Education Evolutions Newsletter #20


sas-ipad flickr photo by zandwacht shared under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

Education Evolutions:
Select Readings on Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age

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

  • The Essential Selfishness of School ChoiceGadfly on the Wall – Steven Singer  (10 minute read)
    This blogpost is not new and I am surprised that I did not include it earlier. This might be the best explanation of school choice I have ever seen. The single line, “You took your slice, and now the rest of the pie is ruined. No one else can take a whole piece. Your choice has limited everyone else’s.” cuts to the core of precisely the kind of “choice” that will become advocated with increasing frequency now that Betsy DeVos has ascended to head the federal Department of Education. What’s more, so much of the recent talk about “choice” advances as if there has never been any which is complete rubbish. Parents have always had options and Singer does a good job of explaining them, as well as the problems associated with the current bunch. The “choice” we will see advocated is the worst kind of aspirational con job, peddling the false idea that people will somehow be able to take the tax dollars associated with their child to pay for the kind of elite private schools that people like DeVos and other political operatives sent her children too.
  • How Playing With Math Helps Teachers Better Empathize With StudentsKQED MindShiftKatrina Schwartz  (10 minute read)
    While this title is a little misleading, this article highlights some of the best kind of professional development. It is about a K through college kind of atmosphere that brings together like-minded educators interested in learning more. Math Teachers’ Circles are those chances when K12 teachers get a chance to work with professors from the academy in a way that reminds everyone why they may have fallen in love with their discipline in the first place. Even better it is the kind of environment that fosters the idea that we are all learners first and that may be the best way to truly improve teaching. I immediately identified with the teacher that needed to revise the narrative she held about her math ability. If there was a Math Teachers’ Circle close, I might be tempted to attend and I am not even a math teacher. Alas, there are no active ones all that close I looked.
  • DeVosian Threat InventoryCurmudgucation Blog – Peter Greene  (10 minute read)
    Peter Greene is a teacher and active blogger with a razor-sharp eye on edreform. In this post, he runs the rule over what can be expected from a Betsy DeVos-led DoE. Most of these topics are based on a lot of the efforts already afoot that are likely to be super-charged under DeVos’s direction, if it can be called that. Perhaps more than anything, preparation needs to start in earnest for the fresh waves of coming attacks that will rain down on teachers and unions. That is no joke. The energy and action that fueled the rallies against her confirmation will need to be sustained to resist the normalizing of a whole host of efforts that can potentially damage the very notion of a public education. As Greene notes, DeVos may not be able to get states to do exactly what she wants but that is what many thought about Arne Duncan and the Common Core.
  • Ed-Tech in a Time of TrumpHacked Education – Audrey Watters  (29 minute read)
    As I looked back on previous newsletters, I was kind of surprised that Audrey Watters has not made more appearances. This is the text from a presentation given at University of Richmond by edtech’s Cassandra. It is long but a very worthwhile read. As much as I advocate for technology use in education, I am not a technological evangelist. The issues raised in this talk are things that I spend a lot of time thinking about actually. What troubles me most is how ignorant or wildly misinformed a lot of education’s administrators and decision-makers are about what Watters highlights in this piece. For some time now, I have grown more gravely concerned about just how much students, including my own children, are increasingly living in a state of almost constant surveillance. The depth and breadth of what is already in place are startling and most parents and educators remain almost entirely unaware. Data, big or otherwise, can deliver enormous power. In fact, in our digital age, data can easily lead to precisely the kind of power that can absolutely corrupt.

As always thank you for supporting this newsletter.

Education Evolutions Newsletter #19


sas-ipad flickr photo by zandwacht shared under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

Education Evolutions:

Select Readings on Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age

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

  • Why we teach our students to read between the liesThe Times of Higher EducationDonald E. Hall  (5 minute read)
    It is remarkable just how many references to Germany in the 1930s have been surfacing in the media since the inauguration. Here Hall extends the same type of “lie-based storytelling environment” to 1990s Rwanda, where he taught prior to the nation’s collapse. He suggests that our nation has arrived at a crossroads, where we are bombarded fact and fiction with such speed and volume that it is easier to be fooled than ever. As a college professor, he claims this has never been more true for our young people. This is ultimately an impassioned plea for the best of what the liberal arts and sciences offer, a strong focus on inquiry, research, focusing on facts and evidence, critical thinking, argument, and valuing a diversity of models and interpretations for a given challenge. That list is diminished the more all schools and universities are expected to operate in a vocational capacity, despite the genuine value of vocational education. Any kind of education must be more than job training.

  • Can Democrats Save Public Schools from Trump and DeVos?The New RepublicGraham Vyse  (11 minute read)
    There was a time when the Democratic party included an education caucus that has long died away. Vyse’s incisive read on the current political situation as it relates to education includes an uncomfortable truth, that it requires Democrats walking away from “our school’s are failing” narrative and the failed policies of the Obama administration. Considering that they were little more than the continuation of his Republican predecessor’s policies, it might seem to be an obvious move. Yet, as recent events have shown the current political climate is fraught with a number of challenges which could complicate things considerably. Vyse truly shows understnading, however, when he suggests that Democrats “let the GOP own testing tedium and teacher-trashing. Make Republicans the sole defenders of schooling as a market commodity, not an enlightened egalitarian ideal.” Were that to happen and the failures truly laid bare with the likely incoming DeVos, we could see a genuine turnaround instead of flashy propaganda.

  • Community-Focused Versus Market-Driven EducationDigital Pedagogy LabMatthew Metzgar  (11 minute read)
    Should DeVos head the Department of Education, the market-driven, competition-is-good approach to education will likely kick into overdrive under the guise of school choice. Yet, we have been operating in an increasingly market-driven, league tables type paradigm for quite some time now. It might be hard to remember that there are alternatives. Metzgar outlines four specific reminders that are backed with evidence and proven results, just click some of the links. Best of all he explains them in a clear and understandable way without oversimplification. Arguably, the best item of the bunch is number three Use of Test Scores versus Portfolios/Public Exhibitions, which involves human judgement and takes more time. Furthermore, he shares relevant insights about what a public education is intended to be and why. Forcing schools to compete and creating a market deprives the public from owning the system they fund with their taxes. Profit-driven, school choice goes one step further and extracts funding from a community, benefitting corporate interests and not necessarily the community they serve.

As always thank you for supporting this newsletter.

Education Evolutions Newsletter #18


sas-ipad flickr photo by zandwacht shared under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

Education Evolutions:

Select Readings on Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age

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

  • Once a fearsome murderer invaded a Zen master’s homeseanmichaelmorris.com – Sean Michael Morris  (9 minute read)
    Fair warning, this is a politically charged post that takes direct aim at our newly inaugurated president, cleverly comparing him to the fictional character Veruca Salt. Yet it is all the foundation for a penetrating examination of agency and its relationship with power. One of Morris’ best lines, “agency doesn’t so much exert itself upon others as it does float within the intersection of freedom and authority.” It also becomes a damning indictment of the current state of our educational system. Regardless of your political leanings, this is worth reading if for only a deeper look at this sentiment, “[Agency] does not give us power over another, but it gives us mastery over ourselves. And an education that does not encourage or facilitate this agency is not an education.” As a professor he is talking about higher education but he might as well be addressing any level of education.

  • Why paper is the real ‘killer app’BBC Capital – Alison Birrane (9 minute read)
    As techno savvy as I might be with all the various devices I might use in a day, I am a serious advocate for paper. Quite simply, tools matter. Tools shape how and what we think. This is especially true for writers. Plus there are few things as liberating and expedient as a piece of paper. I have often made statements like, “a notepad will never run out of batteries or have a screen freeze half way through a task…And you can sketch, draw a diagram or stick-figure illustration — sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words — which isn’t as easily done on a smartphone.” Digital devices and apps require humans to meet them on their terms, for the most part. Pen and paper has its limitations but they are less about dictating terms of use.

  • Mississippi Attorney General Sues Google Over Student-Data PrivacyEducation Week’s Digital Education blog – Benjamin Herold (3 minute read)
    This legal development is likely the beginning in a wave of litigation that could gather strength regarding student data. There are already multiple efforts arising dedicated to a deeper, clearer understanding of what kind of data is being collected about students and why. The Consortium of School Networking (CoSN) a leading education technology organization has made student data privacy a major agenda item and locally Cambridge Public Schools has is one of a handful of school systems that has begun demanding more from vendors. Mississippi’s attorney general is brave to be taking on a company with the size and power of Google. It may take others to join, however, to gain any real traction, especially in an era where the administration is already suggesting a that 75% of regulations on business can be cut.

As always thank you for supporting this newsletter.