Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Caught my attention--

Stephen Downes' post caught my attention--

His analogy of 21st century skills as an operating system for the mind resonates with me, really paints a picture--

Not wanting to lose it--

"21st century skills are, in short, an operating system for the mind.

They constitute the processes and capacities that make it possible for people to navigate a fact-filled landscape, a way to see, understand and acquire those facts in such a way as to be relevant and useful, and in the end, to be self-contained and autonomous agents capable of making their own decisions and directing their own lives, rather than people who need to learn ever larger piles of 'facts' in order to do even the most basic tasks."

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Anxious yet eager--

Apprehensive yet confident—

Never really knowing the ending, yet perceiving an exciting journey--

Always upbeat and hopeful—

From kindergarten through 35 years in education, more than 55 years (oh my goodness), always the delight and thrill of a new beginning—the first day of school!

Tomorrow— again a new beginning with the Ohio Consortium PLP cohort and Sheryl and Will

And still, those same feelings -- and an additional sense of urgency-- to get to the work that I passionately believe can result in a more accomplished global practice, a practice that seizes the potential of collective action to make this world a better place.

This beginning is really very special.

Photo Credit

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Principles and Practices--

Earlham College-- 4 years in an environment that shaped my being-- one of great respect for each person, one of classlessness, one of listening--

One of my first posts shared my story of finding the power of silence in knowledge construction at Earlham--

Thinking even more about Earlham lately, its influence on my worldview and my being, even some 40 years hence—

A worldview that compelled my last post--- listening, civil discourse, and moving away from “us and them” –

And today in the US mail a letter from the college president that spoke to the college community’s principles and practice, “a document that does not make detailed prescriptions about what people should say or do but rather helps them learn about how to speak and act responsibly in a community in which we accord unreserved respect to each individual.

I’m wondering if the Principles and Practices of this community can’t be helpful in guiding our country’s leaders, families, teachers and children as we strive to move forward.

In an introductory section, the use of the word “we” is discussed:

“We recognize that this is not a homogenous “we.” …We are a changing group of diverse persons, bringing to this institution a variety of racial, ethnic, sexual, and other identities, as well as a great range of personal and cultural values, experiences, and perspectives. We welcome this diversity, and the strength and transformations it makes possible.”

The principles, their practice and queries:

I’m wondering again what our nation and our schools might look and sound like were the principles of respect for persons, integrity and consensus governance to underlie all our actions.

Me--- I’m going to return to this post, to the principles, practices and queries, to check myself when the wars of words rage, and emotions and vitriol run rampant—and attempt to live a better life that in some small way may help to make this world a better place. Join me??

Sunday, September 06, 2009

What if--

A passioned people--

From the very beginning, fiercely engaging in protecting perceived freedoms--

From a variety of life experiences, yet unable to welcome diversity and newcomers--

A people often at war with each other, unaware of the perspectives of others in distant cities and rural towns--

Always us and them--

“The United States is a fragile nation. Always has been.” Ira Socol

Now participatory web-based technologies and with them grand opportunities to listen, engage in conversation and come to understand each other—for all voices to be lifted and heard


With no norms, no expectations for civil discourse, no voluntary compliance to listen, to reason— these very technologies seem to amplify vitriol, unleashed passions and incivility.

Sadly, it is the President’s speech to students on Tuesday at noon which has been met with great resistance by some and embraced by others that compels this writing because tragically, the language around this issue has again highlighted the inability of our diverse populace to engage in civil discourse with seemingly few exceptions.

Even as Will Richardson eloquently and with great civility reflects upon the possible lost opportunity for a “teachable moment”, at least one of his readers touched the fringes of “us and them” oratory.

It brings me to wonder--

What if we took the lead--

What if we made a concerted effort--

And made use of these participatory technologies to model -- really listening to another’s perspective, and then engaging in civil discourse without the “us and them language” that polarizes and separates us all even more. Not just in online educational communities (although it seems to me there is need here also) but face to face in faculty meetings, classrooms, board of education meetings, meetings with parents –and online in response to news postings in our local area and beyond. What if videos illustrating the potential and power of civil discourse were posted by students or educators and went viral.

Don’t we live in a new age in which we can converse with others easily through the affordances of web technologies? Can’t this be a time when what’s always been is no longer good enough? Can’t we stop lamenting our situation and resolve to make an effort? Can’t we be about eradicating “us and them” mentality? Can’t we each, individually and through collective action, work to bring our nation’s people to a new and better place?

What if we did-- imagine the possibilities--