Monday, July 28, 2014

Game Design influencing School / Curriculum Design

Enjoyed this perspective on how technological innovation should be changing schools, rather than just digging up fancy toys for students and teachers:

What Happens when School Design looks like Game Design (Mind|Shift)

"The thing about tools is that their strength is usually derived from the way they approach a problem rather than in the particularity of the solution they offer....

In the current world, our schools should be focused on teaching both linear and non-linear ways of knowing. We need to remember that the goal of technology is ultimately to help us mentor our youth so that they become familiar with the many ways of knowing that humanity has discovered. It’s not just to develop proficiency with today’s tools while maintaining yesterday’s predominant thinking."

Saturday, July 26, 2014

An Ivy League Controversy

In the latest issue of the New Republic, William Deresiewicz stirs the pot of discussion and controversy in the world of higher education.

His piece is long but well worth the read, regardless of whether you agree with him:

Don't Send Your Kid to the Ivy League (New Republic)

He argues that our current system of higher education feeds a classist mentality, one that focuses on the top 1% of students and families at the expense of the others, and which breeds rich and entitled students who are too afraid of failure actually to think for themselves.

With upper middle class parents pouring everything into the game of getting their kid into the best possible schools, everyone has forgotten why we educate in the first place.

I think Deresiewicz's conclusion works against his argument, but setting that aside for the moment, I loved his critique of education that exists merely to promote a class system or that defines "success" totally in economic terms.

Give it a read.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cool spaces emerge as schools retool for technology

This is an exciting piece about Kansas City schools that are changing their physical spaces to accommodate more collaborative learning.  I would LOVE to teach at a school like this.

It'll take time for faculty and students to retool their ways of teaching and learning. But providing spaces that encourage problem-solving, cross-disciplinary and cross-age collaboration, problem-based learning, and real-world simulations will push curriculum in creative & innovative directions.

Enjoy the article here:
Kansas City area's digital age schools hail an education revolution

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Student Discipline

This is Dennis.  I don't post here much, because I don't administrate schools anymore and because regular, consistent posting of wise things is not something I have mastered on two counts:  1)  It takes a unique discipline I don't have.  2) I don't think I am as wise today as I used to be . . . or as I used to think I was . . . I don't know for sure.  Anyway, here is an excerpt of something I wrote on Student Discipline many years ago, back in the days when I was wise, or thought I was wise, or whatever.  I read it again, and it sounded wise at least. Wish I could write something like this today. If I could I would change a few things.  But overall I stand by it.  I think.  What do you think?  

Over the years I have learned that efforts to produce a well-ordered, outwardly “impressive” educational environment can sometimes stand in the way of true heart change.  I believe that the educational environment needs to be well-ordered, esp. for the sake of maintaining an environment which is conducive to learning by the most students.  However, a well-ordered, well-behaved child is not the same thing as a spiritually mature child [Years-Later-Note: Is there any such thing as a "spiritually mature" child?].  One of the most immediate and subversive manifestations of human depravity is the ability to convince oneself and others that all is well with the heart merely by means of outward conformity.  Therefore, I do not believe that any disciplinary system can afford to be divorced from the Gospel, and I do not believe that outward conformity and “well-orderedness” should be the highest goal of any disciplinary system.   Because of this, I have sought to encourage teachers to remember what they are trying to accomplish when disciplining a child using the school’s disciplinary system.  Are they merely trying to order the environment?  Or are they attempting to improve the character of the child [Years-Later-Note: Not sure I like this "improve the character" language today, but maybe you know what I meant and can riff on it].   Although both purposes can coincide in the same disciplinary event, teachers must be able to distinguish between the two.  To fail to do so might be to achieve order at the expense of character [Years-Later-Note:  Today I might say something like, "To fail to do so might be to achieve something external at the expense of something internal."]  The environment can be well-ordered by means of disciplinary rules and consequences.  However, the improvement of character cannot be accomplished apart from the application of the Gospel, i.e., ensuring that students understand that the purpose of the law is not to impress God, themselves, or others by their obedience, but rather to reveal that we are sinners so that we can be led to Christ, in whom we find true righteousness and real sanctification.  Schools that truncate the message of the Law by not moving students ahead into the Gospel may have well-ordered environments, but will not ultimately be accomplishing anything of eternal value in the lives of students.  
 In other words, I believe that schools can and should be well-ordered, but that they should not fall prey to the fundamental error of legalism—teaching outward conformity instead of, or even at the expense of, relying upon the Gospel for true heart-change.