Education Evolutions #81


The future of books flickr photo by Johan Larsson shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Thanksgiving may well be my favorite of all holidays. I love the even longer weekend, as well as all the food. Plus, it is a holiday for everyone nationwide, regardless of religious affiliation. Just taking some moments to reflect and remind ourselves of some of the good things also seems like a good thing to do too.

I wasn’t sure I was going to pull this off this weekend. I spent a lot more time just trying to enjoy the weekend without giving a lot of thought to other responsibilities. It was really a weekend of rest. I even thought I would do some work but ended up putting it off. Perhaps, I will take a look at some things this afternoon.

This week’s “If you read only one article…” is the first one. Yes, it is about the holiday that just past but it is a fascinating story with twists and turns that make for a great yarn. It is also short enough to get through in a few minutes while winding the weekend down.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday.


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

The Thanksgiving Story You’ve Probably Never Heard – The New York Times –  Joseph Kelly (5-minute read)

While there are a lot of stories that crop up during the runup to Thanksgiving, like this one also from the Times, this one seemed equally as important beyond the holiday. Plus, I love the kinds of fresh looks at history that this story provides. The idea that a character like Stephen Hopkins links Jamestown, Bermuda, and Massachusetts is a glorious one. What’s more, the fact that he was a “troublesome stranger” makes it even better.

The idea that the Stephen Hopkins mentioned in all of these documents is one in the same person is really too wonderful to dismiss. At risk of raising up another single genius, what a great yarn to think that a wayward, quick-thinking, and shrewd individual would have persuaded his peers to form a democracy in the New World due to a corporation’s failures is almost too good to be true. In fact, it may still be but the historian Kelly seems to suggest that is worthy of note. It is even sweeter that he was criminalized for advancing such mutinous ideas as natural rights, democracy, and liberty. That strikes me almost as quintessentially American in the best sense of the word.

The act of drawing something has a “massive” benefit for memory compared with writing it down – The British Psychological Society Research Digest –  Emma Young (3-minute read)

Score one for the sketch-noters out there. This is a remarkable but not altogether surprising discovery. Given all the studies that keep suggesting that handwriting over typing contributes to greater retention, this seems like it would be related, albeit not necessarily the same. Even more, it seems like this is one of those kinds of things that should be already known, on some level. It seems logical that anyone drawing a word or concept has to use more cognitive ability to execute that action.

What is more fascinating is the fact that the quality of the drawing has almost no bearing, making me believe even more that it has more to do with all the thinking involved. Better still, that any of this might be helpful in addressing dementia or other memory disorders makes it possibly more important. Until then this is one more good reason to suggest drawing to students, even when they say that they can’t draw. It doesn’t matter and it is good for you.

Historians: What kids should be learning in school right now – The Washington Post –  Valerie Strauss (10-minute read)

I must confess the main reason that I was drawn to this article is that it included thoughts from UMass Lowell education historian Jack Schneider. He is one part of the podcasting duo on the show Have You Heard, which is well worth a listen if you if you are into that kind of thing. It is good. Schneider is an insightful academic with a lot to say about the privatization attacks waged on our public education system.

While Schnieder’s thoughts are excellent, the others are well worth a read. Being all historians, there is a definite slant toward that domain. Regardless, it is not without its merits. James Grossman’s suggestion that we should concern ourselves with the simple but imminently effective question “How do you know that?” warrants a whole lot of consideration.

However, the most interesting thoughts to me came from Sophia Rosenfeld. Her suggestion that “Evidence collection, interpretation, verification: these are all vital skills (more so than ever in the age of the internet and social media) that students can only learn from doing themselves,” only reinforces my belief that teaching journalism is now more important than ever. It is supposed to be the first draft of history anyway, right? As a journalism teacher, it is one of the challenges I find myself always chasing.

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