Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How to escape education's death valley

Here are my favorite parts:

  • To understand the legislation No Child Left Behind is to understand irony.
  • No Child Left Behind should have been named Many Children Left Behind.
  • In some parts of the country the drop out rate is 60%. In the Native American communities it is 80%.
  • If we could half the drop out rate, some say that it would create a net-gain to the US economy over ten years of nearly a trillion dollars. 
  • Some kids are physical absent from school while others are physically present but have mentally already dropped out.
  • Too often teachers end up labouring and students end up enduring a culture of education that contradicts how human life flourishes.
  • Human beings are naturally different and diverse.
  • We have a very narrow definition of education.
  • The basics are necessary but not sufficient. 
  • Does ADHD exist? Maybe. Is it an epidemic? Probably not.
  • If you sit kids down, hour after hour, doing low-grade clerical work, don't be surprised if they start to fidget.
  • Too often we mistake childhood for a psychological disorder.
  • Kids prosper best with a broad curriculum that celebrates their various talents. 
  • The arts aren't important just because they increase math scores. They are important because they speak to parts of children's being which are otherwise untouched.
  • Children are natural leaners.
  • It's a real achievement to snuff out a child's natural tendency to be curious.
  • Curiosity is the engine of achievement.
  • There is a popular movement to de-professionalize teachers.
  • Teaching is a creative profession. Teaching properly conceived is not a delivery system.
  • Great teachers mentor, stimulate, engage.
  • People can spend an awful lot of time discussing education without ever discussing learning.
  • You can be engaged in an activity and not really achieving or doing anything.
  • If you are teaching but the students aren't learning, are you really teaching?
  • The dominant culture of education does not concern itself with teaching and learning but with testing.
  • Standardized tests should be diagnostic. 
  • Human life is inherently creative.
  • We create and re-create our lives.
  • Schools have  adopted a culture of standardization but it doesn't have to be that way.
  • It's not just about what's on the test but what's not on the test.
  • We have a lot to learn from Finland.
  • Spending money on teacher professional development is not an expense -- it's an investment.
  • In Finland, they spend six times more every year on teacher professional development than on student assessment and testing.
  • Education policies must empower schools to get the job done -- not departments of education and not individual teachers.
  • Centralizing education with command and control policies is folly.
  • If you remove the discretion of teachers and students and place the power in the hands of distant authorities, education stops working.
  • The best teachers are sailing into a headwind, every single day.
  • Education is not a mechanical system -- it's a human system. It's about people.
  • If we are to save mainstream public education, we are going to need to make it look more like many alternative education programs.
  • If we made public education more like alternative education, we wouldn't need alternative education.
  • Change the environment and you give life a chance.
  • The real challenge for educational leadership is not command and control -- rather, it should be climate control where we create the conditions where real learning and good teaching are most likely to flourish.


  1. Excellent video! Thank you for sharing this.

  2. thank you for sharing this... im part of the pioneer of Teach for the Philippines launched this year and currently studying about Assessment, Evaluation and Learning, this is really a great help! thanks much!


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