The Education Evolving Blog

August 25, 2010

How does change happen in a large system?

Michael Lind wrote in the Washington Post last month that comprehensive reform is overrated. In it he talks about the tendency of D.C. policy makers toward large, grand many-step plans in health care, financial reform, and energy legislation—when instead the right approach may instead be much less heavy, and more strategic.

The root of his argument is that large systems are complex, and their behavior is the result of...

August 23, 2010

Research shows that as teachers are given greater control over their work, job satisfaction increases. See this stunning graphic on the effects of teacher control on turnover, by Richard Ingersoll of the University of Pennsylvania:

See a full sized version of the graph here.

In his 2003 book Who Controls Teachers' Work?, Ingersoll found that as teachers are given greater control over their work...

August 20, 2010

In this video Linda Peters, a lead teacher at the Advanced Language and Academic Studies (ALAS) bilingual high school in Milwaukee, describes how the school makes management and finance decisions by including teachers.

ALAS has been able to function as a school run collectively by teachers, because the Milwaukee school district and the local union agreed to grant the...

August 18, 2010

Instead of asking what technologies work, and how can they be scaled up, ask: What conditions make it most likely that teachers will be motivated (and able) to take up new technologies to make learning more productive?

We came across an article recently about the introduction of new technologies into the work place, to improve the scope and quality of products; to assist workers; and to automate certain tasks. In this article the unions, understandably, are concerned with how changes affect their members. ‘Don’t make these changes willy-nilly,’ they seem to say, arguing for a voice...

August 16, 2010

A senior administrator from a major public university said recently, about technology, “We could say we use technology, that it’s in all our classrooms and labs—we spend enormously on IT—but really it’s not an effective improvement.”

He was alluding to a point that there really are two fundamentally different ways of applying technology. The first is in support of existing practice—animating lectures, facilitating communication, expediting grading. This helps, and can improve processes. Often, however, it adds cost without a discernable increase in performance.

The second way...

August 13, 2010

Editor’s note: Each Friday we feature guest bloggers that are involved in rethinking what is possible with schooling and the education system.

The schooling system of the United States needs to live within its means—now more than ever. To contain growing costs and to be effective with less money, schools need new, more insightful ways to allocate resources. One way is to withdraw the exclusive on who controls the resource allocations.

In this post Jim Wartman, an advisor (teacher) at Minnesota New Country School, describes how teacher-control...

August 11, 2010

In this budget climate the four-day school week is hot. California’s trying it. Some districts in Georgia and Hawaii have gone to four-day weeks. And as...

August 9, 2010

Languages and math are two areas where technology is evolving to enable effective learning without a teacher, such as Rosetta Stone and School of One. And, to connect students directly with expert teachers or peers of the language they are trying to learn, such as with Live Mocha. There is enormous potential for personalization, particularly...

August 6, 2010

Editor’s note: Each Friday we feature guest bloggers that are involved in rethinking what is possible with schooling and the education system.

During this Great Recession a system that was already being squeezed is seeing a bleak financial future. The instinct of centrally-managed systems in times of financial distress is to harden, and centralize further.

This may in fact be the precise wrong thing to do. Instead...

August 5, 2010

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) recently received a grant from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to develop a 501c3 to serve as an authorizer of chartered schools in Minnesota. AFT made the investment as part of its innovation fund. Some of the initial news reports stated the MFT itself will apply to become an...


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