robertogreco + deborahmeier   37

The Education Debates — davidcayley.com
"Sometime in the 1990's I received a long letter from a teacher named Alex Lawson, asking me to consider doing an Ideas series on the state of education. The letter impressed me by its sincerity, and by the sense of urgency its author clearly felt, but I found the idea somewhat daunting. The subject inspires such endless controversy, and such passion, that I could immediately picture the brickbats flying by my ears. I also worried that my views were too remote from the mainstream to allow me to treat the subject fairly. My three younger children, to that point, had not attended school, and my reading and inclination had made me more interested in de-schooling than in the issues then vexing the school and university systems, which I tended to see as artefacts of obsolete structures. Nevertheless Alex and I kept in touch, and I gradually became able to pictures the pathways such a series might open up. Thinking of it as a set of "debates" or discussions, without getting too stuck on a tediously pro and con dialectical structure, allowed me to reach out very widely and include the heretics with the believers. The series was broadcast, in fifteen parts, 1998 and 1999. I re-listened to it recently, and I think it holds me pretty well. There are a few anachronisms, but my dominant impression was plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. Alex Lawson, whose ardour and persistence inspired the whole thing, appears in the third programme of the set. De-schooling gets its day in programmes seven through nine.

This series Inspired a letter I have never forgotten, from a retired military man in rural New Brunswick, who wrote to me afterwards that I had "performed a noble service for our country." I was touched, not only that he saw nobility in what I had done, but that he could see that I had attempted to open up the question of education and provide a curiculum for its study rather than trying to foreclose or settle it.

The series had a large cast of characters whom I have listed below.

Part One, The Demand for Reform: Sarah Martin, Maureen Somers, Jack Granatstein, Andrew Nikiforuk, Heather Jane Robertson
[embedded in this post]

Part Two, A New Curriculum: E.D. Hirsch, Neil Postman
[http://www.davidcayley.com/podcasts/2016/11/12/the-education-debates-part-two ]

Part Three, Don’t Shoot the Teacher: Alex Lawson, Daniel Ferri, Andy Hargreaves
[http://www.davidcayley.com/podcasts/2016/11/12/the-education-debates-part-three ]

Part Four, School Reform in the U.S.: Deborah Meier, Ted Sizer
[http://www.davidcayley.com/podcasts/2016/11/12/the-education-debates-part-four ]

Part Five, Reading in an Electronic Age, Carl Bereiter, Deborrah Howes, Frank Smith, David Solway
[http://www.davidcayley.com/podcasts/2016/11/12/the-education-debates-part-five ]

Part Six, Schooling and Technology: Bob Davis, Marita Moll, Carl Bereiter
[http://www.davidcayley.com/podcasts/2016/11/12/the-education-debates-part-six ]

Part Seven, Deschooling Society: Paul Goodman, Ivan Illich, John Holt
[http://www.davidcayley.com/podcasts/2016/11/12/the-education-debates-part-seven ]

Part Eight, Deschooling Today: John Holt, Susannah Sheffer, Chris Mercogliano
[http://www.davidcayley.com/podcasts/2016/11/12/the-education-debates-part-eight ]

Part Nine, Dumbing Us Down: Frank Smith, John Taylor Gatto
[http://www.davidcayley.com/podcasts/2016/11/12/the-education-debates-part-nine ]

Part Ten, Virtues or Values: Edward Andrew, Peter Emberley, Iain Benson
[http://www.davidcayley.com/podcasts/2016/11/12/the-education-debates-part-ten ]

Part Eleven, Common Culture, Multi-Culture: Charles Taylor, Bernie Farber, Bob Davis
[http://www.davidcayley.com/podcasts/2016/11/12/the-education-debates-part-eleven ]

Part Twelve, The Case for School Choice: Mark Holmes, Adrian Guldemond, Joe Nathan, Andy Hargreaves, Heather Jane Robertson
[http://www.davidcayley.com/podcasts/2016/11/12/the-education-debates-part-twelve ]

Part Thirteen, Trials of the University: Jack Granatstein, Paul Axelrod, Michael Higgins, Peter Emberley
[http://www.davidcayley.com/podcasts/2016/11/12/the-education-debates-part-thirteen ]

Part Fourteen, On Liberal Studies: Clifford Orwin, Leah Bradshaw, Peter Emberley
[http://www.davidcayley.com/podcasts/2016/11/2/the-education-debates-part-fourteen ]

Part Fifteen, Teaching the Conflicts: Martha Nussbaum, Gerald Graff"
[http://www.davidcayley.com/podcasts/2016/11/2/the-education-debates-part-fifteen ]

[find them here too: http://www.davidcayley.com/podcasts/?category=Education+Debates ]
education  learning  schooling  schools  paulgoodman  ivanillich  johnholt  johntaylorgatto  marthanussbaum  geraldgraff  peteremberley  cliffordorwin  dvidcayley  teaching  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  compulsory  tedsizer  deborahmeier  edhirsch  alexlawson  danielferri  ndyhargreaves  davidsolway  franksmith  deborrahhowes  carlbereiter  bobdavis  maritamoll  institutions  institutionalization  radicalism  susannahsheffer  chrismercogliano  edwardandrew  iainbenson  berniefarber  charlestaylor  markholmes  adrianguldemond  joenathan  andyhargreaves  heatherjanerobertson  highered  highereducation  leahbradshaw  sarahmartin  maureensomers  jackgranatstein  andrewnikiforuk  technology  edtech 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Small Schools: The Edu-Reform Failure That Wasn't - Education Week
[paywalled, available in PDF here: http://www.holycross.edu/sites/default/files/files/education/jschneider/small_schools_commentary.pdf ]

"But were small schools really the problem? A decade later, we have fairly robust evidence suggesting otherwise. A 2014 study by the nonpartisan research organization MDRC, for instance, found that graduation rates in New York City improved by 9.5 percent at small schools, with effects across every student group—a tremendous increase that also led to higher college enrollments. Another study, by a team at Northwestern University's Institute for Policy Research, found similar increases in high school graduation rates in Chicago's public schools, despite the fact that small schools generally served a more disadvantaged population in the city.

As it turns out, small schools do exactly what you might expect. Smallness can create more opportunities for young people to be known, both by one another and by the adults in the building. The relative intimacy of small schools can foster trusting, caring, and attentive relationships. Deborah Meier, the godmother of the small-schools movement, consistently made this argument in the 1980s and 1990s when explaining the importance of size. As she put it in a 1989 op-ed essay, small schools offer young people better opportunities to learn forms of participation" necessary to becoming a member of a democratic society." But they are, at best, only one piece of a complex puzzle. And early proponents of small schools were clear about that. As Meier, who also writes an opinion blog for Education Week, prudently observed: "Small schools are not the answer, but without them none of the proposed answers stand a chance.""
small  slow  smallschools  education  educationreform  edreform  2016  via:lukeneff  jackschneider  deborahmeier  smallness  reform  schools  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Democracy and the common good | Deborah Meier on Education
"I am taking note of all the ways we are privatizing our society and abandoning our belief in democracy, the “common good”, the public space, call it what you will. The New York Times (Nov 2nd) had a front page headline on the “Privatization of the Justice System.” We have always known it helps sway the judge and jury if you are rich, have top lawyers, etc. But this is about the many areas in which people often unwittingly agree to give up their right to ever see a judge and jury if they have a grievance, but are forced to use private arbitrators and cannot sign on to any class-action suit.

The more egalitarian our definition of citizenship the more concern there is by some about the “idea” of one person, one vote. Too many of the choices the privatizers are now suggesting open up more possibilities for some than others. The choice of going to a private school with a voucher is not actually a choice if you haven’t the means to pay the difference or aren’t “chosen.” Yes, you have a choice of cars to buy…but. The data I have read about the number of poor people who do not have the choice of a lawyer to represent their interests. No surprise: some choices cost a lot ore than others.

The idea of democracy comes out of an idea of the “common good”—a way to hold rulers accountable to all. However who belonged to that “all” was not everyone. Sometimes it was, in fact, a very small proportion of the entire population. But it assumed that among those who had full citizenship there was good reason to have considerable trust. It assumed that most citizens had their peers interest at heart, even if they interpreted it differently. It assumed free speech, free assembly, and mutual respect— win some, lose some. It was an answer to royal inherited power—instead “the people” had the power. When we expanded full citizenship to include men without property, women, former slaves, etc. it naturally become harder to identity what our “common interests” were. Some “wins” seemed too dangerous to those with more power to let free choice play itself out. It was not obvious to some parents, for example, that “their” precious child was of equal interest to those who determined school policy.

That is what we are struggling with these days in school “reform”—and it will not be easily solved in a society that holds private space as more precious than public space, especially when some have a lot more private space than others have, in the order of thousands of times more."
deborahmeier  2015  society  democracy  commongood  public  publicspace  publicgood  citizenship  civics  commoninterests  individualism  privatization  capitalism 
november 2015 by robertogreco
All Aboard the LeaderShip - Alfie Kohn
"If you’re going to lead a school or other organization, it might be smart to give some thought to what it means to be a good leader. But that fact doesn’t explain why some schools proudly announce that they train their students — every last one of them — in the art of leadership. What’s up with that?

I’d suggest three possible explanations. The first is that leadership, like a lot of other terms that show up in mission statements (transformational, responsible, good citizens, 21st-century as an adjective), is just a rhetorical flourish — something we’re not supposed to think about too carefully. No one is likely to stand up and say, “Hey, wait just a minute! Exactly which characteristics does this school regard as admirable in the 21st century that it didn’t value in, say, 1995?”

Similarly, you’re not expected to ask how it’s possible for everyone to be a leader. You’re just supposed to smile and nod. Leadership good.

Possibility number 2 is that the term does have a specific meaning — a meaning that’s actually rather disturbing in this context. “When colleges promise to make their students leaders, they’re telling them they’re going to be in charge,” William Deresiewicz wrote in the September issue of Harper’s magazine. In fact, that pact with the privileged begins well before college. The message, if made explicit, would sound something like this: “No, of course everyone can’t be a leader. The elite are far more likely to attain that status. So buy your kids an education here and we’ll equip them to be part of that elite.”[1]

It’s a shrewd selling point for a selective school, granted. And it explains why, as someone observed recently, you don’t find many institutions that refer to themselves as “followership academies.”

The relatively benign word leadership may be a way to mute the objectionable implications of grooming certain students to run the world. It’s not unlike how adults try to make themselves feel better about punishing children by referring to what they’re doing as “imposing a consequence.”

*

When I mused about this issue on Twitter a few weeks ago, wondering whether appeals to leadership implicitly endorsed a competitive hierarchy, my post produced a bushel of responses that made me consider possibility number 3: Maybe leadership, like a lot of other words, just means whatever the hell you want it to mean.

One person pointed me to a website about being a “servant/leader” — a phrase with religious roots, I discovered. The site, which had the feel of a late-night TV commercial, offered materials to promote both “personal development” and an “entrepreneurial mindset.”

Here, reproduced verbatim, are a few of the other replies I received:

* Leadership requires that we lead ourselves first. Part of being a great leader is being a good follower too

* Students can lead in 4 directions- leading up, leading peers, leading down, and leading self

* Everyone can be a leader, everyone can be a servant, and everyone can treat others w/ respect

* Some leadership actually comes from the followers within a group

* Lead from YOUR passion. All can.

* [I] always interpreted “teaching leadership” to mean recognizing/owning our gifts & challenges, and learning what we can do with them

One reasonable reaction to all these declarations would be: “Huh?” The dictionary says a leader is “one who is in charge or command of others.” The leader’s style doesn’t have to be (and ideally wouldn’t be) heavy-handed or authoritarian. But that doesn’t mean the word can be redefined to signify anything we choose, such that the inherent power differential between leaders and followers is magically erased. To deny that feature, or to claim that leadership can refer to being a good follower, stretches the word beyond all usefulness. Likewise for the blithe reassurance that everyone can be a leader, which recalls Debbie Meier’s marvelous analogy: It’s like telling children to line up for lunch, then adding, “And I want all of you to be in the front half of the line!”

In a political context, it makes sense to discuss how to prevent leaders from abusing their power. But if our focus is on education or child rearing, then I’m not sure why we’re promoting a hierarchical arrangement. And teaching kids to “follow as well as lead” doesn’t address this concern any more than the harm caused by having a punitive parent is rectified by having another parent who’s permissive.

It’s fine to hope that those children who do eventually end up in leadership positions will act with kindness and skill. But, again, why frame education in these terms? Why not promote characteristics that apply to everyone (just by virtue of being human) and are relevant to children as well as adults: compassion, skepticism, self-awareness, curiosity, and so on? Why not emphasize the value of being part of a well-functioning team, of treating everyone with respect within a model that’s fundamentally collaborative and democratic? At best, a focus on leadership distracts us from helping people decide things together; at worst, it inures us to a social order that consists of those who tell and those who are told.

*

Alongside my substantive objection to an emphasis on leadership (as the word is actually defined) I will confess to some irritation with the more general tendency to be unconstrained by how words are actually defined. This temptation presents itself with respect to all sorts of terms, and even people with admirable views give in to it. Faced with an objection to a certain idea or practice, the response is likely to be, in effect, “No, no. I use that label to mean only good things.”

Thus: “I reject your criticisms of the flipped classroom [making students watch lecture videos as homework and do what’s more commonly assigned as homework during class] because when I talk about flipped classrooms, I mean those that include wonderful student-designed projects.”

Or: “Why would someone who’s progressive raise concerns about the idea of a growth mindset [attributing outcomes to effort rather than to fixed ability]? The way I use that term, it includes a rejection of grades and other traditional pedagogical practices.”[2]

We’ve disappeared through the looking glass here, finding ourselves in a reality where, as Lewis Carroll had Humpty Dumpty put it, “a word…means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”[3] Like Carroll, I think it’s fine to argue that x is consistent with things you already like (if you can defend that proposition), but it’s not fine to defend x by redefining it however you see fit.

After all, that’s something a good leader would never permit."
alfiekohn  leadership  education  howweteach  schools  williamderesiewicz  skepticism  power  elitism  buzzwords  missionstatements  2015  deborahmeier  compassion  self-awareness  curiosity  democracy  collaboration  society  selfishness  language  lewiscarroll  growthmindset  flippedclassroom  pedagogy  whatweteach  words  kindness  consensus  hierarchy  horizontality  competition 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Cheerful to a Fault: “Positive” Practices with Negative Implications - Alfie Kohn
"We live in a smiley-face, keep-your-chin-up, look-on-the-bright-side culture. At the risk of being labeled a professional party pooper, I’d like to suggest that accentuating the positive isn’t always a wise course of action where children are concerned. I say that not because I’ve joined the conservative chorus whose refrain is that kids today have it too damn easy and ought to be made to experience more failure (and show more “grit”).[1] Rather, my point is that some things that sound positive and upbeat turn out not to be particularly constructive.

1. Praise. The most salient feature of a positive judgment is not that it’s positive but that it’s a judgment. And in the long run, people rarely thrive as a result of being judged. Praise is the mirror image of criticism, not its opposite. Both are ways of doing things to kids as opposed to working with them. Verbal rewards are often more about manipulating than encouraging — a form of sugar-coated control. The main practical effect of offering a reward, whether it’s tangible, symbolic, or verbal, is to provide a source of extrinsic motivation (for example, trying to please the rewarder), and this, according to a considerable body of research, tends to undermine intrinsic motivation (a commitment to the activity or value itself).

While “Good job!” may seem like a supportive thing to say, that support is actually made conditional on the child’s doing what we ask or impressing us. What kids most need from adults, apart from nonjudgmental feedback and guidance, is unconditional support: the antithesis of a patronizing pat on the head for having jumped through our hoops. The solution, therefore, isn’t as simple as praising children’s effort instead of their ability, because the problem isn’t a function of what’s being praised — or, for that matter, how often praise is offered — but of praise itself.[2]

2. Automatic reassurance. Deborah Meier once remarked that if a child says one of her classmates doesn’t like her,
we need to resist reassuring her that it’s not true and getting the classmate to confirm it; then we must ask ourselves what has led to this idea. Probably there is truth to the cry for help, and our refusal to admit it may simply lead the child to hide her hurt more deeply. Do we do too much reassuring – ‘It doesn’t hurt,’ ‘It’ll be okay’ – and not enough exploring, joining with the child’s queries, fears, thoughts?[3]

A reflexive tendency to say soothing things to children in distress may simply communicate that we’re not really listening to them. Perhaps we’re offering reassurance more because that’s what we need to say than because it’s what they need to hear.

3. Happiness as the primary goal. How can we help children grow up to be happy? That’s an important question, but here’s another one: How can we help children grow up to be concerned about whether other people are happy? We don’t want our kids to end up as perpetually miserable social activists, but neither should we root for them to become so focused on their own well-being that they’re indifferent to other people’s suffering. Happiness isn’t a good thing if it’s purchased at the price of being unreflective, complacent, or self-absorbed.

Moreover, as the psychologist Ed Deci reminds us, anger and sadness are sometimes appropriate responses to things that happen to us (and around us). “When people want only happiness, they can actually undermine their own development,” he said, “because the quest for happiness can lead them to suppress other aspects of their experience. . . .The true meaning of being alive is not just to feel happy, but to experience the full range of human emotions.”[4]

*

And here are four specific cheerful-sounding utterances or slogans that I believe also merit our skepticism:

4. “High(er) expectations.” This phrase, typically heard in discussions about educating low-income or minority students, issues from policy makers with all the thoughtfulness of a sneeze. It derives most of its appeal from a simplistic contrast with low expectations, which obviously no one prefers. But we need to ask some basic questions: Are expectations being raised to the point that students are more demoralized than empowered? Are these expectations being imposed on students rather than developed with them? And most fundamentally: High expectations to do what, exactly? Produce impressive scores on unimpressive tests?

The school reform movement driven by slogans such as “tougher standards,” “accountability,” and “raising the bar” arguably lowers meaningful expectations insofar as it relies on dubious indicators of progress — thereby perpetuating a “bunch o’ facts” model of learning. Expecting poor children to fill in worksheets more accurately just causes them to fall farther behind affluent kids who are offered a more thoughtful curriculum. Indeed, as one study found, such traditional instruction may be associated with lower expectations on the part of their teachers.[5]

5. “Ooh, you’re so close!” (in response to a student’s incorrect answer). My objection here is not, as traditionalists might complain, that we’re failing to demand absolute accuracy. Quite the contrary. The problem is that we’re more focused on getting students to produce right answers than on their understanding of what they’re doing. Even in math, one student’s right answer may not signify the same thing as another’s. The same is true of two wrong answers. A student’s response may have been only one digit off from the correct one, but she may have gotten there by luck (in which case she wasn’t really “close” in a way that matters). Conversely, a student who’s off by an order of magnitude may grasp the underlying principle but have made a simple calculation error.

6. “If you work hard, I’m sure you’ll get a better grade next time.” Again, we may have intended to be encouraging, but the actual message is that what matters in this classroom isn’t learning but performance. It’s not about what kids are doing but how well they’re doing it. Decades’ worth of research has shown that these two emphases tend to pull in opposite directions. Thus, the relevant distinction isn’t between a good grade and a bad grade; it’s leading kids to focus on grades versus inviting them to engage with ideas.

Similarly, if we become preoccupied with effort as opposed to ability as the primary determinant of high marks, we miss the crucial fact that marks are inherently destructive. Like demands to “raise expectations,” a growth mindset isn’t a magic wand. In fact, it can distract us from the harmfulness of certain goals — and of certain ways of teaching and assessing — by suggesting that more effort, like more rigor, is all that’s really needed. Not only is it not sufficient; when the outcome is misconceived, it isn’t even always desirable.[6]

7. “Only Positive Attitudes Allowed Beyond This Point.” I’ve come across this poster slogan in a number of schools, and each time I see it, my heart sinks. Its effect isn’t to create a positive atmosphere but to serve notice that the expression of negative feelings is prohibited: “Have a nice day . . . or else.” It’s a sentiment that’s informative mostly for what it tells us about the needs of the person who put up the poster. It might as well say “My Mental Health Is So Precarious That I Need All of You to Pretend You’re Happy.”

Kids don’t require a classroom that’s relentlessly upbeat; they require a place where it’s safe to express whatever they’re feeling, even if at the moment that happens to be sadness or fear or anger. Bad feelings don’t vanish in an environment of mandatory cheer — they just get swept under the rug where people end up tripping over them, so to speak. Furthermore, students’ “negativity” may be an entirely apt response to an unfair rule, an authoritarian environment, or a series of tasks that seem pointless. To focus on students’ emotions in order to manufacture a positive climate (or in the name of promoting “self-regulation” skills) is to pretend that the problem lies exclusively with their responses rather than with what we may have done that elicited them.[7]"

[Also posted here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/07/14/things-we-say-to-kids-that-sound-positive-but-can-be-detrimental/ ]
alfiekohn  education  listening  howweteach  teaching  pedagogy  praise  reassurance  happiness  reflection  expectations  grades  grading  effort  attitudes  positivity  behavior  manipulation  criticism  judgement  feedback  constructivecriticism  support  schools  selflessness  kindness  tests  testing  standardizedtesting  accuracy  deborahmeier 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Can Schools Act as a Force Against Racism? (Deb Meier)
"Can schools act as a force against racism? Truly, I don't know for sure. But if they could, it wouldn't primarily be because of the official curriculum offered. Of course, knowing the truth might help. But we ignore most of what we "learn" in school if it doesn't lead us into a different path of living, experiencing, knowing in an everyday sense. That's why we can learn science without it penetrating our daily observations. The old truth will do for the moment. The Sun does appear to rise each morning."
schools  hierarchy  race  power  opinion  deborahmeier  2014  curriculum  education  democracy  racism  experience  change  changemaking  via:Taryn 
december 2014 by robertogreco
An Education Spring in Our Step: Reflections on the #NPEconference | Chris Thinnes (@CurtisCFEE)
"2. ACTIVE LISTENING AND SELF-AWARENESS

… I have, for some time, been deliberately studying the ways that white men – particularly those vested with authoritative roles and rights that extend even beyond their white privilege, and their male privilege — understand their presence and their impact in conversational dynamics and in space. I do this purposefully in an effort to explore – sometimes helpfully, and sometimes ham-handedly – my own identity, responsibility, and opportunity as a white man, as a school leader, as a parent, as a partner, as a friend, and as a citizen. Sometimes this presents itself in relatively banal and mundane examples worth noting – the dude last night in the movie theater, for example, who splayed his arms across the armrests on both sides of his seat, stared over at my phone before the movie started to take a peek at my twitter stream, and offered his audible commentary to his friend throughout the coming attractions. And sometimes this presents itself in profound examples of people who understand the significance and symbolism of the space they occupy, the meaning of the boundaries they presume to cross, and the impact of the things they say on others.

Recently at the Project Zero conference in Memphis, I was struck by the example of Rod Rock, Superintendent of Clarkston Community Schools, who was only too content to support the leadership of a principal who co-facilitated their workshop, and the learning of participants who’d gathered to exchange their ideas, by listening. “Listening” sounds simple, and innocuous enough, but what I’m talking about is a kind of active listening that intentionally elevates the contributions of others above the inclination to influence, to alter, or to question those contributions. The kind of listening that doesn’t respond to the notes that people play as good chords, or as bad chords, but simply as unexpected chords. We do not often see that in our leaders.

And yet I saw this regularly in the dispositions, behaviors, and actions of leaders at the NPE conference – men and women, white folks and people of color, ‘management’ and ‘labor,’ young and old. And the personal preoccupation I described with white male identity drew me emphatically to the examples of white men in leadership roles who the defy prevailing examples of white men in leadership roles. In the same spirit as my example above, I offer this image of Principal Peter DeWitt and Superintendent John Kuhn, alongside co-panelist and Superintendent H.T. Sánchez:

[photo]

I was taken by the purposeful efforts they made – at this instant, and in many others like it over the course of our time in Austin — to really hear and to honor the contributions of others; the authenticity of their responses to questions, even and especially when they presented them with a challenge; their willingness to take steps back in order that others might take steps forward; and their seeming preference to defer to the insight and experience of others, in order that they might learn themselves. Imagine what could happen – in and among our schools, and in the public discourse about them – if our extended conversations and collective decision-making were framed by such an ethos.

3. FACILITATION AS ACTIVE INCLUSION

Naturally our capacity – in the immediate relationships of our personal and professional lives, and the collective dynamics of a shared effort to support all our nation’s children – depends on more than our resistance or repudiation of dynamics that limit teacher, students, and parent voice. We need urgently to challenge the dynamics of hierarchy, prestige, and privilege that have seemingly determined who should have the most influential voices in a national conversation, and we need actively to recognize and to challenge our own dispositions to marginalizing the input of others who may not share, or who may not have a space to share, their views.

But we also need to make active, purposeful, intentional, conspicuous, and fierce efforts to create a space for other people and ideas. We need to develop active facilitation and inclusion skills alongside those interruption and resistance skills with which we may be more practiced.

To that end, words cannot describe the influence on me of Jose Vilson’s example. There’s a lot that has inspired me in Jose’s work, and a lot that has made me dig deeper in the healthiest kinds of ways, over the time I’ve been familiar with him. But at the NPE conference I got to see him do his thing in a real-life situation for the first time. In the first case, I watched him quietly, respectfully, and clearly create and protect a safe and productive space for the contributions of exceptional student leaders:

[photo]

He did so not just by lauding the efforts of these brave young activists, but by creating a structure of adult participation that limited our inclination — no matter how noble or well-meaning our intentions might be — to steer or shape the conversation. He did so by noticing the impact of our responses (applause, silence, commentary) on the dynamics of the conversation, and by providing subtle cues to adults that helped us co-create an inclusive space. He did so by gently and respectfully pushing two student participants’ thinking further – not at all to question or to critique that thinking, but to lure these students’ wisdom past the threshold of their nerves, and to give their insights the wings of words that might carry us all further forward in our recognition, support, and deference to authentic student voice in the months and years to come.

He did it again during a Common Core panel with several other extraordinary participants, but in a different way. In that context, he managed to create a space for voices and dynamics who are rarely present in such conversations — either about the ‘standards,’ or the high-stakes testing and evaluation schemes with which they are inextricably intertwined. Jose insisted, through his words and through his example, that we examine the implications and impact of education policy and politics through the lens of race and ethnicity; that we deconstruct and challenge the facile assertions of some policymakers and pundits that they are fighting for “the civil rights issue of our time;” and that we recognize and honor the many, many thousands who won’t have a seat at a table until and unless we demand and create a shared, inclusive, respectful, and honest Common Conversation."
christhinnes  npeconference  20145  listening  activelistening  race  self-awareness  power  leadership  servantleadership  inclusion  facilitation  diversity  activism  inclusivity  relationallearning  learning  conversation  hierarchy  hierarchies  relationaldynamics  peterdewitt  deborahmeier  anthonycody  leoniehaimson  dianeravitch  petergow  commoncore  karenlewis  relationships  community  johnkuhn  education  policy  josévilson  inlcusivity 
march 2014 by robertogreco
We 'Choose' for Poor Children Every Day - Bridging Differences - Education Week
"You challenge me: "What gives you confidence that we get to choose?" You insist that "I don't pretend for a second that I get to choose. At least not for other people's children."

But in fact you/we are choosing, every day. In acts small and big, from deciding small classes don't matter, to deciding to gentrify Manhattan. The people of Harlem didn't have a choice. It's some other "we" who are moving other people and their children to locations not specified. What/who is it that didn't "adapt"? It wasn't the working people of Detroit or New Orleans or Manhattan who failed to "adapt"—it was the industries they counted on, the expertise of those well-educated people who did have the power to make some choices and failed to do so.

It was my dear old mother who warned me about people who cry "crisis" too often. I should beware of them, she said. Tell me what years there hasn't been a "crisis" that was blamed on our public schools? (Read Richard Rothstein's The Way Things Were—it's truly a fun read.) Yes, in some ways, I'm more "conservative" than you: I know who gets hurt first when we "disrupt" regardless ....

Yes, there is a lot of money spent on education, and any good entrepreneur seeks his or her opportunities where the money is. And then looks for ways to make more. That's not a plot or a conspiracy. Just good straight thinking. But not all entrepreneurs are equal when it comes to pushing for their self-interest.

So we agree on tests? If we do, then it wasn't test scores that revealed the rot in Detroit's schools for the poor. If you walked into them, without any data, you'd know immediately that you wouldn't CHOOSE to send your children there. Although for many parents it was a "home" of a sort, better than having none.

You wouldn't CHOOSE to live where these children do either. So whites moved out—by choice—and left Detroit what it is today. Whether the kinds of solutions that those who remained are exploring are utopian or not, I'm on their side. They're trying to reconstruct a city built on a different set of assumptions—that a community can be rebuilt out of the ashes. I wish them all the best, and offer any help I can.

It's too easy, from perches of comfort and adaptability, to say that factories come and go, as do oceans and rivers and mountains, and species. But the triumph of the human species, up to now, rests on its use of its brains. We're not exempt from some "laws" of nature. Adaptation isn't accomplished overnight. If we don't use our brains better (and more empathetically) we, too, will become extinct—although I can't adapt to that idea yet!

You and I—or some other somebodies—are deciding the future of "other people's children" unless we provide ways for "them" to have a voice, a vote, and the resources to decide their own future. We need to restore a better balance between local communal life (with its power to effect some immediate changes like we did at the small self-governing schools I love) and distant, "objective" moneyed power. It's our democracy that rests on our rebuilding strength at the bottom. If we don't, we induce a passivity that surely cannot be in the self-interest of the least powerful, but might (just might) be in the self-interest of others. And then we blame them for being passive?

The experiment in democracy may or may not survive this round, but I'm not giving up on it. "Self-governance"—of, for, and by the people, Robert, is what's at stake. Do we agree that it's an essential aspiration, another way of describing what we mean by freedom within community, or communities of free citizens? If so, what would it look like in schools given, as you remind me, the realities we must all "accept"—for the moment. Until we create new realities."
deborahmeier  2014  edreform  reform  education  democracy  choice  passivity  robertpondiscio  entrepreneurship  gentrification  adaptability  opportunity  community  schools  publischools  policy  self-governance  citizenship  civics  acceptance 
march 2014 by robertogreco
An Interview with Deborah Meier | Education Revolution - Alternative Education Resource Organization
"Isaac Graves: What does community mean to you?

Deborah Meier: That’s a spectacular question because I have recently realized I use it in different ways. Sometimes I use it to mean an involuntary, place you live, which you are a member of whether you like it or not. I think communities that you are a part of, and are not self-selected, are also important. It makes you think about how one can get along with people who we didn’t choose to live next to, but who we do live next to. So sometimes I use it in that simple, geographic sense and other times I use it to mean a more selective sense, where you choose to attach yourself as a member, more like a club. It’s not a family, I reserve the word family for people who have to put up with you, who love you so much.



IG: What's missing in community?

DM: What's doesn't exist is that sort of that attachment to community. Kids generally, after they reach 12, their only community outside of their family is other people who are 12, 13, 14, or 15. That’s a limiting community, it may be a community of sorts, but it’s fairly small. And, you know, I think their attachments to social media sites is a search for a somewhat larger community, what schools don’t offer at all. Kids find little subcommunities within the school. If they don’t find a community in which they, over time, feel some attachment to, they will need something more.

IG: What is an ideal community to you?

DM: There wouldn’t be just one. I think that’s not only ok, but I think it's important that we belong to more than one, so it depends on the community. It would likely be a community which I feel attachments and loyalties to others, even if we disagree, even if they annoy me, and it would be a community that holds us together.

IG: What does a democratic education mean to you?

DM: It’s one in which the community operates democratically, which takes each other as equals, but one that acknowledges young people are novices at it and therefore they're gradually initiated into more and more responsibilities in the community until they’re a full member of it. As a full member, they’re responsible and accountable to each other for whatever the community does, and that's how they play their role.

IG: How does education play out in your life?

DM: Well, of course it all depends on how you define education because I’m always learning. You’re touching on some of the areas where I’m still struggling, and have been for a good time. Definition, understanding… So, I don’t know how to answer that except to say I'm always learning.

IG: What do you find most meaningful about education?

DM: You know, in the broader sense, we haven’t got a choice… we’re always learning. The question is "are we learning in a way that helps us grow?" or "learning in a way that narrows our vision?" So, I don’t think we have any choice but to keep learning and it's most meaningful when it's in a way that helps us grow.

IG: What's missing in education?

DM: Everything postive about education that we’ve been talking about. It’s virtually a form of boring incarceration, in which, I think, on the whole, neither teachers nor students have the kind of bonds with each other that makes them good learners. They’re just living parallel to each other and, you know, teaching hasn’t changed a great deal—it superficially has—we have our agenda, they have theirs and they rarely touch.

IG:What is an ideal education to you?

DM: Ideal is too much for me, but that question would be part of a conversation that’s interesting and which I’m always learning from. Like good books. I mean, a common agency of people and people via their books, movies…

IG: What do you think people should know about the relationship between community and education?

DM: Now those words, "community education" … that’s interesting because, in fact, we have this idea that K-12 schools are education and we do forget that everything outside of schools is also education. Education takes place after you leave schools, whether it’s high school, college, whatever—this idea creates a culture that makes it easy to put that informal education outside of schools more central by thinking education is more than just K-12 schooling. We need to ask whether we are creating environments in communities outside of schools that are stirring minds or helping people escape their minds?"
deborahmeier  education  learning  schools  unschooling  deschooling  interviews  2014  conversation  community  democracy  democraticeducation  howwelearn  agesegregation 
january 2014 by robertogreco
On Small School Networks & Democracy - Bridging Differences - Education Week
"I've been trying to imagine a "system" that could work for the kind of liberty within the context of democracy that we both seek. What kind of compromise is possible that meets each of our minimum requirements—and promotes democracy and liberty? What would a public system that puts "citizenship first," but supports many ways to get there, look like? What's the "key" to our differences, and how does it play out?

We agreed on democracy and liberty as the primary public ends we treasure, although no doubt we hold other expectations of good schooling. Given the title of your institution (Democracy Prep), maybe we agree on this. But what would constitute evidence of a successful education on behalf of democracy and liberty is where there is disagreement. Sometimes quite deep disagreement.

It even includes our definitions of democracy and liberty. "Government of, for, and by the people" seems pretty straightforward. But who constitutes "the people"? At the time that our Constitution was signed and sealed most of our founding fathers favored exclusions. And we still, de facto and de jure, exclude many residents' right to vote. Some we don't even argue about—such as the rationale for some minimum age restriction for voting.

But what "of, for, and by" might mean remains elusive, hard to define. Certainly schools don't explore this very thoroughly. Liberty is never an absolute, so where do we draw the lines?

The trouble is that there's an unfinished project—to create conditions in which Abraham Lincoln's slogan can be taken seriously. Democracy, as Winston Churchill noted a half-century ago in the midst of a war for democracy, is a flawed idea—except for the alternatives. It's not possible to get it perfectly right, but we're a long way from that "danger."

Democracy presumes, I'd argue, something the founding fathers acknowledged by who they excluded from full citizenship. They recognized that democracy presumes some level of equality of condition, power, skill, and knowledge that it is, in turn, designed to promote! Property and freedom before the law are and were musts. Ergo: Our founders excluded women, slaves, and minors. They also excluded those without a "stake" in society. Ergo, the property-less. Having dropped those requisites we are still far from equal in the various powers we can exert on behalf of our beliefs. This in turn affects how we view the road forward."
smallschools  deborahmeier  democracy  education  teaching  schools  policy  publicschools  tedsizer  2014  inequality 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Lying with Statistics | Deborah Meier on Education
"To avoid being fooled by statistics requires using the knowledge we already possess. A lost art? I struggle with this constantly.

To print data claiming that: Shanghai and Singapore have a better educated workforce than the USA when they certainly must realize that (1) neither is a country; and (2) to ignore the fact that China’s low-income workforce are treated as part-time immigrants in Shanghai, whose children are not allowed to attend their schools and/or in most cases (including Singapore) live beyond these city’s boundaries, means either purposely misusing data or not using one’s own knowledge. Not to mention the naiveté of accepting any data’s reliability when dealing with a totalitarian regime. These are simple facts that any journalist reporting on these statistics should know. As we gentrify the remaining sections of Manhattan where low-income people of color still reside, we might enter Manhattan in the world’s test score rankings. In fact, we have several states that would rank pretty high up if we decided to call them separate nations, much less excluded the scores of “immigrants.” It’s bad enough when they—the US media-—take US test score data at face value, much less accepting without question the data from nations we know often lie to us and their own people.

Our dilemma is far more serious than upgrading our math courses in order to better compete with Asia. Where they outdo us is not in having enough highly skilled workers but in low paid ones. Maybe we’ll be more successful competitors if we continue to lower our wage scales to match theirs? (Which requires getting rid of unions.) If that’s the plan, it’s one that we haven’t been consulted about.
Or, we might insist that all schools math programs give more attention to understanding data (statistics, probability, et al) and less attention to calculus. A calculus driven math course of study is not only irrelevant to the jobs of the past and future, but our focus directs attention away from precisely the mathematical skills and understanding our economy and citizenship actually need. It leads to many students’ failure to graduate. What disturbs me most is that few of us were prepared for a world in which understanding how millions and billions differ matters—other than adding zeros, or what the odds are for winning the lottery. It’s this everyday kind of math illiteracy that we have ignored for far too long in pursuit of a goal that best serves elite interests—if even theirs. (And I am not anti-calculus! Just first things first.)

Never mind. We seem stuck with a “ruling class” media determined to focus on every weakness they can locate, except their own. Thus the lack of mathematical knowledge found among average Americans becomes more significant than their own failure to grapple with—and make sense of—the data they are fed, most particularly how they could have “missed” the data that led, in hindsight, to explaining the 2008 crash."
deborahmeier  2014  testing  testscores  china  singapore  shanghai  statistics  media  us  policy  politics  comparison  education  schools 
january 2014 by robertogreco
“A Question of Silence”: Why We Don’t Read Or Write About Education
"The lack of imagination evident in these narratives reflects the lack of real-world alternatives. In the real-world fantasylands of schooling (e.g., Finland, Cuba, Massachusetts) education looks more or less the same as it does everywhere else. In short, the system is missing—or ignores—its real antithesis, its own real death. Without that counter-argument, educational writing loses focus. Educationalists present schooling as being in a constant state of crisis. Ignoring for a second the obvious fact that without a crisis most educationalists would be out of a job—i.e., closing our eyes to their vested interest in the problem’s persistence—what does this crisis consist of? Apparently, the failure of schools to do what they are supposed to do. But what are they supposed to do? What is their purpose? And why should we stand behind their purpose? This is the line of inquiry that—can you believe it—is ignored.

Of all the civic institutions that reproduce social relations, said Louis Althusser, “one… certainly has the dominant role, although hardly anyone lends an ear to its music: it is so silent! This is the School.” That statement was made in 1970, by which time school buses zigzagged the cities every working morning and afternoon, school bells rang across city and countryside, the words “dropout” and “failure” had become synonymous, education schools were in full swing, and school reform had gained its permanent nook on the prayer-wheel of electoral campaigns. In other words: what silence?

Althusser, of course, was referring to the absence of schooling as a topic in critical discourse. In this regard he was, and continues to be, accurate. The few paragraphs that he appended to the above-quoted statement may well be the only coherent critique of schooling in the upper echelons of critical theory. Critical theory, which has written volumes on Hollywood, television, the arts, madhouses, social science, the state, the novel, speech, space, and every other bulwark of control or resistance, has consistently avoided a direct gaze at schooling (see footnote). ((Here follows a cursory tally of what critical theorists (using the term very loosely to include some old favorite cultural critics) have written on education. I won’t be sad if readers find fault with it:

Horkheimer is silent. Barthes and Brecht, the same. Adorno has one essay and one lecture. Marcuse delivered a few perfunctory lectures on the role of university students in politics—but he makes it clear that you can’t build on them (university politics as well as the lectures, sadly). Derrida has some tantalizing pronouncements, particularly in Glas (“What is education? The death of the parents…”), but they are scattered and more relevant to the family setting than the school. Something similar, unfortunately, could be said of Bachelard—why was he not nostalgic about his education? Baudrillard, Lefebvre, and Foucault all seem interested in the question, if we judge by their interviews and lectures—and wouldn’t it be lovely to hear from them—but they never go into any depth. Even Althusser’s essay, Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses, which contains the above quote, quickly shies away from the topic: instead, he concentrates on the Church. In short, professional critical philosophy might have produced a more interesting study of Kung Fu Panda (see Žižek, who is also silent) than of the whole business of education. The one exception would be Rancière’s The Ignorant Schoolmaster, which I will discuss.)) Even Foucault, champion of enclosures, keeps out of the schoolhouse. ((Part III of Discipline and Punish includes a discussion, but his analysis there is mixed with all the other institutions that exercise punishment. The only direct references are in two lecture-discussions with students, both from 1971.)) The silence is particularly striking if we see radical philosophy itself as an educational endeavor, an enterprise concerned with ways of seeing and doing.

It’s not that there are no critical conversations within education—there are, and I will discuss them soon. But I think the silence of radical philosophers is emblematic of some special problems in the relationship between education and society."



"Progressive educators, who as a rule crave resources and ideas from outside their field, nonetheless did not seem bothered by the new seclusion. They even welcomed it. Today, every schoolteacher, admin, or researcher learns as part of her training to show open disdain for any opinion on education that doesn’t come from inside the field (“but has she taught?”). In American education schools, it’s possible to get a doctorate without having been assigned a single book from outside your field. Education is such an intensely social process (think of any classroom vignette, all the forces at play) that this intellectual swamp could only survive by a sheer will to isolation. Educationalists need this privacy partly because it allows them to ignore the core contradictions of their practice. The most important of these contradictions is that they have to uphold public schooling as a social good, and at the same time face up to the fact that schooling is one of the most oppressive institutions humanity has constructed. It has to be built up as much as it needs to be torn down brick by brick.

This dilemma bedevils the majority of writing by the most active educationalists. The redoubtable Deborah Meier is a good example—good, because she really is. Meier is the godmother of the small school movement in the United States. She has dedicated her life to making schools more humane and works with more energy than entire schools of education put together. Her philosophical base is one of Dewey’s pragmatism and American-style anarchism. She is also in a unique position to understand the contradictions of schooling, because she has built alternative schools and then watched them lose their momentum and revert to traditional models. What’s more, Meier can write. But when she writes, her books take titles like Keeping School and In Schools We Trust. In which schools, exactly? Not the same ones through which most of us suffered, I assume; rather, the progressive, semi-democratic ones on the fringes of the public system. The problem, apparently, is not schooling itself. It’s just that, inexplicably, the vast majority of schools fail to get it right. The “reformed school” is a sort of sublime object: something that does not quite exist, but whose potential existence justifies the continuation of what is actually there.

We are all familiar with this type of “we oppose the war but support the troops” liberal double-talk, a pernicious language game that divests all ground agents of responsibility—as if there could be a war without soldiers (though we seem to be moving that way) or bad classrooms without teachers. Now, it wouldn’t be fair to place the blame squarely on the teachers’ shoulders—considering the poor education they themselves receive in the first place—but we must also expose this kind of double-talk for what it really is: an easy out. And it is an easy out that abandons the oppressed: in this case, those students who actively resist teachers, those last few who have not been browbeaten or co-opted into submission. ((When Michelle Rhee, the (former) chancellor of public schools in Washington D.C., began shutting down schools, liberals tore their shirts and pulled their hair and finally ousted her. Very few people mentioned that those schools—a veritable prison system—should have been shut down. The problem was not the closures—the problem was that Rhee, like other Republican spawns of her generation, is a loudmouth opportunist who offered no plan beyond her PR campaign. What’s striking is that Rhee was using the exact same language of “crisis” and “reform” as progressives, and nothing in the language itself made her sound ridiculous. Since then, progressives have eased up a little on the crisis talk.))

Because the phenomenon of student resistance to education so blatantly flies in the face of the prevailing liberal mythology of schooling, it is a topic that continues to attract some genuine theorization. ((For a review of literature and some original thoughts, see Henry Giroux’s Resistance and Theory in Education (1983). For a more readable discussion of the same, see Herbert Kohl’s I Won’t Learn From You (1991).)) It’s also a topic that is closely tied to another intractable bugaboo of the discussion: the staggering dropout rate, in the US at least, among working class and immigrant students, and particularly among blacks and Latinos. Education is the civil rights issue of our time—Obama and Arne Duncan’s favorite slogan—was originally a rallying cry among black educationalists. ((The latter, in case you don’t know, is Obama’s Secretary of Education. A (very thin) volume could be written on the absolute lack of political and intellectual gumption that he epitomizes. To the Bush-era, bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act (a severe and ineffective set of testing requirements), Duncan added the Race to the Top initiative, thus bringing much unintentional clarity to the discourse: education reform is a race in which no one’s left behind.)) But if we understand a “civil rights struggle” to be, fundamentally, the story of the disenfranchised and the marginalized classes’ resistance to structural oppression, then this seemingly simple phrase is haunted by a kind of dramatic irony—since a great deal of research shows that what many black and working class students actively resist is schooling itself. Further studies showed that even those underserved students who succeed in schools persevere by dividing their identities; by cordoning off their critical impulses; by maintaining their disaffection even while they keep it well out of the teacher’s sight."



"A fundamental problem is that education demands a scientific foothold … [more]
education  unschooling  canon  houmanharouni  2013  criticaleducation  theory  eleanorduckworth  deborahmeier  jeanpiaget  paulofreire  ivanillich  karlmarx  society  schooling  oppression  class  liberals  progressive  progressives  theleft  paulgoodman  sartre  theodoreadorno  michellerhee  reform  edreform  nclb  rttt  radicalism  revolution  1968  herbertmarcuse  power  policy  politics  teaching  learning  jaquesrancière  arneduncan  foucault  louisalthusser  deschooling  frantzfanon  samuelbowles  herbertgintis  jenshoyrup  josephjacotot  praxis  johndewey  philosophy  criticaltheory  henrygiroux  herbertkohl  jeananyon  work  labor  capitalism  neoliberalism  liberalism  progressiveeducation  school  schooliness  crisis  democracy  untouchables  mythology  specialization  isolation  seclusion  piaget  michelfoucault  althusser  jean-paulsartre 
december 2013 by robertogreco
In 'The Spirit of Liberty' - Bridging Differences - Education Week
[in response to: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/2013/12/dear_deborah_i_trust_you.html ]

"It's probably easier to teach about liberty than democracy. The former is perhaps "natural" to the human species. Even little tots object when their liberty is infringed upon. It is within the context of democracy—or so people like me believe—that one's liberty is best protected, but also where one's liberty is best restricted. Only kings of yore believed they had unrestricted freedom. But where to draw the line? That's where democracy comes in.

I'm not for defining democracy once and for all, or liberty. These are ideas that have evolved and are still evolving. The "struggle" to define them is ongoing. Schooling ideally prepares us to join in that struggle. It's what politics is about—drawing the line. Like justice, which is represented by a scale that always needs some readjusting.

That's where we get back to my claim that democracy is not "natural" or intuitive. It's a means, not an end. No two nations, states, or organizations that may rightly call themselves democratic have the same bylaws, etc.

Democracy hopefully is precisely what protects other rights, such as fairness, liberty, equality, privacy, even "happiness." And the "common good." Different contexts and histories have led to different ways of organizing the power of the people, including deciding who "the people" are. The idea that the right to vote should be universal is new—and still shaky. In 1789, most of those living within our borders could not vote: women, slaves, Native Americans, and, in most states, men without property.

We agree: Most of the dialogue about power is conducted in a language unfamiliar to many citizens. Meanwhile, our fellow citizens—those who seem to lack the proper language for understanding "us"—may well be speaking with equal depth and understanding but in a form that "we" do not understand. Maybe those with more power have an obligation to better understand their fellow citizens, not just vice-versa. Expanding the world that "belongs to us all" is something schools could do if ... rich and poor, black and white attended "common schools" devoted to such a task.

Do we really have to "teach" a common core to promote thinking—or do we mean "thinking like us"? I have friends from abroad who think quite well, but share a different set of "common" and "uncommon" knowledge. I find our discourses even more interesting for that fact.

I never found that my students, even at 5, were less interesting because their "home language," dialect, or vocabulary were different than mine. In fact, it was these differences that drew me into becoming a teacher. Sometimes because of their age, but also because of their own situations and histories, they aroused my curiosity and added to my knowledge. It is often a handicap to good thinking when we share too much "common sense" knowledge and vocabulary, or pretend to. "You know what I mean."

Whether we're creating essay, short-answer, or multiple-choice tests, we have a "bias." There's no way not to. As I recognized in my college courses, it was easier to get an A on an essay question where I agreed with my professors than when I didn't. We naturally think that those who say what we believe have more sense than those who don't. Ditto for multiple-choice tests.

The solution? I'd like to use those 12-plus years of school to come closer to "getting it"—who we are. There's a huge body of knowledge that such a course of study could uncover, and a lot that would remain uncovered. My hope? That the "test prepping" prepared our students to demonstrate strong intellectual habits in a range of academic and nonacademic domains, on topics of their choice—subject to the judgment of a committee of faculty, family, and external public experts. Over and over. Until it truly becomes habitual. Like good driving.

I'd hope that all publicly funded schools have the freedom to develop their own assessment tools (or even choose a pre-existing standardized one). But I hope that they also would be required to articulate the connection between the idea of democracy (and liberty) and whatever curriculum and assessment system they have chosen.

I'd also ask the schools to "show me" the connection between their purposes and the structure of the classroom and school as a whole. What do kids learn about democracy and liberty from the school's adult world? Who are the school's citizens? What are their liberties? Do parents or those whose taxes the schools rest upon have citizenship rights? Whose expertise trumps whose? And where do children of different ages fit into this web of cross-cutting citizenships?

Given the fragile state of our democracy (about which we agree), we must sometimes sacrifice some other more strictly private purposes (being more successful than others, having more money, or—god forbid—even pursuing a private hobby of pleasure only to a few). Public schools funded and controlled by the priorities of their citizens will each draw the lines differently. But without considerable locally based control we will flit from one all-size-fits-all fad to another.

Local communities, operating within the law, may even figure out forms of choice that enable people to make some decisions collectively and others more selectively, while agreeing not to substantially injure the available choices of others. They will swing back and forth between the party of order and the party of flexibility. A diversity of knowledge claims is essential for democracy and liberty, as well as for the arts, sciences, technology, etc. When one "best practice" rules, it undermines liberty, democracy, and progress, in general. We need collaborators and resisters, collegiality and ornery individualists.

I do not want to specify for others which of all the wars Americans have fought they most need to understand. Reality tells me that there is NO WAY they seriously understand even one if obliged to cover all. But ... let others try. Ditto for the sciences. And for math. Mastery of basic probability and statistics, however, would surely serve democracy better than calculus.

Central Park East, Central Park East Secondary School, and Mission Hill— schools where I've had a direct influence—each approached curriculum differently, although all three built their studies around "habits of mind." I've learned from each, and I am very aware that each made some painful trade-offs. Still, talking with graduates of each reassures me that what right-wing blogger Danette Clark calls "the Marxist-Communist political, amoral, and social ideology behind Theodore Sizer's Coalition of Essential Schools" flourished in all of them.

There are some things effectively mandated centrally, but not as many as even "my team" acknowledges. Democracy and liberty both are safer when we all see ourselves as more or less in the same boat together, where my liberty and yours rise or fall together. We're a long way from achieving that spirit of liberty in our schools. "
education  deborahmeier  democracy  liberty  testing  standards  standardization  2013  tedsizer  commoncore  power  curriculum  publicschools  teaching  learning  testprep  assessment  local  bias  knowledge  robertpondiscio  citizenship  civics  missionhillschool  coalitionofessentialschools 
december 2013 by robertogreco
The Schools We Need | Erik Reece | Orion Magazine
"A few years ago, on the first day of my Freshman Comp class, an argument broke out over whether or not “Redskins” was a racist name for a professional football team. I hadn’t expected or planned this debate, but I let it rage for half the class, trying to direct and redirect the lines of argument as best I could. It seemed like productive chaos, and afterward, the class did not emerge from the debate divided, but rather heartened, it seemed, that everyone had been given a chance to voice diverse opinions. Something important happened that day: the students created a democratic space in which to debate and consider ideas. It wasn’t because of anything I did, but simply because I didn’t get in the way of the students’ own grappling over questions of perspective, personal background, and the ability of words to both empower and harm."



"When deregulated corporations destroy entire ecosystems and the Supreme Court grants those same corporations more “rights” to express themselves as “persons” (very rich persons), the need for a more Jeffersonian form of schooling—one that emphasizes serious critical inquiry in the service of citizenship—is imperative to the future of democracy. We need schools, as novelist Mark Slouka recently wrote, that produce “men and women capable of furthering what’s best about us and forestalling what’s worst.”

THE GOOD NEWS is we can begin revitalizing both education and democracy by implementing a curriculum that incubates what I will call the “citizen-self.” As teachers, I believe our purpose should be twofold: 1) to provide the opportunity for individual self-invention among students, and 2) to create a space where that individual takes on the role and the responsibility of the social citizen. The pedagogy I have in mind combines the Romantic idea of the bildung, the cultivation of one’s own intellectual and psychological nature, with the Pragmatist view that such individuality must be vigorously protected by acts of citizenship. That is to say, it encourages Deborah Meier’s “habit of mind” toward the goal of helping each student determine what she or he truly thinks and feels about an issue or an idea, and it encourages what psychologist and philosopher William James called a “habit of action,” a way of translating such thinking into citizenship. At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that the first part cultivates the inner self, while the second shapes the outer self. But these two selves cannot be separated; each depends upon and strengthens the other.

Thomas Jefferson believed that the fundamental American impulse of this citizen-self should be anti-industrial, anti-corporation, and should cultivate a generalist approach to education and work. Jefferson also believed that both politics and education best succeed at the local level. This has proven true time and again in my own experience."



"Taking pride in one’s place can also lead to a desire to take responsibility for that place, which is, after all, the crux of citizenship. Teachers can foster this impulse by focusing assignments on local issues, allowing chemistry, biology, English, and civics classes to be driven by a problem-solving impulse. Such learning is inevitably interdisciplinary because real problems, and real learning, rarely break down along clear disciplinary lines. If a strip mine is polluting a local source of drinking water, that is clearly a biological and chemical problem, but it is also an ethical problem grounded in lessons of history. To solve it, many fields of knowledge must be brought to bear. And to articulate the solution will require some skilled rhetoric indeed. Working to solve that problem becomes at once an experiment in stewardship (the opposite of vandalism) and citizenship (participatory democracy).

It also goes some distance toward breaking down the artificial, but very real, wall between school and life, between learning and doing. The rejection of this false dichotomy was one of the primary goals of the American Pragmatist educators like John Dewey and Jane Addams. Of the turn-of-the-century settlement school movement, Addams wrote that it “stands for application as opposed to research, for emotion as opposed to abstraction, for universal interest as opposed to specialization.” Specialization has, too often, been the enemy of educating the citizen-self. It encourages careerism as the only goal of education, and its narrowness can result in an abdication of responsibility concerning problems that lie outside of one’s specialty. These narrowly focused specialists can cause problems. Financial specialists caused the economic collapse, genetic specialists have created crops that require far more pesticide application, and we don’t yet know the full havoc caused by deep-water drilling specialists. But as we saw with BP’s cagey initial reaction to the Gulf disaster, as well as Monsanto’s outrageous contempt for farmers and seed-savers, specialization also seems to create a troubling loss of empathy.

Empathy, what Jane Addams called emotion, has largely disappeared from American public life. Our politics and punditry are too divisive, the gap between rich and poor too wide, the messages from the media too preoccupied with what William James called “the bitch-goddess SUCCESS.” We think of public life as a playing field of winners and losers, when we should be thinking about it, to borrow from Dewey, as a single organism made up of thousands of single but interconnected cells—a whole that needs all of its parts, working cooperatively. In other words, we should be thinking about how our educational institutions can be geared less toward competitiveness and more toward turning out graduates who feel a responsibility toward their places and their peers.

Here is the crux of the matter: As we enter an era of dwindling resources and potential mass migration due to climate change, we are going to need much more empathy—perhaps more than ever before—if we hope to retain our humanity. Empathy must be the measure of our students’, and our own, emotional and ethical maturity."



"How do we recover, how do we reinvent, the country that Jefferson and Franklin envisioned? We must become better citizens, and that transformation must begin—and really can only begin—in better public schools.

PUTTING MY STUDENTS in situations where they might learn and practice the art of real democracy has become a large part of my own teaching, and it is with these goals in mind that I often take them to a place in eastern Kentucky called Robinson Forest. It is a brilliant remnant of the mixed mesophytic ecosystem, and it is home to the cleanest streams in the state. Yet only a short walk away from our base camp you can watch those streams die, literally turn lifeless, because of the mountaintop removal strip mining that is happening all around Robinson Forest.

A few years ago, I had one student (I’ll call him Brian) who had only signed up for one of my classes because it fit his schedule. He was, in his own words, “a right-wing nut job,” and he disagreed with virtually everything I said in class. But he was funny and respectful and I liked having him around. On our class trip to Robinson Forest, we all hiked up out of the forest to a fairly typical mountaintop removal site. The hard-packed dirt and rock was completely barren, save for a few non-native, scrubby grasses. To call this post-mined land a “moonscape,” as many do, is an insult to the moon.

Brian was quiet as we walked, and then he asked, “When are they going to reclaim this land?”

“It has been reclaimed,” I said. “They sprayed hydro-seed, so now this qualifies as wildlife habitat.”

“This is it?”

“This is all the law requires.”

Brian went quiet again, until finally he said, “This is awful.”

Then he asked, “What do you think would happen if every University of Kentucky student came to see this?”

I pulled the old teacher trick and turned the question back on him: “What do you think would happen?”

Brian paused, and then said, “I think mountaintop removal would end.”"
teaching  education  civics  criticalthinking  writing  howweteach  howwelearn  us  environment  erikreece  citizenship  tcsnmy  democracy  specialization  generalists  empathy  emotion  history  deborahmeier  thomasjeffereson  benjaminfranklin  publicschools  johntaylorgatto  2011  learning  highschool  engagement 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Born to think and learn | Deborah Meier on Education
"The real “crisis” within schools today is that we are in the process of literally throwing away the carefully constructed ideas that flowed from these (and other) giants’ work. The garden for children (kindergarten) was a late 19h century invention that we are fast abandoning. The ideas behind such “gardens” are not only wise, but critical to imagining that democracy needn’t be utopian—that it’s possible with “ordinary” people who are all really quite extraordinary. Reminder: democracy was “invented” as an answer to “who is accountable.” But “for what” faces each generation anew."
deborahmeier  education  learning  progressiveeducation  democracy  history  accountability  2013  stem  purpose  civics  garystager  seymourpapert  constructivism  kindergarten 
july 2013 by robertogreco
The Testing Obsession Widens the Gap - Bridging Differences - Education Week
"Once one concludes, as I did through 50 years of close observation, that the tests are measuring something other than "reading" skill—decoding and restating—our problem looks different. Yes, E.D. Hirsch is right: You can't measure reading qua reading. I not merely observed but ran little mini-focus groups to understand why some kids got "right" answers and others "wrong" ones. It had little to do with their reading skill."



"It's easier to guess the right answer if your perspective is similar to what the test-makers expect it to be, just as their forebears did when they invented IQ tests a century ago. We don't all have the same "common experience" upon which the tests are normed. Their "wrong" answers, in fact, were often far more logical and sensible than the "right" ones.

These facts also remind me of why teachers can be more powerful than TV or online schools if they use their time to build authentic relationships with their students—and join with rather than dictate to them. It's for the same reason that studies of how children learn their native language demonstrate that, even if kids spend far more time listening to TV than listening to the talk of adults at home, they will speak like their families. Schools must become second homes."



"Progressive preschools never rejected a rich reading culture or knowing facts as "developmentally inappropriate." They just didn't think you needed direct instruction to kick in this love of reading, of hobbies, of facts, of curiosity, of indefatigable and repetitive practice in subjects and skills they were fascinated by. The kids come to us with curiosity—and our job is to extend it. Progressives understood that the playful mindset that serious learning depends on is too often silenced in school. For example, I frequently step into classrooms where well-meaning teachers are doing as they are told: stopping at the end of every paragraph or page to ask didactic questions that turn great stories into "lessons" with "objectives" that can be "measured." That's hardly likely to whet children's appetite for "more, more."

Even "guided" discussions—another fad—at best lead the more teacher-pleasing kids to try to read what the teacher wants them to say, rather than discuss, argue, and maybe act out their own interpretations for each other. And indeed, you are also right that it was in low-poverty and "minority" schools like those I got to know so well in Chicago in the 1950s and 60s that the least "progressive" strategies have always been applied—even by educators who thought of themselves as "progressives." (Richer kids are sometimes getting some of this too now, under pressure to do well on tests.)

They've forgotten. Children are BORN experts at learning. Poor and rich. They couldn't survive a week if they weren't born intellectuals. They experiment over and over, until they find a pattern that "works." And then they find out that it's more complicated than that and start over again! In the first three years of life they are learning at a pace we never again achieve—unless we are, as you note, under so much stress and physical deprivation not typical of most of "the poor." Statistically, of course, it's more likely to impact those with the fewest resources—as you acknowledged.

But, Mike, it cannot be fixed by the common core. It can only be fixed by teachers who know how to join the "common core" of the children and the families they first meet, when children are 4 or 5, and use it wisely and creatively ever after."



"It is our job to use our precious public funds to increase the odds that democracy won't have to be reinvented. If the poor were less poor, their schools less poor, and bigotry less a part of our culture—it would be easier. But still not inevitable."

[via: http://www.tuttlesvc.org/2013/05/the-progressive-reading-instruction.html ]
reading  education  deborahmeier  2013  teaching  progressive  progressiveeducation  objectives  testing  commoncore  democracy  canon  learning  children  poverty  curiosity  instruction  guideddiscussions  perspective  howwelearn  howweteach 
may 2013 by robertogreco
ParkDayTom: Mission Hill - Jamaica Plain, MA
"Always deflecting the attention to teachers and students, Ayla holds a prodigious set of responsibilities, beyond the reach of most mere mortal school administrators. Since its founding in 1997, the school has been committed to directing its resources as directly as possible to the students, and consequently the layer of administrative support found in most public or private schools does not exist. Funding normally channelled to administration has been redirected for the purpose of hiring teachers and keeping class size as small as possible. Most of the classes I visited had 16 students."

"Ayla defines progressive education as the natural enhancement of that which humans bring to learning. Progressive educators consider all things about the child in developing around him or her a learning experience. In a progressive school, each child's individual experience is considered in the context of the whole; this does not mean that each learning experience is unique- indeed, schools create learning experiences for groups - however, each child is deeply understood as a learner and as a full human being."

"The mission of the school tethers all adults to the interests and well-being of the children; all decision and actions must flow from this covenant."

"Five "habits of mind" bring ballast to the curriculum and learning program at Mission Hill. Evidence (How do you know?): Conjecture (What if things were different?); Connections (What does it remind you of?); Relevance (Is it important? Why does it matter?); Viewpoint (What would someone else say? What would someone else feel?). These essential framing questions are prominent throughout the school and very alive in the classrooms. The teachers are scrupulous in their work to make these questions underpin the activities and lessons they construct with the students."

"True to form, Ayla's take on this question was unique - she'd not have it any other way. The relatively high number of male teachers and teachers of color at Mission Hill can be directly tied to the phenomenon of teacher autonomy at the school. Because each member of the Mission Hill faculty must assume a leadership role in the school, a top-down administrative structure would never work. Ayla relies on the teacher autonomy factor to bring a work ethic to the school that would not be possible if teachers were always seeking direction. That said, Ayla is quick to point out that autonomy comes with accountability and responsibility. To be sure, it is a teacher's privilege to have the autonomy to build his/her program, but it is also his/her responsibility to be accountable to the cohort of teachers and the mission of the school. A rogue teacher would stand out like a sore thumb and never be successful; the faculty is far too collaborative.

Misson Hill answers the question, "Can progressive education work for all children?" As an inclusion school, not only do the classrooms include children from disadvantaged backgrounds, they also include the widest range of learning and behavioral profiles."
missionhillschool  2013  boston  progressive  schools  education  habitsofmind  aylagavins  teaching  learning  deborahmeier  classsize  administration  leadership  management  administrativebloat  burnout  tomlittle  autonomy  collaboration  responsibility  accountability 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Tuttle SVC: That Depends Which Education Reform Movement You're Talking About
"Ten years ago, "school reform" at least equally applied to Deborah Meier and Ted Sizer as it did to, say, Joel Klein.

In the intervening decade, I've become a social software curmudgeon -- you'll pull Blogger from my cold, dead hands -- and yielded the "ed reformer" tag to people and practices I hate.

Basically, in both cases, the money men started to roll in and roll over the geeks and the teachers who were building tools and schools with an eye to something other than the market, or market-based logic. We're only just now hitting the point where it is clear the grifters are rolling into schools like Visigoths, but even when the point hasn't been to make money directly, it has been to apply the methods of business to education.

It has taken a while to sort out, but at this point many of the leading figures in screwing up the internet are also leaders in screwing up education (reform): Gates, Zuckerberg, Jobs (RIP), etc. It isn't hard to tease out the common thread. The earnest geeks who do things, understand how things work, and care about actual people get rolled by the big money guys. That's it."
edreform  edtech  tomhoffman  2013  billgates  markzuckerberg  stevejobs  grifters  business  education  internet  deborahmeier  tedsizer  joelklein  alexanderrusso  anildash  money  economics  techsector  predictability  society  inequity  disparity  visigoths  schools  learning  purpose  evil  bigmoney 
january 2013 by robertogreco
Deborah Meier's Blog on Education: February 2012 - Trip to Japan
"My son reminded them that it was not so long ago when teachers and politicians in America were told that Japanese schools were the future. Why can’t we do as they do, we were asked? Before that it was Russian schools. And since then it’s been Singapore and now Finland. We were told Japanese children were obedient and hard working, although listening to the teacher talk last week it was clear that they were having virtually all the same problems we were and moving in the same direction we are. They found our description of Japanese education amusing.

There is a lot of educational turmoil there as here, as two “factions” battle for the future: those wanting a more rigid, centralized, exam-driven top-down approach and those who believe the Japanese have to move in a progressive direction if they are to become innovators as well as followers—economically and politically."
debate  comparison  international  standardizedtesting  obedience  testing  traditional  progressive  policy  via:cervus  education  2012  japan  deborahmeier  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
Reinventing Schools That Keep Teachers
"If we want teachers who are smart, caring, alive to students' needs, and are in it for the long haul, we need to consider how to create schools that are themselves centers for the continual learning of everyone connected to them. We've learned most of what we know about teaching K-12 from our own schooling experience. Unlearning powerful past history in the absence of equally powerful settings for relearning won't work."
education  teaching  learning  unlearning  unschooling  deschooling  professionaldevelopment  professionalism  tcsnmy  schoolculture  lcproject  experience  history  memory  conditioning  schooliness  alwaysthisway  paradigmshifts  gamechanging  change  2011  deborahmeier  from delicious
september 2011 by robertogreco
The Schools We Need | Erik Reece | Orion Magazine
"Empathy, what Jane Addams called emotion, has largely disappeared from American public life. Our politics and punditry are too divisive, the gap between rich and poor too wide, the messages from the media too preoccupied with what William James called “the bitch-goddess SUCCESS.” We think of public life as a playing field of winners and losers, when we should be thinking about it, to borrow from Dewey, as a single organism made up of thousands of single but interconnected cells—a whole that needs all of its parts, working cooperatively. In other words, we should be thinking about how our educational institutions can be geared less toward competitiveness and more toward turning out graduates who feel a responsibility toward their places and their peers."
education  economics  environment  pedagogy  democracy  williamjames  thomasjefferson  deborahmeier  johntaylorgatto  janeaddams  empathy  activism  engagement  citizenship  place  sensemaking  belonging  ownership  humanity  humanism  policy  unschooling  deschooling  relevance  2011  from delicious
september 2011 by robertogreco
To Create, To Design
"…right to question these new “reforms” & their ability to succeed…points at “the revolution failed” are right…use of Dewey as an example is illustrative of issues here. Dewey, Francis Parker, L. Thomas Hopkins et al. faced a backlash from an American society bent on order & standardization. Though their reform was brilliant & on the mark in many ways, school in 20th century was an institution based on order and control just as it is today. Today as in the 20th century, linear schedules, corporate curricula, & the extra-curricularization of energy & interests still combine to hold firm what has been at the expense of what is. The School structure & its meanings are the issues of today just as they where a century ago…

We must reflect presently on the “reform” engines of today motoring through schools & quietly accepting the structures imposed in what amounts to seeing learners & their communities as commodities & economies of scale, vs dynamic realities of human possibility…"
thomassteele-maley  reform  education  schools  community  johndewey  thomashopkins  francisparker  wavesofthesame  unschooling  deschooling  workingwithinthesystem  revolution  standardization  control  corporateculture  corporatism  corporatization  curriculum  change  gamechanging  2011  we'vebeenherebefore  isitdiferentthistime  ego  cv  society  humanpotential  ivanillich  michaelwesch  newlearningecologies  networks  olpc  learningmeshes  michaelapple  jamesbeane  deborahmeier  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
When There is No One to 'Look in the Eye' - Bridging Differences - Education Week
"use of the word as an approach to teaching/learning & role of schooling as exemplified by Dewey, Piaget, many distinguished women who led early Bank Street explorations, et al stems from quite a different place. Of course, there were overlaps…John Holt was, after all, "for" homeschooling & "progressive" education. We cannot sacrifice either individualism to community or vice versa. That's a tension that democracy demands we negotiate, over & over…revolution that took place btwn 1900-1950 was amazing, & schools are one place we see it most starkly…

…Among the hard-core shared agreements that bound such progressives together were those that built union movement…It was based on a faith, not requiring evidence, that every single person deserved respect…Ted Sizer used to say that he wanted his own kids in schools where he could look decision-makers in the eye & personally expect an answer, other than "I had to do it. THEY made me.""
deborahmeier  progressive  schools  education  history  individualism  individual  johnholt  learning  community  local  bureaucracy  johndewey  tedsizer  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Gary Stager: Wanna be a School Reformer? You Better do Your Homework!
"Reading is important for children and adults alike. Therefore, I challenged myself to assemble an essential (admittedly subjective) reading list on school reform. The following books are appropriate for parents, teachers, administrators, politicians and plain old citizens committed to the ideal of sustaining a joyful, excellent and democratic public education for every child."
education  reform  garystager  books  toshare  topost  teaching  readinglist  alfiekohn  angelopatri  seymourpapert  seymoursarason  dennislittky  samanthagrabelle  deborahmeier  tedsizer  jonathankozol  herbertkohl  susanohanian  geraldbracey  juanitadoyon  progressive  unschooling  deschooling  learning  schools  policy  tcsnmy  lcproject  from delicious
october 2010 by robertogreco
Deborah Meier’s “Graduation by Portfolio” video
"Thanks to two-time CMK guest speaker, Deborah Meier, for sharing this phenomenal 47-minute documentary from 1993 detailing the process by which Central Park East Secondary School students earned their high school diploma through project-based inquiry and personal portfolios demonstrating habits of mind."
deborahmeier  projectbasedlearning  portfolios  inquiry  inquiry-basedlearning  habitsofmind  personalportfolios  teaching  learning  schools  csnmy  pbl  from delicious
october 2010 by robertogreco
Deborah Meier's Blog on Education: What Price Control?
"My democratic leanings from childhood were strengthened as it became more & more obvious that 12+ years of schooling was such a poor preparation for democracy. The strong-willed, skepticism that is essential alongside of the habit of seeing & feeling the world from different perspectives (call it empathy?) is precisely what schooling dulls rather than nurtures, what is stronger at age 5 than 15.

...Susan Sontag: "Don't allow yourself to be patronized, condescended to" & "Don't be afraid."

When I visit many "acclaimed schools" for poor children I'm struck by how hard adults work at putting kids "in their place", at public humiliation & condescension. The way children's families are too often talked about by school adults is unnerving. Yet school adults are also object of similar condescension. But connection btwn the two is somehow lost.

Too many of our schools are organized around fear & thus "solutions"/reforms are too. The details are similar to those that drive prisons."
deborahmeier  susansontag  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  fear  condescension  control  empathy  education  policy  reform  childhood  schools  humiliation  2010  hierarchy  power  tcsnmy  skepticism  civics 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Constructing Modern Knowledge Reflections - Practical Theory
"luxurious learning enviro=time, resources, permission to play & learn, talk to one another...read, listen, build...we didn't have schedule, we had appointments... ...many ways to learn & lecture can/should be part of good progressive teacher's toolkit...trick is knowing when, what, how long & how you will help students construct meaning from it... we underestimate how complex work we give can be...one pitfall of problem/project-based learning for kids. When there isn't recipe/obvious sequence, roadblocks can feel insurmountable...kids get stuck...not because they don't want to do them, but because they reach stumbling blocks they cannot solve...why teaching "gumption", process & problem solving is so important...as teachers, patience, understanding & flexibility are necessary... utter need for us to honor/assess process. Not every project gets to finish line, teachers can make mistake of not giving a lot of credit for unfinished work"
unconferences  cmk  conferences  chrislehmann  deborahmeier  progressive  tcsnmy  toshare  topost  learning  understanding  gumption  problemsolving  process  projectbasedlearning  projects  tinkering  assessment  acknowledgement  schooldesign  unschooling  deschooling  proceesoverproduct  play  meaning  2010  obstacles  patience  flexibility  complexity  lcproject  pbl 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Change the Conversation on Teaching - Bridging Differences - Education Week
"Reading NYT Mag pieces on medicine is always intriguing. Education & medicine are often compared—in ways that remind me how little our frame for considering teaching is realistic. The other night I heard several very good "educators" on C-SPAN answering questions from the Labor & Education Committee of Senate. Both the AFT's Randi Weingarten & Michigan State's Deborah Ball were sharp, clear, & convincing. But... They, too, talked about what we can learn from other professions, focusing primarily on the preparation that law & medicine offer prospective candidates. Yes, & we can learn from the preparation of electricians & carpenters, too. But there is one very fundamental difference. Teachers must solve the problems facing anywhere btwn 20 & 35 students at a time. Not one at a time. They have at most 5 minutes to write up notes on the class that's leaving before the next one arrives. &, few students come back to us year after year, as hopefully some do with lawyers & doctors."
deborahmeier  teaching  complexity  howwework  multitasking  time  doctors  lawyers  professions  tcsnmy  classsize  reflection  looping  cv  education  schools  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  policy  administration  management  media  tv  television  politics  2010 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Deborah Meier's Blog on Education: Small Schools and Choice Revisited
"We have installed new bureaucracies...recreated too many chain store schools. Decisions were made further & further from school folks...charter schools themselves also grew larger to accommodate efficiency. In several cities mayors decided to use them to unload their own “accountability” for public education & replace it with privately managed corporations. Maybe deliberately, maybe not. I’m hoping for the latter, & that they too will take a careful look at what they have created before we cross the line of—well I was going to say “no-return”, but actually history doesn’t end & if democracy remains a good idea, we will grow truly public schools again. & again.
deborahmeier  policy  publicschools  schools  education  us  charterschools 
march 2010 by robertogreco
The Most Shameful Response to an Apparent Crisis - Bridging Differences - Education Week
"Reminder: the drive for a 40-hour week was a drive on behalf of democracy. When in crisis-mode, we generally jump onto sound bites uttered by personally convincing authorities. We use metaphors which help us understand complexity and then ignore the flaws inherent in our oversimplifications...
deborahmeier  education  schools  policy  us  crisis  phonics  teaching  statistics  leadership  management  history  politics  administration  rttt  accountability  cheating  injustice 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Summer Institute : Constructing Modern Knowledge
"minds-on institute for educators committed to creativity, collaboration and computing. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in intensive computer-rich project development with peers and a world-class faculty. Inspirational guest speakers and social events round out the fantastic event. Alfie Kohn, Deborah Meier, Dr. James Loewen and Peter Reynolds are guest speakers.

Rather than spend days listening to a series of speakers, Constructing Modern Knowledge is about action. Attendees will work and interact with educational experts concerned with maximizing the potential of every learner. ...

list of potential themes for exploration: Creativity and learning, Constructivism and constructionism, Project-based learning, 1:1 Computing, Problem solving across the curriculum, Student leadership and empowerment, Reinventing mathematics education, Computer science as a basic skill, Storytelling, School reform, Tinkering, Effective professional development, Sustaining innovation"
education  technology  summer  1:1  teaching  laptops  e-learning  conferences  events  2010  constructivism  alfiekohn  deborahmeier  math  compsci  creativity  learning  constuctionism  problemsolving  reform  schoolreform  tcsnmy  tinkering  innovation  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  1to1 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Deborah Meier's Blog on Education: Learning: What and How?
"“misunderstandings” that occur between best teachers & best students (& mostly we have to contend w/ less than “best” of either) are where all the fun of learning actually takes place...begins at birth. Humans are not only born curious, but w/ capacity for rather rigorous mechanism for correcting mistakes. They build & rebuild their “theory” of world based on trial & error—over & over, w/ modifications & side paths, & adjustments & sometimes huge revisions! Sometimes this process stops—in face of too much uncertainty or not enough—& we fixate, obsessively, on theory that never gets revised even when faced w/ its “obvious” contradictions...I’ve more & more come to believe that this assumption—which academics call constructivism—that I hold about learning is much more controversial than I wish it were...I live so much w/in world that disagrees w/ me that sometimes I over-cling to that subset of people & institutions that are on my wavelength. Finding right balance is hard for me."
deborahmeier  wisdom  opinions  constructivism  belief  disagreement  learning  education  balance  teaching  curiosity  unschooling  deschooling  schooling  certainty  misunderstanding  tcsnmy  mistakes  correction  mindchanges  change  reform  assessment  mindchanging 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Slowness, Wisdom and Change - Practical Theory
"I worry that we are losing wisdom. Wisdom is a funny thing, because it isn't something you are born with, and it isn't something you can acquire quickly and easily. It is hard-fought, path paved with mistakes and regret and reflection. Those folks who acquire the term "Wise Beyond Their Years" often have had to get there the hard way. ... Let us be clear, the problems facing schools are serious, and they demand that we work diligently and quickly to make our schools better.

But let us be wise in our changes. Let us listen to the people who must enact the changes. Let us consider what we do and how well we can do it. Let us not demonize those who oppose is by turning their arguments into strawmen. Let us, instead, do things wisely and well. If for no other reason than we want our students to do so as well. If that means that we must slow down to listen, to reflect, to come to consensus, so be it. Better we make the wise decision than the expedient one."

[more at: http://www.tuttlesvc.org/2010/01/wisdom-were-losing.html ]
wisdom  education  chrislehmann  generations  schools  policy  tedsizer  deborahmeier  change  reform  slow 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Bridging Differences: We're Relying on an Absurd Definition of Achievement [via: http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=50096]
"What you have documented, Diane, is eerily close to the kind of data abuse that helped create our current financial crisis. We go blindly ahead. There seem equally few lessons learned from either crisis. It’s apparently easier to hold children & teachers’ “feet to the fire” than the creators of the greatest economic crisis of our lives—especially Harvard grads...when today’s reformers refer to proof of “achievement” they mean something different than you & I do...Achievement equals standardized test scores in reading & math; others add test scores in other subjects, including aptitude/IQ tests. Everything else gets called “soft skills.” It’s as absurd as calling written driving test the real achievement & road test a measure of “soft” skills...We’re relying on an absurd definition of achievement—at best. It’s not lack of alternatives, but a lack of interest in having real standards that take into account that we are all not the same & that we actually don’t want to be all the same."
deborahmeier  schools  education  achievement  learning  testing  reform  standardizedtesting  us  policy 
september 2009 by robertogreco
The Habits of Mind of Creative Engagement
"Overview of Four Habits of Mind "Systems": 1) Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick, Habits of Mind Developmental Series 2) Ted Sizer and Debbie Meier CPESS (Central Park East Secondary School’s) Habits of Mind from the Coalition of Essential Schools 3) Studio Habits of Mind (copyright 2004 The President and Fellows of Harvard College on Behalf of Project Zero) From the VALUES Project, a network of schools and educators led by The Center for Art and Public Life, the Alameda County Office of Education, and Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 4) Sparks of Genius: The 13 Thinking Tools, Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein. The shared mental processes reported by highly creative people in very different fields. (Houghton Mifflin, 1999)" + "The Habits of Mind of Creative Engagement from Eric Booth"
ericbooth  habitsofmind  tcsnmy  creativity  learning  education  teaching  tedsizer  deborahmeier  lcproject  unschooling  homeschool 
august 2009 by robertogreco
Bridging Differences: Test Results Are Not a Good Stand-In for Achievement
"We forget that American economy lived off ingenuity of “ordinary” people, including many with limited or no formal educations & not just “best & brightest.” They sometimes saw themselves as anti-intellectuals—because we mistakenly created a false divide. Too many so-called intellectuals missed connection between hand & eye & brain—not to mention ear, feet & stomach! Americans turned their “ordinary” fascination w/ world of work into hobbies & finding new ways to do old things & old ways to do new things...They produced actual goods & products—good decently paid work was a source of pride. In less than half a century we have lost it. We produce less & less...I was stunned to read that we put a financier in charge of rethinking the auto industry. We need dreamers & tinkerers to invent a new America, not more fancy financial handlers...connection btwn such schooling & real-life achievement, btwn schools that prepare us for 2lst C rather than schools that expect us to actively invent it."
us  education  schooling  intellectualism  anti-intellectualism  learning  schools  publicschools  arneduncan  barackobama  finance  gm  industry  manual  bluecollar  whitecollar  crisis  gamechanging  reinvention  deschooling  unschooling  tinkering  making  make  tcsnmy  deborahmeier  testing  assessment 
june 2009 by robertogreco

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