Several years ago, as the director of the Forum for Education & Democracy, I was lucky enough to meet Ted Sizer. A lion in the field, Ted was warm, welcoming, and eager in both theory and practice to create space for a new person like me to join him in his life’s work.
Ted died five years ago today — too young, at 77. In 2011, I edited Faces of Learning: 50 Powerful Stories of Defining Moments in Education, to try and honor his work and the impact it had on my thinking. It was a book that stitched together 50 people’s stories of their most powerful learning experiences, and the final one to share was Ted’s.
It’s hard not to feel excited for the group of parents who successfully took over their California community’s school, and who now are dreaming of bigger things. “Our children will now get the education they deserve,” said Doreen Diaz, whose daughter attends Desert Trails Elementary in Adelanto. “We are on the way to making a quality school for them, and there’s no way we will back down.”
It’s equally hard to feel confident that this story will have the ending Ms. Diaz and others envision.
It wasn’t until the end of her tragically short life that Thea Leopolous first discovered the depth of her talent as an artist.
A buoyant, beautiful girl with dark eyebrows and sharp brown eyes, Thea spent her childhood believing the experts who first told her, back in third grade, she was unworthy of acceptance to the local program for “gifted and talented” children. Since then, Thea had struggled in her coursework and felt uninspired by a stream of classes that focused too much on academics, and not enough on other forms of learning, like the arts.
Then, in her junior year of high school, she produced a finger-painted portrait of B.B. King and removed any doubt of whether or not she was talented. Soon after, her capacity to excel in every area of her life changed dramatically. She had discovered a new source of confidence and calm. She had found her path.
A few months later, she was killed by a drunk driver.
As part of the Faces of Learning campaign, WAMU 88.5FM is producing weekly radio stories in which different people recount their most powerful learning experiences. This week’s story comes from Susan Oliver, who remembers the influence of Ms. Juanita Cooke, and the discovery of a hidden talent. Take a listen here.
A little over a month ago, I spent a few days on the campus of High Tech High School (HTH), a remarkable network of schools in San Diego that are, simply, among the best examples of public education our country has to offer.
As accusations fly back and forth over the reported DC cheating scandal – the latest in a series of battles between America’s two dominant Edu-Tribes – I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we stopped spending so much time focusing on what is broken or who is to blame, and started focusing instead on how people learn, and how we can create better learning environments for everyone?
, Organizational Change
Tags: Edu-Tribes, Events, Faces of Learning, kim carter, Labor Law, Learner Sketch, Learning, michelle rhee, movement, QED Foundation, stories, waiting for superman, Wisconsin
On March 4, during an appearance in Miami with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, President Obama announced he will spend the month of March conducting a listening tour across the country, and “talking to parents and students and educators about what we need to do to achieve reform, promote responsibility, and deliver results when it comes to education.”
I think it’s a great idea – and the clock is ticking. So without further delay, I’d like to recommend three core questions Mr. Obama should ask at every stop:
Tags: Arne Duncan, barack obama, challenging, engaging, experiential, Faces of Learning, how people learn, ideal learning environment, Learning, relevant, supportive, test scores
First off, thanks are in order to everyone who has weighed in — either here or on Facebook — to offer such useful feedback on our ongoing search for a title to the forthcoming book of 50 learning stories. Yesterday, I had a long meeting with the publisher’s marketing folks, and when I explained to […]