Tag Archives: freedom

OK, Obama Won. Now What?

It’s official. Barack Hussein Obama has been re-elected.

Now what?

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

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Should Schools be More or Less Democratic?

Like most parents of a young child, I’m trying to decide which environment will be the best for my son when he enters a public school for the first time next fall. At nearly every open house my wife and I attend, cheerful administrators and educators tout the advantage of being a “participatory” school, and of “giving children the opportunity to learn and work in groups.” Send your child here, they tell us, and he’ll acquire a core set of democratic skills – from working collaboratively to acting empathetically – that will help him successfully negotiate our increasingly interconnected global community.

Sounds great, I say – until I open my Sunday New York Times and read a cover story warning against the rise of a new type of groupthink. “Most of us now work in teams,” writes author Susan Cain, “in offices without walls, for managers who prize people skills above all. Lone geniuses are out. Collaboration is in. But there’s a problem with this view. Research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption.”

Whom should we trust? Have we overvalued democratic skills like collaboration and shared decision-making to our own detriment? And, in the end, should our schools be more or less democratic?

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Categories: Democracy, Learning

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The (Keynesian) Economics of School Choice

In the halls of Congress and on the presidential campaign trail, a debate is raging over which set of economic proposals to pursue in order to rebuild the national economy. At the same time, K-12 education reformers are engaged in their own frantic search for the right recipe(s) that can unlock the full power of teaching and learning. But rarely do we acknowledge that one individual stands, improbably, at the center of both debates – John Maynard Keynes.

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Categories: Assessment, Equity, Learning, Organizational Change

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The Three Most Important Questions in Education

It’s graduation season again – yet nobody seems to be celebrating.

On college campuses, graduates are entering an economy in which the stable career paths of yesteryear are disappearing – and the specialized job opportunities of tomorrow have yet to appear. And in communities across the country, parents and young people are left wondering what exactly those past four years of high school were in service of – and how much, if any, truly transformational learning occurred.

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Categories: Learning

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WorldBlu Live – What Would You Do If You Were Not Afraid?

In the early afternoon of the first day of WorldBlu live — a remarkable global gathering of people who share a commitment to organizational democracy — Menlo Innovations CEO Rich Sheridan shared the moment when he knew he was in trouble. “It was Take Your Daughter to Work Day,” he began, “and over dinner, I asked my daughter Sarah what she thought of the experience.

“You must be really important, Dad.”
“Why do you say that, Sarah?”
“Because no one can make a decision without you first giving the OK.”

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Categories: Learning

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BOOK TV Coverage of We Must Not Be Afraid to Be Free

This weekend, Book TV aired coverage of the March 19 discussion of my new book We Must Not Be Afraid to Be Free: Stories of Free Expression in America, which occurred as part of this year’s Virginia Festival of the Book. Aside from a few crowd shots, where it appears people are preparing to have […]

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Categories: Book Projects, Democracy, First Amendment

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In the Middle East & America, Nothing Left to Fear But . . . Freedom Itself

As waves of Arab protesters keep taking to the streets in countries across the Middle East, and as panels of Egyptian experts begin revisiting their country’s constitution in the wake of their country’s 18-day revolution, I want to take the infamous FDR line and give it a new ring: “The only thing we have to fear is . . . freedom itself.”

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Categories: Democracy, Organizational Change

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To Honor King, Embody Our Ideals

Today, Americans will pay tribute to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with school assemblies, community programs and — to the delight of students and adults alike — a national holiday. Yet few if any Americans, at this crucial time in our nation’s history, will directly connect King’s heroism and accomplishments to his faith in — and use of — our primary tools of democracy, the five freedoms of the First Amendment.

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Categories: Democracy, First Amendment, Leadership

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The Rally to Restore Sanity . . . Or Anoint a Magic Helper?

With Jon Stewart’s satirical/heretical/fantastical rally now just a few days away – and with memories of Glenn Beck’s own DC fiesta still a recent memory – I’ve been wondering what, if anything, these two cultural events have in common. As I do, I keep thinking about Erich Fromm’s 1941 classic Escape from Freedom, and how both men seem to be wrestling with the same tension Fromm explored in his psychological exploration of modern man – namely, our dialectical relationship with freedom itself, and what that relationship tells us about ourselves and the societies in which we live.

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Categories: Democracy, Leadership

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