From the “Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.” I just wanted to share this 40-minute or so “interview” that my local superintendent Lisa Brady did with me last month and is now airing on local access television here in Central NJ. Nothing too much new here from me, but I think it’s great opportunity to hear a school leader in the midst of shifting a traditional school to a inquiry-based curriculum grounded in technology and online social learning tools talk about some of her thinking around making those changes. Would love to hear what you think.
Bill Farren says
Will: Thanks for posting this! It’s immensely inspiring to see and hear an actual superintendent talking about these issues in such an intelligent and passionate way. People like Lisa Brady are such a rarity. It gives one hope seeing someone in such a position of power thinking and acting in ways that can provide meaningful, much-needed change.
Gordon Smith says
Our school’s filter does not allow me to see the video. Would you please post the video’s url so I can use the over-ride and unblock it.
Thank you very much for all of your efforts.
Will Richardson says
Here you go Gordon: http://blip.tv/file/4268448/
Susan Davis says
I am struck by your (our) frequent use of the word “shift.” To many, I think it feels more like a quake. Even as a quake, the earth moving under our feet — the change in the way learning is happening in the world — can make us feel excited (hey, that’s cool, I wonder what that shaking means…) or it can feel pretty scary (hey, my house is falling down around me).
This conversation reminds me to feel a little more empathy for those whose educational houses are falling down around them.
When Lisa Brady asks, as if for those scared and shaken folks, “Where’s my entry point?” we can imagine how they are seeing a world where the doors are moving side to side so fast they can’t see beyond them. Still, there is some urgency, the ground is shaking, and they need to get through one of those passages and safely to the other side.
I’m happy that the wobbly landscape still piques my curiosity more than it scares me.
Julie Hunter says
I am a parent and youth counsellor in British Columbia. I am so happy to see your discussion celebrate the idea of teacher as “facilitator”
My 16 year old daughter has done virtually all her education in a publicly funded democratic school, where students, teachers, parents, non school-aged siblings all participate and function as co-facilitators in each others’ learning. The students emerge into adolescence as confident, vibrant learners, some of whom seek conventional avenues to graduation, others who doggedly follow entrepreneurial instincts that they have developed by staying in touch with what is of deep personal interest.
In general these students have acquired deeper and more active knowledge (over a narrower range of topics) than they could have had they followed externally determined curricula. The irony is that as educators on the cutting edge are beginning to give credence to this type of learning, the “fear” element, which is powerful in her school district are engaged in undermining the students’ freedom to self-direct.
Self-direction from and early age, and interpersonal respect among all members of the school community seem to be the key to success.
Charlton Bruton says
Misinformation on the internet was mentioned, and I’d like to add an anecdote that relates. One of my ESL University students was aghast when she “learned” on the internet that justin bieber was in fact an older man. The spoof site Onion News had done a piece on him, and it took me some time explaining that this was not real news. The world may have access to the Internet, but they are far behind in many ways. Thanks for an enjoyable interview.
Clark Meyer says
I was glad to hear Lisa Brady’s focus on the environment as a global area of concern requiring new ways of learning and connecting in order for students to be prepared for the world they will face. I agree when you say “schools will have to change sooner or later” in terms of embracing 21st century skills and technological literacy, but I think the same change dynamic is true, maybe even more so, when it comes to our schools eventually having to come to terms with an unsustainable planet and acknowledging our own complicity in the problem. Lisa Brady’s system stands to be ahead of the curve on both fronts.
Anyway, I thought about our collective complicity two weeks ago while attending the Solution Tree Summit in Chicago (nice to see you speak again, by the way) in that environmental literacy was almost wholly absent from the agenda of preparing our students for the world in which they will live and work. While I have been profoundly changed as an educator by your example and the thinking of other innovators in 21st century education, I have this nagging voice reminding me that societal disconnect from the natural world is the root cause of all modern environmental problems (we don’t lack for knowledge anymore), and I worry to what degree our embrace of online community weakens our connection to the real world.
I think, in particular, about a favorite quote from David Orr: “By what is included or excluded we teach students that they are part of or apart from the natural world.” Without careful attention to balance and purpose, what does driving students further into the virtual world teach them?
It’s been a tension on my mind of late and something I’ve started working through on my blog, and I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.
Charlie Roy says
I’ve watched this interview around three times now and have shared it with my staff. We are in the first year of a 1:1 laptop program and your comments are very insightful and hit on the head the tidal shift that we are experiencing right now. It has been an interesting and engaging year to say the least and I think most of what we see coming around the corner is that this will be a very exciting time for learning. The presence of ubiquitous information and universal access is causing schools to rethink and reframe everything we do in the name of teaching and learning. It is either scary as hell or as exciting a time as an educator could hope for.
Mike McKim says
Very informative interview. I teach in an impoverished, rural district in the South. Our technology remains as it was 12 years ago. The Internet connection is a wireless feed from 25 miles away and dependent on weather conditions. My kids are falling further and further behind because we are not moving into the 21st century. Globalization sounds nice, but until we can move forward regionally, the learning gap for my class will grow. It’s a shame that our superintendent will not open the district ledgers to the state, while your superintendent focuses on the children and the coming reality. After viewing this interview, my belief is stronger that the Federal government must step for a uniform national curriculum.
Ellen Hrebeniuk says
I don’t think it’s competely impossible to get standardised testing of higher cognitive skills; I immediately thought of the Australian Mathematics Competition (samples at http://tinyurl.com/2dxx32y) and the ICAS tests (http://tinyurl.com/2efbagh). However, from the discussion above, I suspect the NSW syllabi emphasise problem-solving and arguing a case more than the ones you are stuck with.
Incidentally, we are trying to get national curricula underway here, and it’s proving VERY difficult (with only 8 jurisdictions to combine)! The number one complaint? Too much content at the expense of skills in problem-solving, arguing a case, etc…
You mentioned in this video that teacher education is still preparing teachers towards a traditional model of teaching. Being a prospective teacher myself in the Faculty of Ed., what advice would you provide to teacher candidates in regards to taking charge of a more progressive philosophy of education? How can I advocate for this shift without upsetting those who choose to ignore the realities of teaching and learning?
Thanks for the incredible insights!