October’s Worthwhile Reads

October has been a blur (as October usually is). I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping up with my own reading, but I just couldn’t find the time mid-month (or even end-of-month) to distill it into a list of articles and posts worth sharing. Here it is, all at once and a few days late. My first goals reflection of the year is also forthcoming.

New York Times, “Scientific Inquiry Among the Preschool Set”
“When engaged in what looks like child’s play, preschoolers are actually behaving like scientists, according to a new report in the journal Science: forming hypotheses, running experiments, calculating probabilities and deciphering causal relationships about the world. . . . ‘There’s a lot of pressure from parents and policy makers to make preschools more and more like schools. This research suggests the opposite.'”

To Keep Things Whole, “Heed the Dodo”
“Until recently, schools and teachers maintained power and control primarily because they were the means of access. Naturally, schools grew in forms that established this sense of control in both overt and more subtle ways. Departmentalization, classroom design, curricular organization, age groupings, standardization, rigid assessment criteria, library collections—each is hierarchical and prescriptive. . . . Now, however, the hierarchies are tumbling, the prescriptions being shredded. . . .  In this emerging world, schools still can have an absolutely vital role. But will they?”

A Blog About School, “What does this blog want?”
“I’ve posted about a lot of topics here — authoritarian education, behavioral rewards, standardized testing, school lunch periods, and many more — but if you asked me to identify the central fact about K-12 education, I’d say this: Kids don’t get to vote. And when you don’t get to vote, you get screwed. I’m not saying that six-year-olds should get to vote; kids are disenfranchised as much by their circumstances as by any law. But disenfranchised they are. And the history of enfranchised groups acting “in the best interests” of disenfranchised groups is a particularly sorry one. Think of the history of African-Americans, of women, of mental patients, or of prisoners. If there’s one thing we know, it’s that people cannot be trusted to act in the best interests of disenfranchised groups.”

Education Rethink, “Technology Will Not Fix Education”

New York Times, “Chinese Parents Sue Consultant After Sons Are Rejected by Harvard”

Gerald and Lily Chow, who lived in Hong Kong, were so eager to get their two sons into an Ivy League school that they invested heavily in a plan from Mark Zimny, an educational consultant, who aimed to get the boys into Harvard . . . Two years and $2.2 million later, the Chows’ investment in Mr. Zimny’s consultancy, IvyAdmit, failed. (The sons did wind up at top universities, The Globe’s Mary Carmichael writes, but neither of them went to Harvard.) Now the Chows are suing to get their money back, claiming that Mr. Zimny lied to them and committed fraud and breach of contract.”

PHD Comic, “notFinal.doc”

The Learning Pond, “Believe in Dewey? School of the Future Today at Meridian Academy, Boston”
“21C skills are not embedded in their classes; 21C skills are their classes. They iterate the heck out of their work. All of their assessment is based on preparing projects and presenting them to an internal and external audience sevral times a year, and since they are presenting their own work, they want it to be good.  Both the teachers and students told me that it is nothing for a student to want to rewrite a paper or poem 8-10 times before being satisfied they have done their best.”

New York Times, “Penn State Students Explore Sandusky Abuse Scandal”
“Groggy and a bit cranky at 9 in the morning, some slouched in chairs near the back. A few gossiped. Some doodled. Others brought coffee and browsed Facebook. But everyone expected the professor, a thin man with glasses and peppered gray hair, to go easy. Summer lingered. Above the murmuring, the professor, Jonathan Marks, asked, ‘Should Joe Paterno’s statue have been taken down or left up?’ Chaos ensued. Nearly every hand shot up. ‘It felt like a bomb had exploded in the middle of the room,’ said Nick Kmetz, a student in the class.”

Granted, but…, “A Roman aqueduct and the teaching of history”
“So, I found myself thinking all day as we walked the bridge about human thirst and human waste. And a bridge that had once seemed just pretty became quite intriguing: how did all this Roman technical knowledge get acquired – then, lost for more than a thousand years when thirst and waste are so universal and pressing? How historically have societies addressed the need for potable water and sanitation? From a bridge and thoughts of toilets, to an Essential Question or two.”


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