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The Big Shift
Washington, DC area
Interests: Reading, writing, traveling, fishing, hanging with my family
Recent Activity
I was initially impressed with my son's high school statistics class. It taught him how to produce graphs and charts that represent data. He did very practical projects, such as polling people on their tastes in music and correlating it to their age or geographic location. He was learning how... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2015 at The Big Shift
I don’t know how to parent a teenager but I think I know how not to parent one. In other words, I don’t know how to stop a teenager from being rude or sarcastic, make her act with adult-like judgment, prevent her from experimenting with… stuff, and ensure that she... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2014 at The Big Shift
Fellow critics of high stakes standardized tests (and the education systems built around them) love to lay the blame on corporate greed for the current education insanity. One version of the corporate greed narrative imagines that big corporations make money off the education status quo. Another version posits that corporations... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2013 at The Big Shift
I was recently reading a piece in ADDitude magazine by Yale Professor Thomas Brown expounding on his rather conventional views of ADHD as a developmental disorder (yawn) when I was stopped dead in my tracks. Here’s what he said: Often the most problematic period is during junior high, high school,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2013 at The Big Shift
School is about to start, a nerve-racking time for square peg children (those who don’t easily fit into the school system) and their square peg parents (those who are willing to buck the system and advocate for their children’s long-term well-being). If you, like me, have “square peg” children who... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2013 at The Big Shift
I've always been fascinated by the fierce loyalty some people have to the current school model. You'd think that it had been around for millennium and codified in the Bible, rather than a century and fashioned by mere mortals. Any time you suggest that it's time to rethink education you... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2013 at The Big Shift
This is a powerful short excerpt from Seth Godin's Stop Stealing Dreams (free downlaod), a manifesto on transforming the education system. Teach the history of baseball, beginning with Abner Doubleday and the impact of cricket and imperialism. Have a test. Starting with the Negro leagues and the early barnstorming teams,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2013 at The Big Shift
“My starting point is that everyone has huge creative capacities as a natural result of being a human being, The challenge is to develop them.” --Sir Ken Robinson, Author and Creativity Guru At a recent staff party, a young staffer—call her Alisa--challenged me on my views on education and creativity.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2013 at The Big Shift
Dina, age 11, is not doing well in school. She has been getting C’s and D’s in her divergent thinking classes and, despite all of her hard work, received a disappointing C+ in science. Her project on plant life showed, according to Mr. Riley, “little original thinking.” Mr. Riley said,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2013 at The Big Shift
This piece also appears on Nikhil Goyal's blog in Psychology Today “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” --The Declaration of Independence... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2013 at The Big Shift
Jeremy, now 18, has always been a bit different. He was a dyslexic child who didn’t always click with his teachers and classmates. Jeremy was frequently bullied in school. He consumes fantasy literature and movies, and has a flair for creative writing. He’s not very interested in school. A couple... Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2013 at The Big Shift
Earlier this week I was talking to a group of college students and, not uncharacteristically, expounded on my unconventional views about education. “Learning should build on students’ passions, emphasize 21st century skills such as critical thinking and creativity, and maximize hands-on projects and minimize lecturing and rote memorization,” I argued.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2013 at The Big Shift
A few nights ago, I was sitting around with two other parents of teenagers doing what parents of teenagers do in such situations: talk about our teenagers. We are all proud of our teens. They are “great kids with great heads on their shoulders.” They know that it's bad to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2013 at The Big Shift
The Big Shift is now following EmamiJ
Jun 11, 2013
This short animated debate (that I put together) is based on an exchange of opinion pieces between Marc Tucker, a prominent proponent of Common Core Standards, and Yong Zhao, a prominent opponent, published in Washington Post's Answer Sheet. You can find the original pieces here, here, and here. We see... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2013 at The Big Shift
The chart below lays out four big shifts we must make in order to become more innovative and thrive in the future: Old Order New Order (Shift) Rationale Compliance: Exhort our children to learn the material and comply with authority Creativity: Cultivate in our children risk-taking, critical thinking, and creativity... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2013 at The Big Shift
My wife and I were musing about the challenges we face educating our ADHD kids: how little willingness there is on the part of schools to embrace alternative learning styles and how much pressure there is to get them adequately medicated. The schools always tell us how much they love... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2013 at The Big Shift
“Teaching is nothing like the art of painting, where, by the addition of material to a surface, an image is synthetically produced, but more like the art of sculpture, where, by the subtraction of material, an image already locked in the stone is enabled to emerge.” --John Taylor Gatto When... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2013 at The Big Shift
The Big Shift is now following stevedenning
May 27, 2013
Andrew is a 14 year old ninth grader who taught himself how to program in Visual Basic so that he can produce his own novice video games. He plans on designing video games when he grows up. Andrew has trouble paying attention in class. While he can tune in to... Continue reading
Posted May 27, 2013 at The Big Shift
I’m for “lean out” parenting (I’m also for lean out schooling and management, but that’s for another time). Lean out is a twist on Facebook COO Sheryl Sandburg’s book title and burgeoning social movement “Lean in,” calling on women to ratchet up their professional aspirations and engagement. When I say... Continue reading
Posted May 23, 2013 at The Big Shift
Ok, I'll come clean, I’ve recently started watching the HBO series Girls, the popular comedy/drama about a group of twenty-somethings struggling with life in the Big Apple. Several twenty-somethings in my office have been chatting animatedly about the show at the water cooler, and…Why shouldn’t I watch it? I mean,... Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2013 at The Big Shift
Dr. Marilyn Wedge argues in Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD in Psychology Today that US therapists (and their co-conspirators in school) tend to over-diagnose ADHD, and points out that French therapists rarely make such a diagnosis or prescribe medication. She goes on to say the following about the reasons... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2013 at The Big Shift
The Big Shift is now following Seth Godin
May 18, 2013
We all owe a debt of gratitude to Mike Jeffries, the humiliated chief executive of Abercrombie & Fitch. He has made a significant albeit unintentional contribution to the positive evolution of our society. Here's what he said: "In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2013 at The Big Shift