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).
Adam Burk has written 39 posts for Cooperative Catalyst

Leverage Learning Not Teaching–A Reflection on Sugata Mitra’s Emergent Pedagogy

“Learning and teaching are not symmetrical. They are not flip sides of the same coin…The working assumption is this: Solve teaching and you will get learning.” –Sugata Mitra, Beyond the Hole in the Wall: Discover the Power of Self-Organized Learning What if the majority of our systems and methods in education are not needed? What … Continue reading


Wanted: Common Core Stories

After the big splash of Common Core Standards coming on the education scene there’s been a notable silence since they have begun to roll out. I’m looking for stories of how these new standards are playing out in schools for better, the same, or worse.  I began asking as we pulled new calendars out of … Continue reading

Helpful or Harmful? TED’s Intention for “The Classroom” at TED2012

TED, the organization that brings the world “ideas worth spreading” in ultra sticky 18-minute or less presentations from the well-known to the obscure is curating a session for TED2012: Full Spectrum called “The Classroom” When TED announced their search for “rock star” teachers I had some particular reactions to their call to action and have … Continue reading


I just received an update from the Harvard Kennedy School in their “Innovators Insights” newsletter that Miami-Dade school district in Florida just made mid-term and final tests optional in grades 6-12. At first read, I thought to myself “Wow, that’s really great and surprising!” Then I read the article. All that’s happened is a bait and … Continue reading

Real Education is Relevant

Real Education is Relevant And Relevance Is All About the ContextIf we are going to talk about school reform designed to create meaningful education, we need to look at education within the context of the individual, her community, history, and the planet. And hopefully with as much sophistication as each context demands.  Today’s education reform … Continue reading

Making Clear What Works: The Best Talk on the Finland Phenomenon Yet and What It Means For US

Education is a big conversation. The narrative is filled with buzz words: teacher accountability, AYP, NCLB, high-stakes tests, charter schools, and on and on. Sometimes it gets so heady and academic that I believe that no one truly understands what is being said anymore. The conversation has moved so far away from the basic interaction … Continue reading

What Season Is It?

It’s almost fall and we all know this. But how? Particularly how will our students know? Will it be the paper leaves that comes out of boxes and get taped to our cinder block walls? Or will it be because they are having the bounty of fresh foods available from a school garden or local … Continue reading

Policy, Systems, and Environmental Changes

Over the past year and a half, I have been focused on catalyzing policy, systems, and environmental changes in schools. This is a public health framework for creating population-level change. The thinking is if there is a speeding problem on a particular road there are two likely approaches to reduce speeding. The first is educational–try … Continue reading

We Are Not Blank Slates

Further evidence has been provided by neuroscientists that we are not blank slates. This predominant view has been held by the western caucasian world for centuries. Therefore it has informed our major cultural institutions such as education. It’s easy to understand the formation of the industrial learning system based on the belief that since you … Continue reading

Cooperative Leadership

Nearby me, a local, public, elementary school is shifting to a community leadership model instead of hiring a new principal. I am almost tempted to not write another word, because that statement is provocative enough. The Reiche Community School is a complex place with over 25 languages spoken and a history of experimentation. It’s hard … Continue reading

First Year Reflection: Beacon of Hope

A year ago I was finishing my graduate program, teaching an elementary school class, and enjoying stimulating conversations with Aaron Eyler on his blog while expanding my professional learning network. One day Aaron asked if I was available to Skype to discuss a new project he and Chad Sansing were thinking about hatching. He wasn’t … Continue reading

Sowing Seeds

My job for the last year has been to engage schools and districts to take wellness seriously as a keystone in their success. Often overlooked or sold out, healthy bodies are essential for healthy minds. Eating well and being physically active improves tests scores, reduces absenteeism, reduces health care costs, improves self-esteem, and can lessen … Continue reading

Inappropriate Use of Technology

In my home state, a school district just announced that they will be giving every kindergartener an iPad 2 this coming fall. I think this is a terrible idea. I’m not a Luddite, let’s just get that out of the way. This initiative is not developmentally appropriate. 5 and 6 year olds learning how to … Continue reading

Looking for Voices of Reason

I’m honored to offer this guest post from Angelina Reed, a pre-service teacher about to earn her bachelor’s degree. She offers perspective and questions that push us all to pause, reflect, and offer practical pathways for proactive change. I look forward to this conversation as I believe there’s never been a more relevant post on … Continue reading

This is Bullshit

Jeff Jarvis expresses a summary of my thoughts on schools (and institutions at large) today during his TEDxNYED talk. I find his talk cathartic, purging the staleness I feel in my own conversations about education. Maybe it’s just the swearing. Some excerpts I particularly like: “Right now, you’re the audience and I’m lecturing. That’s bullshit. … Continue reading

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