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Published by Lori Pickert on May 1, 2009 at 11:36 AM

We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about. — Einstein


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Published by Lori Pickert on April 24, 2009 at 12:35 PM

If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden, or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi desert. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that has rolled under the radiator. — W. Beran Wolfe


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Published by Lori Pickert on April 17, 2009 at 01:20 PM

Here’s what I’m thinking about today:

Joanne Jacobs linked to this article in Slate: In the recession, does advanced education really pay off?

Interesting in general, but particularly this stuck with me:

And what about the people whose degrees and passions lie along paths that are eroding beneath them? As in, oh, the dear journalism students. Sam writes that when he started journalism school at the University of Missouri in 2004, “I was OK with the low pay expectations and was fully willing to start at the bottom of the food chain.” He promptly got a job at the local paper “and just as promptly, was laid off.” He's working at Applebee’s. “My question, I suppose, is this: For a person who had dreamed of covering sports for a newspaper (and developed few web-based skills to supplement his writing skills), what is the best option? Go back to school in a different area (which I can't afford), keep pushing my resume to those who aren't hiring anyway, or give up my dream for something more plausible?”

And here is something that I wrote last year but never got around to posting:

Sometimes it seems like education focuses on a best-case scenario. Go to a good school, get good grades, participate in extracurricular activities, get into a good college, get a degree, get a job, get a house and two cars and a big TV, be happy. We drop our children off at Kindergarten (or, these days, preschool) and their new sneakers and their shiny lunchboxes reflect our wish for them to be happy forever — to move seamlessly from one good place to another.

Are we fostering the attitudes our children need when things don’t go as planned?

How did we create this kid who was smart enough to get through college, smart enough to be a professional journalist, but evidently not smart enough to figure out how to create a new strategy when outside forces went against him?

There’s a lot of buzz lately about “21st century skills” (the so-called “soft skills” like critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, and working cooperatively) and I tell you what — this is what it’s really about. It’s about how we drop the ball when we train kids to pick up skills and knowledge but somehow strip away their ability to think for themselves, weigh options, form opinions, and make decisions. When I read that bit about the journalism student, I couldn’t help picturing him as a confused little mouse wondering who moved his cheese.

Things don’t always go your way, you don’t always have control over everything, and sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. Even if you did everything you were supposed to do. Even if you got straight As. Even if you were the best employee. You are not entitled to a perfect life, even if you think you deserve one. Things go wrong.

Education should do more than prepare kids to fill job openings. It should prepare them to be something more than the sum of their salary and their possessions. It should strengthen their ability to deal with the unknown, not weaken it.

Open thread

Published by Lori Pickert on April 10, 2009 at 02:40 PM

Curriculum is the framework and rationale for doing what you do, not a list of activities. — Greenman and Stonehenge, Primetimes: A Handbook for Excellence in Infant and Toddler Programs

A few really meaty questions are already in for this weekend’s open thread. Check back here for pontificating and good times. Leave a comment; leave a question; leave a hello! And have a great weekend.

Open thread

Published by Lori Pickert on April 4, 2009 at 01:28 PM

We must give enormous credit to the potential and the power that children possess. We must be convinced that children, like us, have stronger powers than those we have been told about, powers which we all possess — us and the children, stronger potential than we give them credit for. We must understand how, without even realising it, we make so little use of the energy potential within each of us. — Loris Malaguzzi

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Published by Lori Pickert on March 27, 2009 at 01:05 PM

In order to understand what kind of behaviors classrooms promote, one must become accustomed to observing what, in fact, students actually do in them. What students do in a classroom is what they learn (as Dewey would say), and what they learn to do is the classroom’s message (as McLuhan would say). Now, what is it that students do in the classroom? Well, mostly they sit and listen to the teacher. Mostly, they are required to believe in authorities, or at least pretend to such belief when they take tests. Mostly they are required to remember. They are almost never required to make observations, formulate definitions, or perform any intellectual operations that go beyond repeating what someone else says is true. They are rarely encouraged to ask substantive questions, although they are permitted to ask about administrative and technical details. (How long should the paper be? Does spelling count? When is the assignment due?) It is practically unheard of for students to play any role in determining what problems are worth studying or what procedures of inquiry ought to be used. Examine the types of questions teachers ask in classrooms, and you will find that most of them are what might technically be called “convergent questions,” but what might more simply be called “Guess what I am thinking” questions. — Neil Postman, Teaching as a Subversive Activity, 1969


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Published by Lori Pickert on March 20, 2009 at 01:59 PM

Unless warped by cruelty or neglect, children are by nature not only loving and kind but serious and purposeful.John Holt

Just about everything [very little children] do, they do as well as they can. Except when tired or hungry, or in the grip of passion, pain, or fear, they are moved to act almost entirely by curiosity, desire for mastery and competence, and pride in work well done. But the schools, and many adults outside of school, hardly ever recognize or honor such motives, can hardly even imagine that they exist.John Holt

Ask children. Hear them. Teach children to ask the questions they want answers to. Believe that what a seven-year-old has to say is important. Because it is. Just ask. — Ann Marie Corgill, Of Primary Importance: What’s Essential in Teaching Young Writers

Nothing you do for children is ever wasted. — Garrison Keillor

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Published by Lori Pickert on March 13, 2009 at 02:48 PM


If the next generation is to face the future with zest and self-confidence, we must educate them to be original as well as competent. — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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Published by Lori Pickert on March 6, 2009 at 02:48 PM

Open thread

Published by Lori Pickert on February 27, 2009 at 12:09 AM