Posts Tagged “change”

Quickly – for those 2 or 3 of you who are still reading / subscribing:

I’ve changed homes – yay! Please come visit me at my new space:

I’m very happy to have been with Edublogs all this time but I must say their lack of features and my increasing need for more space to expand my portfolio really just propelled me to self-host.

I do hope you join me in my new space! It’s looking pretty simple at the moment but stay tuned and check back often as there will be SEVERAL changes in the coming days and weeks! I’m very excited to share with you and hope to see you there!


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?a dark or sweet yeaR by 27147
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It’s not in my normal way of doing things, to review the year and sum up all I’ve done professionally, in a public manner. Nor do I usually follow The Rules of blogging and prepare a standard “looking back” post at the end of the calendar year. I’ve never done it before and really was not going to do it this time.




2009 was not an easy year for me — one of the most difficult on record, actually — and sometimes it is the pain that helps you realize just where you are and where you might be going. Pain can be a powerful motivator.
Not that I am really motivated by pain to write this — it’s more accurate to say that the pain has allowed me to see more clearly. And so I felt it appropriate to do some public reflection, as a way of documenting this small but significant moment of clarity. We’ll see how it goes…

I began 2009 hoping for a fresh start from a tumultuous end to 2008. While 2008 was not a terrible year, it ended with much uncertainty and emotion — I had resigned my position at UNIS, but not yet submitted applications to grad schools, and had no idea if I would get in. I knew big changes were ahead, and was scared to death about what they would be. On this blog, that fresh start to 2009 meant a post about my visit to Green School in Bali, Indonesia. That post came about as I finished up my time in Ubud at an incredible yoga and meditation retreat with two of my favorite teachers (read more about Twee and Rebecca if you are interested). It was a magical time, refreshing, energetic, full of learning and personal awakenings. And my visit to Green School woke me up also to some of the realities of the dream of providing an ideal school. I only wish I could return to Green School in January 2010 to see how far it’s come since my last visit. Alas, that will have to wait.

The early part of 2009 was full of more reflection for me on some areas vital in being a good teacher: assessment, understanding arguments, and the importance of communication. In my case, the latter was focused somewhat on communication via Twitter, the main point of access into my PLN for me. I participated in the Great Tweets challenge and found myself opening up to new conversations with new people about issues I really cared about.

During the next few months, many changes occurred: I was accepted into NYU and began planning for a massive move from Hanoi to New York; I attended EARCOS Teachers’ Conference in Borneo and began implementing some professional development changes at the school I was leaving; Jeff over at U Tech Tips graciously invited me to join the blogging team there.

I began thinking quite carefully about changes still to happen in education — the kinds of changes that I believe are long overdue. I was becoming a bit soured in this education game, most likely because I was looking ahead, knowing that I was leaving the teaching side of it for a while. For several months, I felt discouraged and wondered if I should just leave the teaching profession altogether, because dammit — this revolution was taking way too long.

I took a rather long hiatus over the summer — from June to September, in fact. I took one last big trip around Asia — a very memorable one. I visited Hoi An, Bali, and Thailand on my own, visiting friends along the way but spending a lot of time alone. I was fearful of the changes ahead of me, as I tried not to allow that fear to overcome me. I distinctly remember a conversation with Gaby in Bali about The Next Chapter. I listened intently as Gaby coached me over coffee about the importance of writing the words on the blank pages ahead. I knew she was right, but knowing it and being ready for it are two different things.  The summer was difficult.  Leaving Hanoi was painful. Being in “no man’s land” without a home for 2 months was also difficult.  I was in transition, waiting for visa papers, one of my cats died, and I was in the process of moving my 3 bedroom house into a 250 sq foot apartment in Lower Manhattan.

i sprung forward way too fast by squacco
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Once in NYC, I also was struggling with the changes that come with going from having had a rather decent salary for the past 11 years, to now having no income and watching my bank account dwindle. That, ladies and gentleman, was one of the most difficult challenges for me in 2009. Not to mention the complete lifestyle change that accompanies it — and being a student again, to boot. Suddenly I had all this time on my hands, most of it unstructured, and had to read, annotate, highlight, submit, write, align, research, diagram, create, and present things I had never done before. This semester kicked my butt a little bit — and perhaps it needed some kicking. I can say now, though, that I’m quite proud of the progress I’ve made in my first semester as an M.A. student, and I am eagerly awaiting the next semester’s challenges. In the past 4 months I have learned an incredible amount about designing for education, using technology. In fact, I will write a separate post about my learning in that domain because there is so much for me to process and debrief on before the next semester begins that I think it warrants something distinct, and should not simply be lumped in with everything else in this post.

But while we’re on the topic of learning, here are the top 10 things I learned in 2009, in no particular order. Note that I am keeping this on a professional / academic level; my personal lessons will appear elsewhere, likely on my Posterous blog.

  1. Keynote is one damn fine piece of presentation and creation software.
  2. It is possible to teach yourself an application in a short period of time, and be functional with it, if you are a quick and dedicated self-learner.
  3. Change within educational organizations is slow, and my experience has taught me that this is because admin, teachers, parents, and other stakeholders are often skeptical, sometimes uncomfortable, and occasionally lazy. Find ways for the skeptics to remain, for the uncomfortable to be comfortable, and for the lazy to leave, and you have a recipe for a potentially innovative environment.
  4. My students have been — and I hope they will continue to be — the best teachers. Ever. They are real, down-to-earth, and much better at communicating than many adults I know.
  5. Assessment and Evaluation at the tertiary level still has a very long way to go to becoming fair, accurate, transparent, and equitable. I realize it does in many secondary and primary educational institutions as well, but I was rather shocked at how archaic it still is at university level, particularly in the Faculty of Education at a prestigious private college!
  6. All the best intentions in the world still do not create the ideal school. So many factors are necessary to good school design. I’ve learned this from observation, experience, and my attempts to Be The Change. I’ve not completely given up — no way — but I do feel now after 11 years in 6 different schools (and having worked with many colleagues from countless other schools) much more confident in my understanding of all the ingredients necessary to Create The Change.
  7. Good design is crucial to any one “thing” ‘s success — from a Starbucks travel mug to a school district, from software to salary structures. Design is a concept I think I previously underestimated. I now feel like it is an important and often overlooked aspect of education at all levels and layers.
  8. Technology can be a catalyst, but not the reason, for change in education. The world is the reason.
  9. Education in the USA is a political monster. In fact, most things in the USA are political monsters, and my still-evolving belief is that politics are a major factor impeding growth in social and humanitarian causes in the USA. This is also something I greatly underestimated before living here — and my parents have lived in the USA for a long time, so I thought I understood the issues. My current point of view is that until Americans are ready to put politics aside, real and genuine progress in the areas of education, health, immigration, and many many other areas will never happen.
  10. One of the best ways a person can learn about him or herself is to travel. Yep, it’s true. I always suspected this, and therefore my lifestyle reflected it, but now, having not traveled so much recently, I can certainly say it’s changed how I learn. Visiting other cultures, learning other languages, dealing with things outside of one’s comfort zone is the best education one can have. I can confidently say that nothing else is so mind-opening. I would like to see K-12 education acknowledge and integrate this philosophy somehow in a widespread manner. Dreaming? Perhaps. Worthwhile? Absolutely.
  11. (OK, so there are more than 10!) I miss teaching. I really, truly miss it. So I guess I won’t be leaving it altogether, because I have really missed those interactions with young people on a daily basis. In many ways, I feel as though teaching is something I am meant to be doing — it almost feels like a calling.

And I think that’s all I need to say for now. Oh — but no. There is one more important thing as I wrap up this post and this year:


My growth has not been in isolation. So many of you in my PLN have contributed to my learning, and I am so lucky to have found you all. For this, I am full of gratitude. My cup runneth over.

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From Clark and Salomon (1986):

General media comparisons and studies pertaining to their overall instructional impact have yielded little that warrants optimism. Even in the few cases where dramatic changes in achievement or ability were found to result from the introduction of a medium such as television, . . .  it was not the medium per se that caused the change, but rather the curricular reform that its introduction enabled.

I am Here for the Learning Revolution by Wesley Fryer
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This is why, in my opinion, the state of education is so sucky today. Our (educators’) use of technology for learning is hampered by the glass ceiling of curriculum. Only when the curriculum changes will dramatic changes in learning occur. Currently, too many schools are trying to fit square pegs into round holes; that is, teachers are using fabulous technology (IWBs, Tablet PCs, iPod Touch, VoiceThread, and more) to teach curriculum that is still content-based.

These technologies should be reforming curriculum. Why aren’t they?

How can we move this forward? How can we change curricula so that it allows teachers and students “dramatic change”? What is standing in the way, and how can we overcome this obstacle?

Clark, R.E., & Salomon, G. (1986). Media in teaching. In M. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Teaching (3rd ed., pp.464-478). New York: Macmillan.

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From Clark and Salomon (1986):

General media comparisons and studies pertaining to their overall instructional impact have yielded little that warrants optimism. Even in the few cases where dramatic changes in achievement or ability were found to result from the introduction of a medium such as television, . . .  it was not the medium per se that caused the change, but rather the curricular reform that its introduction enabled.

I am Here for the Learning Revolution by Wesley Fryer
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This is why, in my opinion, the state of education is so sucky today. Our (educators’) use of technology for learning is hampered by the glass ceiling of curriculum. Only when the curriculum changes will dramatic changes in learning occur. Currently, too many schools are trying to fit square pegs into round holes; that is, teachers are using fabulous technology (IWBs, Tablet PCs, iPod Touch, VoiceThread, and more) to teach curriculum that is still content-based.

These technologies should be reforming curriculum. Why aren’t they?

How can we move this forward? How can we change curricula so that it allows teachers and students “dramatic change”? What is standing in the way, and how can we overcome this obstacle?

Clark, R.E., & Salomon, G. (1986). Media in teaching. In M. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Teaching (3rd ed., pp.464-478). New York: Macmillan.

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Stay Warm by Erik Charlton
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Frank gives us a few web resources now and then that he wants us to look at; whether for inspiration or understanding, I’m unsure. Whatever the case, they are usually interesting reading / viewing, and probably things I would not find myself were I surfing around on the ‘net. Communication Arts magazine has reviewed many different kinds of interaction designs, and given awards to a few. They’re worth checking out, if for no other reason than just to see some of the new, cool, hot designs on the market these days — everything from web design to physical spaces. I’ve been bouncing around their site, looking at different designs and trying to understand what makes them “good.” While sometimes that is obvious, what I find even more fascinating than the designs themselves are the responses to the question CA mag asks of the designer:

What was the most challenging aspect of the project?

Some responses: (emphasis mine)

  • “The most challenging part of this project was keeping it simple, staying true to the core ideas and avoiding ‘feature creep.’ . . . I had to stay focused on the original goal—not reinventing the wheel but rather enhancing it.” Sebastian Bettencourt, art director/writer/interface designer/information architect/project design and development, Beyond The Fold
  • “One of the primary challenges to designing TokBox was understanding and embracing user interactions that are unique to live video calling.” Chris Fox, design director, TokBox
  • For the Loudspeaker team, the big challenge was caring for the original idea—amplifying the voice of a great cause—as we built the site.” Scott Brown, creative director, The LoudspeakerSite
  • It was a challenge to keep each individual story entertaining and short (there were many ideas that were thrown out because they were too long or just not fun to watch).” Trevor Van Meter, creative director; Luke Lutman, Flash programmer; and Brian McBrearty, composer, Crappy Cat

And this question:

Did you learn anything new during the process?


  • “I learned that inspiration comes from experience. It comes from rethinking everyday activities and from reconsidering everyday interactions.” Sebastian Bettencourt, art director/writer/interface designer/information architect/project design and development of Beyond The Fold
  • “One of the first things we had to face was the huge risk of that transparency, and what it really meant. No approvals. No editing. In the end, it was actually freeing to give up all control to the audience.” Gary Koepke and Lance Jensen, executive creative directors, Modernista!

This has got me wondering about how design influences learning. How conscious are educators of keeping it simple, staying true to the original goals, giving students experiences (rather than instruction), and giving up control to the users? How would schools be different if we did all of this, all of the time? Would there still be schools? If so, what would they look like?

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Hello? Anybody home?

First things first — I am still alive and around.

Yes, this blog has been neglected as of recent months. But I have been around on Twitter, Skype, IM, and a few other places. I haven’t disappeared altogether. It’s just that I find it so hard to properly upkeep this blog when life gets insanely, ridiculously busy. I wish I could be the kind of person that hammers out blog posts whenever I have an idea. But I just can’t. Am I a slow-blogger? I’m not sure. I think it’s just that I am constantly in editing / re-writing mode. So, for me to write a quality post usually takes a long time — at least a couple of dedicated hours, and not fragmented hours. I need time all in one space to write.

Secondly — are you still here?

Is anyone still reading? Or have you all stopped checking into the blogosphere and simply are relying on Twitter and Facebook to keep you in the loop? And really — is anyone still reading my blog? I’ll be honest, if I were a reader of connect. create. question. , I’d be wondering what the heck is going on.  So, here is what has been going on since May 15, 2009 (the date of my last post).

The Nut-shell Version

  • The Final Four Weeks: Not only were the final weeks of the school year at UNIS Hanoi busy with exams, assessments, and clean-up like the end of any academic year, but they were particularly emotional for me as I prepared to leave UNIS and Hanoi, my home for the past three years. There is not enough space here for me to adequately describe my feelings about leaving. (I’m terrible at endings.) Let’s just say that it was difficult, scary, and yet exciting on so many levels. I was a bit of a mess for a little while, trying to sort through all the debris, both figurative and literal. Not to mention packing up my house, cats, and international life to return to the very developed world of the USA. I realize I am highly condensing a very intense time and by doing so I am probably not giving it the full respect it deserves, but I am not certain that this blog is the outlet for such things. Thus, I leave it at that for now…
  • Travel: My final hurrahs in Asia included a lovely trip to Hoi An, a true getaway to my favorite island of Bali, and a brief check-in with a dear friend in Bangkok. All were fabulous, memorable, and a perfect send-off.
  • The Death of the iBook: In the middle of a much-needed creative writing session — in fact, in the middle of the 2nd draft of a poem about the lessons of grief, inspired by Sark — my beloved 5-year-old iBook crashed and died, as I sat on the balcony of my bungalow on Nusa Lembongan, sipping a Bintan and gazing at the sunset. I cried.
  • The Return: because my visa documents for study in the USA could not be sent to Vietnam (postal woes), I had to return to Canada for a few weeks. Plus, there’s family and friends of course, whom I wanted to see. I was able to take in the Calgary Folk Festival, a true treat, and mix & mingle with several cool people whom I love dearly. It was good to be home. I spent a week at my grandmother’s house and thoroughly enjoyed picking garden lettuce, playing bocce, and eating my grandmother’s cooking! Deeeee-lightful. Yet, the stress of The Visa Papers lingered… would they arrive in time?
  • The Fall: shortly after my return to Calgary, I received word that one of my cats, Scout, had fallen off the balcony of the 8th-floor apartment where she was being cared for. She did not survive the fall. This heartbreak arrived the same day as I learned that Michael Franti had to cancel his Folk Festival show due to illness, and I got a $95 parking ticket because my ticket was not completely upright on the dashboard. It was a crappy day all around.
  • The Move: within a very short time, It All Happened. The Visa Papers arrived, I booked a flight, and BOOM — I landed in NYC.

And Here We Are

So, I’ve been in NYC for about 3 weeks now. I have a (very small) apartment, and I am a registered full-time graduate student in NYU’s Educational Communication & Technology M.A. program. To say I am experiencing rapid lifestyle changes across the board would still be an understatement. I am adjusting to a major life upheaval. The main challenges for me so far, and in this order, are:

  1. adjusting to being in a very developed consumerist society, after having witnessed abject poverty in far-flung corners of this planet
  2. wrapping my head around being a full-time student, with no $ coming in and lots going out
  3. wrapping my head around being a full-time student in the 21st century, and understanding how to read, take notes, and BE a student in a tertiary program when it has been 11+ years since I’ve had to think about academia. I feel like I am learning a new language and modality, and it’s difficult.
  4. finding my niche in NYC, a huge intimidating city with many micro-communities
  5. managing my time between unpacking boxes and all this school work that is already piling up, while at the same time trying to make new friends (I know very few people here) and take in all that this city has to offer
  6. finding space in my Teeny Tiny Apartment for the whack of stuff I have accumulated over the last 8 years overseas — and that’s after 4 boxes already went in storage in Calgary. I have already called Manhattan Mini Storage for a quote…

The Education: What’s in Store

Classes started last week. So far, so good. (I still have not unpacked all my boxes, nor visited Ikea, but they will have to wait.) I haven’t even bought all my books yet. But my classes seem pretty cool and so do my classmates — a very diverse group of people from a plethora of backgrounds. My courseload this semester:

  • Representation & Interaction Design for Learning
  • Educational Design for Media Environments
  • Cognitive Science and Educational Technology
  • Professional Applications of Educational Media

(You can find descriptions of these courses here.)

So far I am finding my readings to be really heavy on the design aspect, which for me is good. Coming from an educator’s perspective, my understanding of the design process has all been about instructional design and I am quite comfortable with it. However, looking at design from the perspective of media and technology in learning is something new to me, and I daresay it’s one of the main reasons I’m here. :) But more on that later. I will be blogging about my readings for several of these courses, and will save such thoughts for those posts.


Thanks for reading, if you’re still kickin’ around! I can safely say that I will be blogging more often now that school has begun. Several of my professors have requirements for us to journal about what we read and learn (I love that they implement pedagogy like this) and I intend to use this space for some of that.

P.S. I do now have a new MacBook Pro and an iPhone, and quite happy about both!

Image credits:

Is Anybody Home? Free Girl Looking in Window by D Sharon Pruitt under this license

Bathmophobia III by Tarnishedrose under this license

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Sometimes, change is gradual and we don’t even realize it has happened until we look back after a period of time and realize, “Hmm, this is different than before.”

Other times, change hits you like a sledgehammer and you sit straight upright in your chair, wondering, “When and how the heck did this happen?”

Today is one of the latter: I’ve been hit with the Change Sledgehammer. 

While on Twitter, Karl Fisch tweeted about his latest post titled “Things Just Changed. Again.” Intrigued, I clicked the link. Within minutes, my world has changed.

  • Read Karl’s post.
  • Watch the screencast, which will introduce you to Wolfram Alpha, a “computational knowledge engine.”
  • Pick your jaw up off the floor. 
  • Tell everyone you know, especially educators.
After watching that screencast, I, like plenty of other educators (I hope!), again have to wonder: Why are we teaching content?  Why, Why, Why?


Doesn’t this possibility — this search engine that can “compute answers to your specific questions” — demonstrate so clearly what is most important? I don’t need to know how to calculate the median or range of a group of numbers. I don’t even need to know how to calculate the properties of water at 2.5 atmospheres of pressure — Wolfram Alpha can do it for me. What is more important is how to interpret the data that something like Wolfram Alpha spits out for me. All those graphs, tables, new vocabulary, and more are useless without using Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) to sort them out and make sense of them. Why aren’t we teaching more visual literacy and data interpretation — in every subject area? 


At about 12:36 in that screencast:
We’re trying to take as much of the world’s knowledge as possible, and make it computable.
So the question for education is no longer, “What do we want our students to know?” but instead should be “What do we want our students to be able to do?”


Image: original Masochistic Monks – 2 by Krypto; edited by me using Picnik and licensed under CC2.0


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by gregw
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This post is a response to Clay Burell, blogger for Education on, one of my new favorite online networks. I’ve followed Clay for a long time both on his personal blog, Beyond School, and in his new home. He’s one of the few educators whose ideas truly make me think, and I admire him for his tenacity and his forthright initiatives, which are all too often very difficult to maintaing in this field. This is not the first time Clay and I have disagreed, but it is perhaps the first time we have disagreed so strongly. You might want to read Clay’s original post first, and the comments that follow — a lengthy debate about Bill Gates’ TED talk and Clay’s response to it. Clay’s last comment to me challenged me to find and quote him on the unjustified assertions I accuse him of. Before I go further, please note that I see this as very healthy banter.

Well, maybe it’s gone past banter now…?

Clay, the links you reference to KIPP schools *are* valid. But I thought you were writing this post about Bill Gates and his TED Talk, not KIPP schools. Therefore, many of the references to KIPP don’t really belong in this argument about whether Gates is attacking teachers. Perhaps instead you’d like to write a(nother) post on why KIPP schools don’t work and why people like Gates shouldn’t support them. But your post title references Gate’s TED Talk, of which KIPP is a part, not the whole.

On making connections and jumping to conclusions

There are many places in your post and your comments where you make links between ideas, words, and concepts which simply are not logical or obvious. What follows are examples of your doing this.

“I think what Gates is getting at is firing teachers and dismantling public schools in favor of privatized charters”

The word dismantling means taking them apart, destroying them. Thus, I think it’s reasonable for myself (and others) to have concluded that you were referring to the end of public schools.

“Mosquitos cause pestilence. Let’s drive that point home with massive projections of them – and then release them into the audience.

Then let’s talk about undesireable people that our society can do without.”

And later,

“Let’s close the ‘pestilence’ – ‘teachers’ pattern with the final frame of two more diseases: pneumonia and AIDS.”

Really Random? by Dan Morelle
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Here, and in your video, you make a connection between pestilence and teachers, but Gates doesn’t do that. Gates simply says mosquitos cause malaria. Poor structure on his part, yes, but he’s NOT talking about undesirable people that our society can do without – that’s your unfounded and unsupported conclusion. Nowhere does Gates use the word “pestilence” or anything resembling it.

“Then let’s sell two things: technology that will collect test scores we can use to fire teachers (he doesn’t say this, but that’s why “Some people are threatened by this stuff,” as he so dismissively puts it); and a book on the “great teachers” at KIPP schools (two of which are currently accused of intimidating teachers for moving to unionize).

It’s a push for technology and charter schools.”

Gates is not making a plea here to push the technology for standardized testing. He’s pushing a new model, KIPP, yes. But technology? Huh? He’s saying that some people are threatened by new models and new ways of thinking of education. Your jump to it being “a push for technology and charter schools” is an unreasonable one. (I’ll come back to the charter schools issue in a minute.)

Another instance of you making an assumption and judgment is when Gates says: “the teacher improvement data could not be made available and used in the tenure decision for the teachers. And so that’s sort of working in the opposite direction. But I’m optimistic about this, I think there are some clear things we can do.”

But you translate this as:

“He does liken teachers who resist test-based evaluations to ‘the problem.’ “

No, he does not “liken teachers who resist test-based evaluations to ‘the problem’.” He talks about teacher improvement data – which could, actually be a LOT of different kinds of data, not necessarily test-based – and how it could not be used to decide tenure, and how THAT is a problem. (And, it is a problem.)

“Gates doesn’t have time for those studies, apparently. To him it’s ‘simple.’ We need KIPP schools and no more unions.”

Again, Gates doesn’t mention unions, and he uses KIPP only as an example. Which reminds me, I think we are talking at cross-purposes regarding the “privatization of public education.”  To me, privatization means tuition or business ownership. Charter schools are, as far as I know, publicly funded — ie., taxpayers dollars. So what do you mean when you say “privatization of public education”?

One more jump-into-the-inaccurate-accusation lake: when you mention Gates’s

“use of statistics and scientific-looking graphs to justify the scapegoating.”

So the next time any teacher or tech integrationist  — or anyone for that matter — uses statistics and graphs to prove a point, and that point happens to be about specific group of people, they are propaganda-ists?

On Emotion and Blogging

I observe the similar juxtaposition between the structure, symbolism, and rhetoric of Gates’ talk and a propaganda film that happens to have been a product of an historical era that causes emotional reactions from people.

That’s just it – I think you’ve made this too emotional. It’s not. It’s a big-name CEO sharing his thoughts about what he thinks needs to be changed about teachers. You are taking it personally, for reasons unbeknowst to your blog audience.

Yes, propaganda relies on emotional appeals – like yours, I’d say. But Gates? I didn’t see any emotional appeals in there. None at all.

Blogging about an intial reaction, finally, is not a problem. That’s what bloggers do. The reaction was justified with the similarities I’ve already repeated ad infinitum.

Perhaps this is what bloggers do when they are simply sharing and not aiming to convince. If you want us to believe you (and exists, well, for regular people like us to create change), you will provide reasoned and logical responses, not knee-jerk first reactions. So tell me please, what was your purpose in writing this post? Was it simply to express an emotion? or was it to persuade? This is, I think, what Jean was getting at with the reference to the selling. It seems as though you were trying to sell an idea, and doing so in an emotionally charged way (as Jean says) just doesn’t hold water with me. In fact it makes your points, even if they are worth listening to, less credible. My point here: if you want to express emotion and outrage in an initial reaction, go ahead. But perhaps the venue is not the place. Or, you can title your post differently. Purpose and audience: you know they are the two golden keys to effective writing.

It’s a JUMP to CONCLUSIONS mat! Get it!?
by Katkreig Attribution-NonCommercial License

You know, Clay, that I respect you greatly and have keenly followed your work and ideas for some time now. But this post has really rubbed me the wrong way. Even if your points are not valid, the method in which you’ve chosen to present them is inflammatory and rash.

This week, you win the Jump-to-Conclusions Award… which reminds me of a funny scene from one of my favorite movies, Office Space. If you haven’t seen it — a must-see for anyone who has ever worked in a corporate American-style office — watch the clip below. [Warning: this clip has some strong language]

(And yes, I did know Gates was a college, not HS, dropout. Thanks to Carl and Alfred for correcting that. Sorry – I was writing rather quickly.)

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RSS buttonDear Subscriber,

I know there are only 3 or 4 of you, but I thought I should do the courteous thing anyway and let you know that I’m going to change my feed details soon.  Currently, my RSS feed (as provided by FeedBurner) is titled “Ms. Michetti’s Virtual Classroom” — which is what this blog used to be titled back in the day, i.e., before I figured out what the heck I was doing here and why.

It’s been several months now since I figured that out, and I’ve since changed my blog title, which you’ve no doubt noticed.  I therefore think it makes sense that I change my RSS feed address and title to more accurately match the blog title and URL.

And really – it’s easier to do now than it would be later, because hey, I only have 3 or 4 subscribers, right?  :)  So apologies, but the next post you get from me will likely be under a new feed subscription, so you will have to delete the old feed, come back to the original site, and subscribe anew.

Apologies in advance for messing up your RSS reader!


Ms. M

Image from burienundressed, licenced under CC 2.0

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“For every nine people who denounce innovation, only one will encourage it. . . . For every nine people who do things the way they have always been done, only one will ever wonder if there is a better way. For every nine people who stand in line in front of a locked building, only one will ever come around and check the back door.

“Our progress as a species rests squarely on the shoulders of that tenth person. The nine are satisfied with things they are told are valuable. Person 10 determines for himself what has value.” -Za Rinpoche and Ashley Nebelsieck, in The Backdoor to Enlightenment (Three Leaves)

The pessimistic side of me wants to say that in schools, the proportion is probably one out of every twenty, or perhaps even higher. But that’s just me being whiny.

What this book excerpt reminds me of:

  • Ian Jukes’s Committed Sardine metaphor
  • about 203,094,820 faculty meetings I’ve been to where one person speaks out about doing something differently, and gets verbally crucified
  • the feeling I have after I finish a really good yoga session, when I have the most clarity about what I determine as valuable for myself

Questions I have:

  • Is it in a person’s nature to be that 10th person? Or can one learn to question and be curious?
  • How long before that 10th person becomes tired of always being “the only one” who’s encouraging innovation, asking if there’s a better way, and going around to the back door? How many times before s/he gives up?
  • What would happen if the proportions shifted? What if, in a group of 10, there were 4 people who were always asking the questions and finding new ways of doing things? What would that look like?
  • Should leaders in our schools be the 10th person?

Photo credit: Mozzer502

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