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Leadership and Activism, Philosophical Meanderings

A Revolution of Values

Our task this week at the Co-op, is to provide a counter-narrative in education reform. Mine offering is that our current education system is a failure in numerous ways, perhaps most importantly a failure because of its values. We know better than ever the detriments of war, the degradation of our planet, and the plight of millions of people, yet school’s values in the United States, continues to be: think about yourself (if you think at all), success depends on other people losing, and unending material progress. Furthermore, why is the majority of schools not engaged in dealing with the most pressing issues of today, but rather are teaching to tests? Wait, wait, you say, that’s not true, we teach character at our schools. Why then are competitive sports exalted? Why does the valedictorian system still exist (grades at all for that matter)? Why are schools made of concrete blocks, use obnoxious amounts of fluorescent lights, and worship the smart board?

I know I am painting a black and white picture, when in reality there are many shades of gray and color, but the very foundation of our modern education system to process students to conform to our larger cultural values which are perhaps best captured by the words of Martin Luther King Jr.:

“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin…we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

From this call more than 40 years ago, I put forth a revolution of values where the focus is on the unified field of relationships that comprises life, understanding that freedom or material progress gained by the exploitation of another (be it minerals, trees, or people) is not freedom or progress at all. I put forth a revolution of values where the focus is on the development of character such that sanity is commonplace, where work is valued by its authentic contributions to the greater good, not abstractions such as money.

I look to the Earth Charter, a document crafted by a global network of people deeply concerned for the current conditions of life on this planet and creating better ones tomorrow. It was developed over the course of 5 years, 1995-2000, and represents our clearest call towards the creation of a sane human society, supported by the principles of the Charter: Respect and Care for the Community of Life; Ecological Integrity; Social and Economic justice; Democracy, Non-violence, and Peace.

Supporting the charter is Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic, which also greatly informs my perspective: “a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty, of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

Built upon this foundation, my graduate studies in education at Goddard College, and my deeply meaningful conversations here with Co-op members, I propose an Earth Charter Learning Alliance (working title). A school by definition of “a group of people, particularly writers, artists, or philosophers, sharing the same or similar ideas, methods, or style” is a community in practice of living out the aims of the Earth Charter. By its very nature it is involved in problem-based learning, utilizes place-based learning and the philosophy of the Third Teacher. As a matter of fact, actualizes Nel Noddings work to cultivate character through the act of caring relationships, and wields the critical pedagogy of Freire. Students develop eco-literacy as a matter of fact., based on the nature of the work the community is engaged in. Moreover, learning is student-directed and mentored, and technology is appropriately used to access information and personal learning networks.

Here is my very rough sketch-up of such a school in a more nuts and bolts manner:

Earth Charter Learning Alliance


Every graduate will have the competency to positively contribute to the world in ways aligning with the Earth Charter. Because of the demanding creativity that such work necessitates, it can be assured that graduates will have developed high levels of proficiency in skills needed in today’s workplace and to meet tomorrow’s problems: critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration across networks and leading by influence, agility and adaptability, initiative and entrepreneurism, effective oral and written communication skills, accessing and analyzing information, curiosity and imagination. All of these skills are built upon the values of needed to actualize the Earth Charter, respect, compassion, responsibility, caring and profound thoughtfulness. This is guaranteed without the use of standardized tests or grades. It will be accomplished by a synergy of intrinsic motivation to learn and do good, passion, and timely feedback from Personal Learning Networks (PLN’s) including peers, mentors, and advisors.


Emergent curriculum: students are involved seamlessly in the larger learning community consisting of those traditionally labeled as teachers and also people actively engaged in re-envisioning human culture in alignment with The Earth Charter. These may be farmers, entrepreneurs, scientists, doctors, lawyers, dancers, film-makers, bakers, musicians…The defining quality of community members is demonstrated sanity through:

1. Emotional sensitivity and intellectual curiosity oriented to expansive love, compassion, respect, and responsibility, in contrast to disharmonious tendencies to neglect, apathy, and disavowal of personal responsibility for collective well-being.

2. Conceptual focus on cyclic powers in human development, exhibited in habits, customs, and traditions concerning the presence or absence of effective self-reflection, self-examination, research, inquiry, dialogue, etc.

The community is the child’s PLN by default. The child will work with a “teacher” of her or her parent’s choosing as a primary advisor/mentor. Mentoring will focus on social/emotional development as well as cognitive development. The Universe Story, the scientific telling of the cosmogenesis will be utilized to give perspective to where humanity comes from in the greater cosmological context and where we might be headed.

In early and middle childhood, students are actively engaged in any facets of the community they wish, from agriculture to technology. What is happening becomes the context of relevant learning. And everything that is happening is in support of community health-individual, group, and ecological. “Classes” are not defined by subject area, but rituals of spending time together do exist, primarily to share experiences and engage in inquiry and dialogue with one another. Habits of reading and writing are part of spending time together. As the community is embedded in being caring, sustainable, just, and peaceful, routines and practices regularly reflect this and are continually refined. Foreign language learning occurs through immersion. Foreign languages are used during problem and project based learning, such that they are a natural part of the learning experience. Structures TBD.

Learning in adolescence is greatly informed by the work of Monika Hardy (@monk51295):

In early adolescence, students bolster their ability to find information, interpret it, and communicate effectively. Once this is demonstrated to be proficient (through a capstone project?) students move into the next stage of learning, termed “quasi-college” by Monika.

Continuing in early adolescence and into late adolescence, students continue exploring areas of interest. Following Howard Thurman’s creed: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Again, all learning is underlined with the understanding that we are working to create a sustainable, just, and peaceful world, and so all information is compared against these criteria. Students develop PLN’s per passion including expert individual mentors, utilizing local and global resources. Students continue to engage in learning framed by the Earth Charter and are graduated after the completion of a major work, developed in collaboration with PLN, mentor, and teacher/advisor. Major work will integrate student’s passion with work in one or more of the principles of the Earth Charter.

Beyond graduation students are well-poised to continue their work of passion, exploring who they are in the greater context of the cosmos, contributing positively in authentic ways to the larger community, and be of the ilk David Orr describes:

“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.”

I seek the co-op’s help in strengthening the vision through critical, friendly feedback and questions. Thank you.

With hope,


About Adam Burk

Adam aims to serve the greater good; alleviate unnecessary suffering; and create beautiful, sane human communities in concert with the living planet. Recently, he has helped to rebuild local food systems in Maine in large part through school food services, organized the TEDxDirigo conference, and is a digital organizer with the Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA).


26 thoughts on “A Revolution of Values

  1. Jim, (who I believe has joined us somewhere on the Coop now – yay), shared this post with me today, – to me a very interesting distinction between flow and passion.
    Even though I will always wish for all people to go the passion route, I believe the masses will go the flow route. Which speaks to David’s previous questioning of the overemphasis of passion. {ie: most kids will choose to learn via blended learning or project based… within given rules or guidelines, but that will be enhanced by finding a flow; a small percentage will abandon to creating courses and curriculum per passion}

    Jim also shared this video on celebrating the nature of work. Which again – will probably speak to more of the masses. But in a very good – and celebratory way – as long as they find flow in their work.
    Most teachers I ask… what’s the best way to prep kids for your class… say – good habits and ethics. Working hard should be valued more.

    I love how Mike Rowe talks (link above to his ted talk) about how much he had wrong. Currently in ed.. we have so much wrong. And because we fear risk/change, we perpetuate the wrong way by continuing to measure everything by tests on content and pieces of paper.
    One comment I heard today, a piece of paper won’t mean as much to future (and current) employers. What people need to see today – is what you do – that’s your evidence. And a best way to log that is via open source. You have it for referencing what you do – and it’s out there for others to benefit from.
    And that act – that open source act – is the value we all need to be seeking and teaching and modeling. Why learn anything if not to share it.. if not to make the world a better place.

    I think kids have this sense in them today…more than ever… this sense of helping the world. But because of the way we do school… where most work is done toward an end result that then is trashed… well… i think that’s why we miss so much buy in. I think that’s why they care less and less about ethics… they see through the value we give to a piece of paper.

    I believe that we all crave helping others, bringing value to others.
    If we start allowing that and spreading that during the school day… I believe gt and resource and retention and discipline will all be resolved. optimally.
    I’m ready for a value revolution Adam.

    Posted by monika hardy | June 2, 2010, 4:32 pm
    • Monika,

      Thanks for those links, very thought provoking. I appreciate the compare and contrast between flow and passion. Then Mike Rowe’s talk seems to capture this difference in very detailed stories! His discussion of moving from ignorance to knowledge is an important one. This is the membrane that I thrive living upon. I am constantly moving back and forth between knowing and not knowing. I believe it is this boundary of ignorance that we must continue expanding, meaning that we are expanding consciousness. Fundamentally, we can never know everything, there will always be consciousness and unconsciousness, but I do believe this is what we are doing as life long learners-expanding consciousness.

      Mike Rowe’s advocacy for plain hard work is something I can appreciate, although not agree with totally. I think it is the balance that he speaks of that is the more important issue. In my own life I enjoy a balance of activities including: carpentry, growing my own food, contemplative and rigorous thought, writing, physical exercise, getting lost in the woods, dynamic interactions with other people whether family, students, or new friends…

      I appreciate Rowe’s pointing out that one of the leading thrusts in modern culture is the development of technology to increase leisure but in fact is being shown to have opposite effects that we expected on quality of life. this would be one of my concern’s for the programs you are developing and why I asked about being outdoors. With such a heavy reliance on technology, and this is our future, how are we ourselves learning to use technology in a balanced way such that we continue to “wag the tail,” instead of the other way around? Because if we can find this balance we can better help students achieve it as well. Otherwise our miserably tethered lives will only serve as cautionary tales.

      I whole-heartedly agree that pieces of paper mean less and less. It used to be a diploma would get you a good job, then it was a bachelor’s degree, now it’s a master’s-maybe. I also was just discussing on-line colleges on another blog, and my experience with them is that their content is terribly impoverished, requiring only the lowest levels of thought. Furthermore, they are all book work, meaning working out of a book, they do not provide hands-on, applied experience. So while one can feel somewhat accomplished for the discipline put in to jump through all the hoops, what one is left with is only the piece of paper and some drifts of unrelated facts. Just like you say all the “work” done along the way is trashed.

      Open source-yes. Kids want to help the world-yes. We have to provide the structures that enable them to, not prevent them as we currently practice.

      We are bringing forth the revolution. There are small fires all over the world that grow each day, at some point they will get the masses moving!

      Posted by Adam Burk | June 3, 2010, 12:17 pm
  2. I just came across this website, for anyone interested in working with the Earth Charter, especially with younger children.

    Posted by Adam Burk | June 5, 2010, 12:06 pm
  3. Folks, I just want to offer a comment here based on reading on the COOP after being out DOING WORK IN REAL SCHOOL all week.

    There are so many ideas floating here, so many visions and calls to action, it’s honestly hard to jump in. My work this week has been: trying to talk with a group of school leaders about their performance problems in a city that has 14% unemployment and an old style command and control leadership culture that makes kids too passive to perform better, and doing strategic planning with an urban charter school serving the most disadvantaged kids about aligning portfolio assessments to state curriculum frameworks (are we actually preparing kids to do college level work, they ask themselves with passion and pain?). How can we do that better? What would a system of assessment that really served us look like, and how could it meet our accountability demands? That was our strategic planning one afternoon.

    What I’m trying to say is that it feels to me like we’re doing so much blue sky-ing and calling for action that we’re moving away from discussing how to really work the problems of school in school. (Please note that our most lively discussion in quite awhile was about Joy In Standardized TEsts, which had a very literal and real-time quality and drew in a lot of folks. It was easy to jump in and it related to people’s actual work.)

    Now I am all about big time envisioning, and supporting the revolution wherever it happens: disrupting class. But I am concerned about balancing big envisioning with more fine-grained discussion about how we take the revolution out into modal American classrooms, and actually do the work. There are literally thousands of people blogging and viding and tweeting about the problems of American education–I feel like I’ve been in that discussion for a long, long time. You can now go to YouTube and get 25 great analyses of these problems…

    I began this work studying the group of reformers that came before us–the radical critics of the 1960s–who also said incredibly brilliant and insightful things about what is wrong with how we conceive of learning in school and construct authority relationships around teaching in institutions. I also studied how they were POLITICALLY MARGINALIZED because they didn’t engage with the system that 50 million kids are enrolled in in this country, whether they like it or not.

    How do we encourage real time radicalism for the everyday teacher? Start a small revolution in every class? Bring revolutionary ideas to THE DO NOW, MINI LESSON, MCAS, TICKET TO LEAVE, IN SCHOOL SUSPENSION, THREE STRIKES AND YOU’RE OUT?

    Does anyone else here agree with me?

    Just wanted to get this out there.

    Posted by Kirsten | June 5, 2010, 12:33 pm
    • Kirsten,

      This is a good conversation to have. While I enjoyed the process of developing my ideas for this post, I was quite aware of starry gaze. I think there is a real need to have conversations about how to facilitate the revolution, and yes those regularly need to be grainy and real-time.

      I also caution that getting purely focused on the real-time can hamper our spirit for what is possible as we struggle with the gauntlet that is the public education system. This is also about the debate can we continue “tinkering toward utopia” in the public schools system, can it be reformed, or do we need to bring it down and start over. I know this is a conversation you have often.

      It is important to dream. And then it is important to begin talking about how it is possible to build those dreams rather than wading in the “it won’t work because…” conversations.

      The point of this week’s posts, to develop a counternarrative to current education practices and reform efforts, for me, was to get away with just compromising with sh*tty policies and practices all the damn time. It was a start to offerring and building solutions that are not caught in the either/or traps of much of today’s thinking in education.

      So, I do agree with you about balancing big picture vs. fine-grained discussion. I agree that we need to bring the revolution out beyond our blog pages. I think we are on the cusp of developing the means to do this in more dynamic ways including the idea of a CoopCatalyst Un-Conference, which we could host on Junto actually. Utilizing Junto to also host regular dialogues amongst ourselves and others we esteem to be experts.

      I want CoopCatalyst to become a magnet and a supernova all at the same time. I want to to attract people to the conversation about re-visioning education, and at the same time move out into the world with such a force that it cannot be ignored. And just like a supernova, distribute enriching elements to the wider universe.

      So, I have said this elsewhere in our communications, I think we need to as a group have some pointed discussion about what CoopCatalyst 2.0 is, why does it exist, and get going on that visionary action plan.

      What do you think about that Kirsten? Others?

      Thanks again Kirsten for your honesty and timely communication.

      With hope,

      Posted by Adam Burk | June 5, 2010, 1:36 pm
      • I haven’t read all the other comments, so I’m probably jumping in in an untimely way. But I want to offer two thoughts.

        1) I wonder if there is a developmental component to the discussion about what is wrong with American education? That it seems everyone needs to construct their own learning around this (in all the great and powerful ways we do), but at some point you’ve heard a lot of the arguments, you’ve made most of them yourself to someone else, and they/you start to sound repetitive? For instance, at a theoretical, philosophical, academic diss writing level; school founder, consultant, writer, leadership coach level; personal, parental, marital, spiritual level I’ve been reading and thinking and talking about these things for about 30-35 years? Teaching about these things..In the literature on these things. Now what I am interested in is political action and real work around these issues. How do we move what we know into what’s actually there, out into real-time classrooms? How do we take these decades of study and discussion (and the example of the group of reformers who came before us, who largely “failed”) into doing the work of creating a revolution in every school, in every class, in every teacher and student’s heart? Most people I know don’t actually DO THAT, really do the work–they stay in the academy or in the foundation or at some comfortable perch in the system, and don’t actually work on the revolution of the hallway, the classroom, the student’s mind.

        I’m interested in that. I want to talk about that.

        2) I’m often asked about a “grand theory” for the revolution, for a new vision of education, and am working with a group of folks who are trying to come up with a grand theory for alternative education. The more I do school, and work in the improvement of school, the more suspicious I am of grand theory, big meta theory that is going to lead us out of our morass, a single unifying vision that will help clear the confusion.

        As I’ve already mentioned, because what we call “school” is so culturally determined, and based on social class, no single unifying theory seems to answer to all the varying purposes school serves in our culture and society. So when I hear talking about “supernovas” of ideas and bringing folks to a single charter (Adam) or set of idea of how to transform school (Monika), I just start thinking about all the folks I work with for whom these ideas make no sense or don’t answer to their ideas of what school should be.

        I guess I’m trying to say I’m getting more RADICAL (do the work), and more PRACTICAL (force yourself to do it where school is happening now).

        Posted by Kirsten | June 6, 2010, 1:55 pm
    • This is a good talk to have. I think the practices you list at the end of your post, Kirsten, would make for an excellent practical prompt: how would you change the X practices that harm kids the most?

      My thoughts at present:

      In short: I think we should work to balance practice and theory in how we frame our questions, how we structure our posting schedule, how we recruit and group authors, and how we connect the Coöp to what we do and say elsewhere.

      The “Chad” version:

      Perhaps we need to recruit a wider variety of catalysts and somehow improve the balance of our posting practice. If we can do those two things, maybe we can group folks and play off the tension between long-term vision and real-time revolution.

      When I approached Aaron with the idea of collaborative blogging together, I knew I wanted him to poke and prod my assumptions with his teaching experience, fantastic questions and insouciant attitude toward the demands of traditional education. I had in mind a partnership of foils. Certainly, everyone who’s been generous enough to join us has brought unique perspectives, questions, beliefs, and practices to the group. It’s awesome. However, we’re getting bigger. Sometimes our weekly conversations get skewed in tone by who can post. Perhaps the cascade and/or our posting expectations are due for revision? Perhaps a call-and-response approach would bring out more practical work than our more loosely connected posts do now?

      I try to share the granularity of my work at and to swing for the fences here. Regardless, my writing and thinking in both places would benefit from more consistent concretization. I really like ideas. I’m a sucker for them. Maybe I need an “undiscovered elements” blog for that work. Also, I’m relatively new to reform, having been a happy TPS teacher for most of my career. I’m new to many of the ideas I find here and tend to engage with them as such on the Coöp before sharing out what I do with them elsewhere. Maybe I should consolidate, or revisit how I use both venues.

      I love that our shared work here has given my courage to change how I work with my students. Our calls to action have worked for me. However, I know that they don’t work for everybody, and that sometimes they might work and sometimes they might sound flat. I agree with Kirsten that we need to reach the everyday teacher – part of what we have to share, though, is our willingness to dream big for public education.

      Kirsten, the work your urban charter is doing – along with Monika’s work – seems vital to me creating new currencies of political inclusion for teachers, students, parents, and schools via authentic, validated assessments that stand apart from standardized tests. I worry less about leaving public education than I do about being marginalized within it by having my students’ performance on those tests confused with what we learn together.

      I look forward to reading more input from the Coöp –

      All the best,

      Posted by Chad Sansing | June 5, 2010, 6:49 pm
      • Chad, As always, I appreciate your vision, and your ability to take a long and short view. Without knowing it, I have echoed some of your thoughts. The blog will serve us better if we take a few to think about its focus and purpose for us. I’ve tried to say a little bit about that for me.

        Maybe we could balance a swinging for the fences week with a practical, fine-grained week, and see if that moves us.

        Everyday in my work I must take my radical, counter-cultural ideas about student learning, student voice, the toxicity of the institution and its paradoxical hold on its inhabitants, and try to frame them into real people’s plans about what they are going to do next week. That’s a powerful challenge. It’s big and small work all the time, and I love the challenge of having to jump from big grand theory (god how I love it, sucker that I am), to the ambiguity of practice. Can our blog speak to that? Is that its purpose?

        Posted by Kirsten | June 6, 2010, 2:04 pm
    • Thank you so much, Kirsten for bringing the need to be grounded (somewhat) to us. I have been crushed lately with the end of school stuff and my arm, so have been quiet here partially because of that. Partially, though my silence has been due to not feeling like I could jump in–as you say, it is very overwhelming. I do like to dream, and a post is percolating, but I also need to ground what I say in my practice, my beliefs and what I want to change–or have changed–about those to be more sane and humane in my work. I believe my role here–or anywhere– is to do exactly what Kirsten mentions–encourage real time radicalism for the everyday teacher.

      Posted by Paula White | June 6, 2010, 10:55 am
  4. if we’re going for public ed.. and/or charters, if indeed charters still dance to the tune of the test, …then i believe our first call to action is in fashioning a means to validate new standards.

    there are pockets of innovation everywhere making it overwhelming to focus on what/how to change.
    but for the masses that aren’t getting it.. the one thing i believe that is standing in their way is the test. i’ve been in public ed (as a profession) 20 years… tests do drive us. so let’s change the test.

    a few years ago it would be ridiculous to think we could change standardized tests. today, to most, it still seems ridiculous, but it’s not.

    if we define a vital area for change… communicate that clearly to our colleagues…with the power of networking – it’s not ridiculous. it’s very doable.

    today – what is ridiculous, is not taking advantage of the power we now have.

    ridiculous… and risky.

    Posted by monika hardy | June 5, 2010, 3:26 pm
    • So does the Co-op’s focus become mobilizing to eliminate standardized testing?

      Posted by Adam Burk | June 5, 2010, 6:32 pm
      • I’d like us to mobilize for sane education and excellent work – to give teachers the courage to change what they do and to stand between our students and a system that stifles them. Eliminating standardized testing is part of that work.

        What are other frames and possibilities?

        Posted by Chad Sansing | June 5, 2010, 7:11 pm
      • For me too small and narrow a goal. And others are doing it. Standardized testing (meaning AYP and NCLB accountability goals) is an EFFECT of a profession that does not own and manage its own business effectively. We could not demonstrate how we do our work well and manage our own improvement, so NCLB was something that was “done” to us.

        How do we understand the nature of our work and actively frame its professional parameters so that it serves our clients (students) better? That’s a more powerful goal to me.

        But I’m not sure that’s COOP CATs goal? Is it? I’d like to hear from others on this one.

        Posted by Kirsten | June 6, 2010, 2:11 pm
      • I think that is within the realm of what we set out to do Kirsten. I just put out the standardized testing goal to keep the conversation moving forward towards an action plan…

        I think we have begun to address “How do we understand the nature of our work and actively frame its professional parameters so that it serves our clients (students) better?” through some of our weekly topics, they just haven’t been framed in this wording. By addressing this question we have some filling out to do in our thinking and anecdotes.

        Posted by Adam Burk | June 7, 2010, 6:42 am
  5. I agree with everyone here. I understand the need to eliminated the test, but I think changing the standards is not going to do that. I think as Adam does that in a system of our dreams the test would not make sense and therefore would not need to be eliminated . I also agree with Kristen that we need to focus on the action part of this work more. The question is How?

    Posted by dloitz | June 5, 2010, 9:49 pm
  6. and, we have to help folks understand just how much the state testing impacts choices:

    Posted by Paula White | June 6, 2010, 11:19 am
    • sorry – but that article tells my heart even louder that the tests are messing us up.
      at my school – ipod is the choice of most kids.. and i know we’re not alone there.
      now we’re deciding tool of choice because of a test that is continually decreasing in validity.

      we’re not saying replace the standardized test with one of like kind.
      we’re saying replace the practice of measuring content knowledge (that could be completely different in 5 years) and that mandates a standard tool for the test.

      we’re saying replace it with a whole new mindset –
      Kirsten said it well:
      How do we understand the nature of our work and actively frame its professional parameters so that it serves our clients (students) better?

      the nature of our work is fostering learning, opening up ripe conditions for every student to optimize their learning.
      currently – personal learning networks per passion – appear to us as the optimal playground for learning. so that’s the new standard. the new standard is a process. it is the action. making sure each student has access to that is key – and should be what impacts our choices.

      teachers must be experiencing growth via their plns. schools need to have wifi access, tool of choice, and time allotted in the day, if students are to experience ideal plns not limited by geography.

      and then.. students benefit from the pleasure of finding things out. their network (varying per level) is not only a safe haven for testing things – but also a purposefully facilitated movement. a movement toward learning how to learn, and growing that daily.

      Posted by monika hardy | June 12, 2010, 7:59 pm
      • Monica,
        The post referenced does not come from someone buying into the tests, but speaking to the constraints the tests put on us in spending. So many times the technology monies are spent on what is needed for the tests without being thoughtful, deliberate and INNOVATIVE as she says in her last paragraph.

        I got one of those seed projects for my students–40 iPods to pass out to students and see what they do–to use in lessons and to use for meaningful learning. I also got one class iPad when they came out–and recently I asked one of my kids if he wanted it for the next few weeks (so it wouldn’t just be sitting in my classroom over the summer) and he said yes–and added “My mom is the one who really wants to try out a little more.” I LOVED it!

        Posted by Paula White | June 12, 2010, 9:00 pm
  7. and here’s another revolutionary–go comment. 🙂

    Posted by Paula White | June 6, 2010, 11:51 am
    • what a great post/comments Paula.. thanks for sharing it.

      i think it speaks directly to what we are trying to do.

      moving away from the mediocrity of standardization to optimizing with personalization.
      the world needs us – and everyone of our students – to be the best person we can be.

      Posted by monika hardy | June 12, 2010, 8:23 pm
  8. I think we are going through a good process of growth here co-op. There is so much I could try to say right now, but won’t. I am grateful to continue learning with all of you. My only question right now is–is this the best manner to be having this conversation?

    Posted by Adam Burk | June 6, 2010, 7:13 pm
  9. I am not sure it is the best manner, but it is one of the manners. I think we continue to add and expand our efforts to give voice to your ideas and the issues we care about. I think this works on many levels and is limited on some levels… let keep going!

    Posted by dloitz | June 6, 2010, 7:58 pm
  10. Kirsten,

    Allow me to clarify these points “So when I hear talking about “supernovas” of ideas and bringing folks to a single charter (Adam)” And please note that all this is said warmly. I hesitate to write my thoughts because of the potential for misinterpretation of text. I hope to avoid this, and will write as thoughtfully as possible.

    When I said supernova, what I meant was that we continue generating ideas and practices here at the blog until at some point the blog is too dense with them, it simply can’t hold them any more. Then like the evolution of the star, the contents of this blog explode and are disseminated through an ever widening audience, leaving important new elements that are necessary for the continuing evolution of other systems. It was just one metaphor I was playing with.

    As for a single charter…I have no binding expectation that the model I put up for examination be adopted universally. It was an exercise for this particular week that I enjoyed working with (so don’t wound my creativity okay ). It is one idea or set of practices just like the numerous examples that more seasoned teachers such as Paula, Joe, Aaron, and Chad have out forth. Is everyone going to adapt the exact practices that they put forth? No. But different people will come and take different parts of anything we post here to try out for themselves, whether intellectually or practically.

    Furthermore, it is part of “Now what I am interested in is political action and real work around these issues.” While the model in my post can be thrown away, there are certain principles that cannot. I am deeply committed to the aims of the Earth Charter, to bringing forth a revolution of values, not being silent, and supporting systems of education which allow students to explore their passions rather than bury them. So no matter what setting I am in, I will be advocating for these values.

    Let me say it again, I am advocating for education that supports Respect and Care for the Community of Life; Ecological Integrity; Social and Economic Justice; Democracy, Non-violence, and Peace. Inherent to such a culture is one where children are respected as the complex individuals they are, they have places to learn that understand them developmentally (including neurologically), emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Furthermore such places (schools) do not fundamentally operate in a way that divorcing children from themselves, their sensitivities, passions, and curiosities, is the name of the game.

    I will be very happy to offer practical situations in which these ideals are applied as time goes on. And I agree Kirsten, there is a developmental component to this, which needs to be honored. I think you are exactly where you should be and that I am where I should. If we can’t be part of an inter-generational team to learn together and do the work, then we both fail (in my opinion) to actualize what I think are our common beliefs of how education should happen. So please never take for granted how grateful I am to be here with you and with all the other members. This is an amazing opportunity for me to be part of a very dynamic and talented collection of individuals. I don’t write it all the time, but my underlying attitude in reading every post and comment is gratitude.

    Thank you.


    Posted by Adam Burk | June 7, 2010, 7:10 am
  11. Adam, I really get what you are saying here, and I thank you. I too gain so much from being in this group of educators. I hope you are feeling my gratitude too.

    As my grandfather used to say, “We’ll keep kicking the can around.”

    With respect and love,


    Posted by Kirsten | June 8, 2010, 8:41 am

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