Post 7: Leadership Begins at Home

Wednesday, September, 26, 12 § 1 Comment

Guest contributor Nanda Currant is an artist and filmmaker with an extensive background in education and art therapy. She recently produced Conditions to Flourish: Reflections from Former Homeschoolers, which can be previewed here. [Full bio].

I have been thinking quite a bit about leadership. We have lived by a model of hierarchy for a long time. We have assumed that our schools, communities and nation must be run the way we think a dog pack runs, that there must be an Alfa and Omega, a dominant figure on top, leading the way.

But this may be a faulty way of thinking about leadership, and not only for society, but even for dogs. Recently I read Your Dog is Your Mirror by Kevin Behan. Ostensibly about dog training, the book presents a new way of thinking about “packs,” and about learning.  Behan speaks about energy and how it moves in a pack, and how the heart of the animal has more to do with the hunt than does the hierarchy or supposed Alpha leaders. « Read the rest of this entry »

Post 6: Learning Slowed and Spread

Thursday, September, 20, 12 § 3 Comments

A few years ago I took some time away from teaching and stepped into the world of business, helping my father run his landscaping company. It didn’t take long for my teaching instincts to re-surface, leading me to develop what I labeled “employee literacy classes,” where I met weekly with a group of my father’s Spanish speaking employees.

Through these classes, in which we discussed principles of permaculture and water harvesting, I came to recognize that in the workplace, tasks often get done without a conceptual understanding of why. Workers are not expected to question the structure in which roles or jobs are assigned. The purpose of a workday turns mainly towards getting paid and going home. « Read the rest of this entry »

Midweek Post from Chicago: A Striking Teacher’s Perspective

Monday, September, 17, 12 § Leave a comment

Apologies for breaking my own promise to only post once a week. But I imagine some of you have been following the Chicago teacher’s strike, and I think this letter from a teacher, on education historian Diane Ravitch’s website, offers an important perspective.

Click to read A Chicago Teacher: Why I Am Striking.

The teacher’s words make more resonant Ellen Biderman’s comment on our second post, in which she reminded us that change must come slowly. Whatever new forms we envision for our schools, they must be developed with the energy and collboration of teachers. (SB)

Post 5: School Disrupted

Thursday, September, 13, 12 § 1 Comment

Guest contributor Tony Gerlicz has 35 years experience as a teacher and leader in schools across the world. He founded Monte del Sol Charter School in Santa Fe, NM Find his full bio here.

I recently co-facilitated a workshop called “Innovative Leadership” for 38 independent school leaders in Silicon Valley arguably the epicenter of innovation in the US if not the world. The speakers we brought in described how failure and resilience are constant companions to innovation.  A venture capitalist told us he looks for a “failure resume” from clients to gauge their seriousness of intent and capacity for learning.

We asked the educators how resonant these ideas of failure and innovation were in their schools. Of the 38 school leaders, one or two raised a hand.

Historically, people do not think of education when they think “innovation.” They think of a plethora of other industries. « Read the rest of this entry »

Post 4: The New Form, Imagined

Thursday, September, 6, 12 § 3 Comments

Last week we “went public” with School Re-formed when I invited a few dozen of my friends, family and colleagues to give us a click. The intention of sharing the site was not to tout our ideas to a large audience, but to invite some thoughtful people into the conversation on schools and learning that Christian Casillas, Zöe Nelsen, Greg Goles and I have been having for years.

We received some good feedback, and picked up a couple of guest bloggers for upcoming Thursday posts. But the most valuable response was from a former colleague, a practicing educator of great compassion and integrity whose short email raised a question I hadn’t considered in a long time: Do our schools really need to be “re-formed”? « Read the rest of this entry »

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