Monthly Archives: November 2009

Little Boxes All The Same

And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same,
And there’s doctors and lawyers,
And business executives,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

Organized education as a whole seems to have become about narrowing things down, putting each person in as small a box as possible. From grades to subjects to majors, the focus is on narrowing and limiting.

Somehow the idea that all students should know the same things and be exposed to the same experiences has become seen as a good idea. It’s become synonymous with the idea of equality in education.

I’m saying that education ought not be equal, it ought to be individualized. Education ought to help people find their paths, find, focus and hone their own innate talents and interests. I’m not laying all of this responsibility at education’s feet but we have students for 12 or 16 years. 12-16 years. Surely we can do a better job helping students figure out who they are and how they might fit into the world. School shouldn’t be an extended test to see how long you’re willing to do BS work.

My own prediction into the future is that most people won’t be able to keep jobs they aren’t passionate about. It seems there are too many forces that will let those jobs go elsewhere and be done for less (or by machines)1.

Schools need to help students find their passions and develop the skills to let them turn those passions into lives. This isn’t about doing what’s best for corporations. Clearly corporations don’t give a damn about our country or the world. Their focus is profit. 2

Our focus ought to be creating people who can become powerful participants in this world on their own terms.


1 Until we’ve got more serious problems to deal with . . .

2 I don’t know how education became the maidservant of corporations. Or I guess I do, since corporations run our government. Wasn’t Lessig supposed to fix that?

Another Change or Die Education Video

Another 21st Century Plea from Tom Woodward on Vimeo.

I have mixed feelings about making this1. It has reached the level of mediocrity. Comments regarding ways to improve it are welcome2.

This has inspired me to get moving on the mock change education video I’ve been planning for a while.

I’ll detail how it’ll be used in a later post.


1 Although, it was required for work.

2 Curses and insults are understood.

Observation Video – Elementary Math

Elementary Math Classroom Observation from Tom Woodward on Vimeo.

This is a fairly straight forward classroom observation video aimed at helping teach our admins about gathering data. The focus of this particular video was engagement. I’ll be posting the pre-observation interview later.

This is part of our revamped professional growth process. It’s pretty interesting if you’re into that kind of stuff. If you are that kind of person, there’s a lot more information about what we’re doing here.

What do you wish you’d learned in school?

I was conversing with Jon Becker on Twitter a while back. He’d retweeted this tweet1 to this 50 questions project. Basically, the idea is to go someplace and ask 50 people a fairly open ended question. In this particular case, they asked people “Where would you like to wake up tomorrow?”

That stirred up some interest for me because I’ve been kicking around the idea of interviewing random people about education. I have a variety of reasons for doing this.

  • One, I suck at talking to strangers2. This would force me to do it and in what I see as the hardest way possible. No one likes to be approached by a random stranger with a camera. Hopefully, practicing under adverse conditions will result in an increased rate of improvement.
  • Two, I think it’ll be interesting. You never know what people might say. Everyone’s been through some kind of schooling experience. I’ll be looking for trends and hidden/not-so-hidden truths. Even if nothing like that develops, I’m curious.
  • Three, I occasionally have layovers in airports or I’m waiting in other places and I’m bored. It’d kill some time to do interviews like these.
  • Four, I’d like to compile the eventual pieces and parts into something that’s interesting.

So, on the drive up to NYC for WordCamp I was talking to Jim Groom and throwing around some questions. I ended up picking “What do you wish you’d learned in school?”

So with all that build up, I give you the only interview I shot that day.

What do you wish you’d learned in school? Attempt #1 from Tom Woodward on Vimeo.

For a variety of reasons, I only asked two people this question. You see one of them above. The other turned me down.

I don’t know if this will have any attraction for other people but if you’d like to join in and submit videos that’d be welcomed. I’m opening to tagging or other options to make them easy for people to find. Comments? Thoughts?


1 still hate that word

2 If you’ve ever met me, you’re likely agreeing that I need to work on this quite a bit.