Friday, September 24, 2010

What Does It Mean To Be Well-Educated?

Yes, I'm back in school (again) gunning for another degree. I'm presently taking two courses, Organizational Theory and Change and Political Policy and Analysis in Urban Public Schools. It's been quite an experience thus far with discussions that run the gamut of hot topics in education.

A recent homework assignment and class discussion (debate) was based on the article “What Does It Mean to Be Well-Educated?” by Alfie Kohn and further fueled by complex conversations about a topic that may not have any one right answer.

I now pose that question to you… “What Does It Mean to Be Well-Educated?” Kohn suggest that the issue is sufficiently complex, that questions are easier to formulate than answers. So let’s at least be sure we’re asking the right questions and framing them well. It’s this frame that will help us to determine “What Does It Mean to Be Well-Educated?”


1) Point of Schooling...Is it intellectual development; a means to creating or sustaining a democratic society; an economic investment into your future???

2) Evaluating People vs. Their Education...Does the phrase well-educated refer to a quality of the schooling you received, or something about you? Does it denote what you were taught, or what you actually learned (and remember)?

3) An Absence of Consensus…Is it even possible to agree on a single definition of what every high school student should know or be able to do in order to be considered well-educated? Is it to be invariant across cultures?

4) Some Poor Definitions…Are the following factors: attendance, job skills, test scores, memorization of a bunch of facts, indicators of being well-educated?

5) Mandating a Single Definition…Who gets to decide what it means to be well-educated?

6) The Good School… Finally, instead of asking what it means to be well-educated, perhaps we should inquire into the qualities of a school likely to offer a good education?

I have my thoughts, now I'd like to hear yours…

By Samantha Lennon

5th Grade Teacher

Friday, September 17, 2010

What is blogging anyway?!?!

I was racking my brain to figure out what to blog about, when I started to think, “What EXACTLY is blogging?”

I know, I know, I am the technology teacher, I should know everything about blogs! To tell you the truth, I don’t! I have thought about using them with the students, but I realized that I couldn’t do that unless I learned how to use one myself!

Up until last week, I was only following one blog, and it was only because it belongs to my friend. (Google: The Avid Appetite, if you are interested!). Since then, I now follow our blog of course, and an “Elementary Tech Teachers” blog that I found the other day (but I haven’t commented there yet!).

Check out this short video... it may answer some of your questions (if you have the same ones that I did!)

How do you feel about blogging? (Besides the “this is really cool feeling” that a lot of us had with the first post)
Do you follow any other blogs?
Do you think that you may want to have a class blog? How would you use it?

by Kristen McCann
School Technology Coordinator

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Are You Ready to Flip the "Switch"?

Over the summer I had the distinct opportunity to read the book "Switch"by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. In this book the authors analyze what approach produces effective change (switch) in individuals. I found their analysis applicable to administration and teaching. The book discusses our internal motivation being personified as an "Elephant" with a "Rider" on a "Path". The "Elephant" represents the emotional side of us that needs to be connected to change in order to focus its energy towards it. The "Rider" represents the logical, numbers-based part of us that finds comfort in a clear message and organization. And of course the "Path" being the road that needs to be shaped for the "Rider" to guide the "Elephant" down (I know ... sounds very circus-like so far!).

Some of the most compelling highlights of the book were these three points;
  • First, when you are looking to produce change, don't try to change the person, rather change the situation. A practical example from the book is instead of spending endless time trying to convince someone in your house to switch from whole milk to 2% milk, simply only have 2% milk in your refrigerator.
  • A second conclusion was, "Resistance is often a sign of lack of understanding." Too often when we initiate change we run into resistance. This is the logical "Rider" being asked to step outside their comfort zone. The "Rider" will only effectively guide the "Elephant" down the "Path" if they completely understand where they are going and why.
  • The third aspect of the book that I found compelling was the concept of "Bright Spots". You may remember Dr. Alvarez speaking about this briefly during the opening convocation. Sometimes we are doing so much that we don't truly know what works. Finding the "Bright Spots" means to examine your practice, find what works and replicate it to initiate positive change. Unfortunately, our past practice has been when we see a problem we just throw something new on top of what we are already doing (Overwhelming to say the least). The authors of "Switch" would suggest we do not have a clear "Path".
So as professionals, I ask you ... "What do you do to initiate change in your practice?"