Of Papert and District Politics

This piece was published about our district’s Board this week. I particularly like this section:

Mike Schiers, who generally represents the Frederick High School feeder system on the school board, said the district needs to make teaching its top priority.

“Our focus has changed from teaching to following up on the requirements,” Schiers said.

In any regulated industry, compliance with the regulations takes over all functions, Creighton said.

Today, I read this from The Daily Papert:

The very nature of a curriculum requires subordinating individual initiative to the Great Plan. Schools can see no way to make it work other than by exactly the methods and principles that have now been discredited in the Soviet system. All over the world, more and more people are recognizing that these principles do not work in economics. I think that more and more people are also beginning to see that they will not work in education either. These principles fail in the two cases ultimately for exactly the same reason: They hamper individual initiative, and deprive the system of the flexibility to adapt to local situations.

I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this kind of intersection of theory and practice. I also remain hopeful as to the Board’s new direction.

113/365 I’m Starting a new Adventure

Bud Hunt just got another reason to show up at work in the morning. Starting this fall, I’ll be joining Bud and the rest of the team in the St. Vrain Valley School District as a District Technology Coordinator. It’s a position that will allow me to call on my experiences as a classroom teacher, training in the policy sector, and the work I’ve ┬ádone with school districts and teachers around teaching and learning.

I am excited for it, and excited to be back in public schools again. Certainly a departure from heading a classroom as a teacher, this is still much closer than my last two years of graduate study.

Speaking of those, what’s to become of my doctoral program?

As of right now, it is on hold. I’m availing myself of the option of taking a year away from the program to decide if I want to continue in whatever capacity. I think I know my answer now, but I want distance and perspective so that I might be more certain.

I’m stepping away from the program because I want to be more useful. While I realize some graduate studies are inherently practical and relevant in their implications, I’ve not felt that this year after nearly a decade of knowing it in the classroom each day.

I’m also not certain I’m to be an academic. After hearing my thinking on the subject a few months ago, Sam Chaltain┬ásaid, “So, it sounds like you’re more activist than academic.” That felt right.

It’s not that I don’t think of myself as intellectual or drawn to intellectualism, it’s that I see the world of the Academy and can’t see myself in it.

This year, I have seen myself and taken great joy in supervising student teachers. Nine people allowed me to do what I could to help them improve their practice and prepare to take their own classrooms following student teaching this year. Because of some small part of what I did, they will be teachers and their students might have a better experience.

While there are exceptions, by and large, the path to a Ph.D. does not lead to experiences like this.

I’ve more reasons for the move, and I suspect they’ll find their way into my writing in the coming weeks. For now, suffice it to say that I am thrilled to be working with what is truly a top-notch team in St. Vrain. to move a step closer to teachers and students, and to have the chance to improve education in a way that will both respect my experiences and challenge me to grow.