Who Made Education’s Nice List?

23 12 2006

“Welcome to today’s chat on the power of influence, and the most
influential people, organizations, research studies, and information
sources in education policy over the past 10 years.”

Education Week

Friday, December 22, 2006

Guests: Kati Haycock, executive director of The Education Trust, Chester
E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, and
Christopher B. Swanson, director of the Editorial Projects in Education
Research Center.

Released last week, the study, Influence: A Study of the Factors Shaping
Education Policy, asked leading education-policy experts first to
identify and then to rate highly influential agents, or influentials,
across those different categories
. . .

Two Supposedly Smart Teacher Gifts

23 12 2006

But, but . . . is she teaching new teachers to give these gifts to their
And if these new teachers had ever once received these two priceless gifts back when they themselves were students,
would there be any need for these habits of mind to remain at the top of the wish list? Would they feel dependent on some omnipotent authority figure to bestow them?
I personally think a much more joyful and less institutionally self-serving pair of gifts would be a spirit of open inquiry
and unbounded self-examination . . . JJ

Mess Is Robust, with Resonance!

23 12 2006

A new book promises to free me and our clever, creative, curious children from our overbearing anti-clutter culture, just in time to elude the clutches of January as national Get Organized Month.

(One shudders to think how much more Big School can stand to systemize! Is even more corporate power to tidy up both school and home really healthy for children and families? Rowdy recess games are long gone, purses and cupcakes are being banned as unacceptably untidy, long lists of clothing, toys and ingestible substances including candy  have been purged, along with  books judged too stimulating and therefore disorderly for school shelves. )

So I tend to welcome counterpoint now and then, toward uncontrolled, untidy thought, word and deed. Here’s the liberating Message of Mess the authors offer: my mess tells a story. MY story!

“Mess is robust and adaptable. . . as opposed to brittle, like a parent’s rigid schedule that doesn’t allow for a small child’s wool-gathering or balkiness. Mess is complete, in that it embraces all sorts of random elements. Mess tells a story: you can learn a lot about people from their detritus, whereas neat — well, neat is a closed book. Neat has no narrative and no personality (as any cover of Real Simple magazine will demonstrate). Mess is also natural, as Mr. Freedman and Mr. Abrahamson point out, and a real time-saver.

Indeed, the most valuable dividend of living with mess may be time.”

My thinking like our home may be riotously messy, but that means potent power of story everywhere. For example, here’s a stray thought I piled in my tyranny of time stack:

Daylight Saving Time gives us the opportunity to enjoy sunny summer evenings . . .

Gift that may be, but its giver is NOT the same order-crazed linear management systems that crowded out everybody’s lazy time in the sun in the first place!

Something else in the same pile is this unself-consciously stupid story:
“A new law to extend DST to the first Sunday in November will take effect in 2007 . . . For decades, candy manufacturers lobbied for a Daylight Saving Time extension to Halloween, as many of the young trick-or-treaters gathering candy are not allowed out after dark, and thus an added hour of light means a big holiday treat — FOR THE CANDY INDUSTRY (emphasis added).”