Showing posts from August, 2006

Dining with Vegetarians

Again, some interesting conversations going on in the comments section of the Smell the Pansies blog entry, as well as previous conversations. As I was reading some of the comments, I remembered that Jim over at Open Board Blog is an school board member and an open source advocate. In fact, many folks I know are open source advocates...but that does not make them free software advocates. In fact, I'd bet that most define "free" in "free and open source software (FOSS)" as $0 cost to the end user. That's how I've always defined it, but now I see that "free" refers to principles of freedom, not cost. That clarification aside, Jim promptly writes the following in his blog: Personally speaking, I’m not sure if I’m either or perhaps a little of both. I do know in my position as a school board member I’m mostly interested in freeing our K-8 public school district from …

Treeing the Coon

One of my favorite books--and my daughter's, too, a fact I take credit for since I introduced her to it--is Where the Red Fern Grows. by Wilson Rawls. I remember reading it several times as I was growing up. It was my favorite because it involved: 1) Dogs; 2) Hunting; 3) Boy protagonist; 4) Getting out of school; 5) Perseverance of a boy chopping a big tree down; and 6) Blood and guts. In regards to hunting, I've been trying to "tree a 'coon" and regretably, I have no able four-footed assistants with me, and the edge of my axe is dull. However, I've been trying to better understand something, and that's what this blog is for...exploring a concept. A week or so ago, Steve H. wrote to Richard Stallman (you'll need VLC Media Player to view the video that will pop up in OGG format when you click his name; thanks to Leigh at TALO) and asked him to be…

Beacon Burning Bright

Overcoming despair, fear, and oppression...I'm not sure what attracts me to these themes, but they certainly do attract me. It's so easy to relax and say, "Hey, things are just great!" when in fact, they're not. And, while one has to be careful that you don't overindulge those feelings of despair, anger, helplessness, calling them out, acknowledging that they are present can be liberating. Recently, Tom Hoffman had a post where he discussed some of the challenges we face as educators. Vicki Davis jumped in and shared THE big challenge--high stakes tests. Over the last few months, years even, I've certainly given a lot of lip service to "hating the test." The constraint of high stakes testing, the culture of fear and paranoia--"Triple-check everyone to make sure they're not cheating !"--that dominates our schools reminds me of …

Broken Scales


Pete Reilly, in a recent comment to this Around the Corner entry, writes... Clarifying what our 'customers' needs,and expectations, as well as what they value, is one area where most of us could use some work. So, we need to ask what our customer values and if they are unclear, we need to probe and discuss, until we get to what they really value. Value is such a great topic and there is so much more to discuss. Pete provides some examples...I see this as getting to the heart of an issue, cutting through all the baloney and truly understanding what's really, bedrock, required for the benefit of the organization. The problem is that folks (including myself) aren't transparent and open about this, no matter that they want to be. Often, people are afraid of sharing exactly what they value because they lack t…

On the Mountain

It was in one of those reports about that group fondly referred to as "The Youff" where they said that as a sixteen year old nowadays: "If you're not online you don't exist." That is, if you've not got an online presence, a Bebo page, a MySpace account or a humble blog then don't even attempt to pretend that you have anything worthwhile to say.
Source: One of my favorite authors is Peter Drucker. I literally have a stack of books on my desk at the moment, and I keep coming back to two of Drucker's books, The Effective Executive and Managing for Results. I'm not sure why, but my hands want to pick these two books up and hold them until my eyes read them. I suppose it's because Drucker's ideas are so easy to grasp and, in some cases, out of date...allowing me a slight superiority over the author. Foolish since time makes all men foo…

Creativity Burns

Before I allowed myself to acknowledge my creativity, my particular brand, it burned in me...I carried it around like a hot brick, too dumb to slap it down, to dumb to know that I might be able to build with it, if only I could find others.
I loved Joe Poletti's opening to his blog entry:
Creativity burns hot within those who opt not to take their inner songs with them to the grave. Whatever fuels creativity — passion, muse, spirit, spirits, magic, necessity, yearning, emotion — seems to be alive in some and dormant in others. But creativity alone does not yield quality fruit. It takes extreme effort and the willingness to risk baring one’s soul. How is creativity burning in the hearts of our students, teachers, and administrators? And, is it only expressed in ways that are deemed acceptable to yesterday's standards? Isn't that so WRONG? Joe goes on to write:
What is go…

Blogging Yin Yang

Over at Bump on a Blog--which I'm now reading via Google Reader...I gave up bloglines--Brian writes the following: The current "5 Things You Didn't Know About Me" meme that has been making its way around lately has inspired me to begin a new meme that focuses on our processes as a bloggers. I truly believe that this can serve as a way for us all to reflect upon and improve our writing processes. The basic idea here is to write a short post that speaks to how you go about developing posts for your blog, then tag four or five other people you'd like to learn from. I suppose we could call this the "How Do You Write?" meme. So, if you're up to it, then I would love to hear from some of my favorite edubloggers…Miguel, Wes, Doug, Vicki, and Jeff. Hmm...this is a tough one, Brian. I'll share this entry with you, but I think what might be use…

Learning Theories

Bill Kerr has an interesting post over at his site. I'm not sure I understand it a proponent of constructivist teaching in my youth, I came to understand teaching and learning a la constructivist approach as "To know is to know how to make." But, it seems to me that in a connected world, this approach is insufficient. It's not enough for me to know how to make. It's important that I know how to make with others across a distance, even if the collaborators are in different countries. BTW, this is one reason I think our schools won't be able to keep up. Our schools are about teachers in classrooms doing their thing, albeit scripted and controlled by scope and sequence mandated by the District, which they interpreted from the State requisite knowledge and skills which will eventually be tested. Our teachers aren't interested in reaching out to …

Unleash Your Souls

I just finished reading this post over at Scott Olson's blog. The entry is entitled "How the Public School System Crushes Soul." An excerpt that I found particularly powerful: When we have children, we don’t want to tell them about our experiences, because if we told them the truth – the horror stories and the wasted time – we’re afraid they’ll use it as an excuse to fail. Besides, if you admitted the truth about your experiences, how could you justify putting them on the yellow bus every morning. Admitting the truth about one's experiences is tough work. When I make time to reflect on my past, my actions, the actions of others, I realize how flawed I am as a human being. It is an insight that enables me to empathize with others who find themselves in similar situations. What happened in school--or anywhere--happens with people. The question is, are these …


The newspaper has to learn what its real value is and that is, indeed, reporting and its editors have to stop defending raw numbers of bodies. They need to boil themselves down to their essence and they haven’t had the courage to do that yet.
Source: Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine When undergoing change, one has to commit to stripping down to the bare essentials, to finding out what is that really makes you tick...what is it of value that is worth keeping. What is that I'm doing that makes a difference, and what doesn't? Some have suggested that No Child Left Behind is really about stripping down to essentials, investing more money in our children. As ed-tech funding is threatened, zero'd out, I start to think that maybe is the time to strip to bare essentials, to find our essence as educators. Here's an excerpt from Carly Fiorina's commencement address b…

Scarcity vs Abundance

In an engaging blog entry entitled Abundance and 5 Years of Blogging, Ross Mayfield makes the following point: When I sat down in my first economics class at UCLA, the professor wrote on the blackboard all we would learn, in really big letters:


I've been blogging for five years as of this month, and here's what I've learned:


I have discovered I have a lot to give. And when I give, I notice others give more. Some of them I've formed relationships with, and trust opens giving, but I have also learned to trust strangers to share in abundance. Life is iterative, markets are not transactions and scarcity of attention is false. Our learnings compound abundance and there may be no limit to what we can produce. Recently, there was some "controversy" about the K-12 Online Conference. In a follow-up post, Tom Hoffman clarifies that he wants people to…

Transition Techie

i remember now the value of constant movement. It allows one the illusion of progress without actual change. As an ed-tech administrator, I live with these questions: Unrated What could I have done differently to move my district towards increased technology use? What are the fundamental challenges that keep me from achieving my stated goal? What should my stated goal or objective be if technology integration isn't possible in today's K-12 environment and I lack the staff needed to impact every campus? How do I focus the school district's goals to include technology at a deep level, rather than just technology for technology's sake? How do I build capacity to ensure a school's plans or goals are "good" ones? What's "good?" How do I deal with the lack of knowledge and theref…

Dante's Inferno

Recently, I was reminded of Dante's Inferno...and the inscription: "Through me the way into the suffering city,
Through me the way to the eternal pain,
Through me the way that runs among the lost.
Justice urged on my high artificer;
My maker was divine authority,
The highest wisdom, and the primal love.
Before me nothing but eternal things were made,
And I endure eternally.
Abandon every hope, ye who enter here." Of course, I didn't know you could take a "test" and find out to which circle of hell you would be consigned to. However, there is one available. My results appear at the bottom of this entry. What mad me recall Dante's Inferno? Well, it was The Shrewdness of Apes blog post that appears here. I have to marvel at the writing on this site... ...high school is organized into concentric circles of despair and Sisyphean drudgery which al…

5 Temptations of a CIO

I'm reading this book by Patrick Lencioni...fascinating story and the points it make are right in line with Robert Quinn's stuff on Change the World and Deep Change. However, Lencioni gets to the point more quickly and less words. How dooes this apply to our work in Ed-Tech? Something worth exploring for the the meantime, here are my notes. Temptation #1: Being more interested in protecting your career status than you are in making sure your company achieves results. Advice: Make results the most important measure of personal success. Temptation #2: Wanting to be popular with your direct reports instead of holding them accountable. Advice: Work for the long-term respect of your direct reports, not for their affection. View them as key employees who must deliver on their commitments if the company is to produce predictable results. Temptation #3: Ensure that your decisions are…