May 2010

These are interesting times as we talk about school change. There are more and more pressures from the federal government that make less and less sense, that are creating more and more pushback from state and local educators. And in my opinion with good reason.

They may be calling it “Race To The Top” but I see it as “The March To Mediocrity.” We are so focused on raising test scores that we have lost sight of what made America the leading nation in the world, innovation and creativity. For some reason we let other nations define what the scorecard is for an outstanding educational system. Test scores.

We have never led the world in terms of test scores. But we have kicked their butts economically. We need to return to our roots. In fact we need to put the push to make our kids more innovative and creative on steroids!

Real school change would mean less standardization, and more customization and individualization. I hope the pushback on Race To The Top not only continues, but accelerates. It’s the wrong direction for school change. – Steve Wyckoff

School change: Push versus pull, My Kids Turn

by Steve Wyckoff on May 18, 2010

I’ve been reading a lot lately about how our world is changing from a “push” approach, to a “pull” approach. I’ve heard a couple of good examples of the old “push” method, TV and education. The TV executives make a command decision about which programs you get to watch. What day they are on, what time they are on, and if they will continued be on.

In the “pull” world you set your DVR and watch it whenever you want, furthermore, you can fast-forward through the commercials if you want. But the real “pull” world is YouTube. You can search for almost anything, and watch at any time, just about anything you want. There are no elites deciding what you get to see when you get to see it, it’s all up to you.

Another good example of the old-style “push” world is education. Our students are told what they have to take, when they have to take it, with very little if any choice. We have elite individuals who have decided what THE “standards” need to be for every child, and most of our curriculum in K-12 schools is mandated by colleges.

I’m very proud of the project my colleagues at ESSDACK have launched. It is truly a “pull” approach. The name of the project, and the website, are My Kids Turn. Each of the six programs, soon to be expanded to 10, contains video clips designed to help parents with the educational needs of their kids.

Jane Seward’s channel is called Magic Spell, and is intended for parents who want help their children become better spellers. Michelle Flaming’s channel is called By The Numbers, and is designed to give parents strategies to help their kids understand and love math. Reneé Smith and Jaime Hendricks team up on Just Deserts. Just Deserts gives parents table games that can be played with their kids at meal time, that support and enrich their learning at school.

Jodi Case has developed Learn, Grow, and Bloom, which is designed for parents with toddlers through pre-school with language and speaking, build pre–reading and math skills. Great Games, Better Brains is produced by Glenn Wiebe and Jaime Hendricks and helps parents explore the wild and woolly world of video games for their children, from an educational point of view. And finally, Kevin Honeycutt is featured in Raising Digital Kids. Kevin is a national presenter who often speaks on Internet safety and the use of technology by kids.

We are betting that, in the 21st century, the world will continue becoming a “pull” world. We believe that the use of “pull” approaches to learning will lead to real school change. Check out the website and see what you think. Can you imagine your school, or your classroom, or your children’s learning experience becoming customized and individualized through new technologies? – Steve Wyckoff

School change: Science as a story

May 13, 2010

I’ve been watching Into The Universe with Stephen Hawking. Fascinating stuff. But it got me to thinking how boring all of my science classes were. So I tried to reflect on why they were so boring and these programs are so interesting. And then it hit me, these programs are a story, my science classes […]

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School change: The use of National standards is not research-based

May 12, 2010

I recently listened to a podcast from the Cato Institute on National Curriculum Education Standards. This is an extremely interesting podcast in spite of the fact that the first segment is done by a politician. Neil McCluskey, of the Cato Institute, has a very interesting take, and also interesting data. Several points stood out to […]

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Sorry … another Nerd Test

May 11, 2010

I’m trying to use to post automatically to facebook, linkedin and twitter.

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School change: What employers don’t want to see on Facebook

May 11, 2010

If schools ever change perhaps we could look at some of the issues that impact our kids futures. One such issue was brought to my attention by my friend Mary Paris. Mary sent me an excerpt from an executive report titled What Employers Don’t Want To See On Facebook. In the report they discussed a CareerBuilder […]

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Getting to be a nerd is hard work!!!!!!!

May 10, 2010

I’m just about worn out … I’m linking my blog to facebook, twitter and linked in … using …I take back everything I’ve ever said about the nerds …. EVER … that wasn’t true. Thank God for my personal nerd John Jones! Anyway this is a test … of my endurance … and the […]

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School change: The best definition of a teacher’s job EVER!

May 10, 2010

Have you ever heard somebody say something and said to yourself, “That really make sense.” And then days later, or weeks later, or years later, and even decades later you realize how profound that statement was. Well  Phil Schlechty has one of those quotes. The first time I heard it I was intrigued but over […]

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School change: The engagement factor

May 7, 2010

The idea of engaging students has long been an interest of mine. I suspect it goes back years to my first interaction with Phil Schlechty who enlightened me on the different types of engagement. Phil talked about four kinds of engagement; authentic, ritualistic, passive compliant, and rebellious. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to […]

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School change: the beliefs that guide our schools

May 6, 2010

Several years ago a superintendent who was a friend of mine sent an e-mail to the superintendent’s listserv. He asked if any of the superintendents who were members of the list had a set of beliefs by which they operated their schools. I responded to him, okay sarcastically, that based on my observation of what […]

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School change: The heroes in the trenches, ICIL2010

May 5, 2010

I wrote recently about the need to give schools autonomy if we want to see real school change. Not autonomy to implement government rules however we see fit, but the autonomy for dedicated educators to implement the kind of educational strategies and processes that could really make a difference for our kids in preparing them […]

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School change: Are principals “visionary leaders?”

May 4, 2010

I just saw a tweet about the book The School Principal Visionary Leadership and Competent Management. In part of the summary there is a quote, “Today, school-level administrators are expected to be both visionary leaders and competent managers.” I haven’t read the book but my first impression was, “I don’t think so.” This is not […]

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School change: Are you the dream manager in your school?

May 3, 2010

Almost nobody, and especially our kids, have ever identified their dreams. I guess we just don’t think about it in those terms. If you haven’t you need to read the book Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly. In fact, I would say that if you have read the book dream manager and you haven’t started doing […]

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