Fluid Learning, A must read

Add this article to your delicious feed, then email it to every leader and teacher you know and you will have accomplished a lot today.

Will tipped me off to this article by Mark Pesce and it captures so much of what is critical and important in understanding what education must do to remain relevant.  You need to read it but I’ll give you a few snippets of what resonated with me.

He discusses RateMyProfessors.com and sums it up this way,

If we are smart enough, we can learn a lesson here and now that we will eventually learn – rather more expensively – if we wait. The lesson is simple: control is over. This is not about control anymore. This is about finding a way to survive and thrive in chaos.

Taking a page right out of Disrupting Class,

The administration has gone, the instructor’s role has evolved, now what happens to the classroom itself? In the context of a larger school facility, it may or may not be relevant. A classroom is clearly relevant if someone is learning engine repair, but perhaps not if learning calculus. The classroom in this fungible future of student administrators and evolved

Read the rest

Why Michelle Rhee gets its wrong

I’ve been opposed to the use of standardized testing as accountability tools for a long time. Not as passionately and strongly as some but in principle, the use of one time testing to determine the fate of schools and students, isn’t the model of education to which I’d ever subscribe. Fortunately for me, I’ve lived in a province that has resisted them and even today would never acknowledge the use of them the way my southern neighbours and even western neighbours have. But that’s starting to change and I don’t like it.

Without going into the specifics and details of our provincial situation, I’m writing out of passion against articles like this that seem to validate an “improve your test score or perish” mentality. The article features Washington’s chancellor of education, Michelle Rhee and her relentless efforts to improve schools. I admire her passion. I’m not all that impressed with her perspectives.

“The thing that kills me about education is that it’s so touchy-feely,” she tells me one afternoon in her office. Then she raises her chin and does what I come to recognize as her standard imitation of people she doesn’t respect. Sometimes she uses this voice to imitate

Read the rest

Geography Shouldn’t Matter

As I dig deeper into Disrupting Class, I’m finding more ideas resonating. This one in particular speaks to the dominant categorization of schools…geography. We place students together mostly because of where they live, not what type of learner they are. This is convenient and cost effective. The same is true for Professional Development. What the web enables is customized, personalized learning.

Christensen talks about the tool of separation, that is the ability to break away from the norm and create new and innovative structures. Charter schools are an example of this. Not that they totally get it right but the challenge facing public education remains the battle of what is and isn’t the right way to reform. This battle, unfortunately, will rage on and likely never resolve itself. What we need are pockets of separation that identify specific niches in learning and truly move to a more individualized approach. Schools that do not feel the constraints of their organizations and the pull they have on meeting rigid, one-size-fits-all-standards.… Read the rest

Disrupting Professional Development

The beauty of the K12 online conference is that you don’t need to panic that you haven’t been able to keep up. It doesn’t matter. The presentations are all there waiting for you. While online learning implies an anywhere, anytime approach, there is great value in sharing the experience face to face. Duh.

So on Tuesday I invited a few folks together to watch some presentations, talk about them and share our own experiences. It was good. There were people there for whom they had never heard of many of the ideas and really needed to wrap their heads around the implications for teaching and learning. For those without a network to support them, this is invaluable. Even if one person can come away with a plan or at least a connection, I’m pleased.

And here’s the other thing. Traditionally we send a teacher to a local conference, pay sub costs, registration fees, mileage, meals and maybe accommodation. You can conservatively estimate a cost of about $500 a day.  I brought it supper at about $10 a person and I would say we had an experience, equal if not better than a day at your typical conference. I’m in the … Read the rest