sources – science in context. They could research through lenses of historian, anthropologist, and sociologist, and they could write persuasive and expository pieces – humanities in context. They could examine the economics and psychology of energy consumption – interdisciplinary human studies in context. Design and visual prototyping could play an integrated role – industrial arts in context.”

Education Rethink, “I Don’t Believe in Research”
“Over the years, people have accused me of not ‘believing in’ research. And they’re right. I don’t believe in research. I either accept it or deny it. Research shouldn’t be about beliefs, but way too often it is.”

New York Times, “The College Rankings Racket”
“The rankings exacerbate the status anxiety that afflicts so many high school students. The single-minded goal of too many high school students — pushed by parents, guidance counselors and society itself — is to get into a ‘good’ school. Those who don’t land a prestigious admission feel like failures. Those who do but lack the means often wind up taking on onerous debt — a burden that can last a lifetime. And U.S. News has largely become the measure by which a good school is defined. ‘U.S. News didn’t invent the social dynamic,’ says Carey. ‘What it did was very accurately empiricize them.'”

21k12, “Measure Creativity and Ethical Judgement Now! Robert Sternberg on Assessment”
“But if we could add a second element [to our current battery of assessments], in addition to creativity, let’s add ethical judgement. Sternberg said several times that the lack of ethical judgement, and wisdom more generally, is deeply hurting society. He was quick to point out that this addition will not improve GPA predictability, but then said it will, in a more abstract way, be predictive of successful life. He says that when businesses and business leaders fail or go awry, or politicians, scientists, and so many others, it is rarely due to low IQ– it is due to poor judgement and a lack of ethics.”

1 comment
  1. Thanks for including a quote from my blog in your Worthwhile Reads. I am getting such great insight from my journey of visits to 50+ schools, and happy to share those ideas with all educators who see the need and value of real innovation.

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