24 09 2006

There was the article about the Texas principal hiding behind his paddle — “He stands behind a practice headed toward extinction.”

Maybe we’re supposed to be comforted by the extinction idea but go look at the picture and maybe you‘ll understand why I’m glad my children are not being beaten by this large man.

Read the rest of this entry »

Human Circus Tricks in Partisan Red and Blue

24 09 2006

Cirque du Soleil Corteo - NYT photograph

When “Place” Wins Over “Person”

24 09 2006

It helps my own understanding to sharply distinguish school as institutional place, from education as personal goal/ attribute. What we compel is showing up at the place, not becoming an educated person.

After Abu Ghraib, a Stanford psychologist detailed how “place” can win over “person” through concepts like institutionalization, escalating dehumanization, stress and stereotyping, the seduction of boredom, the evil of inaction and much more. Sounds too much like what’s gone wrong between school and education — we’ve institutionalized thinking and learning and productive work, and lost the individuals we meant to inspire and empower in the process.

. . . experts say incentives make sense because they parallel the working world, where employees are given financial incentives to work harder or better. Some experts say incentives are acceptable if the rewards are education-related — laptops, say, instead of cars.

“In education, we just find such few things that work,” said Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a liberal-leaning research organization. Read the rest of this entry »

Independent Knowledge work

24 09 2006

School culture can’t hang on in its ossified state.
The pale, phony pretense that school is rigorous “real-world work” is absurd.

There can be no cultural credibility without integrating REAL real-world transformations arising from video gaming, Googling, and blogging. Take robot theology a la Anne Foerst, for instance, something else you don’t learn in school.

Last summer, the NY Times reported and forecast developments in immersive video gaming: more character driven, more open to design and construction by the player rather than just “riding” the game like a roller coaster with fixed thrills, and the rise of truly interactive games that, through advances in artificial intelligence, can learn from the player as well as the player learning from the game.

That’s real knowledge work, construction and creation, where the ethics of artificial intelligence come into play. (Not work — play!)

So what does our culture need/want kids to learn before they become working, voting citizens, about being designers, teachers and creators rather than dumb-terminal recipients to be programmed? Can we reasonably hope they’ll treat nascent artificial intelligence with any more respect and ethical enlightenment than their own school culture offered them as learners? (we may be stupid but we’re smart enough not to believe that . . .)

At heart, technology may be a story about kids not needing the culture of school at all. JJ

Right Problem, Wrong Answer!

24 09 2006

We Need a National School Test
By William J. Bennett and Rod Paige
Thursday, September 21, 2006
We need to find better and more efficient ways to produce an educated population and close the achievement gaps in our education system. Americans do ultimately get themselves educated — at work, after school, online, in adulthood — but a lot of time and money are wasted in the process.

My eminently sensible unschooling pal Nance retorts:

But rather than resort to more of the same failed practices, how about we build on what these fellows say IS working. Americans do get themselves educated?


Let’s take all that time and effort and money we spend on a system that doesn’t work for many and give all these terrific Americans more resources to continue the good work they are already doing.


Failing — at Freedom to Learn

24 09 2006

Can we imagine no better meaning for education than mere school?

Bad Sounds of Schlocky Political Theatre

24 09 2006

Election years are not my favorite. It’s like everything human — both thinking and feeling — gets sent on vacation for the duration:

All in all, too much focus on (and ceaseless amplification of) small differences, with not nearly enough creative impetus toward harmony, symphony, improvisation, beauty, truth and inspiration.
Both liberals and conservatives could speak to such deafening discord, too, or at least Ds and Rs, from what I read . . .

For example, once again education is supposedly the top issue for voters in Florida’s gubernatorial race. Also once again, improving education for kids is set up as a forced choice between ever-higher teacher salaries and ever-higher aggregate test scores as the route to ever-tighter government controls over education (guess which party is which, any third-grader could get this answer right — maybe it should be a freebie on the FCAT?)

Neither one of which, nor any combination of which, is my answer! Because education is not about government or grownup choices and controls — there’s nowhere in this election or any other I’ve seen in my fifty years steeped in education issues, for those of us certain that schools must be held accountable for each LEARNER’s quality of experience rather than pandering to the political demands of either teachers OR taxpayers.