Thursday, June 16, 2011



The guy who is quoted second in the beginning of the first chapter, Paolo Freire, a Brazilian democratic humanist, is one of my earliest inspirations for Harrington. My success teaching in print, wood, auto, and metal shop classes as a long –term sub often depended on what the students knew about the machines and the material; we had to combine what they brought to the shop, with my “adultness” which often was the only thing I had to contribute. This dynamic of mutualism was reinforced during my 7 years of Harriton Theatre Company faculty producer time — the kids knew more about what was going on than I did, so they had to explain to me, and convince me that what they were going to do was worth my contribution of just “being there”. This is so essential in these times of the "screenager", when the adult in the room is no longer the gatekeeper of knowledge. Actualization by a 17-,18-,19-year old gets lost in the high stakes testing that is perpetrated by the deep thinkers who have already actualized themselves, and who need to justify their own actualization. Where is the craft in that?

" makes sense because women and men learn that through learning they can make and remake themselves, because women and men are able to take responsibility for themselves as beings capable of knowing — of knowing that they know and knowing that they don't."
--P. Freire

“Education must begin with the solution of the teacher-student contradiction, by reconciling the poles of the contradiction so that both are simultaneously students and teachers.” -- P. Freire

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I had a conversation with a student who was rejected by school and who rejected school:

"I showed it to my teacher, and he didn't like it. He said I couldn't do it because I had already done it. I guess I'll have to figure out something else to do. I really thought I could do this."

Ok, I realize, out of context, this teenager's comment seems more cryptic than, well, some of the stuff a teenager says. But even out of context, the tone of it speaks gigabytes: as with many new experiences of the Information Age, we fail to recognize, fail to capitalize on, fail to understand how the schema of the place of learning has changed, and heck, I'm not sure I have words to describe this thing that has happened! I'll have to start over...

See? Since information technology can alter the time spent on task, I have to wonder why the teacher was uncomfortable with revisiting a student's solution to a problem -- revisiting it over and over, as the context shifts with each new revisit. I guess the teacher's intention was to have the student start all over from scratch -- a valid decision for any educator with a curricular agenda to follow.

But I feel a complacency at work here, a negative, regressive energy that stems from the tedium of living too long inside one's comfort zone. Maybe it's me. Helen Keller:

" Life is nothing, if not a great adventure."

I say, how much can you discover in a single grain of sand?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Twenty First Century Decisions

Launching the virtual high school classroom game with all the possibilities available: I was offered many bells and whistles, many formats, many options. I still return to the same game. "What is your heart's desire? What went through your mind when an adult asked you what you wanted to be when you were all grown up? What if you were -- without instigating crime, and with all of your personal needs taken care -- given a city block to develop? Start a bakery? Have a mall of stores? Run the airport? Be a famous author living and working in your dream house? Sporting goods store? Basketball team? Boxing gym? Lawyer? Hospital? Bookstore? Gas station? High rise condo with river views? Publishing company? Build a school? NASCAR race track?" Those were some virtualizations of this senior class. Class of 2010. I'm not sure how "online" this will be. They will decide. Already, some have declared themselves "mayor", and "governor", one actually hogging the board and telling each person what they wanted to be, writing it on the board. THAT wont' last very long, already the energy against being "told" rising. They won't get away with that attitude tomorrow."I want to start a police station. I don't want to write the rules, but I sure don't want them to tell me what the rules are. Is she/he going to write the rules? No? Good! We get to write the rules." For a classroom teacher, these are the scary moments -- control put in the hands of the controlled. Always a little bit of faith needed. Always an adventure of discovery. After more than a dozen generations of Harrington City, the first revelation of the power inside those minds is still humbling, still awesome.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

सेच्कोन्द Life

We, in my school district, had just begun to toy with the idea of acquiring some un-real estate in Second Life, when those of us who could actually, maybe, get it done, decided to retire from public service. That's a bit over-wrought, of course, as I am sure there are some others around who are of a virtual education bent, and who will pick up the slack, carry on the momentum towards the inevitable.

My "this year" seniors have stepped off into the world, and one by one, each benefited from being able to realize the power of their own inspirations। They ventured into the virtual reality of their interior landscapes to seek an ecology of the mind.

With or without a cartoon avatar, when we in education engage our students in seeking their own truths, the outcomes are always releases of enormous energy, coupled with growing self-realization that the only real empowerment for doing things comes from within ourselves.

This year, one kid was headed for finishing up high school with nothing to show for all that time, and he knew it. Was not even considering taking on any more frustration by going to college.

The word-for-word exchange between us:

"What are you interested in?"

"I like to walk in the woods."

"So, go build yourself a park. You know, like a national park or something, if that's what you have in mind?"


The next thing I knew, (next month) he's asking me for college recommendations to five schools near wilderness centers in the Rocky Mountains. The next thing I knew(two months later) he's handing me a copy of his published journal on hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Pennsylvania.

It just occurred to me, writing this post, it's kind of like the joke us Boomers have about how the world used to be all black and white, like Pleasantville

Monday, March 16, 2009

Reflection on the Nature of the Creative Workplace

It's Monday,and I'm sifting through the older posts, and going back and forth with Gardner's The Undisciplined Mind, and, very randomly, but with purposeful randomness, I have been reflecting on the curricular fact that my classes have been watching Shakespeare in Love, noting the constructiveness of the medium that was the Shakespearean theatre -- was "school" for the times: the question of his authorship, not really in doubt, for me, as the lively classroom of those times in that place seem analogous to these times: much to borrow from, much to be made anew, for all time to come. The creative workplace, the discipline of creativity, in the face of boundless resources, the 21st Century Classroom. Here I am, my mind adrift in Cyberspace (thanx, Mr. Gibson)


As I see it, Chapter 6 of Howard Gardner's The Disciplined Mind speaks of the "expert" who continually confronts the "misconceptions" and "inadequate representations" of undisciplined or "unschooled" understanding towards developing "enhanced understanding". This dynamic pushes back at the limits of the traditional, familiar, content-driven curricula. As I see it, Gardner points towards high school as the place to initiate the primary cognitive apprenticeship of adulthood.

Still digesting the "disruptive" nature of the integration of technology into education, there seems to be plenty of opportunity for disruption in these tricky economic times!

"We go forward without the facts; we learn the facts as we go along." Henry Ford

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Midterms 0809

I decided that the time had come to incorporate the Harrington Project with a genuine senior midterm -- after all, nothing to lose at this point. I have been surfing and lurking, and have seen some amazing things. Nothing quite like the Harrington Project, though. Will get back to you on how the midterm worked out.