Category Archives: Voice

The Empathy Formula

For over a year now, I’ve been working with a remarkable group of people at Ashoka who believe empathy is the foundational skill we need in order to become effective changemakers in modern society — and who are bold (quixotic?) enough to envision a world in which one day, every child learns to master it as readily as s/he masters the ability to read and write.

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: Learning, Parenting, Voice

Tags: , , , ,

2 Comments

The World is Watching Chicago, Once Again

In 1968, student protesters stationed outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago broke into a spontaneous chant that quickly crystallized the tenor of the times: “The whole world is watching!”

It’s ironic, then, that one day after this year’s Democratic National Convention, rumors of a city-wide teacher strike in Chicago are reaching a similarly feverous pitch.

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: Democracy, Equity, Organizational Change, Teacher Quality, Voice

Tags: ,

Leave a comment

This is what student learning looks like

This movie was produced by five-year-olds as a culminating project for a study of butterflies and habitats. It’s worth noting that this happened at a first-year-school that had never done this sort of thing before. Just to underscore that this sort of thing is possible anywhere, as long as the community is committed to letting […]

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: Assessment, Learning, Voice

Tags: , ,

2 Comments

Empathy for a Killer?

As the bizarre courtroom faces of James Holmes start appearing in newspapers alongside the beautiful lost faces of the twelve people he murdered, I wonder: is it possible for feel empathy for a person capable of such senseless violence?

I think the answer is that it depends, and what it depends on is the larger story of James Holmes, and what that story tells us about this 24-year-old killer, and, by extension, ourselves.

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: Voice

Tags: , , , ,

1 Comment

Kid Whisperers

In theory, Buck is a documentary about horses, and a cinematic profile of the laconic cowboy who has learned to speak their silent animal language.

In fact, Buck is a film about the invisible line that connects being to being, and the ways that line can serve as either a tether or a bridge.

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: Learning, Parenting, Voice

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a comment

Education Inception

I just watched Christopher Nolan’s remarkable new movie Inception, a futuristic film about a group of people who, through a variety of means, plant a thought so deeply in the mind of one man that it grows naturally and becomes seen as his own. In the opening scene of the movie, protagonist Peter Cobb rhetorically asks the audience: “What’s the most resilient parasite? A bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? No. An idea. Resilient, highly contagious. Once an idea’s taken hold in the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. A person can cover it up, or ignore it – but it stays there.”

Cobb’s movie-based challenge is not unlike the reality-based one being faced by today’s advocates for public education reform – how to seed an idea so simple and powerful that it can mobilize public opinion, inspire policymakers, and improve the overall learning conditions for children. And yet after reading Michelle Rhee’s two newest efforts to launch her own form of “inception” – an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal and her organization’s inaugural policy agenda – I see further evidence of both her well-intentioned vision for massive educational reform, and her fundamental misunderstanding about the power of ideas.

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: Democracy, Leadership, Learning, Organizational Change, Voice

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a comment

Building Democratic Learning Communities

On July 28, I participated in a live web discussion about democratic learning communities with Classroom 2.0′s Steve Hargadon. It was an interesting and sometimes chaotic discussion. While Steve was asking me questions, participants from all over the globe were also typing questions and comments in a dialogue box. So please excuse my occasional flightiness […]

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: Democracy, Learning, Voice

Tags: , , ,

Leave a comment

How to Start a Movement

Find out all you need to know (well, maybe not all, but . . .) from this 3 minute video, courtesy of a TED talk by Derek Sivers.

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: Learning, Organizational Change, Voice

Tags: ,

1 Comment

Tribal Leadership, Chicago & Organizational Culture

I’m in Chicago this week attending the National Charter Schools Conference, and on the plane this morning I continued reading a book that was recommended to me last week by Zappos’ Tony Hsieh, called Tribal Leadership. It’s a fascinating book to be reading as we prepare to start a completely new school. And as someone […]

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: Leadership, Starting a School, Voice

Tags: , , , , , ,

3 Comments

Mr. President: Just Go With the Flow

A day after Landon Donovan’s dramatic game-winner in the World Cup, I find myself thinking about the unpredictable beauty of soccer — and the work I do in public education — in a different way. Click here to keep reading.

Continue reading…

Pin It
Categories: Learning, Voice

Tags: ,

Leave a comment
  • Read Sam’s Books