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Photo by Mwesigwa Joel on Unsplash

…that we didn’t already know.

  1. Jack
  2. Squat

Americans have spent many years and many, many millions of dollars repeatedly uncovering truths about our education system that we already know. It is one of our beloved traditions. These truths are often inconvenient to those uncovering them, so they are usually ignored until the next round of self-examination is begun. To the taxpaying public, the public education system in this country tends to present a picture of exactly what the viewer wants to see regardless of troublesome facts. …


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Photo by niklas_hamann on Unsplash

Young people are an anxious bunch these days.

I say this fondly, because I felt the same way when I was growing up in the early 80’s. Back then the world was going through a bit of a rough patch. After ten years of slumbering through detente, the Cold War was roaring back to life with a vengeance. A new generation of missiles were deployed to Western Europe, and Soviet troops were face-planting into the mire of Afghanastan. The Middle East reeled from a toxic blend of religious fundamentalism and centuries-old ethnic grudges, while the Soviet Premier sent intelligence agents…


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Photo by Valentin Petkov on Unsplash

In some schools in China, students are sitting in classrooms with “brain wave trackers” strapped to their heads. The little devices are intended to monitor the learning taking place inside of those heads by, I suppose, feeding that information into software which can analyze what all the bumps and squiggles mean. At the same time, other Chinese students are sitting in classes while their every expression and movement is monitored by cameras. The footage is then analyzed by software to determine levels of engagement in lessons which, in theory, will help teachers adjust their lessons to fit the needs of…


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Photo by Monika Kozub on Unsplash

“Love is at the root of everything: all learning, all parenting, all relationships — love or the lack of it.” Fred Rogers

Our public education system is a minor miracle if you really stop and think about it. For a microscopic sliver of human history, we have created a system where an entire nation contributes money so that all citizens, regardless of race, creed, financial security, or natural ability, receive at least thirteen years of public education. This is, by any stretch, a lofty goal to set for a society. It is not easy to educate a child, let alone educate millions of children who often live in dramatically different circumstances and possess dramatically different gifts and challenges. We have been doing…


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Photo by Michelle Ding on Unsplash

When Chicago teachers took to the picket lines on October 17, they garnered plenty of national press attention. After all, the public education system in Chicago serves nearly three hundred thousand students, so the impact of any disruption will send ripples throughout one of our country’s largest cities. This, of course, is just the latest large-scale strike of public school teachers in this country over the last few years, and so far the teachers involved in these actions have generally been viewed sympathetically by their fellow citizens. This fact, coupled with the positive outcomes of previous strikes, have given teachers…


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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Imagine you are a freshly minted school principal full of ambition and energy, and you are excited to be an instructional leader. Imagine that you have discovered a new way of doing something in the classroom which, according to published research, is an absolute game changer for students. You are very excited.

You are also going to fail.

I am not saying this with any malicious intent. I imagine that taking on a job as assistant principal in a school feels something like hanging an anvil from your neck and trying to walk around with it all day. The burden…


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Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

The folks making headlines in the education business these days, whether they be teachers, principals, consultants, or politicians, always seem to be innovating something. A building principal who has worked very hard for decades to maintain a school’s academic performance is rarely going to inspire any media attention. As a society, we usually expect our educational leaders to be innovators rather than stewards, willing to shatter the status quo in favor of new approaches that promise better outcomes for students. Ambitious young administrators, upon leaving the classroom, realize that the only way for them to climb the promotional ladder involves…


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Photo by HIZIR KAYA on Unsplash

Several years ago, I arrived to work to discover a huge line of cars in front of the school where I teach. The cars were being turned away from the parking lot by heavily armed police officers in tactical gear, carrying assault rifles that looked like something special-force operatives would use. We were told that there had been reports of shots fired early in the morning before students had arrived at the building, and everybody was being routed to nearby rally points to wait for news. …


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Photo by Duy Pham

Educators are well-meaning, wonderful people. I have been working hard and meaning well for over twenty years as a professional educator, so I think I can bring some tough love into a conversation without being accused of having an anti-teacher agenda. You see, we teachers have a problem that has made our jobs unnecessarily difficult for decades: we have a rare gift for over-complicating things. If you doubt me on this one, take a look at the countless permutations of the daily bell schedule that exists at high schools across the country. Over the last ten years in particular, this…


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Photo by Jesse Bowser on Unsplash

When I was in middle school, I won the award for “quietest student” for three straight years. During those days, I would typically try go get through entire school days without talking to anybody at all. Social interaction outside of my tiny circle of friends was so unpleasant and nerve-wracking that I avoided it like the plague. I would have been perfectly content to view my lessons through closed-circuit television in a room by myself rather than navigate the crowded and noisy hallways at school. One of my all-time favorite teachers would usually greet us as we walked into the…

Bloolight

I am a National Board Certified physics teacher with 22 years of experience and lots of opinions about the world of education.

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