Jan 212011
 
When an instructional day is relatively short (about 5 hours per day), after-school activities are very important. In Finland, there is a specific national strategy to address out-of-school time.

I’m so *tired* of all the comparisons of other nations’ school systems to those in the USA. Don’t people get it? The USA’s entire democratic and governmental make up cannot be compared to any others, because there is no other country in the world that operates a democracy the way the USA does! Every other country that people desperately look to for “solutions” or “take-away lessons” has some kind of unified nationalism going on — something which does not exist in the USA because of the unique power given to the individual states — something Americans seem very proud of and eager to point out at any given opportunity. The United States are not united!

The USA is also not a socialist democracy. Education, therefore, is NOT regarded the same way as it is going to be regarded in socialist or… (gasp!) communist countries. By virtue of being capitalist, it is nearly impossible to espouse the same values about education as a communist or socialist country — the philosophies just do not align.

So please can we stop with the “Let’s-Look-to-This-Country’s-National-System-To-See-What-We-Can-Do-Better” posts? The USA is not a country with a homogenous population. It’s not a country where citizens pay upwards of 40% in federal taxes. It’s not a country where national needs trump state needs. It’s not a country where the common good trumps the individual good (hell naw!). In my opinion, looking to countries where all of these things exist will do little good at solving the bigger problems of education in the USA. The solutions involve either thinking very creatively about the current situation in the USA – and applying different strategies to each state, or to change the entire country’s philosophy and move to something more socialist, nationalist, and unifying… and we all know *that* last option ain’t gonna happen.

Can you *imagine* if someone at the US DoE pushed forward a “specific national strategy to address out-of-school time? Can you imagine how people would react?

Jan 122011
 
Why not have the business expert serve as first in command when it comes to business decisions, and have the educational leader first in charge of education decisions. This would clear up a whole lot of unnecessary political mumbo jumbo and the reality is that the two positions are usually necessary to effectively run schools.

I’m so glad to see Lisa Nielsen make this point. Not only every district but every SCHOOL should have both an instructional leader and a business/managerial leader. It is possible for one person to be both of these, but it is very rare and therefore not often a choice.

Jan 042011
 
My struggle now is to continue to work on preventing my propensity for cool tools (toys) from coloring my promotion of education practices and facilities that are more relevant to today’s children, today’s prevailing information environment, and the unpredictable future for which we are preparing our children.

This is indeed the challenge of anyone who likes technology and education. In this sense, I often think that the best people to turn to when we are designing and implementing technology for learning are the educators who confess to *not* liking technology. The rest of us — the self-confessed techies — are too often victims of The Latest Thing, and we preach about its relevance to education as if it’s going to change the world. The fact is, we must focus on the *learning* first, and I love that Warlick is honest enough to admit that he struggles with this challenge. I think we’ve all been victim of this, to be honest (those of us who like technology, anyway).

I do hope we can look with fresh eyes on learning, not on the cool tools. Let’s use the tools that makes learning stick, rather than throwing tech at learning to see what tech sticks.

May 272010
 

"[. . .] people in leadership positions do not have a systemic understanding of the causes of failure, in part because the same dysfunctional social arrangements that do much to cause failure also do a great deal to obscure its origins. The process mystifies itself. This is a sphere in which the truth of the dictum about those failing to understand the past being condemned to repeat it has been amply demonstrated. The best ideas out there are not necessarily proof against systemic pathology unless they are implemented in ways that take those pathologies into account." (p.5)

So – what kind of leaders do we need to see past the dysfunction in which they are so steeped in?

Payne, C. (2008). So much reform, so little change: The persistence of failure in urban schools. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Feb 112010
 

Kentucky Becomes the First State to Adopt Common Standards

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The Kentucky board of education voted unanimously this morning to adopt the common standards. It’s the first state to do so. And it did so even before the first public draft of the K-12 standards has been issued. (Nonpublic drafts have been circulating among state officials for review.)

The fact that the United States *don’t* have common K-12 standards is mind-baffling. Hooray for Kentucky. But considering it’s 2010 and they’re the first to adopt them, how long do you think before the other 48 states, 2 territories and 1 district join in?

2020?
2035?

I’m willing to take bets.

Jan 262010
 

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ASCD is attempting to create an online network for educational professionals. They clearly haven’t heard the “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” adage. Online networks like EDge already exist in several forms — via Twitter, Facebook, and umpteenzillion Nings. What will make EDge different, other than the ASCD brand? C’mon, ASCD… keep up with the times.