December 2009

This is terrific, and free for all, posted here with full permission by the generous sharing of Godin and his contributors.   Every slide is great, but my favorites are 14 (Chris Meyer); 19 (Chris Anderson); 20 (Tom Peters); 25 (Dan Pink); 43 (Dan Balter); 54 (Tom Sanders); and 67 (Dan Dougherty).

Chris Meyers (14) writes about the obligation we have to adapt to changing environments: “The shape of companies will evolve as the world changes around them.. (more…)

Two pieces published in the New York Times this week entirely separately support the argument made here that our students need not just “hard” knowledge and skills to prepare them, they need also to be powerfully effective in their ability to create, imagine, innovate, and apply these skills in the real world.  In one, a military expert pleads for more innovative thinking from our Army leaders, and in another, we learn about preparing students for careers which blend digital skills and creativity.  I will end by connecting these ideas to a recent piece from Yong Zhao, arguing our schools need to teach creativity more effectively.

The first piece, an op-ed by Mark Moyar, a professor of national security affairs at Marine Corps University, is entitled “An Officer and a Creative Man.” The crisis emerging in the armed services, Dr. Moyar writes, is “a significant portion are not demonstrating the vital leadership attributes of creativity, flexibility and initiative.”

Researchers have found that the leadership ranks of big organizations are dominated by either “sensing-judging” or “intuitive thinking” personality types. Those in the former category rely primarily on the five senses to tell them about the world; they prefer structure and standardization, doing things by the book and maintaining tight control.

Today, the Army has more intuitive-thinking people among its lieutenants and captains than at the upper levels.   (more…)

On Our Minds @ ScholasticOver at a blog I have not seen before, On our minds at Scholastic, they have published an interesting list of the decade’s ten big ideas for education.   I think it is a very helpful way of thinking about the changes of our era.

Some on their list are not in my focal area, and/or I am not sure I would have chosen them:  1. alternate paths to teaching; 5. charter schools; 6. a focus on adolescent literacy 9. it takes a village; and 10. the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

But I am quite intrigued with the other five:

2. Transformative Technology — From interactive whiteboards to online education, 1-to-1 computing to eReaders, for the first time in the history of American education, classrooms are increasingly plugged in — and so are the students.

Regular readers know how important this is to me– and how enthusiastic I am not just about getting technology into the classrooms, but getting it into the hands of students, empowering them, engaging them, and respecting their powerful proficiency with technology as tools for their learning.   (more…)

In the spirit of the season, I am seeking to offer small bouquets of appreciation to some with whom sometimes I argue here.  Last week I offered kind words for Daniel Willingham, and this week I wish to do so for Bob Compton (producer of the Two Million Minutes movies), with whom some readers remember I had a sharp (perhaps too sharp) quarrel in October.

Today however I want to send sincere words of praise for his fine post last week on a school he visited in South Korea, a post entitled “Returning to Middle School Engineering and Creativity–IQ-EQ– Class.”  It is excellent; I hope he doesn’t mind my quoting some of his fine observations:

In American public Middle and High School, I’m unaware of any formal hands-on classes in actually designing and building things.

The Korean economy seems firmly committed to staying in the design and building of products and this three-year course is a unique way to introduce students to that thinking and have them experience the process first hand.  Based on the principal’s translated explanation and the EQ/IQ teacher’s enthusiasm for this class, it is clearly one of the students’ favorites and is highly regarded by the school.

This sounds like a great learning program for these students: this is an educational approach I also am very enthusiastic about, one where students “actually design and build things.”   (more…)

Happy to see today that  this new publication from NAIS, (National Association of Independent Schools), a two page flyer on myths of independent schools, includes myth number 8: independent schools are traditionalists.  When this list was first published on the Bassett blog in September, the list included only seven, but your humble blogger suggested to NAIS President Bassett that they missed one, that we as an industry need to correct mis-perceptions that our schools are stuck in the 19th century educationally.   In fact, some of our member schools are on the cutting edge of educational innovation, and we need to celebrate that!  The list, now republished for a wider audience, includes my suggestion as the 8th Myth:

MYTH #8: Independent Schools Are Traditionalists

Fact: It’s true – Independent schools are (educationally)
preserving a tradition of excellence and perpetuating
a legacy of learning. BUT – independent schools are
also educational innovators where students are learning
21st century skills of critical thinking, real-world problem
solving, innovation and creativity, and collaboration.

College SummitEngage and Prepare: the distillation of quality education.  Last week I wrote at length about engagement; here I want to return to two topics: the right data for data driven decision-making, and what it means to be serious about preparation.
As Tony Wagner writes in the Global Achievement Gap, Schools that work “hold themselves collectively accountable for quality student work and student success in college and beyond.. they keep track of how many students go on to postsecondary education and how well they do there.”

We are not serious about either topic, preparation or data,  if we limit our attention to SAT scores and the names of the colleges which admit our students are admitted.   Now I am not saying to eliminate altogether this pair, but I am saying that there is other information far, far more valuable to collect and use, and at the top of this list is the proficiency of our graduates in colleges, graduate schools and careers.

Addressing the topic this month is a valuable new monograph from College Summit and the Center for American Progress: “How College Proficiency Information Can Help High Schools Drive Student Success.”  “College proficiency reporting makes sure we don’t leave the success of America’s high schools to chance.” (more…)

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