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What if the Secret to Success Is Failure?

What if the Secret to Success Is Failure?
Photo Dominic Randolph can seem a little out of place at Riverdale Country School — which is odd, because he’s the headmaster. Riverdale is one of New York City’s most prestigious private schools, with a 104-year-old campus that looks down grandly on Van Cortlandt Park from the top of a steep hill in the richest part of the Bronx. On the discussion boards of UrbanBaby.com, worked-up moms from the Upper East Side argue over whether Riverdale sends enough seniors to Harvard, Yale and Princeton to be considered truly “TT” (top-tier, in UrbanBabyese), or whether it is more accurately labeled “2T” (second-tier), but it is, certainly, part of the city’s private-school elite, a place members of the establishment send their kids to learn to be members of the establishment. Randolph, by contrast, comes across as an iconoclast, a disrupter, even a bit of an eccentric. Levin had believed in the importance of character since KIPP’s inception. For Levin, the next step was clear. Related:  Ed Reform

Texas GOP rejects ‘critical thinking’ skills. Really. - The Answer Sheet (Update: Stephen Colbert’s take; other details) In the you-can’t-make-up-this-stuff department, here’s what the Republican Party of Texas wrote into its 2012 platform as part of the section on education: Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority. Yes, you read that right. The party opposes the teaching of “higher order thinking skills” because it believes the purpose is to challenge a student’s “fixed beliefs” and undermine “parental authority.” It opposes, among other things, early childhood education, sex education, and multicultural education, but supports “school subjects with emphasis on the Judeo-Christian principles upon which America was founded.” U.S.

Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail - Jessica Lahey A new study explores what happens to students who aren't allowed to suffer through setbacks. Matthew Benoit/Shutterstock Thirteen years ago, when I was a relatively new teacher, stumbling around my classroom on wobbly legs, I had to call a student's mother to inform her that I would be initiating disciplinary proceedings against her daughter for plagiarism, and that furthermore, her daughter would receive a zero for the plagiarized paper. "You can't do that. She didn't do anything wrong," the mother informed me, enraged. "But she did. "No, I mean she didn't do it. I don't remember what I said in response, but I'm fairly confident I had to take a moment to digest what I had just heard. In the end, my student received a zero and I made sure she re-wrote the paper. While I am not sure what the mother gained from the experience, the daughter gained an understanding of consequences, and I gained a war story. I'm done fantasizing about ways to make that mom from 13 years ago see the light.

Schools We Can Envy by Diane Ravitch Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? by Pasi Sahlberg, with a foreword by Andy Hargreaves Teachers College Press, 167 pp., $34.95 (paper) In recent years, elected officials and policymakers such as former president George W. Bush, former schools chancellor Joel Klein in New York City, former schools chancellor Michelle Rhee in Washington, D.C., and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have agreed that there should be “no excuses” for schools with low test scores. The “no excuses” reformers maintain that all children can attain academic proficiency without regard to poverty, disability, or other conditions, and that someone must be held accountable if they do not. Nothing is said about holding accountable the district leadership or the elected officials who determine such crucial issues as funding, class size, and resource allocation. It is not unusual for Americans to hold up another nation as a model for school reform.

Study Shows How Classroom Design Affects Student Learning As debate over education reform sizzles, and as teachers valiantly continue trying to do more with less, a new study suggests that it might be worth diverting at least a little attention from what’s going on in classrooms to how those spaces are being designed. The paper, published in the journal Building and the Environment, found that classroom design could be attributed to a 25% impact, positive or negative, on a student’s progress over the course of an academic year. The difference between the best- and worst-designed classrooms covered in the study? A full year’s worth of academic progress. The study was conducted over the 2011–12 academic year, with 751 students in 34 classrooms, spread across seven primary schools in the seaside town of Blackpool, England. So what did they find? Read more here. [Hat tip: Wired] [Image: Brain and Board via Shutterstock]

Moving beyond our vacuous education reform discussions | Reihan Salam Barack Obama is a champion of education reform. So is Mitt Romney. Even in the midst of an extremely polarized political season, the former Massachusetts governor has offered praise for Arne Duncan, President Obama’s secretary of education, and for the Obama administration’s Race to the Top initiative. The same is true of Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, who has emerged as the GOP’s leading point person on fixing America’s schools. The reform label applies to at least three broad ideas: (1) standards-oriented reform, or let’s have more testing and accountability; (2) human capital reform, or let’s have better teachers; and (3) choice-oriented reform, or let’s use “backpack funding” that will allow public education dollars to follow the student wherever she chooses to enroll, whether it’s a neighborhood public school, a public charter or (perhaps) a voucher-eligible private school. That shouldn’t come as a shock. Relinquishers remain a small minority in the education world.

With Growth Of 'Hacker Scouting,' More Kids Learn To Tinker hide captionKids build robots with Popsicle sticks at an Oakland meeting of Hacker Scouts, a group that encourages young people to create do-it-yourself crafts and electronics. Jon Kalish for NPR Kids build robots with Popsicle sticks at an Oakland meeting of Hacker Scouts, a group that encourages young people to create do-it-yourself crafts and electronics. Countless kids have grown up with the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts or Campfire Girls, but for some families, the uniforms and outdoor focus of traditional Scouting groups don't appeal. In recent months, Scoutlike groups that concentrate on technology and do-it-yourself projects have been sprouting up around the country. Ace Monster Toys is a hacker space in Oakland, Calif., where members share high-tech tools. The kids in Hacker Scouts are not breaking into computer networks. On this warm fall day, Alicia Davis, 10, is wearing a wool hat she knit herself. "I've been sewing on little felt pieces with this," Davis explains.

11 Most Absurd Lies Conservatives Are Using to Brainwash America's School Kids March 11, 2013 | Like this article? Join our email list: Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email. If recent elections have taught us anything, it’s that young Americans have taken a decided turn to the left. Now Republicans have a plan to try to recapture the youngest voters out there: Take over the curriculum in public schools, replace education with a bunch of conservative propaganda, and reap the benefits of having a new generation that can’t tell reality from right-wing fantasy. How well this plan will work is debatable, but in the meantime, these shenanigans present the very real possibility that public school students will graduate without a proper education. Lie #1: Racism has barely been an issue in U.S. history and slavery wasn’t that big a deal. The Thomas B. Lie #2: Joe McCarthy was right. The red-baiting of the mid-20th century has gone down in history, correctly, as a witch hunt that stemmed from irrational paranoia that gripped the U.S. after WWII.

Get Ready For America’s Next ‘Education Crisis’ - Jeff Bryant “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” has become a popular mantra of the ruling class. Of course, these are not the people who usually experience the brunt of a crisis. But a pervasive narrative in the mainstream media is that Americans are a people beset by near-continuous crisis, whether it’s the fake crisis of a looming “fiscal cliff” or a real crisis like Frankenstorm Sandy that still has many Northeasterners inexplicably living in the dark in unheated homes. Arguably no sector of American society has been cast with the narrative of crisis as much as public education. Something’s Rotten In The State Of Kentucky Just prior to the November election, an article in the education trade journal Education Week broke that Kentucky had gotten bad news back from its most recent round of school tests. Disappointing results from a state test is not usually an occasion to stop the presses. In fact, some people are betting good money on that happening. Business Loves A Crisis

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