The Toxic Culture of Education [VIDEO 17:02]

Joshue Katz contends that we have created a “Toxic Culture of Education” in our country that is damaging students, impacting our economy, and threatening our future. Since the passage of No Child Left Behind, we have embraced a culture of high stakes testing and are perpetuating a false sense of failure in our schools by created by private education interests who have identified a supervillain of its own creation. The solution lies in a common sense approach to student development, curriculum choice, career exploration, and relevant data analysis. This talk will present a vision of an education system that allows us to embrace our full potential if we only had the courage to ask “Why Not”?


Sing Out!


We Americans love our freedoms, and we’ve thrived for four centuries singing our own original make-no-excuses, know-no-limits song. From east coast colonies to westward expansion…liberating Europe to landing on the moon…we’ve sung with the pride of taking center stage. And in the process, we’ve developed our own theme, our own style, our own voice. It has served us well. But the world has changed…so quickly we may not yet appreciate how much. And as world leaders, we can’t simply sing our own song anymore. The entire world is connected and creating an entirely new kind of music. Everything people, companies and nations do contributes to the score. We have a responsibility to contribute to humankind…to what is in the best interests of people everywhere…a soaring score that celebrates not just U.S.-centricity, but us-centricity…all of us on this earth.

A good example of why we need this shift is the recent controversy over an American-made farce in which two bungling characters are asked by the American government to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. With tensions escalating over the impending opening of the film in theaters, Sony chose not to release it…but the tensions continue. Yes Americans are free to make and view whatever films they wish. Yes, it is illegal to hack into a network and then steal and publicize the information accessed. But these facts miss the true origin of the problem: making a film, no matter how tongue-in-cheek, that targets a real head of state for murder is a provocative act in a world where actions, reactions and ramifications occur in real time. We need to acknowledge the difference between a film built around fictitious characters and a film targeting the intended demise of a named world leader. Today, citizens of the earth all share one stage and we must sing a new song…a song that resonates with hearts and voices worldwide.


A characteristically American refrain might be, “We’re a free and open society, and we won’t be pushed around,” decrying the acts of cyber-terrorism…demanding that the criminals be held accountable. This is an authentically American response to adversity. But making claims that “North Korea now runs Sony” or “Now countries all over the world are going to dictate what Americans say and do” are disingenuous and self-serving coming from members of the very industry that created this crisis in the first place. Clueless arrogance creates aural dissonance; where is the harmony?

Recognizing the world has changed and that we all need to get along together, show each other respect, and help each other contribute to an emerging global society, we need to be more mindful and responsible in singing our song. It’s not reasonable or acceptable to make a film about assassinating a current leader of any nation. It incites anger and retaliation, regardless of that leader’s standing on the world stage. And refusing to accept our responsibility for this in the name of free speech and free enterprise rings hollow. We can help set the tone and tempo for an anthem welcoming in a new global age, but we need to be willing to change our tune, to do so.


Remaining true to our own American song is to turn a deaf ear to the rest of the world. We need to recognize and respond to new music we hear in the air, and make it part of who we are…not just as U.S. citizens, but as citizens of the world. We’re actually well-positioned to do this. China, India and Brazil are all singing and seeking their parts. So is Russia, though it too struggles to hear beyond its own musical tradition. Leading from strength, thinking and acting more globally and inclusively, Americans can help compose a new theme of a caring, connected, collaborative global society…and in doing so, create a place for our children, their voices resonating with the voices of children all over the world.

No one can make us change our world view. We need to choose to no longer be exclusively U.S.-centric, but us-centric…because “us” is no longer three-million people inhabiting the United States, but seven-billion people inhabiting the entire planet…we are all in this together. And in choosing a more global view, we can’t rely on media, political and business interests to call the tune. We have witnessed first-hand the mess that can create. No, the only way we’re going to build a caring, collaborative global society is through education…teachers, students and families working together…our voices heard above all the of the bygone ballads and competing interests…belting out a new song loud and strong…together, all over our world.

Sing Out!
by David Downes and Brendan Graham

Sing a new song to the world
Let your voice be heard
Go and bring the word
This whole world was meant to be
For you as well as me
For humanity

We all travel the same road
Carry the same load
Reap what we have sowed
You are hoping just like me
To live with dignity
Hoping to be free

Sing out, sing out, sing to the world
Sing out, you will be heard
Sing the message and the word
Sing a new song to the world
Sing out, sing to the world

If your God’s the same as mine
Has been for all time
Why are we so blind?
What we’re doing in his name
Well, its a crying shame
We all cry the same

Sing out, sing out, sing to the world
Sing out, you will be heard
Sing the message and the word
Sing a new song to the world
Sing out, sing to the world


McKinsey: Technology’s Acceleration & Its Implications


Reposted from the McKinsey Quarterly:

When McKinsey began publishing the Quarterly, in 1964, a new management environment was just beginning to take shape. On April 7 of that year, IBM announced the System/360 mainframe, a product with breakthrough flexibility and capability. Then on October 10, the opening ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympic Games, the first in history to be telecast via satellite around the planet, underscored Japan’s growing economic strength. Finally, on December 31, the last new member of the baby-boom generation was born. Fifty years later, the forces symbolized by these three disconnected events are almost unrecognizable. Technology and connectivity have disrupted industries and transformed the lives of billions. The world’s economic center of gravity has continued shifting from West to East, with China taking center stage as a growth story. The baby boomers have begun retiring, and we now talk of a demographic drag, not a dividend, in much of the developed world and China.

We stand today on the precipice of much bigger shifts in each of these areas, with extraordinary implications for global leaders. In the years ahead, acceleration in the scope, scale, and economic impact of technology will usher in a new age of artificial intelligence, consumer gadgetry, instant communication, and boundless information while shaking up business in unimaginable ways. At the same time, the shifting locus of economic activity and dynamism, to emerging markets and to cities within those markets, will give rise to a new class of global competitors. Growth in emerging markets will occur in tandem with the rapid aging of the world’s population—first in the West and later in the emerging markets themselves—that in turn will create a massive set of economic strains.

Any one of these shifts, on its own, would be among the largest economic forces the global economy has ever seen. As they collide, they will produce change so significant that much of the management intuition that has served us in the past will become irrelevant. The formative experiences for many of today’s senior executives came as these forces were starting to gain steam. The world ahead will be less benign, with more discontinuity and volatility and with long-term charts no longer looking like smooth upward curves, long-held assumptions giving way, and seemingly powerful business models becoming upended. In this article, which brings together years of research by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) and McKinsey’s Strategy Practice, we strive to paint a picture of the road ahead, how it differs from the one we’ve been on, and what those differences mean for senior executives as they chart a path for the years to come.

Read More…

The Shift in Parent-School Engagement


Reposted from Roots of Action:

“Instead of a closed, self-sufficient system, schools must see themselves as open systems that engage in learning at the boundaries between families and communities. Peter Senge (2000) said it well, “If I had one wish for all our institutions, and the institution called school in particular, it is that we dedicate ourselves to allowing them to be what they would naturally become, which is human communities, not machines. Living beings who continually ask the questions: Why am I here? What is going on in my world? How might I and we best contribute?”

When we think of schools as learning communities, parents and teachers have the capacity to shift the machine metaphor from the grassroots upward. This is the type of change than cannot be mandated from the top-down or through policies like No Child Left Behind.  In fact, research shows that partnerships based on relationships, connectedness, and flexibility hold the keys to understanding how to increase student learning and motivation.

What does this paradigm shift mean to families and schools?  While parents and teachers have unique skills and expertise, no one is a single expert. We are all learners. We come together for the shared goal of educating the whole child. In many ways, we are what Etienne Wenger (2002) calls communities of practice, “groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their understanding and knowledge of this area by interacting on an ongoing basis.” What brings families and schools together is a passion for children and education.”

Read More…


The 5 Dimensions of Scaling Up Innovation: Depth, Spread, Sustainability, Shift and Evolution [VIDEO 8:59]

Dr. Chris Dede, the Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, describes the opportunities and challenges of replicating successful educational programs, and offers a framework for measuring new ideas, solutions, programs and products for their value as innovations.

I Hereby Declare Myself an Education Rebel!

Spirit Of 76

Reposted from EdTech Digest:

“Our current educational system is impervious to much needed improvement. And an alternative system—a revolution in thought, practice, and outcome of the truest sense—is desperately needed. An educational revolution that I once dismissed as unnecessary but, given the facts, now think is mandated, vital, and inevitable. But the inevitable revolution won’t occur without rebels.

I hereby declare myself an education rebel who will no longer work to save the educational system for which I’ve long toiled. Further, I vow to work to create, nurture, and give voice to an educational alternative that employs proven educational practices—real and individualized differentiated instruction, real and serious engagement of parents, ubiquitous access to information for all, and consistent and relevant feedback about performance—that will produce aptitude-defying-levels of learning among all students.

I will work for new paradigm schools and technological tools. I make this declaration knowing full well that being a rebel will be lots of work because lots of vested interests will work just as hard to maintain the dysfunctional status quo.”

Read More…


The Question, Waiting to be Answered

The crux of the pivotal paradigm shift to which we constantly refer comes down to this: questions, not answers. Once you make the shift to this new pedagogy, everything else will shift with you. And once you start asking questions, those around you will feel the ripple effect and begin asking too. We may not see where those ripples end, but we will have helped make the shift simply in how we look at and discuss education. If your reference point is still within four walls, break them down by asking what you can find beyond. There is no more “outside the box.” Standardization, identifying acceptable answers, is dead. Innovation, seeking new answers, is the new norm.