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Archive for the ‘Great People Worth Stealing Ideas From’ Category

High Tech High: A model that works…

June 13, 2011 2 comments

Back in January, I was interested in creating a tool that would replace textbooks in the classroom and develop students’ skills of media consumption and production. Not surprisingly, I have found that this work is already being done and that the roadblock is not in designing the tool itself but in changing the “traditional” standards based model of schools. How can such a change in culture be accomplished and what examples will lead us there? I cannot say enough good things about the work of High Tech High. Particularly their efforts to link projects to the community (local and international) and their radically different approach to assessment (presentations of learning vs. end of quarter tests). Can the rest of our schools be “transformed by technology” or is there something else we must do?

Looking for innovation?

June 1, 2011 Leave a comment

This is a great talk on “new” resources for educational innovation. I am wondering how others feel about his statement that our system of education “stratifies society as much as it liberates it” and his suggestion to look to the slums for examples of creative solutions to our educational dilemma.

What would John Dewey say?

May 11, 2011 4 comments

I keep thinking about this idea as education as a means for achieving social justice and why the exercise of designing, adopting, and implementing new standards does not seem to be the answer for me. I guess I feel as though new standards put a band-aid on the problem. They are reactions to a failing system and can only treat symptoms of a deeper, fundamental problem. Our mile wide, inch deep curriculum in American schools is not the result of too many standards, but of our overall philosophy and approach to education. The goal seems to be to fill up the knowledge deficits in our students by supplying them with the information they require to be “successful” or “competitive.” Reducing the amount of information we teach without addressing the underlying assumptions and values that inform our practices is not going to be a lasting or satisfactory solution. What is missing for me, and maybe for many others too, is a guiding philosophy or set of principles that I can buy into.

So I went looking for some in the best place I could think of, in the works of John Dewey. I read, “My Pedagogic Creed,” one of his earlier essays, and found myself taking notes on almost every sentence (as per usual).

The first theme that struck me in this “creed” is the idea of education as a social process. I read about “social constructivism” as a theory of learning in a previous class, but Dewey is not sharing a theoretical framework for how people learn. He is extremely adamant that the failure to appreciate the social nature of education will result in an educative process that is “haphazard and arbitrary.” A true, social view of education realizes that the process has two sides,”one psychological and one sociological; and neither can be subordinated to the other or neglected without evil results following.”

Currently, it seems we try to deny both elements in the classroom in order to promote the study of abstract knowledge. We do so for the sake of preparing our future students. But Dewey points out, “it is impossible to prepare the child for any precise set conditions. To prepare him for the future life means to give him command of himself; it means so to train him that he will have the full and ready use of all his capacities.” And although one could stop here and argue that Dewey would agree with the new standards as a way to develop these capacities, he goes on to say that studying specific subject matter should not be the focus of school. According to Dewey, the real “progress is not in the succession of studies but in the development of new attitudes towards, and new interests in, experience.”

When progress is defined in these terms, as I believe it should be, how do our current standards and practices measure up?

Just curious…

Life Equations

April 22, 2011 1 comment

Life Equations.

Dan Meyer has a knack for coming up with innovative ways to engage students in math. Especially, his creative use of video footage in lesson plans. What I would like to see is students using the cameras to create, share, and solve problems with one another. That would be even more exciting!

Read this article about Dan Meyer and watch the embedded video!

See more of Dan Meyer’s ideas in this TED Talks. I couldn’t agree more with his statement that as educators, many of us our selling a product to a market that is not interested, but forced by law to buy it. I wrote about this very same thing in a writing assignment for another class. I believe we must strategically market educational reform if we expect students, teachers, administrators, parents, and government officials to buy into it. We are not just selling the idea of education to unmotivated students, it has become part of our cultural currency.

Where the Boys Are…

April 22, 2011 Leave a comment

A classmate sent me this video after I talked about my project in class. It has made me think about what kind of culture we create in schools and how it affects both males and females. The behavior guidelines we have set for students are very narrow. I remember one student telling me, “you’re not my mom!” Though I certainly wasn’t, I think it must have been frustrating for him to have women breathing down his neck all day. I may be another female in the education profession, but I will think differently about how I design curricula materials so that it is not biased to one sex.

Passion-Based Learning for the 21st Century

April 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Passion-Based Learning for the 21st Century.

My friend just sent me this interview with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and “passion based” learning. I like her approach for several reasons. The first because it echoes my own ideas about what changes must occur, and secondly because she is not advocating for something so radical that it cannot be practiced in today’s educational system. I have read a lot of teacher bashing reports lately, and I am not wanting to add to them. But maybe teachers act as their own worst enemy by not willing to change their own beliefs about teaching and learning. I myself have been guilty of blaming students, administrators, parents, and the standards for my own inability to try something new. And sometimes, this could be the reality, but I do believe it is less about trying one new thing then it is about changing your philosophy. What will it take to cause such a shift?