Tag Archives: Mission Hill

(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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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 Tale of Two Schools

There are two current storytelling efforts about two different schools that, if you’re not careful, might feel like the American version of a tale of two cities.

In the first, a 10-part video narrative about a year in the life of the Mission Hill School in Boston, we’re treated to the best of times: a place where every children is known and cared for, where learning is experiential and engaging, and where the adults are both extremely skilled and highly collaborative.

In the second, a two-part This American Life series about a high school in Chicago, we’re given a glimpse of the worst of times: a place where 29 current or former students were shot the previous school year, where some students spend their entire high school careers avoiding social relationships out of safety, and where every member of the football team has dodged gunfire at least once in their young lives.

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How Do You Design a Healthy School?

What if every school used our founding principles as a nation as its design principles for learning? How would schools need to change? And what would we unleash as a result?

This is one of the riddles at the center of the 10-part video series, A Year at Mission Hill. And although we’re just two chapters in, I’m starting to see an early pattern – and a dialectical pair of design principles at the center of it all.

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Teacher Stories

This morning, I gave a keynote presentation at the 15th annual conference of the New Teacher Center. Thanks to the great work of some friends at Prezi, I tried to offer a visual contextual path for where we are, and where we need to go. That Prezi is now public. Take a look and see […]

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A Different Story About Public Education

I know we’re already one month into 2013, but think back to last year for a second: What were the most talked about education stories of 2012? I’m guessing your list looks something like this – Common Core. The Chicago Teacher Strike. Newtown. And what worries me is that no matter what other stories you […]

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The School of Our Dreams Might Actually Exist

Don’t believe me? See for yourself . . .

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Mission (Upon a) Hill

Here at the Mission Hill School, nestled amidst the labyrinthine side streets of Boston and alongside the usual din of sounds that fill a school’s hallways, an unusual revolution is taking place.

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