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Showing posts from July, 2010

Jane and Harold

Saint David's faculty were asked to read Howard Gardner's book Five Minds for the Future two summers ago. In it, Gardner identifies the five minds (habits of mind/ways of thinking) he sees as essential for success in the future. As I watched Jane McGonigal's TED Talk below, I couldn't help but reflect on Gardner's work. Gaming taps into all of these minds--the disciplined, creative, synthesizing, respectful and ethical--and it ads yet another dimension. Gaming takes content that we have traditionally viewed in linear structures, two dimensional perspectives, to 3-D. Our older boys are already playing World of Warcraft and other games like it. Gaming just may be at the forefront of the development of life-like virtual worlds. The third generation of the web will probably embed us all in a three dimensional virtual world transforming social interaction online from what we understand it to be today--lineal--to fully engaged, three dimensional, dynamic social settings.…

Spartans or Athenians?

In light of the classical roots of our Saint David's curriculum, I enjoyed reading this April 2010 article in Time Magazine about the teaching of empathy.  The author, Maia Szalavitz, makes the point that empathy can and needs to be taught.  She cites the ancient Greeks comparing the ways of Sparta with the ways of Athens when it came to child-rearing and education--Athens obviously, being the better choice. She argues that empathy starts with teaching young children to understand their own feelings and behaviors thereby giving them the tools to understand the feelings and behaviors of others.  This resonates at Saint David's where we make reference to another classical ideal--one found etched in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi--"Know Thyself."  We lean toward the Athenians.

The Power of Social Media and Information ...

... has never been so great.  The world is changing, rapidly.  Clay Shirky makes a strong argument here regarding the power of information, technology and collective, collaborative work, but his more important embedded message is our changing culture and the importance of "sense of community" and "social pacts or constraints," as opposed to contracts.  There is an inherent generosity in the human spirit.  Emerging technologies tap and celebrate this generosity--what Shirky refers to as communal value.  This is fascinating.  For schools we have to tap into social media technologies more than we do.

Teacher Adventures Worth Following

Two groups of Saint David's teachers are embarking on fascinating adventures this summer and both are keeping blogs of their travels.  You can follow their journeys by checking out their blogs.  Second Grade teacher Jenn Horton and First Grade teacher Sara Thorpe are venturing west, following the Oregon Trail in preparation for enhancing a unit of study for the second grade boys next year.  Simultaneously, Ed Carr and Charlie Goulding, in a repeat excursion of sorts--last summer they biked from NYC to the Keys of Florida--are bicycling their way from Vancouver, Canada to Santa Barbara, California.  May their travels be rewarding.

Books in the Home?

According to a recent 20 year-study conducted by Mariah Evans at the University of Nevada, parents who have books in the home increase the level of education their children will attain.  Books in the home--a 500 book or more home library--had an equally significant impact on the level of education children achieved as parents' education levels, trumping variables such as parents' wealth and the literacy levels of parents.  This is further evidence that, from an educational perspective, the most important thing we can do as parents is read to our children, supply them with books and make the home a literature rich environment.

A New Segregation Debate?

Newsweek recently published (June 22, 2010) an interesting article on whether the separation of boys and girls can help to solve the massive problem confronting American public education, especially with regard to the sigificant disparity between male and female high school graduation rates and college attendance/admittance rates.  Inherent in the debate are many issues related to the merits of separate schooling for boys and girls on a public policy level; but the largest issue, only touched on in the article by its author Jesse Ellison, is the issue of choice.  At the heart of all the efforts to reform public education in this country is choice, including this issue.  Proponents want choice, those fighting it don't.  When the people have choice, they have power.