• Bridging Differences

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    Deborah exchanges views with a different colleague, each for a month or two.  Her current correspondent is Harry Boyte, a Minnesotan (although his roots are southern). He has always been a friend and mentor, even though we come to stuff in different ways and even disagree on and off. He is a professor and an activist, a theorist and a practitioner, with a focus on democracy—beginning a long time ago when he worked with Martin Luther King. He has written or edited ten books on the topic and founded a Center on
    democracy which is now at St Augsberg College, but formerly at the University of Minnesota.  

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    October 5–7, 2017 National Conference Progressive Education Network: Boston, MA

    October 9, 2017 Author Event Penguin Random House: NY, NY

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Personalization

My latest gripe. How the word “personal” has shifted its meaning so that machines are now programmed to pretend to be people in personal contact with children.

Is there any word or phrase left to us to describe authentic human relationships? And how might we define it so that we can differentiate the one from the other? Meanwhile, BEWARE any conferences, speeches or programs that claim to be promoting “personalized learning.”

Ron Wolk, the original publisher of Ed Week, has a good piece on this in the January 6th issue of his old paper (link).  He describes what we all used to think the phrase “personalized learning” meant and how it was, and in some places is still, practiced. He ends with a warning: “The reason nothing important changes in education is because if one significant change is made, everything would have to change.” That is why Ted Sizer’s Coalition of Essential Schools laid out ten principles that went together for real change to occur. Many signed on, few got very far, and some of those who went the furthest were murdered along the way. But we need to revisit the ones that have survived and the ones that have started lately. We need a way to keep these principles, and the schools that represent them even incompletely, alive—in one way or another. They won’t all look alike and to live in today’s world they have each made some compromises. But even in a perfect world there would be trade-offs.  That is the ornery and also wonderful nature of institutions designed by the people who will live in them.

 

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3 Responses

  1. Thank you for keeping the principles of The Coalition of Essential Schools alive. I plan to reflect on those principles today as I think of the learning/teaching environment I work in.

  2. Thank you as always for your blog. It’s a constant and necessary reminder that I/we are not alone in our response to the current state of American public education.
    This piece relates to my feeling about many attempts in the past few years to subvert old and tested educational strategies by taking their names but changing the content, e.g., portfolios used by art teachers for years as an evaluative tool, taken up as something new and wonderful but with an entirely different emphasis. I used to refer to them as “bandwagons.”

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