Via Goethe: “I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate, it is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or instrument of inspiration. I […]
Category Archives: Leadership
Is the 2016 presidential election the beginning, or the end, of American civic life?
I say it’s both.
Pessimistically, one can say we are witnessing the end of civility, honesty, and empathy, and the beginning of the end of our two-centuries-long experiment in a quasi-functional representative democracy. Yet I believe what this election must provide, no matter who wins on Tuesday, is a wakeup call from our collective somnambulism, and a call to confront the Brave New World we have already begun to enter – a world in which we can disappear into virtual realities of our own imagining, and therefore one in which our ability to be more conscious (of ourselves, our surroundings, and the invisible systems that hold us prisoner) must become the lingua franca of a renewed civic order.
I know, I know — we can do better, and public education in America is in need of a makeover. We’re in the midst of the biggest shifts to how we think about teaching and learning in more than a century, and some of us are a little slower on the uptick. I get it. […]
One year, early in my teaching career, I got reprimanded for giving too many “A’s.”
“You can’t give everyone the same grade,” I was instructed. “Give a few A’s and F’s, and a lot of B’s and C’s. Otherwise, everyone will know that your class is either too easy or too hard.”
This was unremarkable advice; indeed, it was as close to the educational Gospel as you could find. It was human nature in action.
And, according to a new book, it was completely wrong.
Or, more specifically, this is a video about a conversation of those issues. It features yours truly, but also Jaime Casap, the head of education at Google, and a number of other great educators in both K-12 and higher ed. Check it out, and see what it ignites in your own thinking . . .
St. George’s School in England was a failing school — filled with children who were struggling in their lives and whose school was a reflection of that chaotic state of being. Today, it’s one of the top 2% nationally. If you wonder how such a change could be brought about, take a look at this […]
Increasingly, I’m hearing a question that drives me crazy: “Are you for or against charter schools?”
There can only be one legitimate answer to that question: It depends.
Are you speaking of the situation in Michigan, in which four out of five charter school operators are for-profit entities? Or the overall tendency for charters to be even more segregated than their public school neighbors? Or the reluctance by some charter leaders to hold themselves to the same standards of transparency and openness as traditional public schools?
If so, thumbs down.
But if you’re talking about places like Baltimore, where all charter school teachers are unionized (and the charters themselves are almost all locally conceived and teacher-led), or if you’re pointing to the growing movement among some charters to intentionally enroll and serve integrated student bodies – by way of the National Coalition of Diverse Charter Schools – the picture takes a very different shape.
And then there’s what’s happening with Summit Basecamp – a new sort of partnership between charters and traditional public schools that may very well offer the best evidence so far of what Al Shanker first called for back in 1988, when he imagined a new kind of school in which teachers could experiment with different ways of reaching students, and then inject that wisdom back throughout the public school system.
What makes a mind come alive?
How can one community impact every child?
What do schools need to be changing from, and to?
And how can states set the conditions for lasting change?
In theory, these questions have always mattered. In reality, they are about to matter a lot more now that the United States Congress is poised to reauthorize its central education policy for the first time in thirteen years – and usher in an era of state authority on everything from school accountability to teacher education policies.
Now that the balance of power is shifting back towards the states, what should they do with it?