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Good People; The Product of Good Schools

The nightly business reports frequently mention inputs and outputs. Gross National Product (GNP) is a widely recognized leading economic indicator. Widgets aside, what is the product of schools? Some of you want to jump on a table and scream, "children are not products!" Let this breathe a bit as you trudge forward.



In his recent post, Mark Heintz eloquently shares his ruminations to a question being kicked around in our Modern Learners community, "What do we want our children to be?" Credit Pam Moran, Ira Socol, and Chad Ratliff, co-authors of "Timeless Learning; How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-based Thinking Change Schools," for sparking this conversation theme. Timeless Learning provides interesting provocations, inspiring experiences, and compelling rationale for school change.

Like others, my school's leadership team is engaging in discussions about reimagining school to meet the needs of our modern learners. These conversations are seldom e…
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Picking and Learning

"The learning process is one which engenders and reinforces wanting to learn more. Absent wanting to learn, the learning context is unproductive." - Seymour Sarason

Conversations with the Modern Learners community frequently cycle back to Sarason's definition of productive learning. In practical terms, what is productive learning?

"Where have you been?" asked one of my colleagues. "I haven't seen anything new on your blog in a while."

Guilty as charged, I've been peeling layers of myself off of the grid, reducing my digital footprint, and immersing myself in learning experiences I enjoy most. I'm writing daily, just not online. In the absence of Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, I have been learning to play guitar, fingerstyle. As one of my favorite musicians, Mark Knopfler has advised, playing has become a bit of an obsession, really. I dedicate at least an hour each day to practice, learning the instrument, reteaching my hands to tell sto…

Are Schools Safe?

Recent tragic events have pushed conversations about school safety into the mainstream. Seemingly everyone, including the President of the United States, is weighing in with thoughts about how to make schools safer. An emotionally charged topic, it's crucial for school stakeholders to be well informed about school safety before proposing policy and procedural changes. In coming weeks, students will take part in social activism in the name of school safety and effective gun-control legislation. Interestingly, many students will be walking out of school, likely the safest place in their community, to make their point.

Contrary to social media exchanges and sensationalized news coverage, school safety in the U.S. has improved dramatically during the last twenty years.

“Children and youth are safer in school than almost anywhere else."- Dewey Cornell

School shootings and mass shootings are difficult to predict and prevent because they are statistically rare. Researcher, James Alan F…

College and Career Readiness; "What is the Purpose of School?"

What is the purpose of school? Some will say schools are necessary to prepare students for subsequent life stages. For some, this is additional formal education, for others, it may be launching a career. Others will argue schools are essential for creating educated contributors to democracy. Sadly, many families regard schools as daycare centers. When I asked students, "what is the purpose of school?", The most common responses were "I don't know" and "to prepare students for something." These seemingly uninspired responses are actually rather insightful.


We live in an era of exponentially accelerating change. How can educators be expected to know what the future holds? Are traditional school structures and curricula preparing students for their "something"? Media is brimming with reports, many contradicting, about job automation, machine learning, and the changing nature of work. We are also seeing numerous reports of people earning college …