Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Dreamer's Legacy

It was five years and five days from today, 12/18/2011, for which I was faced with a challenge. On December 13th, 2006 my father unexpectedly and suddenly passed away due to a heart attack while playing basketball with teenagers at a suburban Nashville park. He passed and left in his wake a grieving family, friends who have missed him, a legacy of giving his life for others, and so much more. My father taught me several things during his time here on Earth. He taught me to value education, to seek to serve rather than be served, to sacrifice for faith and family, and to value others above myself. I do not do any of these things perfectly. That is why I also hold true another teaching from my father: take advantage of new beginnings. My father, a man who had to file for bankruptcy once due to some financial missteps once told me with the greatest resolve... "It's okay, this is a chance for a new beginning." The consummate optimist, my father, always looked at each new job as a chance to start something new, to dream big. You see, my dad did not have a college education and had to rely on faith and dreams. He was a dreamer... He dreamed of a better life for his five children. I am convinced that if he looked at us all now, he would be proud. He would be proud to see how we all have made a choice to embrace (despite all of it's imperfections and hurdles) this new beginning of living life without an earthly father. I, for one, have taken up the banner to dream. Today, I choose to dream and dream big! For starters, I am dreaming of a better way to educate ourselves and others. Whether, we are educating our local church parishioners, or educating our children in public, private, or home schools, I am dreaming of better ways. The positive changes are limitless. Join me in my dream by following me on twitter @drizzinkwine and contributing to the conversation at #edudream 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The most DANGEROUS word in Education

Recently, I read a blog from a family counselor, Justin Davis, who spoke of the most dangerous word in marriages and in families. I was able to draw some comparisons between the blogger's musings and my own observations as a school administrator when it comes to public education. What many people believe is that our current way of doing things in public education has only led to mediocrity, complacency, and the status quo. My observation is this is all due to one word, the most dangerous word in education: a word, that I sadly hear all too often…… BUT.
  • I know I should not focus on standardized tests…BUT
  • I know I should let students have a voice/say in their education…BUT
  • It’s true that I am not adept with technology…BUT
  • I know I should not use the textbook as my primary teaching resource…BUT
  • I know student's have the ability to use their own mobile devices to learn…BUT
  • I would allow student's to create their own goals and standards for learning... BUT
  • I  would probably allow student's to talk more in class... BUT
  • I do not really think student's will truely use what I am teaching them in the future... BUT
  • I know this is the best thing for my students... BUT
  • I know I should value student creativity over test-taking strategies... BUT
  • I am concerned that all this testing is taking away from innovation... BUT
  • The students are all stressed out because of these tests... BUT
There is a solid problem with thinking this way. The problem with this line of thought is that it leads to making excuses, going backwards instead of making progress, becoming irrelevant rather than displaying relevancy... and ultimately, it leads to boredom, dropouts, and discontent among all students. Maybe today, you need to kick “but.” You need to identify the areas where you could help your local school in developing a cutting edge, outside-the-box, student-centered place of learning. What if you went to your students and set them free to discover learning with passion and excitement? These actions and paradigm shifts are game changers. That is you choosing to move beyond mediocrity and helping public education be extraordinary places of TRUE education.

Do you or your school struggle with BUT?