December 2014

40 Credits & A Mule, Part I: This Land

Homesteaders Land was a big deal when our little experiment in democracy began. Now it's not - at least not as much. I'd like to convince you that today's college degree is yesterday's 160 acres.
If not, I'll seek to bore and befuddle you enough along the way that hopefully you'll begin skimming, and eventually just assume I've made some pretty good points.

Happy New Mirrors!

Ralph Waldo Emerson Old Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I’ve long loved New Years. It may be my favorite holiday. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore. I’m convinced most important changes are evolutionary, torturously slow and staggering as we claw incrementally forward. It’s not that I expect much to be so very different in the next calendar year... I suppose it’s more of a symbolic thing – this idea of perpetual re-creation.

The Colored Chalk Learning Revolution

ComputerMen There is no greater sin against pedagogical piety than sit-down, shut-up, paper-pushing. How dare you limit and categorize them with due dates! Grades! Assignments! Stop ruining the future, you maladaptive crony!

Facing such venom, the façade of technological revolution has had to settle for second place – runner-up status in the ranking of all things shameful... until now.

We Are Building A Religion...

Pearson Training Behold the wisdom of Pearson and its ilk. They’re not out to win an argument – they’re offering to scratch an itch, to meet an apparent need. They have easy answers – textbooks which work in any state that’s not Texas, assessments which, because they’re online, somehow guarantee students have entered modernity, and suites of ancillaries, strategies, terminologies, and priorities. It saves so much time compared to wading through specific student abilities or needs, and if you order today they’ll throw in a new sense of progressive identity and an assortment of Twitter-ready platitudes.

We are building a religion; we are making a brand...

What's In A Name?

Ames the OverseerIt’s a funny system, actually – letting parents with little or no naming experience make such an important decision. Why not doctors, who could develop a system similar to that used to label hurricanes? Or some sort of local committee? Imagine the balance and variety we could inject into our population simply by having fewer Stephanies and more Ophelias?

And why your specific name? Does it reference an ancestor or other family member? Does it mean something in another language (or in this one)? Maybe your parents just thought it sounded cool. Consciously or unconsciously, though, your name likely reflects something about your progenitors culturally, economically, educationally.

A Wassailing We Will Mimeograph

Bellwether Squares 2 There was a time in which a devout heart and an applied mind were considered mutually antagonistic in Christendom – a mindset some might argue lingers to an unfortunate extent today. Generally, though, those who seek to save your soul see comparable value in renewing your mind, while those focused on stretching your ability to think care deeply about your character, and your ability to find your calling - if not specifically your ‘soul’.

Neither of which matters much in this post – but it seemed I should open with something suggesting a deeper purpose for this use of virtual real estate. In reality, I just had an urge to compare Lesson Plans with Christmas Songs. I figured the pith and marrow would kinda naturally emerge once I got going.

I was mistaken.

Cognitive Dissonance

Blinders On We’re wired to want cohesiveness, patterns, things that make sense and allow us some control over our responses. When things don’t fit, we make them – even if that means adjusting our priorities, our perceptions, or the facts themselves. Otherwise the world is playing out of tune with itself, just a shade sharp and off-tempo – and it’s maddening.

A School of Reindeer

Rudolph I love my students and value their quirks and individuality (mostly). I’m appalled at our efforts to run them through the standardization machine so we can label and letter their worth. I want the freedom to teach them whatever I believe will prove useful or engaging, and to help them learn how to pursue and learn on their own whatever stirs their passions. But as we celebrate the value of diversity, and specialness, and glowing red noses, let’s keep in mind that equally important are the essential skills and mindsets that they’ll need no matter what their individual gifting or choices.