George Lucas Busy With School Reform Ideas To Spark Kids’ Ownership

20 04 2007

From the George Lucas Educational Foundation, “Room To Learn: An Italian Makeover”:

When a dozen or so educators from Indianapolis traveled to Reggio Emilia, Italy, several years ago to study the famous constructivist approach in that city’s preschools, they came back prepared for more than project based teaching — they came ready to decorate.
Last fall, the group offered elementary school teachers a classroom makeover in the Reggio Emilia style, and Sharon Olson, a teacher at Winding Ridge Elementary School, immediately volunteered.

Their decor strategy was based on the idea that to take ownership of their learning, children must own their learning space. So Olson and her Italian-influenced peers began by asking the third-grade students how they wanted their classroom to look. Her goal was to spark students’ curiosity and creativity by turning the room into a garden for exploration.

Doctor Seuss, Doctor JJ and Power of Story for Life At the Highest Levels of Government

20 04 2007

I have a homeschool mom friend and activist in Tennessee, a conservative Republican and Christian.

She served in uniform herself. She served NHEN as a fair and careful moderator who, imo, was tougher on herself than anyone else.

She even served on her local school board recently, and of course took undue lumps for being a homeschooling mom who according to the rhetorical excess of the times should therefore stay out of all public education business (as if it didn’t affect her family and community interests as full-fledged citizens just as much as anyone else??)

The short power of story is: I trust her heart , and though I’ve never met her in person, feel that I know her to be a Thinking Parent.

But like all of us who ARE thinking, she is always learning more. And she seems honestly open to that prospect, which is why I have admired her these many years despite the fact that our politics are not the same. She does her homework without foregone conclusions in mind.

So — all that is preamble to this. She has a Tennessee education blog, and after the SCOTUS decision the other day, she posted something that made me (the musical theatre mom whose daughter was assistant stage manager for “Seussical: the Musical” in community theatre last summer) smile, even though I hated that decision and disliked the way my homeschooling mom friend saw it.
She quoted a Dr. Seuss book, that “a person’s a person no matter how small” (Horton the elephant, remember?) as a way to affirm the rightness of the partial birth abortion ban.

I started to engage her in a debate on her own blog, but thought better of it. You know that role-conflict mode at a family reunion or maybe a big holiday, where you are thrown into impossible conflicting demands between being mother, wife, daughter and hostess or guest, say, all at the same time? I didn’t want to do that to her. Read the rest of this entry »

Blog Tour Day Seven and Conference Kick Off

20 04 2007

Enjoy today’s mini-interview with Teresa Heinz Kerry at The Democratic Daily, another treat for moms and daughters especially.

And try to catch opening day for her Women’s Health & the Environment Conference in Pittsburgh, being live-blogged here.

Full schedule and more details

Prez Candidates Write Their Own Stories and Ours, in Very Personal Books

20 04 2007

UPDATE – story link live now.

Don’t miss the Sunday book section of the New York Times! Favorite Daughter and I just read the select subscriber release of “The Politics of Prose” — a long piece analyzing the power of story revealed in books authored by all the various presidential candidates. (I hadn’t stopped to think that virtually all of them across the political spectrum have penned books already.)

Her honors English seminar chose Barack Obama’s “Dreams From My Father” as one of the term’s reading selections and they just discussed it yesterday. (She and her professor commiserated about their general disappointment with politicians writing literature.)

So this is timely for us.

But it’s timely for all Thinking Parents too.
For example, one thing that struck me is the lack of diversity in the types of brains that we’ve let politics narrow down to. We’re dominated by linear wonkish male-pattern lawyer brains (even in the female frontrunner!) although perhaps surprisingly Obama who is also a lawyer, deviates from that mold into a more whole-brained style of writing, you know, the kind of mind traditionally dismissed as “female?” 😉

Daniel Pink of course, says that linear left-brain, info obsessed thinking is so last century!

“The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind – computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind – creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers. Read the rest of this entry »