Education Evolutions Newsletter #12

Slightly delayed but hopefully worth the wait, this is definitely a darker themed issue. For the past couple of weeks, there has been a groundswell of material being churned out about new Secretary of Education appointee Betsy DeVos. Having poured through all kinds of related articles, it seemed irresponsible not to include some here. So be forewarned this material is pretty politically focused, except for the last piece which is another ongoing theme I follow.

Still, I feel like this issue should come with a musical score, like the “Imperial Theme” from Star Wars or something. I am already on the lookout for some decidedly more upbeat stuff for next week.

We definitely live in interesting times.

On a side note, I started to add these selected articles into my Flipboard magazine Teaching Today,  as well with only a snippet of the commentary. It needed some new life too.

Education Evolutions:

Select Readings on Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age

Here are four curated articles about education, technology, and evolutions in teaching.

  • Betsy DeVos and the twilight of public educationDetroit Free PressStephen Henderson  (12 minute read)
    Detroit knows all about new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and one of Detroit Free Press’ editorial page editor is pretty emphatic is his take-down of her here. The more information I learn about the new appointment the more concerned I become as an educator, parent, even citizen. From the information I have been reading from positions across the spectrum there seems little good to come from this appointment. There is little chance of her appointment being blocked, especially considering the campaign contributions she has already made. It is hard to avoid foreseeing a renewed and invigorated assault on public education and all the elements we have come to understand about that system with a strength not previously possible. Most interestingly, both the paper and the writer are supporters of charter schools, albeit with a seemingly more rational appeal.

  • What’s the worst that could happen under New Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos? Some scenariosThe Hechinger ReportAaron Pallas  (13 minute read)
    If Henderson’s editorial on DeVos is not sobering enough, Pallas outlines a couple of almost equally nightmarish scenarios that could forecast the next four years at the Department of Education. Pallas is a professor and former statistician at the federal DoE, so it is fair to say he has some sense of how things work at the highest level. Regardless of which scenario pans out and there are likely a few more possibilities, what may be nailed on with this appointment are serious financial incentives for loosening restrictions on charter schools and school choice/voucher programs. Also, look out for even greater push toward online charter enterprises, which often consist of for-profit entities shrouded in a public cloak. The madam secretary’s husband, Dick DeVos, has strong ties to online provider K12 Inc.

  • Meet the congresswoman poised to tear up Obama’s education legacyPoliticoKimberly Hefling (11 minute read)
    The degree to which education will be further politicized only looks like deepening with haste, especially on the federal level. Virginia Foxx is about to take over as the chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. She has some pretty strong views that are likely to get a fair amount of traction on Capitol Hill. The elder, seasoned representative is highly respected in the House and has no problem making waves. Any thoughts that the government should engage with big intractable social challenges like education or health care she will likely quickly rebuke. Interestingly, retired people make up her largest campaign contribution category, followed very closely by education with her two largest single contributors being for-profit university outfits. That may provide even more insight into which winds fill her sails.

  • Heavy Screen Time Rewires Young Brains, For Better And WorseNPRJon Hamilton  (4 minute read)
    This is a wrinkle in an ongoing debate that is not likely going away anytime soon. While the American Academy of Pediatrics did ease their restrictiveness about screen time, the bigger issue is that the problem is a far more complex one than simple prescriptions can accommodate. All screen time is not equal. Brains continue to be a kind of undiscovered country of science and as much knowledge that has been gained we still know so little. Then, throw in the fact of just how different individuals can be and things get pretty tricky pretty quickly. That list only scratches the surface of the variables in play. Still, the implications are profound for educators, parents who are charged with creating environments for young people.

Education Evolutions Newsletter #11

Education Evolutions:

Select Readings on Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age

Here are four curated articles about education, technology, and evolutions in teaching.

  • How to Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable (According to a Green Beret)Inc. – Chris Dessi  (3 minute read)
    I am generally very dubious when drawing comparisons between the business and education worlds but that is not really what this article is about. Yes, this is written by an entrepreneur in a major business periodical but it captures something almost every modern educator must address. I have often remarked that we educators need to actually get a lot more comfortable with a certain degree of chaos, especially in 1:1 computing environments. These are seven pretty sound tips on how to do just that. Even better, they are the kinds tips that would benefit students too.

  • North Dakota teacher talks technology in the classroom at Twitter headquartersThe Bismark Tribune – Angie Wieck (6 minute read)
    This is a short, almost superficial piece about a local teacher that reached a pretty big stage. Yet, the real gems in this piece are some of the profiled teacher Kayla Delzer’s insights below the more obvious pro-tech tropes. Her core message highlights a fundamental shift in what is now required of teachers. Providing the platform for students, affording them choices that develop and amplify their voices, and even helping them build genuine audiences for their work has become an increasing part of every teaching gig now, like it or not. Plus, if students are already doing these kinds of things in the third grade what kinds of expectations will they have by the time they reach high school?

  • My Open Textbook: Pedagogy and Practiceactualham – Robin DeRosa (16 minute read)
    This is not exactly a new idea, having a class create a textbook, but what this professor does so brilliantly in her blogpost is narrate the work involved. It is not just a show-and-tell enterprise but a sharing of methodology, lessons learned, impact on pedagogy, as well as a host of incisive and insightful reflective questions about the experience. DeRosa seriously interrogates what this project means for both her as the instructor and her co-creating students. There are so many good things in this single post. I especially love that she presents two project models, immediately addressing the that’s-easy-for-you-because-you-teach… crowd. If I were still in a classroom every day, I would already have begun planning on doing something like this to start as soon as possible.

  • How a Grad Student Found Spyware that Could Control Anybody’s iPhone Anywhere in the WorldVanity Fair – Bryan Burrough (30 minute read)
    This is a long piece but a riveting look at the dark side of the technology arms race in which we now all find ourselves living. This a kind of by-the-time-you-read-about-it-is-too-late article. In fact, the events chronicled here occurred in August of this year.Despite being old news, the writer does an excellent job of keeping some highly technical fair readable and understandable for the everyman. Plus, it reads a bit like a thriller. I suppose what is more chilling what kinds of hacking tools exist which we have absolutely no idea about.