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Posts tagged ‘Current Affairs’


“Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars”

Reposting this today in honor of Dr. King: 

I am grateful for the reminder in church this morning of the powerful words that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shared in his last speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” on April 3rd, 1968.   His inspiration, support, and leadership lives far beyond the generation of people who knew him, and our world is much changed for the better as a result of his work.  I believe the greatest leaders articulate thoughts in a manner that resonate across many generations, peoples, and circumstances, and today King’s message of hope – in an incredibly difficult time – has a special ring for me.  In this speech he shares his desire to be in that place, at that time, to face those difficult issues even if given the opportunity to be anywhere else.

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Public Schools, Democracy at Work

If you are an educator who has spent a few sleepless nights wondering why you were called into this difficult work (isn’t that all of us?) and you haven’t read some of Parker Palmer’s work, adding a couple of his books to your 2012 reading list is a must.  I was first introduced to Palmer through his best seller The Courage to Teach and have been blessed to hear him speak and facilitate rich conversation at his almamater, Carleton College here in Northfield, MN.  Palmer reaches beyond our routine conversations around pedagogy, policy or content and dives deeply into the teacher heart and soul.  His writing puts words to the deep feelings of tension and paradox that encompass our work each day, and he paints a refreshing picture of hope and understanding cultivating a deep sense of courage and purpose.  Years ago he launched The Center for Courage & Renewal to further the impact of his work and has continued to be a grass roots activist on behalf of our work and our country. Read more »


Today I have questions…

Why are the students often left out of the discussions on school finance and education reform? 

How do we create real, meaningful dialogue about issues instead of screaming sound bites at each other and making each other out to be people who somehow don’t care?  We all are people who care about people.  Why can’t we assume positive intent? 

Educators go to work everyday to help kids.  Can we be part of a real dialogue about how to align economic decisions to the core values of our country — instead of beating each other up publicly? 

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Empathy and technology in the 21st century

Cultivating empathy in my own children and modeling empathy for the needs of our greater community has consistently been a core strand of both my personal and professional work.  Brain scans now tell us that the blossoming and pruning of neurons tied to social responsibility, emotional connection to greater causes and to acting on empathetic feelings is in full swing during middle school and high school years – no suprise to those who work with teens on a daily basis.  For these reasons – and because of my internal wrestling match with technology and how it impacts human behaviors – I am fascinated by the RSAnimate video belowed shared by Angela Meiers on her blog today.  I encourage you to take 10 minutes to watch the video and consider the hopeful message shared.  

Maybe, just maybe… with the right leadership, hard work, and the right use of technology… empathy will  evolve us into a global community that lifts up more than tears down…  I dare to hope… do you? 




Obama: iPads Make Information a Distraction

So this one caught my attention.  I support the guy and have percieved him to be an advocate of education and of 21st century literacy.  The lesson – sound bites taken out of context kill the real message.  I agree with Obama that authentic, productive discourse is crucial to the success of democracy but I also believe that 21st century technologies may actually improve that level of discourse in America.  What do you think?

Obama: iPads Make Information a Distraction

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And we think 8th graders don’t get it…

Our assistant principal popped into my office on a recent afternoon with a student's test booklet (many, many pages thick…) from the 8th grade statewide MCA test.  The picture on the front of the test (printed in green ink) shows a city skyline with some trees reflecting off of a lake.  Written on the front with an arrow pointing at the tree was, "These became these tests.  Not so green now huh?" 

Gotta love working with kids!

8th wisdom



Pay Attention


Doomsday or just another cycle?

Uplifting title I know, but hey, we live in a democracy that needs crisis to actually do something productive.  Discussions regarding the future of public education in MN and in America often lead to opinions in one of two camps: "we've seen all this before… it's just another part of the cyclical progress of time and economics… tough times haven't ruined education before and won't this time…" OR "the structure of public education as we know it will soon come to an end… and the process of collapse and restructuring won't be pretty…"  The Minneapolis Star Tribune this morning included an article called "Finances, aging baby boomers portend sea change in schools" that shared opinions from both camps but clearly favored the latter.  What really caught my attention in this article was who was quoted – state demographer Tom Gillaspy and head of the Association of Metropolitan School Districts Scott Croonquist.  These are two gentlemen that superintendents listen to.  These guys are heavy weights in the political battles of St. Paul and the planning work of local school boards.  Hmmmm….

Superintendents pay attention to numbers.  Number of students x state aid formula (plus about a thousand other formula variables put in place by some special interest group passionate about something in the past 55 years) = total revenue.  It's the state aid formula that has state demographer Tom Gillaspy worried.  "You can't cut enough, nor can you tax enough to cover it," said state demographer Tom Gillaspy of schools' funding woes. "We have to do something radically different. … This is not a short-run kind of thing. This isn't because of the recession. … This is very much a long-run issue. And we've seen it coming: It's been a slow train-wreck for decades."  The long run issue is the increased costs to the state budget due to other issues mostly tied to an aging baby boom generation.  We've seen this coming for decades yet instead of planning ahead and banking resources for the upcoming expenditure, we're hitting it head on with empty accounts and an incredible deficit.  This isn't the same scenario as the recessions of the 70s or the 80s or the 90s…  This is a bigger deal…

Ironically, I have again been reviewing futurist Alvin Toffler's The Third Wave recently.  I continue to be amazed by his incredible insight about our current time – 30 years ago and more.  His work has helped me enormously in my struggle to make sense of the political discourse surrounding education work.  The heart of his thesis illustrates the realities in a civilization when two or more waves of history collide pitting people, systems, cultures, governments, and bureacracies against each other. 

The wave idea is not only a tool for organizing vast masses of highly diverse information.  It also helps us see beneath the raging surface of change.  When we apply the wave metaphor, much that was confusing becomes clear.  The familiar often appears in a dazzlingly fresh light.

Once I began thinking in terms of waves of change, colliding and overlapping, causing conflict and tension around us, it changed my perception of change itself.  In every field, from education and health to technology, from personal life to politics, it became possible to distinguish those innovations that are merely cosmetic, or just extensions of the industrial past, from those that are truly revolutionary.  p5-6 

Toffler's work sheds "dazzingly fresh light" on the realities that AMSD director Scott Croonquist and state demographer Tom Gillaspy speak of in the Strib article today.  Indeed this isn't a simple hiccup in the economy that will play out just like all of the recessions seen by our baby boomer leaders today.  A perspective that accounts for hundreds of years of history illustrates that the "hiccups" of the 70s, 80s, and 90s were simply small symptoms of the greater changes taking place across the globe. 

We shall see that Second Wave civilization was not an accidental jumble of components, but a system with parts that interacted with each other in more or less predictable ways – and that the fundamental patterns of industrial life were the same in country after country, regardless of cultural heritage or political difference.  This is the civilization that today's "reactionaries" – both "left-" and "right-wing" – are fighting to preserve.  It is this world that is threatened by history's Third Wave of civilizational change.  p18

Yes Scott Croonquist, some people are talking about going over a cliff.  It is scary.  It's also incredibly exciting.  The recession just might be the crisis necessary to get this democratic society reacting to the "slow train wreck we've seen coming for decades."  Technology will be part of the answer, and strong leadership will be critical to our success.  In the end, we just might be better at preparing our students for the challenges ahead – instead of the challenges of the Second Wave. 

What a time to be in education!


Is publishing a dying venture?

Thanks to my PLN for sharing this artistic piece through Twitter.  Will we see the end of paper books or is this more like the prediction that computers would make us paperless? 




Video – A Vision of 21st Century Teachers

Thanks to Angela Maiers at Maiers Educational Svcs, Inc for sharing this video on her blog and through Twitter!!  Here are 21st century teachers "speaking out" on what it means to be a teacher as we launch into year 10 of the century.  Are you teaching like the 21st century calls for?  If yes, what have you learned from your efforts?