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Daily Archives: July 7, 2012

In Those Years by Adrienne Rich

As I posted the last two or three blogs, I realized sometimes how little we think of we and we individually think of I. I am often guilty of this. Life experienced is a relational enterprise. I think it does start with the I, but moves out to embrace the Thou in the way writers such as Martin Buber meant. We experience life through relational experiences of I and Thou.

Adrienne Rich provided us with poetry as a daily reminder of “no man being an island.”

In those years, people will say, we lost track

of the meaning of we, of you

we found ourselves

reduced to I

and the whole thing became

silly, ironic, terrible:

we were trying to live a personal life

and, yes, that was the only life we could bear witness to

But the dark birds of history screamed and plunged

into our personal weather

They were headed somewhere else but their beaks and pinions drove

along the shore, through the rags of fog

where we stood, saying I

Take care with those who you are we with and enjoy them today. Have a good 7th of July.

Larry Cuban is a leading writer and researcher in school reform or I think a better way to phrase it is a lack of true reform. He points out several key points in this excellent article. His first paragraph about teachers working together daily is not prophetic as you will see in the article. It has been part of the educational reform lexicon for a several years, perhaps decades is a better word. Why do the ‘reforms’ with all their pat answers and revolving, recycled fads secret this away in the closet? I think they are afraid.

 

First, top down measures are not the order of the day. Second, schooling and learning (my added word) at all ages are complex systems and forged out of relationship not transactional activities. This nature does not invite top-down. It encourages community and collaboration. The leading thinkers he refers to part way through the article are a short but impressive list. I would add others who contribute in many ways i.e. Deb Meier, James Comer, and Nel Noddings come to mind. Finally, real communities actually are dysfunctional. It is what we do in those moments that leads us to collaboration. Joining hands around the camp fire is nice, but only superficially functional. Agree to disagree is sometimes the path.

 

I read another blog today and my conclusion is slow is sometimes the way forward.

 

We in Canada who think we are doing something better are wrong. We all need the same wake up calls, a new conversation, and a reimagining of schooling and learning. Note I did not say school. That is the brick and mortar that in some cases is passé.

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Want to give a “no excuses” reformer a stroke? Suggest that teachers working together on a daily basis have a better shot at improving teaching and learning than the highly marketed structural changes of standards-based testing and accountability, Common Core standards, more charter schools, and evaluating educator performance through student scores.

Too many reform-driven policymakers high on the rhetoric of these current reforms ignore how much improvement in teaching and learning can occur when  teachers work collectively in their classrooms and schools to improve their content knowledge and teaching skills aimed at common district goals.

For many years, teachers, administrators, researchers, and a sprinkling of policymakers have concentrated on both traditional and innovative professional development and learning communities to build teachers’ capacities in knowledge of subject and teaching skills to improve instruction in schools and districts. Such school-based efforts converge on the teacher simply because within the complex system of…

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Trying to Learn by Lydia Davis

Today, I read part of Experiments in Ethics by Kwame Appiah, a professor at Princeton. It is an interesting book and I doubt I can do it justice in a blog posting, but, as the title suggests, it is about ethics and their complex nature due to human complexity.

He provided a very short story by Lydia Davis. I might compare it to Heraclitus’ quote: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” No person steps twice in the same river, because the river is constantly changing. I also think the complexity nature of our human being is such that we change as we move into each ensuing moment. I cannot be the same person in the next moment. Living an ethical life is challenging as I am not the same person at each moment. In French, the word for experiment is experience. I think a life fully lived is one that is an experiment. I constantly learn from this fully lived life if I am mindful and use my beginner’s mind.

 
“I am trying to learn that this playful man who teases me is the same as that serious man talking money so seriously he does not eve see me anymore and that patient man offering me advice in times of trouble and that angry man as he leaves the home. I have often wanted the playful man to be more serious, and the serious man to be less serious, and the patient man to be more playful. As for the angry man, he is a stranger to me and I do not feel it is wrong to hate him. Now I am learning that if I say bitter words to the angry man as he leaves the house, I am at the same time wounding the others, the others I do not want to wound, the playful man teasing, the serious man talking money, and the patient man offering advice. Yet I look at the patient man, for instance, whom I would want above all to protect from such bitter words as mine, and though I tell myself he is the same man as the others, I believe I said those words, not to him, but to another, my enemy, who deserved all my anger.”

What other ways can we learn to live a life fully, ethically, and in an experiential manner?

Cartoon Time along with an Ivon Rant

Another Alberta-based educator at The Love of Learning posted this. It reminded me of a Ken Robinson video The Educational Revolution…Why? Because Schools Kill Creativity posted by Gen Y Girl. The video is worth watching several times. The first time I watched the video several years ago an administrator informed me the message was a need to add layers of technology on top of what we are doing.

I am not a neo-Luddite. The original Luddites were not opposed to technology. They opposed potentially catastrophic outcomes blind, thoughtless implementation of technology might have on British society of the time. A message I gleaned was a positive correlation between ADHD/ADD diagnosis and an increase in various forms of imposed, standardized, high stakes testing.

The second message is statistical evidence the highest levels of creativity in school are at the kindergarten levels. After that, it is all down hill.

These are not technology issues, but simply change for the sake of change.

Technology is the artful use of the tools available to us.

Questions: What changes would you suggest for education to make it more child-friendly and child-focused? What can we do to increase the creativity for children in classrooms?

A bit of an American slant to it, but where do Canadian educational systems take their lead from? Is this what we want?

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