A few thoughts from Day 1

Posted by on Sep 8, 2011 in General | No Comments

Tuesday was our first day at the Workshop. The weather didn’t exactly cooperate but we got off to a great start. This is largely due to our students, who brought a great attitude and energy to their first day with us.

It is way too early to pretend to have any real handle on how this will all shake out, but it was both fun and fascinating to listen to (and participate in) our initial conversations.…

Introducing the Sustainability Workshop

Posted by on Sep 2, 2011 in General | 2 Comments

This is a story of two dinners.

One evening about nine years ago, Simon, Mike, Aiden and I met up at a Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown. We’d become friends over the previous five years, working in various capacities at West Philly High. Somewhere in the midst of swapping gossip, storytelling, and generally giving each other a hard time the conversation turned more idealistic, driven by a simple question: if we could start with a totally clean slate and build from the ground up, what would high school look like?…

Making Brownies as High Stakes Testing

Posted by on Aug 28, 2011 in General | No Comments

Reading the recent NY Times Editorial by Sol Garfinkel and David Mumford about how to fix math education, I was struck by the following line:

Big Ideas

Posted by on Aug 17, 2011 in General | No Comments

I’m probably not the only person to have read this essay on Sunday and have it eat away at them all week. I agree with both parts of this thesis — there aren’t as many great ideas out there and that even if there were, people, individually and collectively, aren’t ready to hear them.…

Luis Aparacio, leading off, and school reform

Posted by on Aug 8, 2011 in General | One Comment

Reading Bill James too early Saturday morning — not sure what it says about me that the analysts who I think best understand American institutions are a former cop turned TV writer and a baseball statistician turned crime writer– and came across this discussion about what makes a quality lead off man in professional baseball:

A School That Celebrates Mistakes?

Posted by on Aug 4, 2011 in General | No Comments

In most schools “mistakes” are to be avoided like the plague.  They often end up marked in red X’s and end up counting against students.  At the Workshop we will encourage students to make mistakes, as we understand error or failure as central to authentic learning.  Unlike regular school, where the assumption is that teachers know and the students don’t, at the Workshop the curriculum will be based on real world problems. …

Education, Democracy and Efficiency

Posted by on Jul 19, 2011 in General | No Comments

Reading a review of Aerotropolis in the New Yorker I came across this gem: “Democracy Sacrifices Efficiency.” The line was the response of the Chinese ministry to their strategy for flattening villages and relocating ten thousand people to build an airport. No discussion, just do it, this is how things get done.…

Saving the Accelerated Schools

Posted by on May 25, 2011 in General | No Comments

This afternoon, dozens of students, parents and educators in the city’s Accelerated Schools – programs serving students who have dropped out or are at risk of doing so – will testify at City Council about restoring their funding. Last Friday, the district announced that the schools would be closed, and replaced with district-run programs housed inside comprehensive high schools. …

Three Cups of School Reform Tea

Posted by on Apr 27, 2011 in General | No Comments

The recent accusations about Greg Mortenson fabricating parts of his bestselling book “Three Cups of Tea” raise interesting questions about school reform.  While we might never know the truth about Mortenson’s stumbling into an Afghan village and being kidnapped by the Taliban, the story that seems to be emerging is that the book was very lightly fact-checked, if at all, in the publishing process. …

Less Superman, more Clark Kent

Posted by on Apr 26, 2011 in General | No Comments

We try not to use this space to just link to other people’s writing. There are plenty of folks who do that better than us. But Joe Nocera’s column on school reform in today’s NY Times is really worth a read. Not because is says anything wildly new, but because it says it simply and clearly, and it makes the very level headed point that improving the life prospects of poor kids is going to require a lot of work, over a long period of time, both inside schools and outside of them.…