Tag Archives: Learning

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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Energy or Entropy?

I spent the other morning in my son’s Montessori classroom. It’s a beautiful, old-school room with high ceilings, large windows and plenty of space, which is good because it’s filled each day with twenty-eight 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds. No small task.

I’ve been in Montessori classrooms before, yet I was still surprised when the day was never officially called to order. Instead the children took off their shoes, found some work (or not), and began their day in twenty-eight different ways while their two teachers, Ms. Luz and Ms. Allison, surfed in between them to check in and gauge where each child was at on that particular morning – hungry, happy, angry, sleepy.

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A Part of Us is Dying in Chicago

I can’t reconcile the deep sense of community that filmmakers Amy and Tom Valens have captured in their 10-part video series about a year in the life of a public school in Boston, with the painful public clashes we’re witnessing in Chicago – where 54 of the city’s schools will soon be shuttered.

Indeed, although the nation’s attention is fixed on the historic fight for marriage equality in the U.S. Supreme Court, a part of us is dying in the Windy City – and no one in the mainstream media seems to care.

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A Hole in the Wall, or Our Heads in the Cloud(s)?

There are two recent cultural inflection points you’d be wise to check out if you care about the future of education: the first is Sugata Mitra’s acceptance speech for receiving the TED Prize, in which he outlines his plan to “build a school in the cloud;” and the second is ed/tech writer Audrey Watters’ article warning of the potential consequences that could follow an uncritical acceptance of Mitra’s vision.

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