For years now, in schools I’ve heard people claiming that this new thing or that old thing is no good because it doesn’t prepare students for the real world.
Since it seems to be such an enormous motivator for people, I’d like to come clean and ask for help in understanding what this real world is. You’d assume I would know. After all, I’ve lived and traveled all over the world, fished offshore for lobster and started multiple businesses, and have communications on most continents. Am I in the real world? I don’t know!
But I do know a couple things. This real world, which sounds fictional to me, is always invoked by people who are fearful of change. They often see education as a system where we process kids through reliably and achieve standardized, reliable results. Controlling everything possible is admittedly comforting.
In 2003, Orchard Gardens Pilot School in Massachusetts, nearly 100 percent black and Hispanic, opened its doors with a posse of security guards to ensure the campus was under tight controls. (read more…)
Last month, I received the great honor of being recognized by Education Week magazine and the U.S. Department of Education as a 2013 Leader to Learn From. It was a tremendous honor to receive special recognition from Assistant Secretary of Education Deb Delisle and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The other 15 leaders receiving the recognition came from all around the country, and the type of school systems represented was very diverse.
It was great to connect with these other educational leaders in the short amount of time we had together in Washington, D.C. We are making sure to continue to stay connected to learn from each other as we all recognize the variety of strengths we bring to the table. However, this got me thinking: if you’re a connected educator, a lifelong learner, striving to constantly be better no matter by what means, you are a leader to learn from. (read more…)
I’ve been wrestling with what would work as an American collective narrative, what could unite us in investing and supporting public education the way we should. The Finnish people appear to agree collectively on a narrative of equity, for example.
Turning the mirror back on the United States, we’d like to believe that Americans could gather around this same call of equity. In reality though, Americans prefer a narrative of meritocracy. We tell rags-to-rich stories of folks, such as Bill Gates, for example. This so-called poor man who came from nothing and built an empire attended one of the most privileged boarding schools in the nation; the college he dropped out of was a small university — Harvard. Gates had access to a computer when few people even really knew what computers were. The reality of his narrative is really one of privilege, connections, and access.
So, what might be a narrative Americans could rally around? I’ve come to believe that perhaps personalization is the answer. (read more…)