We know what works? James Gee at Illinois

This is a review/ summary of the linked event from the perspective of a non-academic. I do some work in education, interact with students and educators frequently but do not hold a degree or a job in education nor in academia: I thought it was a great event!


This conference initially sounded like something “someone else” might be interested in, and was actually a full-on discussion of educational reform. Unfortunately, instead of it being held in Foellinger auditorium and open to the community (with educators even recruited to come), the room had forty-odd speech-language professionals (it was sponsored by SHS) and some technology people among other interested observers. Not that there is anything wrong with the audience members, just wish it could have been a larger, wider group.

Mary Kalantzis spoke to open the day and was very interesting. It was a recap of sorts on “The New London Group” which began theorizing about education and technology 19 years ago. They are published in the Harvard Education Review and have several books as well. Though I’m not sure it was designed to be, it served as an interesting introduction to communicating in multi-modalities and away from traditional conceptions of text. She also spoke of diversity in a re-imagined way, doing away with gross demographics and reconceptualising student (human) diversity as less rigid in category and more individualistic than statistical, e.g. diversity of life experience. Interestingly, given the conversation about Central High School, she mentioned architecture as many as five times by my count. In private conversation with her afterwards, I spoke of Central High School and architecture and her reference to buildings. She critiqued the brand new business building on campus with seats that are nailed down and is amazed that they build more lecture space with amphitheater seating. Certainly she should be tapped to talk about what the new school should look like, sooner rather than later, but I don’t have a strong connection to her to “make that happen”. She has obvious and informed views that are based on her research, theorizing and experience (that from what I can tell) are well respected in the field. (That said, there are lots of buildings built based on new theories and cutting edge ideas that don’t stand the test of time, so I’m at least aware of that, though I don’t know what to do with it.)

When James Gee spoke, Read the rest of this entry »

Developing Trust?

This TED Talk takes a bit more nuanced view of trust – suggesting that trust should be given to the trustworthy. As a result, the idea of “building trust” fails to appreciate that we have all learned how and when to trust.

What We Don’t Understand About Trust

Hearing on State school funding

Before you start laughing too loud, I know… what state school funding?

From the NG’s syndication of the Associated Press:


“A hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12 at the Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., C.”


According to the latest Unit 4 budget proposal, the state gives Unit 4 $15 million, which accounts for 17% of our district’s budget. Ironically, the ISBE is allowed to dictate a majority of what our schools do. This is the definition of “unfunded mandates.”


On the campaign trail, current BOE Presdient Laurie Bonnett spoke about becoming more financially independent. Initially, I did (and still do) think is an awesome idea, and in fact, I have spoken to a previous Board about this very concept. I wonder, though, hypothetically speaking, if we were to become truly, 100% financially independent, does that mean we can start to disregard some of the more stringent rules from the state that tend to be obstacles rather than tools? If we were so inclined, could we then rewrite our policies to actually make sense and be accessible to the common person? Currently, a bulk of our district policies are handed down from lawyers in the ISBE, and as such, are all in legalese and flowery with extraneous language. We the community do not really own it because it is not accessible to us. Can we change that?


The news article implies that those who attend will be able to voice their concerns and their thoughts will be “factored” up the ladder and presented to lawyers and elected officials (and something called the Senate Education Funding Committee) who will decide the future of education funding for the next year. Personally, I have never seen any evidence that the voice of those in the trenches have any impact whatosever on those that make decisions in this context. I would love to be proven wrong.


The last sentence of the article reads:

“Those who are unable to attend one of the five public hearings are encouraged to email feedback to the state board of education at isbefy15@isbe.net.”


I intend to take advantage of that email address and learn a few more things.