Monday, September 27, 2010

The Real Purpose of Schooling

Are schools out-of-touch?  I believe most are.  

And the culprit?  Much of it comes from education being institutionalized - the 'one size, fits all' approach which has taken a lot out of both teachers and students.

And the solution? Not to sure about it but doubtful that 'Superman' will provide the answers than Kung-fu Panda.

Podcast: Standardized testing is not about better performance but about higher test scores.
1. Parent incomes and socio-economic status - 80-90% determinant that produces significant advantage!  Why?  - Think poverty, child health and school.

2. Time taken away from real learning preparing for test.  Taking away teacher's time to pump up test scores is ridiculous. And so is dangling better compensation for teachers to perform and get better test scores. [Not about test scores but about thinking/ learning orientation vs grade orientation]

Assess quality of learning not metrics for measuring rank which is about competitiveness and economic considerations.

“Idleness, indifference, and irresponsibility,” he said, “are healthy responses to absurd work.” 

... But expediency should not be our main priority when it comes to schools.

Instead, we should come up with assessments that truly measure the qualities of well-educated children: the ability to understand what they read; an interest in using books to gain knowledge; the capacity to know when a problem calls for mathematics and quantification; the agility to move from concrete examples to abstract principles and back again; the ability to think about a situation in several different ways; and a dynamic working knowledge of the society in which they live. 

Tragically, evaluating and rewarding teachers primarily on the basis of state test score gains creates disincentives for teachers to take on struggling students, just as accountability systems that rate doctors on their patients’ mortality rates have caused surgeons to turn away patients who are very ill. While scores may play a role in teacher evaluation, they need to be viewed in context, along with other evidence of the teacher’s practice.

It is not that we “good teachers” want to protect supposedly “bad teachers.” It is that we fear a witchhunt based on test scores will have disastrous consequences for ourselves, our peers, and the students we care about.

"In terms of how we evaluate schooling, everything is about working by yourself. If you work with someone else, it's called cheating. Once you get out in the real world, everything you do involves working with other people."

The state says to the educators, "We’re giving you tax money. In return, we’re holding you accountable. Your students have to take the state’s annual standardized test."

And the educators say, "WHAT!? What’s your definition of accountable? Didn’t you give us a charter to help students become critical thinkers, curious, creative, self-aware, empathetic, confident, courageous, resourceful, in love with learning, and capable of wonder?"


"And now you’re telling us that a standardized, one-shot, paper-and-pencil, multiple choice, bubble-in-the-oval, machine-scored test of short-term memory of the contents of a few school subjects - you’re telling us that a computer is going to spit out a number that tells us whether or not we’re succeeding!? You've gotta be kidding!"

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

3 Non-Presciption Elixir for the Unproductively Weary

Effects of advanced age aside, there are days when one feels incapable of meeting life head on to take on whatever challenge that lies ahead. Most often, these types of challenges are hardly new nor one that provides a welcome disruption but instead are borne and bred out of routine - the boring-kind, as we'd like to call it.  And if not addressed, will eat away any of the motivation that drives a person to perform and excel at what she does.

So here are 3 readily-available elixirs to boost the productive self that doesn't require prescription and best of all, they're also free.

" The recent evidence is overwhelming: naps are not just physically restorative, but also improve perceptual skills, motor skills, reaction time and alertness. "

" One of the powerful things about rituals is that we often give them a special importance: they can be almost spiritual (and sometimes actually spiritual, depending on the ritual). And when they become special, we are more mindful of them — we don’t just rush through them mindlessly."

"If you're looking to multitask your willpower training, try walking meditation. A 2009 study by researchers at the University of Exeter, UK, found that walking for 15 minutes decreased cravings among smokers, and a 2010 at the University of Virginia study found that two weeks of regular exercise induced brain changes that suppressed cravings, and reduced drug-seeking behavior, in cocaine-addicted rats."

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gov 2.0 Summit 2010: Andrew McAfee, "Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools..."

Failure: A 50-page policy doc on what good blogging is reduced to a single sentence, "We prefer you didn't blog." -@AMcAfee

This just fits. Just put me in an armchair student mode paying attention to an intelligent repartee and with all ears on what I'd be able to adapt and use.

Gov 2.0 Summit plus Prof. Andrew McAfee is quite simply, a win.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

"Well 'M Glad"

Got a lot of half-read, unfinished books lying in different areas of the house and I still visit the second-hand bookshop at least thrice a week to score a few more titles.  My wife thinks it's frivolity already, while I stick to my serendipity purchase rationale.  

Kid seems to side with me because she often gets a book for herself , too.  Mostly superhero or comic books anyway, aside from the occasional pre-k learning modules if we can spot a good one.

But then there are some authors you crave like some comfort food that you can't explain the effect it has on you.  There's plenty of course but looking at 'what the dog saw' makes me long for a certain Mr. Gladwell.

Couldn't find a fresh post from him and he certainly won't be on Twitter to share a few quips.  So these two would have to do. 

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Friday, September 3, 2010

A Passion for Words and Speeches

"A speech can ignite a fire, change men's minds, open their eyes, alter their votes, bring hope to their lives, and, in all these ways, change the world." - Theodore Sorensen 

From the celebrated Pulitzer-winning biography, Profiles in Courage to his  inaugural address that exhorted listeners to "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country", there is no denying that the myth of JFK hung on every written word that he wrote and speech he has delivered.

It is this emphasis on getting his message across that served as grand yet touching vehicle to a leadership quality not unlike that of the late, great, Abraham Lincoln. 

But words are but empty shells in the absence of character enriched by the strong desire to lead and embolden positive change.  Be that as it may, what if you can get that kind of assistance that would enable you to craft and deliver those same messages that is meant to inspire hope and enjoin the people to pursue the very same goals you preach?  

JFK did get that help.  And we owe Ted Sorensen a great deal of thanks and admiration for having been that whilst also fulfilling the part of the faithful friend and lieutenant.

Add me as a fan.

"At about the same time, Senator John F. Kennedy was starting a four-year string of speaking trips around the country to build a following for his 1960 presidential campaign. He was regularly accompanied by Theodore Chaikin Sorensen, an intense young lawyer from Nebraska, and before long there was no telling whose words were whose. “We found in those long plane rides that we enjoyed each other’s company, joking, talking politics and planning his future,” Sorensen writes in his new memoir. When the senator’s voice gave out at one stop, he filled in — and a reporter discovered he had been “reading” Kennedy’s speech from blank pages. "

In his new book, Counselor, Ted Sorensen, adviser and legendary speechwriter for John F. Kennedy, describes the events that shaped the Kennedy years along with his relationship to the President and his family. Sorensen will always be remembered for turning phrases that ignited the imagination of a generation.

On the 15th of July, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy accepted his party’s presidential nomination at the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles. In his remarks, made at a moment of high tension in the cold war, Kennedy asserted that the United States was at “a turning point in history” and called on his listeners to be “pioneers” in a “New Frontier” of “uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus.”

Collaborating with Kennedy on the speech was a thirty-two-year-old aide named Theodore C. Sorensen, to whom Kennedy was known to refer as his “intellectual blood bank.” With Sorensen’s help, Kennedy would earn a reputation as one of American history’s great orators and provide a bold new vision for the nation.

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Design: What It Can and Cannot Do

With almost a playing field that continues to be level for products and services, the value of design in driving commerce is getting more interest beyond the traditional circle of artistes.  It seems that widespread use of the PC and advances in graphic software has sparked a love affair with creativity not just in packaging offerings but maybe, even extending to the organizational management, too.

But before designers get carried away with this newfound power, Christopher Simmons reveals where design should fit in the business plan.

More design points:

Design is the language that supports the strategy, that promotes the product, that is imagined by people, that believe in a vision.

A great logo isn’t going to make shitty product any less shitty any more than a hard worker is going to make a bad boss a better leader. In this model, the inner layers affect the outer ones, not the other way around (with the possible exception that a well-articulated brand can help employees feel pride in their organization which can, for a time, boost morale).

...  a design methodology can be useful in identifying need, discovering opportunity, developing empathy and driving innovation. 

Design, then, is at the center of another process — that of mediator between consumer and product, between message and audience.

More on this excellent piece here.

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