Posts Tagged ‘ teaching ’

By Any Other Name

All education organizations are risk-averse. It comes with the territory. We believe that no parent will ever entrust their child to an organization that is the institutional equivalent of Fast and Furious. But here’s the thing…every parent (and grandparent) wants their child to receive the absolute best in terms of instruction. Often what that means in this day and age is innovation – at least some variation to our time-honored pedagogy.

Yes innovation is scary. But how can we teach our kids that it’s okay to fail, if we are afraid to fail ourselves? Lisa Bodell, one of my heroes, says in her latest article in Strategy + Business,

Making it safe to try new things is critical for innovation to happen.

And yes, my educator friends, we must innovate! Think about it. By the time our current fourth graders graduate from high school, it will no longer be necessary to know how to manually drive a car. Maybe “FAILURE” just has too much cultural baggage in the educational environment. We need to find another term for a temporary lack of success. Any vocabulary suggestions?

The Science of Neglect

This video from the Center for the Developing Child contains some very profound observations regarding the effects of neglect on brain development.

Maeda Exits


John Maeda announced on Wednesday that he will be leaving his post as president of Rhode Island School of Design. RISD is one of a handful of premier post-secondary institutions. His interview by Shauncey Ferro in Fast Company is here.

Although the fact that he is leaving to join a venture capital firm is surprising, it is this comment that I found most thought provoking:

RISD’s in great shape. At the [MIT] Media Lab, one of my mentors was a man named Stephen Benton. He once told me, “John, the role of someone in a job is to make the job more attractive for the next person.” I’ll never forget what he said to me. In that spirit, I have worked to make this job a better job for the next person.

How many of us can say we have done this? How many teachers, principals, superintendents that leave for a promotion, or another career, or another challenge have worked to make their current job better or easier for the next person?

What goes around…

My assigned project for my MOOC from Stanford University’s “d. school” recently was improving the school-to-work continuum. The school to work continuum for teachers’ education is actually a circular relationship – K-12 schools provide the human capital (high school graduates) to the universities to the universities provide the human capital (teachers) to the K-12 schools. I have heard both post-secondary and K-12 institutions complain about the quality of the product they were receiving. Bill Keller in a recent New York Times opinion says improving teacher training is an urgent priority.

I am a firm believer in constructive dialogue. IF (and that’s a big IF!) we could get the K-12’s and the universities to provide constructive feedback to one another, we could change the outcomes…and produce better students and better graduates along the way (which is really the point).

How about a Get Satisfaction dialogue for K-12 schools and universities? It could be restricted access due to personnel issues, but the aggregate reviews (80% of consumers say they are influenced by customer reviews) could be made public, like GPTW and Forbes magazine do with great companies. This would provide organizations the incentive to participate.

Timing is everything. All of our educational institutions must re-invent themselves in the next ten years or lose market share to the disruptors and die. I believe a mutually beneficial digital dialogue about improving the quality of the outcomes will yield some amazing results.

The Trouble with Education (Part Two)

If we learned anything from Malcolm Gladwell’s research about hockey players, it should be that grouping children by age puts younger students in the same age group at a significant disadvantage. Parents understand this. Given the choice between putting their child in kindergarten at the earliest possible opportunity, or waiting until the next year, most (given the choice) “hold back” their child’s entry into kindergarten. Why? So that he or she has the advantage of another year of mental and physical development and a better chance of success (at or above grade level) when compared to their “peers”.

Date of manufacture has nothing to do with a student’s intelligence and anyway, lifelong learners don’t have an expiration date.

So why do we continue to move our students through the educational assembly line grouped by age (grade level)? We even celebrate our ability to get students through high school “on time” by reporting a four-year graduation cohort as the graduation rate. But is that really cause for celebration?

Students that are unable to learn as fast as their same-age peers are not less intelligent.  Tossing them on the academic scrap heap in a comparison sort of their grade level, simply because it takes them longer to learn than others of the same age, is a waste of talent.  All 21st century students must learn what we teach. We no longer have the luxury of leaving some of them behind. We don’t have to time and date stamp their acquisition of that knowledge either.

Is combining all students of a certain age into a grade level really the best we can do?

And another thing…

(Stay tuned for Part Three.)

The Eleven Traits of a Good Teacher.

The Eleven Traits of a Good Teacher.

What would you include in your list?