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Category Archives: Progressive Education

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?


Teachers as Storytellers

Think of the people we call teachers, not just in classrooms but in every facet of our lives. A quality they share is storytelling. They connect with our hearts and minds. We laugh, cry, yell, and carry on in every imaginable way with them. We remember them not because of what they taught us, but what they revealed about themselves and helped us discover about our self.

The best teachers are the best storytellers. We learn in the form of stories.

~Frank Smith

Five Steps to Destroy Public Education

Five Steps to Destroy Public Education.

Diane Ravitch is a real educational reformer in the US. I think parts of her message in this post is universal. I particularly like her comments about underfunding our schools and overcrowded classrooms.

It is just not the underfunding that starves the schools; it is the poor management and decision-making by the bureaucrats, technocrats, and oligarchs. What is the latest fad?

Overcrowding our classrooms silences the teachers. Do I even have time to lift my head and uplift students under those conditions?

pedagogy of the oppressed by Paulo Freire

I read pedagogy of the oppressed by Paulo Freire during my undergraduate experience and return to it as a source of reflection and when I write. Similar to Parker Palmer, Paulo Freire left an indelible mark on my life’s practice. Education is an uplifting, liberating experience which shines light on each step Antonio Machado described: “Wanderer, your footsteps are the road, and nothing more; wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking.” Freire’ s contention was everyone can act as an agent in their learning thus freeing them and transforming the world they live in.

Freire used the Portuguese word conscientização which “refers to learning to perceive social, political, and economic contradictions and to take action against the oppressive elements of reality” (17).   Humans become mindful of and present in the world and act to transform it. Freire used a banking metaphor and described traditional education where  knowledge is deposited into students. Teachers and the system act oppressively in determining what is important to learn. Freire felt education uplifted people and their learning. “Liberation is a praxis: the action and reflection of men and women upon their world in order to transform it” (p. 60).  Learning occurs when  compliance and conformity are rejected in favour of dialogue based on love which allows each human to name their world and what is of value in it. The student is a teacher and student; the teacher both student and teacher.

Questions: What can we do to truly bring a new pedagogical structure into our schools and communities of learning? What function would school play in this pedagogical structure? What is dialogue based on love?  What role do educators and communities play in liberation education?

Recommendation: I love the book. It is a challenging, but I return to it often and find something new each time. Today, I became aware of the following: “Concepts such as unity, organization, and struggle are immediately labeled as dangerous. … These concepts are dangerous—to the oppressors” (p. 122). What does this mean in supposedly modern, liberated, and affluent societies?

A second point was the similar language used by Freire and Martin Buber. There is a shared understanding of respectful dialogue using the words I and Thou to describe the uplifting, liberating, loving dialogic process.

Freire, P. (1993). pedagogy of the oppressed. (M. B. Ramos, Trans.).  New York: Continuum.

Friday Morning’s Thought

I received this from someone yesterday and thought I would share it. Public education is in need of a make over. What does that mean? That is a hard question to answer without a new conversation and a pause to fully understand what our children need. Here is a starter. Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize winning author and a source of this quote is George Takei the actor who played Sulu in Star Trek. I am not a Trekkie, but I like this quote. The points that stand out are the purpose of education, the interplay between power and morality, and the need for wisdom. I follow several on-line forums about leadership. Even there, the leadership experts frequently confuse knowledge, information, and wisdom often using those words loosely and interchangeably. Wisdom emerges from values named and held within community–sensus communis or common sense. What passes from generation to generation is its common sense, what it holds and names as values in a society. This takes a compassionate conversation which is rare.

Take care and enjoy those you come in contact with today.

leading and learning: Lets value individual creative teachers.

leading and learning: Lets value individual creative teachers..

This is a rather lengthy article written by a New Zealand based educator. I think it fits with a previous reblog of video featuring Sir Ken Robinson called The Educational Revolution: Why Schools Kill Creativity.

Read, watch, and weep. A lack of creativity and resulting innovation is killing public education with sameness. Let us all do it one way is the current creed. What can we do about it? It is high time we invited a new conversation to emerge.



This is an interesting, albeit American-based view of the charter system and the overall fragmentation issue of public education. I am not an advocate of reform. That tends to tinker at the edges. I advocate transformation. This requires new conversations at the grassroots. What does public education mean to you, your family, and the community you live in?

Words for Teachers and Learners at Heart

This fell into my world yesterday and I thought it might be a good share. It is certainly something to reflect on as we begin each day in our various roles of learning and teaching.

Human Resources – A Poem

I often wonder about the language of the workplace. We refer to students as clients and staff in schools as human resources. Reminded me of a song from my youth, The Five Man Electrical Band. They wondered about the increased proliferation of signs and wrote a short note to Jesus about it while stopping in at a church along the way. Enjoy!

A human resources expert appeared

out of a shroud


I recoiled

What’s wrong?

Pleasantly enough asked

seemed off somehow

May be a sinister tone?

Did I say the wrong thing?

Or things?

I wonder

didn’t get the job

not even interviewed for that matter, plus

I got a security escort

wasn’t the first time

Human resources, you say.


I have questions

to hell with yours

I’ll ask mine

Are we compatible?

Can we date?

Where are humans mined?

do they mind?

What are they worth?

Raw and finished versions

Where is the human factory?

Are they reliable?

Can I get a warranty?

Can you exploit them?

or do they have a mind of their own?

do they mind?

Can we drill for them?

Do they fit in a pipe

To ship them, not smoke them

Do they depreciate?

Like a car, factory, or another normal asset?

a write-off?

or right off?

She seemed confused

perplexed perhaps

That must not have been in the book

I guess?

Tough to get a job

As a human being,

Not a human resource.

No offense intended to human resources people. You have a job to do. I guess.

A Blog Experiment

I am using software called NVivo. Essentially, I use it to organize and summarize qualitative data. One cool feature is the ability to create a word cloud. I am experimenting with that feature and using the image facility on my laptop. I summarized some World Cafe events we held in February and March. The results were simply outstanding. The only fly in the ointment was I had to scan the picture and lost the colour.

The overarching question we created our conversation around was: “What engages us in learning?

February 4, 2012

Think of a time that you feel was a high point in your learning. This would have been a time you felt most alive, effective, and engaged in the learning process. Describe how you felt. What made this possible?

February 18, 2012

“Without being humble, describe what you value most about yourself. How does this contribute to the experience of learning for you? What setting does this seem to flourish best in? What would attract you to that setting?”

March 3, 2012

What encourages us to continue learning and see learning as important in our lives?

Questions emerged. I thought the most interesting was an absence in the data. What about teacher expertise in subject area or technical knowledge? It could be these are unstated but assumed necessary. Or it could be that the relational aspect, the art of teaching, is so important to this group of people the technical and subject knowledge is secondary.  What do others think about this?

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