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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. 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. The belief that schools alone can overcome the effects of poverty may be traced back many decades but its most recent manifestation was a short book published in 2000 by the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., titled No Excuses. For a while, the Gates Foundation thought that small high schools were the answer, but Gates now believes that teacher evaluation is the primary ingredient of school reform. The main mechanism of school reform today is to identify teachers who can raise their students’ test scores every year. Related:  Ed Reform

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. To those who lament partisan rancor, this might look like very good news. 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.

Attachment disorder: The families struggling to stay in control | Society On a good day, Amy Robson's 14-year-old stepson James is just like any other teenage boy – he'll happily regale you with the latest footie scores or challenge you to a game on the PlayStation at his home in Cumbria. But on a bad day, the same teenager has been known to threaten classmates, attack teachers and even defecate in the classroom. Two years ago James was diagnosed with attachment disorder, something that occurs when the attachment between a child and a care-giver is not formed during early childhood. It was brought on by his chaotic start in life, when he lived in a violent household with an alcoholic mother. "We hit a crisis point [last year] as we just weren't getting any help," Robson says. Help could soon be at hand, following the award of a government grant to a group of child psychiatrists from Hull York Medical School to carry out a systematic review to determine which interventions are most effective among parents of children with attachment problems.

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. And the fever pitch is about to go higher. 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. Business Loves A Crisis Crisis material for sure.

How do we make our schools fit to face the 21st century? | Education | The Observer The Observer panel, chaired by Yvonne Roberts: Guy Claxton, professor of learning sciences; Sue Street, inner city school teacher; Melissa Benn, journalist and campaigner; Rachel Wolf, education adviser; Peter Hyman, teacher and former political strategist. What is education for in the 21st century? Rachel Wolf The best thing that schools can do now is make sure people have the core of knowledge and skills and ability to decide what they want to do with their lives. Guy Claxton Education means learning to think for yourself, learning to make and repair friendships, learning to see other people's points of view, learning not to be frightened of uncertainty or difficulty. Melissa Benn There's something more to education, which is about learning how to live in society, learning how to be a citizen, learning how to be self-reliant and all those kinds of skills. Peter Hyman I think we're preparing children for the middle of the 20th century and not for the 21st. Guy Claxton Absolutely.

The End of Education As We Know It By Scott Barry Kaufman Imagine being 6 or 7 years old again, learning about addition and subtraction for the first time. How wonderful would it be, while taking a quiz, to be able to rub a genie’s bottle and choose from a number of on-the-spot metaphors for mathematical concepts, like what a fraction really means? Or picture this: Rather than working through equations in daunting rows on a sheet of paper, your task is to play a game on a tablet computer in which you share a dinner table with aliens. There’s a bowl of apples in the center of the table. These examples may seem charming and even silly—and they’re meant to be. The new wave of educational tools include fresh ways of deploying phone and tablet apps, online games and videos, and social networking. “We should try to bring back the joy of learning because you want to learn, not because someone is going to give you a grade at the end of the semester,” Schocken said in a recent interview. No Wrong Answers Flipping the Lesson

Why ICT must be a key part of the school curriculum « Malcolm Bellamy's Lifelong Learning Blog Posted on December 29, 2011 by malbell I have just read a really interesting post by Dan Barker in the Huffington Post United Kingdom edition. The post is titled “Decline and Fall: The UK’s Shocking IT Education Record”. In the post, Barker, a professional software developer, bemoans the fact that U.K. schools have a terrible record when it comes to teaching ICT skills. This is a young I.T. professional who is only too aware of the place that ICT skills have in the current world economy. His final paragraph is perhaps the most concerning for us: “The good news is that the problem is apparently now moving up the political agenda, with Michael Gove, the education secretary, admitting recently that he thought that computer science needed to be taught more in schools. Like this: Like Loading... Filed under: Digital Technology, The 21st Century school Tagged: | ICT, Information and communication technologies in education, Ofsted

Uncomfortable Conversations in Education Click to enlarge. In the past week I have read a couple of posts that mention the importance of uncomfortable conversations in education. Having uncomfortable or unpopular conversations is kryptonite for the echo chamber effect that often plagues meetings, conferences, chats and any other space, online and off, that brings people together. In a recent reflection Going Beyond the Converted: Reflections from Edcamp Leadership BC Aaron Akune, Vice-Principal at Delta Secondary School in Ladner B.C asks “Why is it that we continue to repeat the same conversations?” I’d argue that too often we are afraid to wade into uncomfortable conversations where we may be challenged to justify and defend our positions. Aaron highlights three important points: 1. I think it’s ok that we keep having these same discussions. Our rehashing of decades old topics also suggests that we are still invested and that is a good thing. 2. 3.

Creating a Game-Based Online Class One of the things that I like the most about the field of instructional design is the opportunity to think about that hard to quantify meta-level where you are teaching someone how to teach someone else. The most effective way to do this is to have your learner live the experience that you are trying to teach them to create. Unfortunately, the medium of a blog post does not permit me to teach you how to create a game-based curriculum by experiencing it. This adds a layer of complexity to my task, but one that is not insurmountable. It is my hope that you can follow these easy steps to design and implement your own game-based class in the near future. Step 1: Define your Objectives This is exactly the same process you should undertake at the beginning of planning for any class. Content knowledge objectivesDiscipline-specific knowledgeDiscipline-specific technical skillsOther technical skills (technology skills)Other academic skills Image: dream designs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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. Tuition starts at $38,500 a year, and that’s for prekindergarten. Randolph, by contrast, comes across as an iconoclast, a disrupter, even a bit of an eccentric. For Levin, the next step was clear.

Twitter in the Classroom There are so many GREAT educators on Twitter and it’s great to connect, learn, and grow from them. One day my class and I tweeted about Greece with someone IN Greece. Now that I have completely embraced Skype in my classroom, I’m realizing even more that global learning adds a whole new wonderful layer to an ordinary day in the classroom. I could use my own Twitter account. Since I’ve started it, I’ve been following other classrooms and even started a list of Classrooms that Tweet. Uses for Twitter in the Classroom: 1.) 140 a day Learning Log: Ask a student to tweet “What did we learn today?” 2.) 3.) 4.) 5.) 6.) 7.) Tips: 1.) 2.) 3.) 4.) I’m really just starting this journey with my class and I can’t wait to see where it takes us.

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.

4/3 Fun 6 Ideas to Avoid the Activity Trap Last week, I wrote about the pitfalls of non-strategic activity in a post entitled, Don’t Confuse Activity with Accomplishment. Most of the leaders I know would admit, we unwittingly find ourselves in this trap from time to time. Or perhaps most treacherous, we find ourselves doing things that add value – but not the highest value. When this happens, we’ve let the good become the enemy of the best. How can we guard our calendars and our lives from these lesser activities? Determine your priorities. Schedule your priorities. Delegate freely. Outsource. Stop doing 2nd tier activities. Reevaluate constantly. The Activity Trap is alluring.

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