There’s an anecdote the Calhoun School’s Steve Nelson likes to share when he speaks to teachers and parents about the purpose of education. “We should think of our children as wildflower seeds in an unmarked package,” he says. “We can’t know what will emerge. All we can do is plant them in fertile soil, give them plenty of water and sunlight, and wait patiently to see the uniqueness of their beauty.”
At a time when too many students are still being planted in highly cultivated gardens – trimmed and pruned to resemble each other closely – it is incumbent upon all of us to stand on the side of the unmarked package. And at a time when we stray further and further from our democratic roots – from Chicago to DC – it is essential we heed the words of Mission Hill founder Deborah Meier, who reminds us that “democracy rests on having respect for the judgment of ordinary people.”
All this talk of Edward Snowden and the tension between freedom and security has reminded me that back in 2006, as part of a documentary history of First Amendment Rights in America, Section 215 of the Patriot Act was one of the book’s 37 primary sources.
I think what we wrote then has relevance now, but you, dear reader, will have the final word on that point. Enjoy –
While hardcore progressives and Tea Party activists continue cozying up to each other in a shared rejection of the Common Core, I have a radical proposal to make – and it might just be crazy enough to garner an equally eclectic coalition of support:
Let’s eliminate private schools altogether. Or, better yet, let’s make every school both public and private.
For years now, I’ve been asking everybody I meet the same question: “When and where were you when you learned best?”
I’ve asked this question because so many of our national school reform efforts are not about learning at all; they’re about achievement, which has come to mean something quite apart from the stories people tell when you ask them to recall one of the most powerful experiences of their lives.
Watch it — and imagine if every reform effort was primarily concerned with increasing the relational — as opposed to the computational — quality of a school community and the people who work and learn there.