Tag Archives: Learning

Summer, once the time for reflection, now the time for radical redesign

Tanesha Dixon vividly remembers the first summer she spent as a teacher – as part of a service program in Uganda, just before her senior year at Notre Dame.

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Positively Deviant School Reform?

If you had six months, little to no resources, and a clear mandate to solve a chronic country-wide problem – knowing that, if you failed, you would be asked to leave that country altogether – what would you do?

I ask because this was precisely the challenge Save the Children was faced with, in Vietnam, in the early 1990s. And the way they succeeded has great relevance for those of us who continue to struggle with other intractable problems (like, say, comprehensive school reform).

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Sleepless in Seattle? My interview with the Seattle Times

First he was a private school teacher in New York City. Then, briefly, a public school teacher. After that, Sam Chaltain spent years studying schools across the country trying to determine what qualities were common to the very best.

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Want to Get Smarter? Be More Childlike.

Interesting piece on NPR this morning in which Shankra Vedantam reviews some of the recent research in neuroscience.

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What Do You Teach?

Last month, I gave a keynote address at the annual conference of the New Tech Network, and suggested that this seemingly innocuous question is one we might need to think more deeply about, and start to answer differently. The video was just released, so see for yourself:

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(Extra)Ordinary People

There’s an anecdote the Calhoun School’s Steve Nelson likes to share when he speaks to teachers and parents about the purpose of education. “We should think of our children as wildflower seeds in an unmarked package,” he says. “We can’t know what will emerge. All we can do is plant them in fertile soil, give them plenty of water and sunlight, and wait patiently to see the uniqueness of their beauty.”

At a time when too many students are still being planted in highly cultivated gardens – trimmed and pruned to resemble each other closely – it is incumbent upon all of us to stand on the side of the unmarked package. And at a time when we stray further and further from our democratic roots – from Chicago to DC – it is essential we heed the words of Mission Hill founder Deborah Meier, who reminds us that “democracy rests on having respect for the judgment of ordinary people.”

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This video captures the irony of the moment

Sigh . . .

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In American Schools, What is Quality Work?

For years now, I’ve been asking everybody I meet the same question: “When and where were you when you learned best?”

I’ve asked this question because so many of our national school reform efforts are not about learning at all; they’re about achievement, which has come to mean something quite apart from the stories people tell when you ask them to recall one of the most powerful experiences of their lives.

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This is what’s at the center of teaching & learning

Watch it — and imagine if every reform effort was primarily concerned with increasing the relational — as opposed to the computational — quality of a school community and the people who work and learn there.

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If you still doubt that the foundation for learning is emotional, not intellectual . . .

. . . you have some more reading to do. You might start with this article written by a public school principal in Maine. You could continue with a short summary of renowned psychologist (and Nobel Prize winner) Dan Kahneman’s research into how the mind actually works. Or if you wanted to consider a drastically different source, you can listen to Lupe Fiasco’s “He Say, She Say,” and read the lyrics (below) to hear one artist’s prescient insight into a larger problem plaguing his (and our) community, and standing in the way of deep, lasting systemic change in our schools.

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