Here are the most thought-provoking articles and blog posts that I came across in the last week. Enjoy!
#1"We Didn't Have [x] When I Was A Kid and I Turned Out Okay" - Scott McLeod
I share Scott McLeod's frustration with people who make the above statement, especially when it comes to adding technology to schools. It is either selfishness or ignorance to not provide the most modern resources for our students if we are able to do so. We could easily start a lengthy list of new technologies that these same people would never want to live without. McLeod is spot on with his thoughts on this commonplace occurence.
"At some point we have to label this what it is: ridiculous. When we actually acknowledge and support this misbegotten, history-blind nostalgia, all it does is delay our much-needed recognition that the world is constantly changing and that we need to adapt in thoughtful but necessary ways. Change be can scary, but there's a huge difference between intelligent, reflective criticism and mindless, reactionary dismissal."
Don't Ask People What They Want - Dean Shareski
In this blog post, Dean Shareski discusses innovation and makes a point that focus groups and stakeholder involvement may not always lead to meaningful change. Shareski references Steve Jobs and how one of the most successful leaders of our time came up with revolutionary ideas. Jobs was noted for saying, "Apple Market research is an oxymoron, if you ask people what they want they will tell you, "Better faster and cheaper."
In regards to asking people what they want for school change, Shareski feels that the results would be similar. The problem here is that many feel that we need to dramatically change our schools and just making our current system better will not bring about the revolutionary changes that many feel are needed.
Or as Shareski puts it:
"Will we really be able to create something awesome by asking people what they want? I think the average parent, taxpayer, student and even the average teacher just wants a system that's better. Higher "student achievement" (i.e. test scores) and lower dropouts...I'm looking to be part of creating something different and I don't think it can involve all stakeholders."
Some Elite Schools Scaling Back on Homework - ASCD Inservice
Homework was one of the topics that came up last spring after our showing of Race To Nowhere. The film talked about the amount of needless homework that students were dealing with and the fact that in many cases it was limiting the quality that students were having with their families and also causing stress. The post from ASCD Inservice highlights a New York Times article about a few prestigious high school in Manhattan that are easing up on the amount of homework they are giving students.