Thursday, December 19, 2013

Innovation fatigue?

My reading always bumps into itself.  Ideas crash into other ideas like bumper cars. Sometimes they're going in the same direction but at different speeds.  Somtimes they're going in different directions but their paths cross.  BAM!

Today's a good example.
Larry Ferlazzo says teachers are experiencing innovation fatigue.  He quotes a school principal who says, "I'm sure self-initiation, problem-solving, risk-taking and the freedom to fail and learn from such failure will be a part of the conversation.  As a principal, I would love to have some strategies to close this gap."

Education Week reports that Emily Smith, an elementary school teacher in Austin, Texas has redesigned her classroom and her teaching. She wants to spark creative thinking in her students.  This is the heroic effort of a single teacher.  She is not following the expected patterns.  She will encounter the resistance of her peer teachers; she will encounter the resistance of her administrator. Never underestimate the power of cultural entropy.  Schools are highly resistant to change.  

Where can you find schools with environments and teaching style that actively promote self-initiation, problem-solving, risk-taking and the freedom to fail and learn from such failure -- and where teachers do not experience innovation fatigue, but support each other in this work?

Tony Wagner is the Innovation Education Fellow at Harvard's Center for Technology and Entreprenuership.  His book Creating Innovators points to Montesori education.

Here's an exerpt:
"What do you suppose the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin; Amazon's founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos; Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales; Julia Child; and rapper Sean "P. Diddy" Combs all have in common? Gregersen's research, cited earlier, uncovered an extraordinary commonality among some of the most innovative individuals: they all went to Montessori schools, where they learned through play. The research about the importance of play in children's development spans many decades. In the 20th century, Maria Montessori, Lev Vygotsky, Jean Piaget, and others did groundbreaking research on the ways in which children learn through play. Montessori integrated her understanding of the importance of play into her curriculum for schools. Today, Montessori schools can be found around the world."

Friday, December 13, 2013


Below is a note I sent to faculty today, pointing them to the story "21 microaggressions you hear on a daily basis."

Faculty and staff:
The children and families of Post Oak, as well as our faculty and staff, are highly diverse in terms of ethnicity, race, religion, national origin, age, gender, family structure.  We aspire to live and work harmoniously together, to be a single, unified community. 

I found this photo essay about “microagressions” fascinating.  Perhaps you’ve experienced this somewhere, sometime.  In the spirit of our “World CafĂ©” faculty meetings, I pass this along to you.


Monday, December 9, 2013

doggedness rather than talent

Grit is much in the news these days, testing our attention span.  How long will we pay attention?  Oh, yah, THAT idea again.  I've already grokked it.

Grit Rich.

That's the title of a blog entry by Deborah Barlow.

Deborah writes about creativity and innovation. Following creativity research is a part-time job, she says, and in that pursuit she regularly reads Maria Popova's site Brainpickings.  Popova wrote about Angela Duckworth and her research on grit, so Barlow passed it along.

That's how ideas spread and bump up against other ideas.

So I'm passing it along to you.

Check out Deborah Barlow.  And Maria Popova.  And Angela Duckworth. Again.

"...the secret of genius is doggedness rather than innate talent."

Friday, December 6, 2013


"My Biggest Regret as a Teacher."  Check out David Ginsburg's blog.  We sometimes hear from parents who think we should "push" their kids.  Or who wonder why we don't give grades.  Or who believe that Montessori education is against competition and that competition is a good thing:  it is the way the world works.  All of these are forms of manipulation--and can work in the short run with certain children--but only until the reward is withdrawn.

And by the way, Montessori children are competitive.  We just don't using grading, class ranking and rewards as a means to "motivate" (ie, manipulate) them.  We don't have to.  They are already motivated.  Self-motivated.

Or as one of our 8th grade students said several years ago, "We motivate each other to be self-motivated."

Tried and True

See the Ellie video.

It was produced by the Oregon Business Council and featured on the web site of the Montessori Northwest teacher training center.

"Maybe school should be like a GPS. We know where we want to go.  With some help in navigation and someone to believe in us, we can chart our own path. Let us learn at our own pace and show you at every step that we're ready for the next."