Category Archives: Learning

This is what it means to engineer the ridiculous

It comes courtesy of my new friends in Memphis (who we’re working with to design a pretty remarkable new high school), and it captures everything I think we want school to embody: fun, teamwork, problem-solving, a culture of experimentation, productive failures, and soul-satisfying successes. How might we infuse every school in America with the spirit […]

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Categories: Design & Space, Learning

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The Beautiful Struggle

I’ve yet to meet a grown-up who, at some point, hasn’t felt a bit like a hamster in the wheel – spinning mindlessly towards some opaque goal, and for some abstract, poorly understood reason.

Life can feel that way sometimes.

So you can imagine my surprise when, while visiting a small public high school in the Excelsior neighborhood of San Francisco, I encountered a group of boys working on an indeterminate project out of plywood and a handsaw.

“What are you guys doing?” I asked.

“We’re building a human-sized hamster wheel,” they replied.

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Categories: Assessment, Democracy, Equity, Leadership, Learning, Teacher Quality, Voice

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For America’s Schools, Is This the Beginning of the End of Average?

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.

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Categories: Equity, Leadership, Learning

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Discipline in schools moves toward peacemaking

The first time he got in trouble, 7-year-old “Z” kicked his teacher — getting him into more trouble.

A few months later, shortly after his grandfather passed away, he kicked his teacher again.

In many schools across the country, where zero tolerance policies allow little wiggle room for understanding why a child may be misbehaving, Z would have been suspended, expelled, or even arrested.

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Categories: Equity, Learning, Organizational Change, Voice

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A Year of Wonder: What is the Future of Higher Ed?

It’s been the no-brainiest of no-brainers for as long as anyone can remember: If you’re a parent, and you have the means to do so, a mark of your commitment to your children is measured by the amount of money you’re able to sock away for their college education.

But what if it’s no longer true?

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Categories: Equity, Organizational Change

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Welcome to the “Era of Expeditioncy”

I spent the first half of this week in Memphis, Tennessee, working with a remarkable local group of educators, parents and developers (yes, developers) who are all dreaming big together as part of Crosstown Concourse, an ambitious effort to redesign a 1.5 million square foot former Sears warehouse into a vertical urban village of residents, retail outlets, non-profits, and — wait for it — an innovative public high school.

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Categories: Design & Space, Learning, Organizational Change

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Is this the future of learning?

It comes from the Fullerton (CA) School District, which has developed “epic storylines” and a gamification around core skills in order to make learning more technologically integrated, experiential, and fun. It also looks and feels very different from the sort of educational experiences almost anyone above a certain age has ever had. Is that a […]

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Categories: Assessment, Learning

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This is the end of education (& the future of learning)

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 . . .

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Categories: Democracy, Design & Space, Leadership, Learning, Organizational Change

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A Year of Wonder: The Neuroscience of Empathy

If a person wishes to wonder deeply about the world, which ingredient is more important – the person, or the world?

Until recently, our answer was clearly the latter.

For the great majority of our time on this planet, human beings have viewed the world almost entirely through the prism of “we,” not “me.” As foragers, we lived in unquestioning obedience to the unknowable marvels of the natural world. And in the earliest civilizations, we lived to serve the needs of our Gods in Heaven – and then, later on, their hand-chosen emissaries on Earth.

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Categories: Learning

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This is what every student could look like (and be)

Here’s the thing about me: I love schools. And I’m in them all the time. Lots of them, all over the country. So it’s safe to say that I am as aware as just about anyone what is out there when it comes to American educational options.

And yet here’s the other thing: I’m constantly hearing about new places doing great work — new to me, at least, because the folks there have been doing their thing for a long time — and whose approach to learning is precisely the sort of thing we should be hearing a lot more about.

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Categories: Equity, Learning

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