Kindling the Flame

In a Twitter conversation where some were lamenting Dr. Gary Stager's inflammable reproof of BYOD efforts in schools, Wes Fryer (Speed of Creativity) reference a blog entry he'd read long ago but that had been lost when my Thingamablog blog files went south. However, I recently inventoried all my backups on CDs and ran across a 7z backup of the database. A quick download of Thingamablog deb file for installation on Linux, and voila, my old blog has been restored to

Note: Be warned, I'll be publishing some of my blogging and transparency entries over the next month. You can tell them because they will be labeled "OldyButGoody."

And, here's the blog entry Wes Fryer referenced from way back when:

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach (21st Century Collaborative) has a great blog entry, reflecting on the nature of school, and its purpose. She entitled it Schools: More Walls than Windows. Some of the points--paraphrased below--she makes (parenthetical comments below are my own, however) regarding the purpose of education include:
  • School socializes our children, impressing them (yeah, like a chain gang) into a "democratic" society as citizens, aware of their civic duty
  • Schools seeks to raise up people who can support themselves so that they can pay taxes (what does it matter if they pay taxes on low minimum wage jobs? They're paying taxes aren't they?)
  • Schools guide students to practice responsible citizenship by solving real problems in their community.
Transparency is also discussed in Sheryl's post. I like this particular paragraph (because I agree with it):
What would happen if everybody could see what was taught and emphasized in classes? What would happen if the public could see when biased, one-sided supplementary information was being forced on students? What would happen if the public had access with a mouse click to contracts, budget, and disbursement checks? Things would be very different. Teachers, parents, students, and interested stakeholders would all have an informed voice.
At the risk of sounding cynical, here's a quick response on Saturday morning: Schools fail miserably about instilling democracy in our, democracy education are distractions from the REAL curriculum schools teach from and about. Democratic values are also antithetical to our schools since they are restrictive, controlled environments...they are top-down controlled, in the "strict father frame" that George Lakoff describes that tolerates no back-talk, no discussion, no questionning. Socrates would not only be drinking Hemlock, he'd be...well, you can only execute someone once.

To teach real life problem-solving in schools would result in children becoming aware that their work in school lacks authenticity, only brainwashes them to trust authority without question, make them dependent on consolidated, controlled media sources that filter the news, even censor it if you believe some alternative sources to protect the ruling elite, and serve as the lower caste of people who must do the menial jobs. The creative class of people--those who populate our private and charter schools--also are indoctrinated in specific dogmas and ideologies, allowed freedom on a rope only after, like baby elephants whipped since childhood, restricted by a heavy chain, achieve freedom of movement, but not of mind.

Schools want people who are malleable, controllable, and do what they are told (3 ways of saying the same thing, sigh). It's in the best interests of the status quo, the way schools are NOW organized. In our efforts to improve education, to systematize it, to regulate it, we've killed the spirit of democracy that should encourage informed citizenry, not controlled citizenry. Fortunately, the choice remains in our hands to change the institution...

...but given that many of our children have already failed as citizens, who lack motivation to participate in current elections, all of which highlight school's failures to live up to the dream of those who came before, the only hope is a radical departure from the way we've done things in the past...for democracy in America, like our schools, has become a question of "So what? Who cares?" Only as our children grow up and experience economic enslavement, proprietary puissance of big business (e.g. exhibited by Digital Rights Management, Apple's FairPlay, the loss of the Creative Commons).

Is all lost? No. There is a resurgence, that native spirit of free thinking and disruption that lifts our sails, fills the canvas that moves us forward, not in mechanized movement but savaged souls seeking solace among the connections and relationships people make. Technology today has re-opened the windows, swung open the doors, but ah, only for a time. This is the time of decision.

Last night as I listened to a WOW podcast featuring Steve Hargadon, Chris Lehmann and Will Richardson, the question of practicality came up. How do we accomplish these fantastic changes in our schools? The answer remains the same. It is the same one Wes Fryer and I discussed so long ago, the same answer that Socrates once beheld...let their voices, that of the learners, ring throughout our schools, voices that speak of relevance, authenticity, and human ways that cannot be denied.

Will we reach for the flame to set ourselves on fire, or the living water to quench our thirst for the spiritual?

Another blog entry....

Patrick Lencioni in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team highlights these points:

In reviewing each of the areas above, fear of conflict is the one place where most educators are...we're striving for artificial harmony, having to toe the line because standing up in opposition gets you...well...fired. I've read time and again that the fundamental freedom of speaking up is abridged--that's taken away in exchange for a paycheck--when you work for someone. In truth, professional and civil opposition is a must. As I review the 5 dysfunctions, I ask myself how my time at the campus level measured up?

While embracing uStream.Tv, as shared below, is something that should be done, what is our role and responsibility in doing this at meetings where we do not have clear permission to broadcast? In fact, instead of "citizen journalists" the term "ninja journalist" might be more appropriate. Would ninja journalism get us in trouble, right into conflicts, undermining trust with others, especially as one takes advantages of disruptive technologies that put meetings out there?
Everything else should be wide open to others in the community. I’m talking about literally taking a web cam and broadcasting weekly editorial meetings in real time streaming video. The most effective way to accomplish this task is by using the service offered for free by the budget meetings will give the community a tangible location in which to meet the reporters and hear what is being done, what isn’t being done and why. ..Ustreaming makes the community a part of the newsroom.
What if we broadcast those after-school faculty meetings? Are they top-secret? What if we ustreamed the faculty lounge? What if a teacher narrowcast those meetings to the Community? Would they be committing a public good or violating a sacred trust?

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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