Is this the type of learning story we need to be telling?

It comes via the U.S. Department of Education, which, of course, has a clear agenda and set of things it wants to trumpet. Does that make the overall package feel unpalatable to you? Or does it capture enough of the spirit of the modern day classroom, and both the challenges and opportunities that are unfolding there, to make you want to see more stories like it?

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In Trying to Reduce Class Sizes, Are We Trying to Solve the Wrong Problem?

Are smaller class sizes the key to breathing new life into today’s public schools, or a misguided effort to solve the problems of a dying era?

I am surprised to say I have come to believe it’s the latter.

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This is what the future of learning is going to look like

And the good news is it already exists . . . Imagine if it existed everywhere?

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In defense of the Industrial-era model of education

I spent yesterday attending the Blue School’s fabulous Teaching Innovation conference, where everyone is rightly concerned with how to reimagine education for a changing world.

At a few different points, people spoke about how sad it was that we are working within a system that can’t do the sorts of things we now see are in the best interests of children: personalizing instruction, creating physical spaces that feel less institutional and more welcoming and respectful, and designing learning programs that help young people acquire the skills and dispositions that will be most useful to them as they negotiate their way through a world in which content knowledge is no longer the key to the kingdom — adaptability, compassion, and creativity are.

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The Difference Between Hannah Graham and Relisha Rudd

On March 1, eight-year-old D.C. resident Relisha Rudd disappeared. She was, according to news reports, homeless, hungry, and in the care of a man who likely killed her. The search for her body didn’t even begin until almost three weeks after she was last seen, and, after just one week and a dwindling number of tips, police effectively stopped looking.

On September 13, eighteen-year-old University of Virginia sophomore Hannah Graham disappeared. She was, according to Charlottesville police chief Timothy Longo, a “bright, intelligent, athletic, friendly, beautiful college student who’s been part of our community for the past two years.” Hours after she went missing, state emergency management officials launched a massive search effort that was fueled by more than 4,000 tips. A little more than a month later, her body was recovered.

What can possibly account for the dramatic differences in these two stories?

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In memory of Ted Sizer

Several years ago, as the director of the Forum for Education & Democracy, I was lucky enough to meet Ted Sizer. A lion in the field, Ted was warm, welcoming, and eager in both theory and practice to create space for a new person like me to join him in his life’s work.

Ted died five years ago today — too young, at 77. In 2011, I edited Faces of Learning: 50 Powerful Stories of Defining Moments in Education, to try and honor his work and the impact it had on my thinking. It was a book that stitched together 50 people’s stories of their most powerful learning experiences, and the final one to share was Ted’s.

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This is how intelligence works

Courtesy of Annie Murphy Paul. Good stuff for anyone interested in learning more about the brain and the social construction of intelligence (although does it still make sense to use IQ as a yardstick?).

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Has Oprah come to embody what’s wrong with modern American culture?

I’ve decided that if I were to pick one person who embodies the ersatz character of contemporary American cultural life, that person would be Oprah Winfrey.

Let me explain.

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Is it time for schools to rethink, well, time?

On a recent weekday morning in Washington D.C., several hundred teenagers hurriedly made their way through their high school’s hallways in a frantic effort to get to class on time.

I know – nothing new there. Except that in this particular school, the hallways had ubiquitous electronic clocks that measured time in bright red numerals down to the second, and these particular students had just three minutes to move from one class to another. “They had five minutes last year,” principal Caroline Hill told me, in between passionate exhortations for her students to keep moving. “And it was a complete waste of time.”

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The Singularity is Coming. What Should Schools Be Doing About It?

Whenever I want to get a feel for the national mood, I look to Hollywood – and the films it thinks we’ll pay to see. In the post-911 malaise, there was the dystopian world of The Dark Knight. In the era of extended male adolescence, there’s just about anything from Judd Apatow. And now, in the shadow of the Technological Singularity, there are a slew of movies about humankind’s desire to transcend the biological limits of body and brain.

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