Search for Meaning
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland, 2012/04/10

From 20 years ago, a year or so after the fall of the Berlin Wall, David Orr wrote, "The plain fact is that the planet does not need more “successful” people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it." Still true today. Thanks to Doug Noon for citing this and reflecting - with feeling - on the purpose of education. Today: Total:61 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Let it Shine #edusolidarity
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland, 2011/03/15

I won't make this long, but I'll make it clear: I am in suuport of teachers' unions (I am in support of unions for me, too, which is why I'm a proud member of the Canadian Association of Professional Employees. I've been a member of various other unions in my past, including the Canadian Union of Educational Workers, Canadian Union of Public Employees, and the Hotel, Restaurant and Tavern Workers Union local 237. I've never doubted that the union was my best (and often only) means to negotiate a fair wage and working conditions, and my suggestion to non-union people who resent the gains unions have been able to win is that they join a union and win the same benefits for themselves (we'll help!). I might write about educational technology and I may even criticize teachers and their representatives, but never doubt that I am solidly on the side of labour, employee unionism, and collective bargaining. Today: Total:54 [Comment] [Direct Link]

This is Not A Test
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

I still don't understand the nuances behind Scholastic's censorship of an education blog. Among others, Doug Noon comments on "the disappearance of Marc Dean Millot's post from Alexander Russo's TWIE (This Week in Education). Here's the post that was pulled. Millot, unfortunately, writes like the lawyer he is, meaning that his explanation of the matter (part one, part two, part three forthcoming on Tuttle) is incomprehensible. But I do understand that the issue is about connections and influence, and that Scholastic is up to its armpits in educational policy and politics. And as Noon notes, "another test of Alexander Russo's editorial independence presents itself" as "Los Angeles schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines earned more than $150,000 last year for serving on the board of one of the nation's leading educational publishing companies, a firm with more than $16 million in contracts with the school district over the last five years." That company? Scholastic. Today: Total:67 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Critical Readings
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

Doug Noon writes about The Public School, which is "a school with no curriculum." He adds, "Someone proposes a class, and when enough interest builds, a teacher is found to teach whoever signed up." Supporting the school is a great online library, "AAAARG is a conversation platform - at different times it performs as a school, or a reading group, or a journal." In the library, Noon fiends a work by Freire, The Act of Study. Noon writes, "Freire recommended that we become "subjects of the act" and attempt to recreate the text for ourselves. He saw critical reading as the expression of an attitude toward the world, and not just a relationship to a book or an article. 'To study,' he said, 'is not to consume ideas, but to create and to re-create them.'" This is exactly what I did as a student, and is core to the pedagogy I recommend today. Today: Total:72 [Comment] [Direct Link]

An Ecology of Adolescent Literacy
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

Doug Noon follows up on posts from Tom Hoffman "in which he eviscerates the new Common Core(porate) English Language Arts Standards." He writes, "I was intrigued by the inclusion of Elizabeth Moje's article, Reinventing adolescent literacy for new tmes: A commentary on perennial and millennial issues in adolescent literacy (in the bibliography)." The inclusion of an advocacy of critical reasoning was "a bit of blue sky at the end of the dreary Standards statetment." Related: Deb Meier writes, "Since the habits of using evidence and reason can't wait until we pour all the facts into children's heads, a good education must engage in both together. 'Even' 5-year-olds learn by reasoning about the world while trying it on for size." Today: Total:38 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Rewriting David Brooks
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

Darren Draper asks why I ignore K-12 in my discussions with Ddavid Wiley about open educational resources (OERs). My answer is: I don't. Or, more accurately, I don't exclude K-12. My arguments are inclusive of them. But you have to, in some instances, draw the connections yourself. Take, for example, the ongoing discussion about schools and poverty that I link to. Regular readers may even wonder why I spend so much time on this. It's because it's the same issue. To see this point, look at this post, from Doug Noon (via Tom Hoffman). Today: Total:49 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Free and Voluntary Reading
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

When I was in public school, I was able to select and review my own reading choices. Then, when I went to high school, it was back to the required reading and chapter tests. That's when the rebellion began. Today: Total:57 [Comment] [Direct Link]

What Is Scientifically Based Research?
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

As Doug Noon says, this is "another example of how, when you write the rules, accountability is for everyone else." This being a description of the scientific method for teachers, an account that Noon (quite accurately) describes as "like the introduction to a sixth-grade science textbook." Here's where this is relevant: there is a movement, started (as was the Campbell Collaboration) in the health care sector, called knowledge mobilization. This, basically, is the idea of "putting research into practice." It sounds good until you realize that it's a one way relationship; practitioners are merely (willing or unwilling) recipients of (so-called) scientifically based research. Noon asks, "how much weight should be given to teacher observations in instructional decision-making?" The sixth-grade view of science tells us, "none." But real in real science we understand that the controlled experiment is often a very poor approximation of reality, and would never eliminate actual experience form the equation. Today: Total:56 [Comment] [Direct Link]

What We Measure
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

Doug Noon makes the case for - and against - measurement in learning. He is exactly right, and gets to the core objection to standardized testing: "We already measure many sad truths kids are learning, We count high school dropouts, teen pregnancies, drug arrests, incarceration rates, mean family incomes, child welfare statistics, and a host of other social dissonance indicators. And all of them indicate there is a problem outside the schoolhouse. And there is NO evidence that a steady diet of testable basic skills, disconnected from any reality in the known universe outside the sterile confines of an education policy think tank, will have any impact on THOSE statistics." Today: Total:41 [Comment] [Direct Link]

On the Scale of Intervention
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

More on the connection between poverty and brain development. Yes, it is good news that much of the damage can be addressed through remediation. But this should not sway people from recognizing that the most reliable way to improve learning outcomes is to address issues of poverty. Today: Total:41 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Harder Vs. Smarter
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

"The biggest problem with U.S. public schools is ineffective teaching, according to decades of research." So writes Amanda Ripley in Time Magazine. The 'decades of research' appear to be a fabrication. My take: the greatest barrier to education is poverty and hardship. But instead of actually addressing poverty and hardship, a certain segment of society prefers to deflect the issue by blaming schools. And especially teachers. So we hear, over and over, that the unions prevent administrators from firing incompetent teachers. But this is not plausible. As I wrote yesterday, teachers are fired all the time, and on the flimsiest of excuses. So incompetent teachers can be fired. So it's not the teachers. It's the poverty. Still. Today: Total:45 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Time for a Little Comprehension
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

From Doug Noon, because it needs to be said: "people overlook the 'scientifically-based' textbooks scam. It turns out that news of the $6 billion Reading First con, which Margaret Spellings announced and defended, produces no significant difference in reading comprehension... Now, can we please return to studying comprehension instruction?" It seems to me that too much time has been spent looking for short cuts and magic solutions (and that still seems to be the expectation of online learning). Today: Total:42 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Teaching for Change in a Culture of Compliance
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

OK, I admit I'm a bit unhappy because I was arguing with teachers this afternoon. This article is on point about the subject of dispute. Doug Noon writes, "I'm not interested in indoctrinating anyone. My only agenda is activating some gray matter, and acknowledging the value of participating in public discourse, none of which is emphasized in any official reform agenda." But it's not clear to me that all teachers are like that. Not that they actually want to indoctrinate students. But rather, they are too feeble to resist being used as agents by those that do. Today: Total:51 [Comment] [Direct Link]

NY Times Meets the Edublog
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

Doug Noon writes three articles for the New York Times with an emphasis on authentic learning connected to culture and to nature. But he saves his best line for the blog post: "If I had to plan on having a moose heart handy, I'd never teach that lesson." Today: Total:50 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Believing in Education As Cure-All
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

Inassailable: "Hotel jobs that pay $20 an hour, with health and pension benefits (rather than $10 an hour without benefits), typically do so because of union organization, not because maids earned bachelor's degrees." And if people are seeking to identify in a country's decreasing competitiveness a 'skills gap', it is worth reflecting that this gap is created by increasing inequity in the country, and that it is this increasing inequity that is the cause of a country's decreasing competitiveness. As Doug Noon says, "I and most teachers, I think, have long observed that many learning difficulties seemed to be linked to domestic home-life problems, and that there are a lot more of them than there used to be." Or even more tellingly, "Raising the bar, making school more rigorous, banging the drum for accountability, none of theses can begin to make a dent in the life of a kid who locks herself in the bathroom at night to hide from her mother's boyfriend." Today: Total:45 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Shock Resistance
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

Doug Noon discusses what he sees as parallels between Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine and the US government's No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education policy. "NCLB's mandate for all students to achieve academic proficiency has always seemed like a ploy to blame and shame schools, teachers, and teacher unions, to justify privatizing the public system." Noon now views the inequalities in the public education system as part of a systemic effort, "The basic disaster strategy: Ignore infrastructure until it fails (claiming there isn't money to maintain it). When a crisis hits, and while everyone is disoriented (in shock), funnel public funds to contractors who'll presumably make it all better." -HJ Today: Total:48 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Carry It On
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

Well this is great stuff, and well worth the read with your edupunk attitude on. Doug Noon writes, "Listening to Utah Phillips, I heard the voice of a teacher." But you know, for all the protests and the activism and the high-minded ideals, we still got the SUVs, the Iraq War, arbitrary detention and torture. This lesson is not lost on me either. "This isn't a court. This is a neon oven." The hippie is a romantic. The punk is a revolutionary. Today: Total:95 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The Mountains Are High
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

I don't want to belabour this issue too much - but the discussion is compelling. Two things. First, I believe these two facts are inextricably related: "# Nearly one-fourth of U.S. children live in families below the poverty line, more than in any other industrialized nation [and] The U.S. ranked 21st of 30 OECD countries in science and 25th of 30 in mathematics." And second, Doug Noon writes, "The only people who are surprised by a billion dollar per year program bust are the clueless pundits and policy pushers who believe that 'scientifically based reading research' is about science and reading, and not about ideology and profiteering." Today: Total:48 [Comment] [Direct Link]

What Now?
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

In what appears to be a classic case of antimarketing, Doug Noon decides to 'go with the flow' and join Twitter. This follows the Diigo stampede over the weekend, caused (as nearly as I can tell) by a single blogger sending a notice to a hundred of her friends (maybe not deliberately? I did warn that it tries to grab your contacts). Meanwhile, I've found the criticism of the new blogosphere, by Doug Belshaw, who adds discussion of Twitter is harmful in response to Noon. I like the distinction between outwards-facing and inwards-facing communications, but I want to modify it slightly: a technology like Twitter is, in my mind, 'inward facing' (image), because it reinforces communication with the group - 'running with the herd,' as I commented on Noon's post, while I tend to favour 'outward facing' communications, those that look outside the group. Mike Setfang also comments. Today: Total:71 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Setting the Dial On Rationality
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

This post begins by summarizing M. Mitchell Waldrop's "Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos," a worthy objective in itself, and then proceeds through an interesting discussion of modernism and technology. Doug Noon's definition of modernism will do: "progress, reason, technology, and a new world order all seem to be bundled together in it." And as Tom Hoffman says, "One thing that drives me crazy about our favorite ed-tech K-12 Web 2.0 rhetoricians is the exclusion of modernity and modernism from the discourse." Well I think I understand modernism all right; I am old enough that I was positively steeped in it when I was growing up. But, you know, I've read Kalle Lasn too. And I don't see technology as inevitable, I see the future as the result of choices, not progress, and there is no one purely rational future to choose from. Today: Total:89 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

Doug Noon looks at the role of rules in the emergence of learning. "Friere said that freedom can only exist in conditions that are subject to authority. The student, he said, experiences freedom in relation to the teacher's authority.'" My reply. See also this engaging review of Chaos, Complexity, Curriculum, and Culture, suggested in the comments by Jeremy Price. Today: Total:50 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Like Cranky Talk Show Hosts
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

I think this is a very interesting observation: "The standards movement is not a national response to a grassroots outcry. It's a corporate business-initiated movement that has been sold to a fearful middle class worried about economic and social insecurity." Doug Noon is talking about 'educational standards', of course, but the same feeling permeates other standards movements, such as LOM and learning design. There is on the one hand the (quite legitimate) idea that standards ensure quality; there is on the other hand the corruption of that idea in the hands of marketers, politicians and others. Today: Total:46 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Resistant, Clueless, Indifferent, or Just Defensive?
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

Doug Noon links to a number of posts on the subject of teacher resistance to systematic change. Here's Terry Elliot: "I can tell you why it has been slow - the entrenched won't move until they see their front line has been breached and that further dithering with the Hindenberg's tea trays is quite futile. I also responded further to Sessums' thought provoking post." Meanwhile, nothing but silence from the School 2.0 crowd - many of who are gathered at the Building Learning Communities conference, where they talk about the role of the teacher, the "artificial by-product of contemporary institutions, created and reinforced by them in pursuit of their short-term ends." Today: Total:71 [Comment] [Direct Link]

My Sicko Turn
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

Just for the record: I do not know of any Canadian who would exchange our health care system. Every citizen is insured and where we all receive free health care when we need it. Americans should know this. They are told a lot by the various media - but none of their media can ever explain why we stand by our system despite intense pressure from U.S. companies to change it, to privatize it. I think the same motivations inform our education system. There are, I think, lessons to be learned from this. Today: Total:59 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Democracy 2.0
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

I haven't said much about democracy and governance in these pages, not directly at least, because my attention has been directed elsewhere. But it has always struck me that attempts to implement e-democracy have been stuck in a 19th century model of governance, one that enshrines the representative function as the almost definitive of democracy. What is democracy, after all, without votes for your representatives? And yet - embodied in this epitome is the very idea of disempowerment, the idea (straight from Hobbes) that we surrender our own liberty in exchange for security and safety (and the other elements of 'good government'). The idea that we could govern ourselves is not merely rejected as wrongheaded, but as dangerous. As though we - who, after all, elect our (mostly untrustworthy) representatives, cannot be entrusted with our own governance. And so we have evolved into a system of government that is mostly about wresting power and control from each other, and not about the collective safety and security - a model that leads us chaotically lurching from Iraq to global warming to Darfur to Enron. I believe that we, as a people, could do a better job governing ourselves than could our elected representatives (especially those more interested in looting us than leading us) and that internet communication technologies make self-governance possible. It is this idea, I believe, that e-government should be exploring, and not things like better systems for public 'consultation' or 'online voting'. Today: Total:63 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The Might-Work Clearinghouse
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

Doug Noon is quite right and my own observation confirms what he says (and supports, with some interesting reading) in this post: "Nobody in their right mind would conduct real science experiments on kids without also planning on going to prison. The government calls the studies they're doing scientific, but they're really just statistical analyses. Education research isn't science. It's social science. But, of course, social science doesn't have quite enough of an authoritative ring to justify massively disruptive policy decisions. As a sales pitch, calling these government reports scientifically-based research does seem to be working. As a means of improving educational outcomes, though, it's all snake oil." Today: Total:52 [Comment] [Direct Link]

E-Authoring Our Eduselves
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

Doug Noon raises the interesting thought that a student's portfolio is a way to evaluate his or her teachers. Not an entirely fair way (because, after all, what teacher can control his or her charges?) but useful enough to give a rough indication. "Not that I'd mind," he writes, "but here I am just making it up as I go! There's no standards for e-portfolios yet, are there?" More thoughts on student web postings from the Illuminated Dragon. Today: Total:62 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Decolonizing Education
Doug NoonDoug Noon, BorderlandBorderland,

Interesting post challenging the status quo in education. I like the "resistance model to colonial thought," cited in part here: "Refuse to accept as common sense, discourses that present strong symbolic content that may contribute to stereotypes and erroneous beliefs... Re-question the aims of education... Redefine knowledge: To better understand how I come to know and value... Reaffirm my Self through personal expressions of affiliation with others." A tall order. Today: Total:39 [Comment] [Direct Link]


(Still working on this)