Tuesday, October 22, 2013

No free lunch

Source for article.

"I cannot tell you how hyped up I am at this note my friend Linda received today from her child’s school.
Her child has to have DOCTORS NOTE to send a packed lunch to school.
And does anyone notice the irony in the “health coordinator” and enforcement of no bagged lunches?" 
Trisha www.momdot.com

This parent lives in Richmond, Virginia

Conscious Parents, Happy Children

A new book by Tony Samara.

"Children have a natural and innate ability to want to know and understand things all the time in every way, but that is lost if it's not fed, just like anything else - if there is no interaction in any emotional way or social way then something is lost. So for me, the first thing when it comes to education is that learning is important and never to lose the feeling that learning has value." - Tony Samara (Excerpt from "Conscious Parents, Happy Children" by Tony Samara)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Education Reform.

The pioneer of China's education reform for its ambitious goal of cultivating innovative talent -- and it's students refuse to take tests.

America's Obsolete School System - Tony Wagner

Tony Wagner, Harvard Education Innovation Fellow, says:  

“Today knowledge is ubiquitous, constantly changing, growing exponentially… Today knowledge is free. It’s like air, it’s like water. It’s become a commodity… There’s no competitive advantage today in knowing more than the person next to you. The world doesn’t care what you know. What the world cares about is what you can do with what you know.”

Rest of article.

Although his take on the necessity of a "competitive edge" does not mirror my reasons for including it here, his observations, about the system as a whole, which include the words lackluster and downfall, do. 

Book Learning


Check out this wonderful engineering toy for girls!  The launch video is below, and you can buy it here.

Obey, Memorize - Paying to be programmed

The process of mainstream ‘education’ swamps the left side of the brain with the system’s version of reality by communicating ‘logical’ and ‘rational’ information based on ‘observable evidence’. Students are then told to retain this information, and revise it thoroughly, before taking something called an ‘exam’ in which they must repeat to the system what the system has told them to believe.

If they do this really well they pass their exams and ‘progress’. Well done, Johnny, well done Jane, good marks. If they go on doing this really well they might even go to university and get a degree to mark their degree of programming. How programmed are you? I’ve got a first class degree. Oh, first class programming, well done you.

Article continues here.

A Valedictorian speaks

It is the month of speeches and graduations, honors and entitlements.  A few  years ago there was a speech given by Erica Goldson, valedictorian of  her high school class.  Perhaps you have seen it.  There are no words to add to what she has summed up here.  Thank you Erica.  You speak for so many of us.

Here is a link.

Here is Erica, addressing her graduation class.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Generation Waking Up

This is the generation we are educating.  It is a global generation, united by the internet and massive in numbers. As you watch you can't help but see that they are teaching themselves.  It is time that we honor them, and offer them a platform from which to fly. 


Atlanta Cheating Scandal

Here's a quote from this article about the cheating in Georgia "Matthew M. Chingos, a researcher in the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, points out that states spend about $1.7 billion a year on testing administration,"

What???? Did you know how many of your taxes dollars are spent on test guards rather than education/enrichment? This "expert" goes on to say that 1.7 BILLION is just a fraction of the education budget and it should be higher, so that kids won't cheat.

When you consider this conversation about the merits or lack there of, of testing, who is speaking? It is not the students or the parents or even statistics on the ratio of successful test takers to happy, productive, creative people in society. It is the test designers, the institutions that read the scores and then decide whether or not you are fit to attend, the administration - it is those that directly profit $$$ from additional testing that are promoting the necessity of tests.

Maybe kids are cheating because they see that tests really don't matter, not to the things that matter to them. This is not a problem that can be fixed with more "enforcement". It is a call for change.

How Schools Kill Creativity - Ken Robinson

The Education System

Why I hate school (but love education)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What Road are we on?

Here is the first page of Chapter 4: What Road are we on?

For a free download of the book, "America's School Bus, It's time to get off!"  this link will bring you to a free download:

Free Download here.

What Road are we on?

Countless books have been written outlining alternative approaches to educating our children.  Since its inception, public education has raised as many problems and issues as it has ‘solved’.  This country is in many ways engrossed in its own evolution.  We are still a relatively new people, slowly developing useful branches while shedding or adapting others.  Government schools are one of those limbs that have been allowed to grow, relatively un-pruned. Certainly there have been numerous and various attempts to re-shape and control the inevitable growth.  The tools used, although innovative, have only provided a temporary solution.  The branch, now unrecognizable from its original form, is an abstract piece without a cohesive plan.                                                  

The job of shaping this branch called education belongs to the people, all of us.  It is not the purpose of government or school administrations to decide its form, but to create it, following the blueprint outlined by the population. We are the definers of our government and it is time we define our schools.  The route for our tax funded school bus was determined before the automobile was invented, certainly before flight was entertained as an option, (either within or beyond our atmosphere.)  Today there are commercial companies vying for the position of ‘first civilian space flights!’  The pioneer spirit that founded this country is evident in numerous areas.  It is time we venture into the unexplored arena of mandatory schooling.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Girl Rising

"educating girls in developing nations will change the world"

From the mouths of our children

School in the cloud

Sugatra Mitra has an incredible vision and a wish.  Read about it here..

“My wish is to help design the future of learning by supporting children all over the world to tap into their innate sense of wonder and work together. Help me build the School in the Cloud, a learning lab in India, where children can embark on intellectual adventures by engaging and connecting with information and mentoring online. I also invite you, wherever you are, to create your own miniature child-driven learning environments and share your discoveries.”
 Sugatra Mitra 2013

Video Here - Build School in the Cloud

Video Here - The Child Driven Education

Monday, May 20, 2013

Getting off the Bus

In 2004 I wrote a book "America's School Bus, It's time to get off."  It was published as an e-book.  The situation with our education has only gotten more intense.  This blog is a response to that situation.  (The book is offered free on this blog - see blog description in heading.)

Here is an excerpt from the Introduction:

"Test scores and class ranks have become defining characteristics of our children.  We began learning in either Pre-School or Kindergarten to depend on the teacher to define success for us, rather than trusting ourselves.  We now look to test scores to tell us whether or not our offspring are above, below or at average intelligence. What has this focus done for them?

The term ‘average’ is a relative term.  Just a little research and observation of children will confirm that there are multiple definitions of intelligence.  Consider Howard Gardner’s*6 seven forms, which include ‘Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal’ intelligence. It would seem that the ‘average’ or ‘below average’ score earned on one specific test is indicative of only a single, narrowly defined skill.  Yet it is these scores that are used to drive policy and programs while offering ‘evidence’ for either an abundance or lack of ability.  This often results in feelings of low self-worth and/or anxiety, not only for students and parents, but for their teachers as well.

In this country, schooling has done an incredible job.  “I’ve since come to understand the reason school lasts thirteen years.  It takes that long to sufficiently break a child’s will.”*2  Adults, having been through at least thirteen years of schooling, don’t often question the necessity of government control. It has become the fabric of our life and is not something to which we typically give much thought.  It is with this habitual attitude that we enroll our children in school, not envisioning it to offer them anything more than it gave us.  This numbing of our expectations is the result of our years spent conforming to the ‘educational state’.  It is not, in fact, ‘normal’, to feel this way, but the result of a systematic plan we willingly if unknowingly participated in. The intent, which is clearly stated in more than one historical document, was to create one uniform, cooperative citizenry. We have become numb to its effect on our lives, on our thinking, our internal senses, and our own self-assessment process.  We have learned well.

Today’s children are not learning well.  This has become a ‘problem’ for the gatekeepers.  Books have been written and experts have been consulted. System upon system has been designed, changed and designed again.  Home schooling, school reform, medications and private schools have each in their own way attempted to fix the conditions seen as flawed.  Some of these fixes address the various learning ‘disabilities’ of the children; some of these fixes address the many learning styles of the students and some address teaching styles.  Numerous and often brilliantly devised, these plans work some of the time with some of the children and some of the teachers in some of the schools. 

Perhaps it is time to think differently.  Not just about the children or the system or style of education, but about the control of these methods and who is at the wheel.

This book proposes we examine just that.  We trust that when we get into a bus marked ‘Fifth Street’, the bus driver has the skill and knowledge to get us to that destination safely.  We are united in purpose: we pay him or her some money, and are subsequently taken to where it is we intend to go.                                             

Who is driving this ‘Education of America’s Children’ bus?  It is a journey that takes twelve years or more.  Does the driver know where I want to go, or where my children want to go, or where your children are hoping to go?  Is it reasonable to expect all of us to want to go to the same place, at the same time and follow the same route?  There are 299,398,484*7 people living in this country.  We have given over control to a system of education set up over a century ago. 


It is time for us to offer our children the chance to move beyond providing the ‘right’ answers, and to discern for themselves some of the questions.

My son, (nine years old at the time), and I were working on something together one day, when we both came up with the same idea at the same time.  I made the comment “Great minds think alike.”  Without skipping a beat, he replied, “No mom, great minds think for themselves!” 

Self-definition is an ability we are born with.  Let us give our children the opportunity to trust and retain that trait into a gratifying and self-determined adulthood."