Archive for the ‘The New Learners’ Category

On The Road To Find Out

Posted on June 30th, 2017 in The New Learners | Comments Off on On The Road To Find Out

In the summer of 1975 I first set my eyes upon this river in Western North Carolina. It was the southern border of a place that has touched the hearts and souls of learners for many decades. In 2015, I returned to visit this place and found it to be as energizing and welcoming as it had been 40 years earlier. In that time, many lives have come to know this place as a home away from home where friendships were forged, adventures pursued, and memories etched forever on the emulsion of young minds. Like the waters that continue to pass over the rocks and are still constrained by its banks, the river serves as a metaphor of the lives of children and adults who have flowed through this special place. On July 4, 2017, I will return with many of those who were immersed in this river of life for a 60th anniversary celebration. What lessons might be learned as those who parted as teenagers are reunited in the AARP phase of life? What stories of life and learning might be shared? What hopes and aspirations for the future will be cast? For answers to these questions, I am now on the road to find out #road2findout.

The Mighty Mills 1978




A great teacher has graduated . . .

Posted on January 30th, 2015 in The New Learners | Comments Off on A great teacher has graduated . . .

I didn’t know him well, but I was in awe of his energy and creativity. His students loved him. Their parents loved him. And a world of educators loved him. It is a true blessing to see how many lives were touched by his own. Stories of former students flying across the country to attend his funeral are now posted (as was the coverage of thousands standing in line – hopping up and down to stay warm outside as the snow fell – waiting to attend his visitation). I didn’t know him well, but I am in awe of how great a teacher he was, and will remain.

In his life and in his passing, Chris Tully reminds us of how important is each moment, each person, each interaction. Most of all, he shows us the impact one can have if he cares enough to recognize the talents of each learner he encounters. In turn, he allows the learner to teach him (the teacher) from his own talents and passion.

If there was one more day, what would you do? What would you say? In what activity would you choose to invest your time? Would you open the doors of opportunity to those who would never have had a chance? Don’t wait for tomorrow, today is their day.
You made a big dent in the universe Chris Tully! Well done! Well done!

World Read Aloud Day

Posted on March 6th, 2013 in The New Learners | Comments Off on World Read Aloud Day

Yikes! It’s WRAD (World Read Aloud Day). So do it! READ. Read Aloud.

After Midnight

Posted on October 19th, 2012 in The New Learners | Comments Off on After Midnight

Eddie Obeng tells us what learning is in the age of tumult.

On the drive home . . .

Posted on May 30th, 2012 in The New Learners | Comments Off on On the drive home . . .

Having just returned from listening to Tom Friedman discuss elements of That Used To Be Us, I was reminded of this TEDxCMU presentation that resonates with the message that Mr. Friedman shared about the four ways of thinking all of us “immigrants” must practice:
Think like an immigrant (paranoid optimists who stay hungry)
Think like an artisan (taking pride in your work and carving your initials into it)
Think like a starter upper (you are never “finished” or else you are finished) Do 4/5ths and toss over the fence.
Think like that waitress at the Perkins Pancake House (who had control over the fruit ladle) Be an entrepreneur!

Can’t stop watching Reggie Watts

Posted on May 30th, 2012 in The New Learners | Comments Off on Can’t stop watching Reggie Watts

or just click . . .
Just watch and then decide!

Thanksgiving 2011

Posted on November 24th, 2011 in The New Learners | Comments Off on Thanksgiving 2011

With the day almost gone, I am reflecting on the journey of a lifetime.

It started with my third review this week of Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address (prompted by my near completion of Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs). At 12:15 into this video, Steve told about death being useful for clearing out the old to make way for the new. While profound, graceful and all too prophetic, these words resonate with me as I consider the changes in my roles over the last 20 years. This said, I have just recently become aware of a dynamic leader who serves the same grade levels I did when serving elementary students in public education. Ms. Magiera’s Class is one in which I would have thrived as a student. I see the way she enlists the support of her students as collaborative partners in processes of learning.

I envision student voice resounding throughout classroom activity and guiding the instructional practice. I see the way she has created exit slips and feeling surveys and know that the students recognize how much they and their opinions are respected. Also, I see a dedicated designer of learning who provides a great commentary on how she connects the dots

On 11-11-11 at 11-11

Posted on November 11th, 2011 in The New Learners | Comments Off on On 11-11-11 at 11-11

I recall the “magic minute” that would appear in our cabin after lights out on a red LED clock at summer camp. It was magic because all four digits would display the same number for one minute. We were young, but the number held some mystical meaning for us. Now, a few years later in life, I am still obsessed with numbers and meanings. As I walked beneath the full moon this evening, while still able to recognize the rabbit making mochi and Orion as he was beginning his cartwheel, I asked Siri to play Steve Jobs’ commencement address. She did, and my thoughts returned to a time when it seemed that innovation would last forever.

Steve shared that, “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish,” were the last words on the last page of the Whole Earth Catalog and what he wished for the graduating class at the 2005 Stanford Commencement. Now 22 chapters into his biography, I am drawn back to the message he proclaimed to the masses just over six and a half years ago. He spoke of passion, love and loss, and death. He stated that his oust from Apple was the painful, yet necessary medicine required to connect the dots of his life to bring forth the “dent in the universe” he set out to create with Woz so many years ago in Paul Jobs’ garage. While he admitted that no one wants to die, he acknowledged having lived each day for his (then) last 33 years through a question that if it was the last day of his life, would he still do the things he was doing. If not, he reasoned, then do something else. He pleaded that people need to find love in what they do and with whom they love. If you work, you had better love what you do since you will spend more time doing that than anything else.

So what does it all mean to an ageless student of timeless inquiry? I suppose it begins with the “>manifesto. And . . . this message resonates today in the voice and image of one more “Crazy” one. Yet, this one has accomplished the “dent” and a whole lot more.

So as the journey continues, and the time ticks to my magic minute, I will close with the last words of the other last Whole Earth Catalog which are:

Live Smart. Think for Yourself. Transform the Future.

“It’s all new again, because the world is all new again.” -Howard Rheingold

Critical Thinking, Learning, and Doing

Posted on May 30th, 2011 in The New Learners | Comments Off on Critical Thinking, Learning, and Doing

Now eighty (80) days after the earthquake and tsunami that contributed to the worst nuclear disaster in recorded history (which continues to compound each day) the world (as our local and national news would show it) seems somewhat unchanged. Sure, America has extended its debt to $14.3 Trillion, but discussions in mainstream news vary from the fancy hats at the Royal Wedding (recently on eBay with proceeds going to charity), the price of gasoline still over $4 per gallon (on this Memorial Day weekend) and how we need to change schools to graduate the most students into four-year colleges (despite the unfortunate reality that the student loans required to finance their programs of choice will likely cause them to enter a phase of indentured servitude).

Please don’t get me wrong, I believe that every person who plans to contribute to society is obligated to learn and continue learning throughout life. Yet, what is learned (and at what cost) must take into consideration new opportunities resulting from the “open-sourcing” of information through the Internet. MITOpencourseware has just celebrated 10 years of innovation. Though no degree is awarded for those who attend, no tuition is charged. Who would stand to gain the most if this type of learning “counted” in the big picture? Who would stand to lose the most – the universities or those collecting interest off the student loans?

With the power of the Internet, we can learn incredible things – such as specific detail about the effects of natural disasters. From the Chilean earthquake and its relationship to our days being shortened by 1.26 microseconds, to the devastation of Japan’s 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami on March 11, 2011 showing once booming seaports reduced to rubble, access to information has never been faster or so rich. And yet, with a seemingly unlimited supply of data, why is it that the discussion of radiation levels has all but disappeared from the mainstream media? To this end, a 21st Century learner must not only analyze and evaluate available information, but also seek out what is not available and ask, “Why?” Beyond thinking about their questions and learning along the road to find out “why,” “critical doers” will be compelled to take action. It is the action, or the application of knowledge and skills, that makes our journey purposeful.

So how might 21st Century learners use recent events to hone their “Critical Thinking, Learning and Doing skills? Here are some timely examples . . .

One high school senior who watched the news reports of the devastation in Japan recalled a little girl crying for her parents who were killed on March 11, 2011. He learned that many children were orphaned on 3/11/11. He decided to use his musical talents and network of musicians to create a benefit concert to support the orphans of the earthquake and tsunami. On May 15th, the Walk with Children Benefit Concert for the Orphans of the Japan Disaster was held at Ravinia’s Bennet Gordon Hall. All proceeds from the concert and T-shirt sales went to the Ashinaga Organization to continue its support of orphans. This student thought critically about how to use his musical talent and social network to bring support to a compelling cause. He did something!

University of Chicago Japanese Student Association’s Relief & Rebuild fund raising effort sold “Downwinder” T-shirts at the Atomic Age Symposium on May 21st to raise money for students who lost homes, families and financial support when the earthquake and tsunami hit. They thought about the need of students like themselves and took action to raise support and funds for other university students. They did something!

One eighth grade student, despite being airlifted from a cruise ship to save his life over spring break, decided to take action to improve conditions for children in the ICU of a hospital in Puerto Rico that saved his life. Seeing the lack of books and DVD resources available to students while recovering in the hospital, he began collecting, packaging and shipping these resources upon his return to school after break. He has shipped four boxes of materials to the hospital already. He recognized a need, developed a plan, and put the plan into action. He did something!

Musicians from the Juilliard School of Music arrived in Japan just before the typhoon last week to bring music and support to the people living in Miyagi Prefecture. From May 31st to June 3rd they will play concerts for people living in the shelters in Minamisanriku, Ishinomakia and Higashimatsushima. They are some of the most accomplished musicians in the world. Many will find their careers take them to the most famous concert halls in the world. Yet, these current and former students took time out of their lives to present the gift of music to those who will likely not hear a concert again for some time. These students worked their entire lives to develop the skills that brought them to Julliard. They learned from the greatest teachers to perfect their skills. Now they have brought them to those who have suffered unimaginable loss. They did something remarkable with the learning they received.

Opportunities for “Critical Doing” are all around us. Local devastation from tornadoes across the US, flooding, poverty, and the economic collapse have seen many critical doers taking action. Skills of carpentry, cooking, and care go a long way. David Slater of Sophia University in Tokyo used his knowledge to help those who want to go to Japan to help. We can all contribute our privilege in some way. Mine begins with some critical questions:

How have I applied my skills? I have done a lot of learning and thinking – but am I doing enough? Am I doing anything remarkable with the skills and knowledge I have gained to help those who have the least? Have I leveraged my privilege to support those in need?

This is the first challenge of Critical Doing.

World Peace Game

Posted on April 26th, 2011 in The New Learners | Comments Off on World Peace Game

Was that Patrick Newell seated behind John Hunter? What a great example of transparent leadership! How much more was learned by doing than by listening!