What Does “Education Spring” mean?

In 2002 the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was signed into law by President George W. Bush.  My colleagues in education despaired at the fact that (among other provisions) standardized testing would become a sole indicator of a student’s progress.

By then, I had been a school principal in two districts and knew that soon every dime, every school resource, every bit of professional development would be shaped by this narrow measure.  Teaching to the test became a fact of life. The urban schools I visited spent lots of  money and time on test preparation workbooks.  Some schools dedicated whole periods to “Test Prep”–considered a class in itself, alongside English, Calculus, Biology, Spanish and others.

Students in my university teacher preparation classes were affected, too.  This is not why they chose to be teachers! I stuck to my philosophy shaped through experience:  that when we teach for understanding and we use interdisciplinary, project-based learning, students learn well.

“Consider chemistry. It  should never be restricted to a textbook or the lab. What is  your plan for teaching students that chemistry is part of their daily lives?” I’d say. We examined examples like this often.

Another belief I stated. “You are preparing your students to be active and educated citizens in a democracy.  A democracy is messy, just like learning.”  This perspective usually resulted in a new view of education’s purpose.

By 2011, reports of the Arab Spring uprisings for democracy inspired the world.  It was astounding to learn that regular citizens banded together using social media to organize large protests and topple suppressive governments. This movement mirrored that change that I (and countless others) believed necessary in education–an Education Spring.

Immediately I began this blog for principals, teachers, student teachers, parents and grandparents, caregivers, and anyone else concerned about progress in education.  My readers now span five continents.

I’m glad you are one of them.

The “Sloppy Copy” That Changed History

School kids learn that the first draft of writing is considered the “sloppy copy.” Rereading and revision is the writing process they are taught to use and it’s a good one. This summer you may see it, especially if a piece of writing is due on the first day of school.

This Fourth of July, tell your child about how thirty-three year old Thomas Jefferson authored the “sloppy copy” of the Declaration of Independence.  It was only after John Adams and Benjamin Franklin suggested revisions that one of our founding documents was ready to change the course of history.

Here’s one view of the Declaration of Independence in it’s “sloppy” form.


Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, loc.gov

The Lowell Goat’s Tale

A good community story engages readers of all ages, especially when it’s about an escaped animal. Our area had one: the Lowell Goat who escaped slaughter by fleeing from its Tewksbury, MA farm. The goat went on the lam.

Photo by Frank Peabody, Lowell Sun, 12/29/14
Photo by Frank Peabody, Lowell Sun, 12/29/14

The Lowell Sun started a hilarious Twitter feed from the goat. No kidding. A Go Fund Me campaign raised money for his life post-capture. A Facebook page appeared on the goat’s behalf and gained around 1,000 followers.

Throughout January, we read of his sightings. Puns and clever turns of phrase posted about the Lowell Goat ranged from “getting your goat” to “you goat what it takes.” Goat jokes, Photoshopped pictures, videos, and clever comments even attracted local CBS affiliate. Police and animal rescue from other towns teased local police about their abilities as goatbusters.

Even the Dorchester Coyote weighed in.

What strikes me is the wonderful humor people display during a story like this. It unites us into a family, a community, a gathering of imaginative souls. People of all ages smile and maintain a balance of concern for the goat (safely captured) and funny observations, which I believe shows the best of humanity.