If You Come out of School Thinking You Are Not Creative, School Failed.

“I’m not one of those creative types,” said the Google analyst sitting next to me in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport waiting for our flight to San Francisco—delayed for an hour. Continue reading

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The Importance of Being New at Rosh Hashanah

 Genius: (n) the tutelary spirit of a person, place or institution.

 At sundown yesterday, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year started. I always felt that it was part of the genius of Judaism that they had the wisdom to start the new year when the children go back to school. (Yes, yes, I know they decided to do that long before there even was school.) It’s just that for my whole remembered life (starting at the age of 3) the new year started in September when school opened.

Eaglebrook School had a tradition (do they still?) that the opening assembly of the new year ended with the declaration: “You are new.” Continue reading

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Help a Million People See Education in a New Way. Sarah Elizabeth Ippel Strikes Again!

Last week I saw 25 kindergarteners walking through the hallway of a school, each with a 4×6 notebook in one hand and a pencil in the other. They flooded slowly along quite naturally, heads turning left and right, eyes going up and down, and all with studious expressions on their faces. Looking, looking, looking. Every onceinawhile one would jot something down. Continue reading

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Kids get Smarter Faster when they Make a Difference

Learning Mathematics in Real Life

How to behave in public is something the students at St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Oakland, California, practice daily on their two-block walk to the park for lunch, recess and physical education. Continue reading

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How a Willful Child Can Become a Game Changing Leader (Hint: Have Fun Saying “No.”)

You can tell a good school from a bad one within minutes of walking in the door. All the humans are learning, and no one is making them. Everyone is taking responsibility.

Last June I walked through the gate in a chain-link fence that enclosed a mottled asphalt parking lot/playground and approached a steel door in a one-story brick building. A sign above the door read: Academy for Global Citizenship.

Buzzed in, I was immediately greeted by one of two busy people who escorted me down the hallway to the director’s office. I waited in the hallway so I could see what was going on. Continue reading

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Great Teachers Focus on Education, Not Tests.

A few years ago I taught a class of fourth- and fifth-graders in order to give the teachers some time to plan together. It was the easiest and best teaching I ever did, and a great example of how a great teacher doesn’t do it themselves but rather creates the conditions for the students to do it. Continue reading

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Learning to Write: Seven Elements of a Learning Culture

How we teach an academic subject is important; the social context in which we teach it is equally critical.

One day in early February, Tanya, one of the teachers of the Fireflies, a preschool class of four-year-olds, came into the lounge at lunch time and said: “We have had an outbreak of writing in the Fireflies today.”

“Really, that’s great,” I said. “What do you mean?”

“Well, just that. It was a little epidemic.”

“Huh. Wow. What happened?” Continue reading

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