Monday, January 18, 2016

Remembering Dr. King

A poignant way to remember Dr. King is expressed by Michael Eric Dyson in I May Not Get There With You. Among other comments in the concluding chapter, Dyson talks about the King holiday and offers his opinion on how the day should be celebrated. I tend to agree with his position.

 When we celebrate the King holiday, we do not simply celebrate the life of Martin Luther King. We celebrate individuals like Ella Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer, Bob Moses and Charles Sherrod, Septima Clark and Harry Moore, Emmett Till and Medgar Evans, Victoria Gray and Malcolm X, Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young, Angela Davis and Huey Newton, Mickey Schwerner and James Chaney, Andy Goodman and Bayard Rustin, Viola Liuzzo and James Reeb, Addie Mae Collins and Carole Robertson, Denise McNair and Cynthia Wesley, Julian Bond and John Lewis, Andrew Young and Ralph Abernathy, Hosea Williams and Jesse Jackson, Diane Nash and James Bevel, Dorothy Cotton and Johnnie Tillmon, and legions of other souls who sought to bring justice and freedom to Southern black doors and Northern project apartments. We celebrate King's insistence that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," as we extend his radical legacy to embrace citizens who are oppressed...

Friday, January 8, 2016

Worth Reading...

Sharing a few highlights from this week's collection.

1. We Need More Curious Dreamers, Tinkerers, and Makers (Fryer)- several great embedded videos and links.

all it takes is a dreamer. Can you imagine the Wright Brothers if one was a lawyer and one was an accountant? Why are you going to build this stupid airplane? It only carries one person. Who’s going to buy it? What kind of a profit margin are we going to get? We’ve got forty percent on bicycles. What are we doing this for? Think about the liability! Everybody can sue us! It’s a bad idea. Yeah, let’s not do it. As long as we have that opinion, we’re stuck. What you have to say is, “Gosh it’s something no one has ever done before. Let’s try it.

2. Denis Dutton: A Darwinian Theory of Beauty- TED collaborates with animator Andrew Park to illustrate Denis Dutton's theory on beauty- that art, music and other beautiful things, far from being simply "in the eye of the beholder," are a core part of human nature with deep evolutionary origins.

3. Looks aren't everything.  Believe me, I'm a model (Russell)-

4. A Radical Rethink of School (Educating Modern Learners)- Jim Calhoun, the principal of Castle View High School in Castle Rock, CO, talks about a school within a school he has helped develop.

5. Maker-Centered Learning and the Development of Self (Agency by Design)- a white paper presented by the Agency by Design.  Identifies beliefs of maker-centered learning for young people.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Bliss of Intrinsic Learning

Vision and Mission statement from the Mosaic Collective which is part of Castle View High School in Colorado.  Short, to the point and enjoy the phrase, "the bliss of intrinsic learning".

Born from experience, frustration, curiosity, and a sense of educational righteousness, the Mosaic Collective exists to promote the bliss of intrinsic learning and a strong focus on community by intentionally practicing and reflecting on what is good for learners – of all ages and backgrounds.

Worth Viewing

Sharing a few videos worth viewing.  To some extent, each video asks the "what it" or "what could be question"about schools and education and forces the viewer to consider whether the current paradigm is successful.

1.  The Surprising Truth About Learning in Schools (Richardson)

2. The Rhizomatic Lense: Seeing Learning From the Perspective of Abundance (Cormier)

3. Innovation Specialist Don Wettrick on Unlearning

4. Building Children's Writing Skills Through Learning Through Play

Building children's writing skills through learning through play from LEGO Foundation on Vimeo.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Future Wise

Sharing a few highlights from Future Wise: Educating Our Children for a Changing World by David Perkins.

Likely to matter in the lives learners are likely to live: that’s a very useful phrase, but it’s also a bit of a mouthful. So let’s attach a single word to it: lifeworthy, that is, likely to matter in the lives learners are likely to live

The hard fact is that our minds hold on only to knowledge we have occasion to use in some corner of our lives—personal, artistic, civic, something else. Overwhelmingly knowledge unused is forgotten. It’s gone. Whatever its intrinsic value might be, it can’t be lifeworthy unless it’s there

Opportunity cost makes a fundamental point about decision making: when we decide in favor of one course of action, we forgo others that might have generated certain benefits. A cost of the path we choose is loss of benefits from the abandoned paths. With quadratic equations as with anything else, we have to ask not just whether they are nice to understand in themselves but what might have been learned instead

Meanwhile, biological research into the fundamental dynamics of life holds strong prospects of extending the human life span considerably in the course of the next fifty years. What sense would a K–12 or K–16 education make in a world where people live to be, say, 150 years old? Today we speak casually of lifelong learning, but in a few decades, it will likely be so much the norm as hardly to require its own label. Cycles of formal learning as well as enriched processes of on-the-job learning seem destined to become routine

To generalize, multiyear curricula tend to be constructed as journeys toward expertise, with little effort to ask what topics within the discipline speak most powerfully and directly to the lives learners are likely to live.

The bottom line is hardly subtle: the traditional hierarchical structure of education is a rather clumsy vehicle for engaging the rich information and communication affordances of the contemporary world and preparing today’s learners to thrive in that world. In contrast, a flexible network structure embraces the opportunities in a much more expansive and generative manner

We need to ask, for everything from democracy to quadratic equations and for many themes not typically taught at all, “Is this knowledge likely to go somewhere in learners’ lives?” We need to ask, when this topic comes up, “Does it offer insight, does it inform action, and does it inspire ethics?” And as to opportunity, “Is this topic likely to come up often and importantly rather than rarely and trivially

Thus, wondering at provides us with an inspiration and a compass for wondering about the unknown. After all, the unknown has no top and no bottom, no border to the North, South, West, or East

Understanding something means being able to think with what you know about it, not just to know standard answers or do routine procedures accurately and fluently

Friday, November 13, 2015

Second Machine Age Highlights

Sharing a few highlights from The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee.

Now comes the second machine age. Computers and other digital advances are doing for mental power—the ability to use our brains to understand and shape our environments—what the steam engine and its descendants did for muscle power

We’re heading into an era that won’t just be different; it will be better, because we’ll be able to increase both the variety and the volume of our consumption. When we phrase it that way—in the dry vocabulary of economics—it almost sounds unappealing. Who wants to consume more and more all the time? But we don’t just consume calories and gasoline. We also consume information from books and friends, entertainment from superstars and amateurs, expertise from teachers and doctors, and countless other things that are not made of atoms.

Progress on some of the oldest and toughest challenges associated with computers, robots, and other digital gear was gradual for a long time. Then in the past few years it became sudden; digital gear started racing ahead, accomplishing tasks it had always been lousy at and displaying skills it was not supposed to acquire anytime soon.

As Moore’s Law works over time on processors, memory, sensors, and many other elements of computer hardware (a notable exception is batteries, which haven’t improved their performance at an exponential rate because they’re essentially chemical devices, not digital ones), it does more than just make computing devices faster, cheaper, smaller, and lighter. It also allows them to do things that previously seemed out of reach.

The old business saying is that “time is money,” but what’s amazing about the modern Internet is how many people are willing to devote their time to producing online content without seeking any money in return

Another school of thought, though, holds that the true work of innovation is not coming up with something big and new, but instead recombining things that already exist. And the more closely we look at how major steps forward in our knowledge and ability to accomplish things have actually occurred, the more this recombinant view makes sense.

Perhaps the most important ideas of all are meta-ideas—ideas about how to support the production and transmission of other ideas.

The theory of recombinant innovation stresses how important it is to have more eyeballs looking at challenges and more brains thinking about how existing building blocks can be rearranged to meet them

Advances in technology, especially digital technologies, are driving an unprecedented reallocation of wealth and income. Digital technologies can replicate valuable ideas, insights, and innovations at very low cost. This creates bounty for society and wealth for innovators, but diminishes the demand for previously important types of labor, which can leave many people with reduced incomes

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What's Your Focus

Just love the following explanation form the Spark Truck:

Are you focused on STEM? Do you want to encourage kids to go into engineering fields?

We have nothing against STEM or engineering, but no, this is not our primary focus. We want kids to develop confidence in their ability to creatively tackle any problem. If a child’s passion lies in engineering, then we’re happy that our having shown them laser cutters and 3D printers was able to reinforce that, but we think that this mindset is equally applicable to whatever career a child will choose—be it science, arts, or the humanities. We don’t want to take someone whose talents and passions destined her to be a world-famous composer, and convince her that she should be a physicist instead. We want kids to form the courage to pursue their curiosity into whatever field it might lead. Since our background happens to lie in design, we are most familiar with the tools and methods of the design field, and teach using those tools and methods, but we can just as easily imagine a truck going around teaching baking, or improv theater, with the same creative neurological benefits.