Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ranting in an age of near infinite knowledge accessibility

Brian Kirwin has been ranting over at Bearing Drift with the post It ain’t true, but they keep saying it. On the state of education in today's world, he wrote,
My kid’s school is great, but all the others are horrible

This is the single biggest impediment to improving schools. Even in Detroit, where 80% of the kids who enter as Freshmen don’t even graduate, you’ll find “but my school is different.” It’s amazing how we expect kids who every day in the real world interact with technology that the Apollo 11 astronauts didn’t have, they have access to a worldwide goldmine of information in a world that’s quicker, multitask-oriented, interactive and incentive-based, and we wonder why 30 kids in a room with a common textbook working at a unified pace with no incentive to do any better than the person sitting next to them results in a generation of students so bored with education that we face the real risk of creating a nation of salespeople marketing the inventions and innovations of other nations.

Until we adopt an education model that is interactive, individualized and incentive-laden, schools will continue to try to improve their outdated, 20th century models like Edison’s competitors tried to make better candles or blacksmiths who thought better horses were an adequate response to Ford’s new carriage.
Indeed. I think the Coalition of Essential Schools might have a possible answer. I know others do, also.

What is it that is holding the American education system back?

Your thoughts?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The heat has turned up slightly

Here in southeastern Virginia, it's been a balmy winter. Today the heat was up, and everyone was out in short sleeves.

The search for an answer to my call is also heating up a bit. I have a couple nibbles at the moment. One is for an assistant head position at a day school with a unique environmental focus. I've been tinkering with my credentials file, particularly the page Search Objective for Peter Stinson.

I did a major rework of one section, going so far as to delete Desired school characteristics and in its place put The ideal school.

This is the section which was, in essence, left on the cutting room floor:
Desired school characteristics

Selection Criteria for all schools:
  • Non-profit
  • College prep or college bound
  • Maintain similar standard of living as current
  • Co-ed or all boys
Additional Selection Criteria for boarding schools:
  • 325 students, max
  • 35% day students, max
  • 1:9 faculty:student ratio, max
  • 25% international students, max
Additional Selection Criteria for day schools and day/boarding schools in the United States:
  • 400 students max (upper school)
  • Casual dress
  • Follows Coalition of Essential Schools or other progressive program
  • If private school, must be an "independent" school
  • Maximum faculty/student ratio 1:11

Additional Selection Criteria for schools outside the United States:
  • 400 students max (upper school)
  • May be an "American" school or an "International" School
  • Maximum faculty/student ratio 1:15
  • Prefer for school to offer the IB
You can see the new page here. Pay particular attention to the ideal school section.

I'd be interested to hear what you think.

Also, I re-ordered the sections; do you think it flows better?

Please do comment below, and please ask others to provide me feedback also. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

How have you lived your life? Insights for us all.

I wanted to pass along two videos I came across recently that I think would be of benefit to all the folks in the ever-shifting blogsophere. They're both from Randy Pausch from Carnegie Mellon.

Well, he's actually on a leave of absence from Carnegie Mellon and has moved to Chesapeake, Virginia, with his family.

Anyway, there are two talks he gave this past fall. Devout members of the blogosphere have likely seen one or both of them, or at least heard about them.

One is called "The Last Lecture" which is a Carnegie Mellon lecture series: if you had one last lecture to give... In his case, it is nearly his last lecture as he is dying from pancreatic cancer. It's an awesome lecture about living life and succeeding at goals.

The second lecture is one that he evidently gave somewhat frequently, but gave again at UVA (where he was a professor before going to Pittsburgh) in November.

Both of these are worth the time to watch.For those who would like more information about Randy and his life and work, there's plenty on the web. Here are a couple of sites.Enjoy.
Cross posted at Tidewater Musings, An Unofficial Coast Guard Blog, and Coast Guard Performance Excellence.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Just how technology savvy are you?

I came across a list of technology-based interview questions for independent and international schools to use with new faculty members. Jeff Utecht at The Thinking Stick proposes that these questions will allow you to see how excited a prospective faculty member is about technology and how they might integrate technology into the classroom or their other work in a school community.

I though these questions were very thought-provoking; I took a stab at answering them (before really studying Jeff's analysis of each question); I liked the results so much that I posted my replies in my employment credentials package.

Your thoughts? Comments below, please.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Haidho American School in Sarkhan: Part 2

For anyone following my journey and wondering how I dealt with the Haidho American School, here was my reply to the superintendent, after many days of wondering what to say.

I decided to just take an open approach:
Thanks so much for your note back. I hope the New Year finds you and yours and the school community safe.

I appreciate your kind words and your straight-forward feedback. While finances are certainly critical, I've always thought that nearly
everything financial is negotiable, particularly if the "fit" is "fine." If you find, as the hiring season rolls along, you'd like to continue the conversation, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me. The opportunities present at Haidho American School are innumerable, and I would thrive on working in the HAS community.

I wish you a most excellent 2008.
I suspect, however, that while I may hear again from the head of HAS, I'll not be packing my bags for Sarkhan.

I did see a posting for a dean of students position at a day school nearby; I sent off my letter of inquiry this morning.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Making a long-term impact on students: Experiential Learning

Recently, I read about a Spanish teacher at Olentangy Liberty High School, Erica Vieyra, who had her Spanish V students take on a role playing exercise: they were to "assume a Latino identity, build an imaginary life in your home country and develop a workable plan to immigrate to the United States," as noted in an article by Holly Zachariah in the Columbus Dispatch.

The project has raised a fair bit of controversy amongst many, including some loud voices in the blogosphere. I think the critics are missing the point. This is not about liberal indoctrination or teaching students how to break the law; this is about getting students to learn through experience.

If I am representative of the typical American student when it comes to foreign languages, twenty-five years from now Ms. Vieyra's students will remember little, if any, actual Spanish. But, they will likely remember the many lessons learned from completing this project.

The same goes for the Newark, New Jersey, students who participated in the project pictured with this post. They spent three months building the boats and then launching them in the Passaic River. The project worked to integrate the usual academic disciplines with an experiential and hands-on approach.

I seek the opportunity to work in a school which embraces this sort of teaching and learning.