Speaker, consultant, writer, learner, parent
March 7, 2008 By Will Richardson
Sylvia Martinez says
March 7, 2008 at 1:17 pm
DM = Deborah Meier. Progressive educator, advocate for small schools, against mandated curriculum and testing. Her books are must-reads for progressive educators.
DR = Diane Ravitch. More conservative/traditional, advocates for some standardized testing and curriculum, but not the current system. Her books make a solid case for how curriculum can be a guide and not a straightjacket; and how tests can be assessment and not punishment.
Lately, they both have been on the same side against NY city mayor Bloomburgs “assault” on public schools.
Their joint blog is Bridging Differences: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/
It’s fascinating – a civil discussion between two educators about the essence of what we need to do to improve schools in the US.
Scott Merrick says
March 7, 2008 at 1:26 pm
Wow. Thanks for sharing in this way, Will. I discovered you were doing so on Twitter, shared with my in-house faculty via an email, and plan to blog this LiveBlog post. I can’t travel much, being a full-time teacher and holding down a part-time extra job to make ends meet and work with a different population. So your (and others’) sharing in this way helps me learn and grow as I’m able to witness and participate.
/me joins in the applause! (sic)
Dan Gross says
March 7, 2008 at 1:41 pm
Hey Will – I caught the same tweet, but then when Scott sent out the URL I hopped right on. Just caught the end, but thought it was pretty neat! Just getting around to commenting though – had to tie up some other loose ends. 🙂
Sandy Wagner says
March 7, 2008 at 1:42 pm
Thanks for live blogging this Will. Awesome food for thought while having my lunch!
How much of what these two brilliant people are saying carries far outside of NYC schools? Remember, the NY State mandates carry to the suburban, and rural schools of NY as well as the other big cities within the state. Additionally, many of these mandates are the result of Federal mandates. Although NY City is a huge school district, it is not alone in many of the areas discussed.
Tom Hoffman says
March 7, 2008 at 2:41 pm
And they’ve got a blog: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/
Tim Van Heule says
March 7, 2008 at 4:50 pm
Will… thanks for making this powerful session available to us all. Reading this transcript definitely makes you think.
March 7, 2008 at 5:03 pm
I have to echo the thanks that have already been mentioned. I did not even realize this event was happening until your tweet. I’m so glad to have been able to read this. These two women impress me greatly (DM has long been an idol of mine) and I’m glad to see their message spreading, at least to some extent.
Again, thanks for sharing this and for giving it greater visibility.
Gary Stager says
March 8, 2008 at 12:53 am
You owe it to yourselves to read Meier’s seminal works, “The Power of Their Ideas” and “In Schools We Trust.” In most countries it would be assumed that every teacher has read a Macarthur Genius like Deborah Meier.
Dr. Ravitch worked for Bush 41 as Asst. Sect of Education and works for the Hoover and Brookings Institutes. Despite her right-wing background, she is rational and thoughtful. She has been smeared and attacked by the Bloomberg/Klein junta and has demonstrated courage, integrity and a capacity for growth. Her book, “The Language Police,” is a great read.
Those two women are the type of speakers every confrence should feature. Their expertise is awesome, accomplishments great and ideas are timeless’
Will Richardson says
March 8, 2008 at 6:01 am
Ijust want to echo what Gary said about the opportunity to listen to speakers like these. This conference has had some great ones; Jane Goodall was the opening plenary and there are some others today that I know will require some thinking on my part and, therefore, teach me a thing or two. It’s been really nice being face to face with folks who aren’t necessarily steeped in technology, though it has also been interesting hearing a perspective of educational reform that doesn’t have much if anything to do with technology. It’s been kind of scary to see how little understanding of social learning most of these folks have or practice.
Anyway, this session was superb.
Kevin Jarrett says
March 8, 2008 at 6:41 am
Not to hijack this amazing thread but I was wondering (as was @ssandifer BTW) if you would elaborate (either here in a comment or via blog posting) on this statement:
“Itâ€™s been kind of scary to see how little understanding of social learning most of these folks have or practice.”
I have been wrestling with this very thought for a while now. We think social learning is important. We use it in our classrooms. We get results (hopefully). We evangelize. We drank the social learning/technology kool-aid.
But what about everyone else? The ones that don’t see what we see, share our passions, understand our message, or desire to leverage the tools we’re using? What about them, including the masses of people who are at http://www.thirteencelebration.org/ today?
No doubt many of these educators come from fantastic, innovative schools where they are getting results without social learning tools. And so, I wonder … does it all really matter? Do we matter?
March 8, 2008 at 6:44 am
GAH! Should have known you were about to post a reflection on the conference and address this. I’ll repost my comment. You can delete these two if you want. 🙂 -kj-
Brian Crosby says
March 8, 2008 at 1:10 pm
I’ve been following “Bridging Differences” for quite awhile and so have seen how these two women who at first seemed far apart in their theories and experiences in education have been coming more and more to common ground – kind of shows the value of talking … hashing things out, diplomacy … um but I digress. We’ve heard/seen the same when the Stagers’ and the Richardsons’ (and others) who at times seem to be at odds over things get together to “have at it” in person seem to come away realizing they are not so far apart really.
My other take away here is that however we define or identify the members of those pushing for change in education that are not “techies” – those of us that are believers in educational technology should go out of our way to embrace and converse with them as allies in this whole change process. We will not agree on everything, but much more than not, and we will have enlarged and enriched our voices.
Also note that Ms. Meier and Ms. Ravitch are blogging … and I note more and more they are linking to other sources and resources … unless they have someone else doing that for them they are making steps, maybe unknowingly towards embracing technology as a communicative and educational lever. : )
Learning is messy!
Gary S. Stager says
March 8, 2008 at 8:08 pm
I largely agree with you. Seymour Papert and I used to discuss often the need to create an event in which great progressive educators who are not “techies,” spend time collaborating with the great progressive educators who view technology as a way of amplifying and expanding progressive learner-centered ideals.
I fear that only a person of Dr. Papert’s stature could have pulled this off, both logistically and on a thoughtful level that would have impressed our low-tech heroes. (I know for a fact that he knew Deborah Meier)
Since great educators, like Meier, Sizer, Donald Graves, Dennis Littky, Herb Kohl, Seymour Sarason and others are at the top of their careers, if might be a lot more practical if the edtech community would embrace their work and ideas, rather than the other way around.
There is a lot to learn from the people who have created great learning experiences for kids. The tech fits easily into environments that have done the tough work of making schools productive contexts for learning and more hospitable to the intentions of children.
March 8, 2008 at 8:09 pm
Are Meier and Ravitch really blogging or are they letting their conversation/correspondence housed in a blog?
Does such a distinction matter?
I leave this question to “the keepers of the blogosphere.” 🙂
a. woody delauder says
March 9, 2008 at 10:49 am
I believe this quote is quite interesting…
“DM: I have never met more people than NYC principals who are scared to death of making decisions. We talk about how principals are being empowered, but they are not.”
We often speak of the distrust that our school system has for teachers and students. There is also a great distrust for the administration. Their jobs are just as scripted as ours.
I recently wrote an editorial in a local newspaper to tell of my experience at EduCon 2.0. In the editorial, I mentioned that I was the only educator from my district that attended. The day after the Editorial was printed, I was bombarded with emails and the head of the Science Department was standing in my classroom at the end of the day. I was informed that I jumped over some people in the “Chain of Command”. I was supposed to reveal the writing to my Principal, who was in turn supposed to get it approved by the Superintendent before it went into the paper.
I am bringing this up at the next board meeting to light a fire that has a spark right now.
Steve Ransom says
March 9, 2008 at 6:28 pm
@ Gary Stager, I couldn’t agree more with your comment regarding the need to be well-versed in models of effective teaching/learning. Technologies may allow these effective models to “look different” than in the more traditional ways, but they are still grounded on effective pedagogies and learning theories. I think if we placed more effort on implementing these effective teaching strategies in general, there would be a more natural fit for the very technologies we are claiming amplify these strategies. But, when we are trying to do both at the same time – get teachers to change their pedagogies AND implement new technologies, it is quite difficult for many.