Monthly Archives: November 2012

Why Is School So Important?

It’s a great question — and at a whole-school assembly at my son’s school this morning, I heard some of the older children offer their answers in a short video they produced with their teacher.

Now is the point in the story where you’re supposed to hear touching observations that make you feel good about school, and learning, and the innocent beauty of kids. Instead, what I heard over and over from the kids were the three answers that they’d clearly picked up, like osmosis, from the adults:

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Best Questions

Just because.

Ask them, answer them, share them. If you have a favorite, tweet it along with the hashtag #bestquestions. If you have one that isn’t here, add it. And if you want to see what happened when a whole community asked these questions of themselves and each other — and then co-created a public portrait series, check out “Who Am I in This Picture?”

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How Empathy Will Change the World

Skip to the 3:20:00 part of this video — a recent panel discussion at the University of North Carolina — for a further examination of this idea of an “empathy formula”, or a way of thinking more intentionally about how we help educate the heart and mind.

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Educating the Heart and Mind

Sir Ken strikes again.

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Gaming the System

. . . is not the goal, as Seth Godin illustrates well in a recent blog post (and if you like it you can also check out his TEDx talk, which took place moments before mine). As Seth wrote:

Sometimes, we can’t measure what we need, so we invent a proxy, something that’s much easier to measure and stands in as an approximation.

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How Do We Fix DCPS?

. . . is the question @amyjwatkins asked me on Twitter this morning, in response to the news that DCPS plans to close 20 neighborhood schools in an effort to concentrate its student populations and provide them with fuller services.

Great question, Amy. To answer it, imagine if DCPS adopted the following as its theory of change?

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Sunday Morning Quarterback

Earlier this week the DC Public Charter School Board released its latest rankings of every charter school operating in the nation’s capital. Some schools earned higher or lower scores than last year — each school is rated either Tier 1, 2 or 3 — but the majority did not change. No surprise there: these things take time, not to mention the fact that our system for evaluating whether a school is high- or low-performing remains imperfect at best.

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What’s the Big Idea?

It’s a good question. And Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent Josh Starr is asking it as part of his new podcast series, which honored me as its first guest. You can hear the conversation here, but one thing I want to point out: the show is co-hosted by a major urban superintendent and the head […]

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OK, Obama Won. Now What?

It’s official. Barack Hussein Obama has been re-elected.

Now what?

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The Empathy Formula

For over a year now, I’ve been working with a remarkable group of people at Ashoka who believe empathy is the foundational skill we need in order to become effective changemakers in modern society — and who are bold (quixotic?) enough to envision a world in which one day, every child learns to master it as readily as s/he masters the ability to read and write.

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