Category Archives: Learning

The Neuroscience of Democracy

In the ideal educational future, is there a single design principle that matters most in establishing the optimal learning environment for children? That seems like a pretty important question to consider. And if you were to go by today’s leading reform strategies, you might conclude that the answer is, variably, greater accountability, better use of […]

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How do you design a great school (& a great system)?

Too often, when I look around at what passes for innovative practices or cutting-edge policy recommendations, I see something very different: I see us perfecting our ability to succeed in a system that no longer serves our interests. Two recent articles reinforce this point — and light a different path, one that will actually help […]

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This is what a great school looks like

Imagine if more places were as concerned with integration (as opposed to separation) as the fundamental design principle of a great learning environment?

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This is what young people are capable of

Who said youth is always wasted on the young? You Don’t Know Jack | Morgan Spurlock (SPANISH Subtitles) from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

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Are Charter Schools Helping Or Hurting Public Education?

I’d characterize this one as a pretty reasoned conversation about the issue — which is surprising, since it comes from Democracy Now, which is pretty clearly in one camp and not the other. I attribute that to Steve Barr bringing some nuance to the conversation. Still, listen to both sides, and judge for yourselves . […]

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In New York, A Tale of Two Cities (and Two Selves)

At the New Teacher Center conference a few years ago, I watched a master teacher model a great way to introduce students to new material. She projected a single image onto the screen in our conference room — it was Liberty Leading the People — and asked us a single question, over and over again: “What do you see?” Any observation (“I see a strong woman”) would prompt a second question from the instructor (“What’s your evidence?”). It was fun, and illuminating, and after ten minutes, based on nothing more than our own close observations, we were ready to study the French Revolution.

I was reminded of that workshop recently, when I saw someone on Twitter share the following picture:

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This is what it looks like when people become visible to each other for the first time

Imagine if, kissing aside, we were always so present with one another?

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Happiness is a warm laptop?

I can’t believe it took as long as it did for me to first hear about Ray Kurziwell’s idea of the Singularity — the moment when humankind and machines merge, forevermore. Then I started to watch those creepy DARPA videos about their latest research, and then I went and saw Spike Jonze’s remarkable film, Her. […]

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Something’s Happening Here . . .

In the span of a few weeks, all of DC seems to be abuzz with the prospect that our elected officials may actually try to ensure greater racial and socioeconomic equity in the city’s public schools — apple carts be damned. First, there was the Op-Ed two colleagues and I published in the Washington Post, […]

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Turning School Chance Into School Choice

There are a lot of smart people in Washington, D.C., and one of them is Evelyn Boyd Simmons.

A longtime D.C. resident, an effective parental advocate, and a firm believer in the unmatched promise of public education, Evelyn has a way of cutting to the quick on complicated, contentious issues. And so it was when in a recent conversation, she summarized the state of affairs in American public education with a clever turn of phrase.

“What people like to call school choice,” she said flatly, “is nothing more than clever marketing. What folks really have is school chance.”

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