We’re living in the future

Published by Lori Pickert on September 19, 2011 at 01:57 PM

My guess is that, overall, there is enough content on-line to obtain a world-class education. — Arnold Kling, Schools without Classrooms


Conversation about character

Published by Lori Pickert on September 15, 2011 at 06:28 PM

Race to Nowhere” has helped to coalesce a growing movement of psychologists and educators who argue that the systems and methods now in place to raise and educate well-off kids in the United States are in fact devastating them. — What if the Secret to Success is Failure?, New York Times

[T]hey asked Peterson if he could narrow the list [of character strengths] down to a more manageable handful, and he identified a set of strengths that were, according to his research, especially likely to predict life satisfaction and high achievement. After a few small adjustments (Levin and Randolph opted to drop love in favor of curiosity), they settled on a final list: zest, grit, self-control, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism and curiosity. — ibid.

[T]hey also see many … parents who, while pushing their children to excel, also inadvertently shield them from exactly the kind of experience that can lead to character growth. As Fierst put it: “Our kids don’t put up with a lot of suffering. They don’t have a threshold for it. They’re protected against it quite a bit. And when they do get uncomfortable, we hear from their parents. We try to talk to parents about having to sort of make it O.K. for there to be challenge, because that’s where learning happens.” — ibid.

A long but interesting article that also highlights the importance of grit. This article talks about helping schoolkids achieve the “deeper success” of “a happy, meaningful, productive life.” Can you teach character at school? Can you create circumstances that help children develop those important traits? And are homeschooled parents any more "O.K." with their kids experiencing the challenge that leads to character growth?


This skewed system

Published by Lori Pickert on September 9, 2011 at 05:58 PM

Schools place overwhelming emphasis on teaching children to solve problems correctly, not creatively. This skewed system dominates our first twenty years of life; tests, grades, college admission, degrees and job placements demand and reward targeted logical thinking, factual competence, and language and math skills — all purviews of the left brain. … [T]he brain is a creature of habit; using well-established neural pathways is more economical than elaborating new or unusual ones. Additionally, failure to train creative faculties allows those neural connections to wither. — neuroscientist Floyd Bloom

Creativity. Use it or lose it.


Safe but ultimately doomed

Published by Lori Pickert on September 6, 2011 at 04:38 PM

If you do a job where someone tells you exactly what to do, they will find someone cheaper than you to do it. And yet our schools are churning out kids who are stuck looking for jobs where the boss tells them exactly what to do.

As we get ready for the 93rd year of universal public education, here’s the question every parent and taxpayer needs to wrestle with: Are we going to applaud, push or even permit our schools (including most of the private ones) to continue the safe but ultimately doomed strategy of churning out predictable, testable and mediocre factory-workers?

The post-industrial revolution is here. Do you care enough to teach your kids to take advantage of it? — Seth Godin, Back to (the wrong) School

One of the biggest advantages my sons have, being homeschooled, is the opportunity to develop their interests and talents over years.

When I graduated from college, I benefited hugely from having worked my way through school. I graduated not just with a degree, but with four years of relevant work experience. I knew what I wanted to do, what I did not want to do, and I had the wherewithal to get it.

Similarly, my sons are already amassing meaningful experiences, education tied to their own talents, and solid ideas about what they want to do with their lives. I feel like they are lightyears ahead, not in the sense of long division or history facts, but in self-knowledge and world-knowledge and confidence based on having already worked hard at something important. Can we give that to public-school students?

Learning from a position of strength

Published by Lori Pickert on August 31, 2011 at 01:33 AM

I think one of the things we’ve done is we’ve trained the passion out of our students from the 2nd grade up. I think kindergartners and 1st graders and some 2nd graders still have it, but after that, forget it.

Instead of me having all these preconceived ideas of what they should doing, saying, and producing, I have to be open to what I find in each student. I have to discover — and help each student discover — their talents and interests and create a learning environment where they can use those gifts and passions to learn from a position of strength. — Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Passion-Based Learning for the 21st Century

Let them challenge themselves

Published by Lori Pickert on August 26, 2011 at 12:33 PM

“At Tinkering School, children arrive not knowing what they’re going to do,” says Welch. “Gever whips off the tablecloth and says, ‘These are the tools and materials I challenge you with and this is what I challenge you to build.’ But wouldn’t it be better if the children said, ‘We challenge ourselves’?”

[W]ouldn’t it serve our children better if we could then give them tools and materials and let them do their own work? — BrightWorks, A School that Rethinks School

An interesting article about a new private school that is attempting to embody many of the things I write about on this blog. My only quibble: it sounds like the “collaborators” (the staff) get to choose the theme.


Published by Lori Pickert on August 25, 2011 at 02:04 PM

Gever Tulley’s TED Talk about the importance of tinkering. Via MindShift.

The familiar, shrinking half-life of education

Published by Lori Pickert on August 25, 2011 at 02:03 PM

…the now-familiar, shrinking half-life of education: the skills we teach seem to be quickly outmoded. Perhaps, but that’s the great value of the humanities then. The less directly practical an education is, the longer it is useful.Alex Reid

When you add it all up, you’re ready

Published by Lori Pickert on August 23, 2011 at 01:04 PM

The way I see it, higher education, ten, twenty years from now is going to look very different. It won’t be the brick and mortar and the semester and a course in this and a course in that. It’s going to be more outcomes based and skill based, project based. You don’t have to take these sixty courses or whatever it is to be a journalist. Someone will identify your gaps and then you address the gaps, in whatever way is possible. And that may mean taking an online course from New Zealand, being in a discussion forum with people in Canada, an internship in Mexico with Habitat for Humanity. You just need to get the knowledge and skills whatever way you can and then test out or present a portfolio. And when you add it all up, a few years later, you actually are ready to be a good journalist. — Judy Baker, as quoted in Anya Kamenetz’s DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education

The best reason

Published by Lori Pickert on August 20, 2011 at 01:02 PM

The best reason to give a child a good school … is so that child will have a happy childhood, and not so that it will help IBM in competing with Sony. … There is something ethically embarrassing about resting a national agenda on the basis of sheer greed. — Jonathan Kozol