Education is at a crossroads, and it’s becoming more and more clear that a full reimagination of school is now needed to best prepare our children for a fast-changing, globally-networked world of learning, work, and life. In our Modern Learners podcast, we discuss how these principles can provide a framework for educational change in your school.
Factory Narrative Of School with Jenn Binis
Jenn Binis, President of Schoolmarm Advisors Consulting Group, shares her take on the purpose of American Public Education on today's show. She pulls the rubber band back further on the narrative of factory model schools to give us a glimpse at the more uncomfortable beginnings of public schools. She thinks the factory model narrative is comfortable, and that is why it prevails.
As most people are looking to the future of schools during this global pandemic, Modern Learners is going to go back in time to see what can be learned from history and applied to our current contexts. Jen challenges listeners to ask whose story is not being told when reflecting and gathering stories from this moment. She believes that anti-racism education is at a tipping point and progress is being made towards honoring the experiences all children in schools. The hashtag movements of #disrupttexts, #cleartheair, and #31daysibpoc also get a shout out in this episode.
We also explore the history of NCLB and how it came to be. Many believe it happened because people didn't trust teachers, but Jenn is convinced it has more to do with states wanting to have a better idea of what was happening in schools.
There are parts of this conversation that may be uncomfortable depending your level of understanding of anti-racism work. We also talk about our use of the collective "we" which in this episode we defined as middle-aged white women who are teachers. This "we" was important as we also discussed the fact that 70% of the people in the education field are women, and yet women hold less than 30% of leadership positions in schools. The reasons for this also have a historical origin story.
As always thanks for listening. If you haven't listened to the last episode with Dr. Kim Parker, please click over there and have a listen.
#31DaysIBPOC with Dr. Kim Parker
Bringing you today's podcast guest, Dr. Kim Parker, brings me great joy! Dr. Kim Parker is a co-founder of #disrupttexts as well as a co-founder of the #31daysIBPOC project which we will discuss in great detail.
Dr. Kim reminds us that teaching is political. To shy away from the idea of teaching being political means to divorce ourselves from our identities, and that is unjust. In this conversation we work to elevate the contributions our colleagues of color make to the field, their communities, and to the lives of the children they serve.
Together we explore how the project came to be. Shout out to Dr. Kim's co-founder Tricia Ebarvia, who we featured in episode 72. According to Dr. Kim, Tricia gets things done. They managed to bring this project together in just a couple of weeks. They are hopeful that school leaders will reference this body of work for staff development and ongoing conversations about anti-racsim. Dr. Kim also encourages people to reach out the writers for keynotes and in person experiences. And, if you want to send them a cup of coffee through Venmo, that would be great too.
Towards the end of our conversation, we begin discussing COVID-19 and the impact it is having. Dr. Kim makes mention that more black and brown people are dying of the disease than any other groups. That is not okay. She begs listeners to read the history and recognize we are preserving the same unjust systems, and we need to stop. She's also worried about her Asian-American friends and the unjust acts they have been and will likely continue to experience.
Dr. Kim encourages people to pay attention to who is writing what they are reading. For me, following the writers from the #31daysibpoc project completely changed my Twitter feed. The algorithm that is now served to me is much more diverse, and I see lots of colleagues of color sharing their brilliance. I've learned so much. You can too.
Be sure to read the writers and share frequently on social.
Peter Grey on Being Free to Learn During COVID0-19
At the time of the podcast recording, COVID-19 is rocking our world. The world is practicing social distancing, many states have safe at home orders, and schools are shut down until further notice. I invited Peter Grey on the podcast before the world was turned upside down by COVID-19. I wanted him to discuss his book Free To Learn along with his recent article in Psychology Today, "School Refusal: A Crime, A Mental Health Disorder, or A Human Right." We get to those things later in the conversation, but we begin with discussing childhood, play, responsibility, and reassurance that despite COVID-19 rocking our schools to the core, our kids will learn.
Last week I wrote about the 3 Phases of Response to COVID-19, and if you haven't read it yet, it's worth a read. It is helping me to conceptualize the work, and it is helping me realize nothing is an emergency. The impact of COVID-19 on education will be experienced long after the virus is gone.
Change.School cohort 10 is just starting just around the corner. Sign up to be notified when dates are set.
Learning Space Design with Lennie Scott-Webber
Learning space design is the topic of the podcast today. I speak with Dr. Lennie Scott-Webber. She is a leading thinker on the evolution of what we know about learning, the learner, and the learning space. Dr. Lennie has pioneered research strategies addressing how the built environment impacts student engagement factors and learner success.
Dr. Lennie Scott-Webber has served as the Founding Director of Education Environments at Steelcase and as a Principle researcher for the DLR group and VS America.
This podcast will help you think about designing learning spaces from the inside out. As always we'll be continuing this conversation in Modern Learners Community. You're invited to sign in or sign up!
Last week I spoke to Tom VanderArk about Place Based Education. If you haven't listened yet, take in both shows now.
Place Based Education with Tom Vander Ark
I'm excited to kick off our next Modern Learners Community theme "Places and Spaces" with today's interview with Tom Vander Ark. Tom is the CEO of Getting Smart and his brand new book Place Based Learning: Authentic Learning through Place-Based Education has just been released. He co-authored the book with Emily Liebag and Nate McClennen.
In the book, Vander Ark defines place-based learning as anytime, anywhere learning that leverages the power of place to personalize learning. Later the authors add the idea of connecting projects to community, delving into authentic problems, and encouraging public products which ultimately develop an ethic of contribution.
My Community is My Place Based Education
I live in a small, rural community along the Mississippi River. We have birds and wildlife galore, and a beautiful park maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Burlington Northern Railway runs along the river and the barges carry corn down the channel. Our community is also home to the National Brewery Museum. The museum illustrates the historical and economical impact of beer on our community and the nation. Recently the brewery opened a manufacturing facility to decrease the cost of distribution. I'd be remissed not to at least mention the agriculture that is so prevalent in our community. My hometown is also the setting for the infamous YouTube channel "How Farms Work." The students in my small, rural community have so many opportunities to learn, and with so much to learn it is difficult not to beam with pride and want to contribute.
As you listen to the show with Tom Vander Ark, I invite you to think about your local community. What learning opportunities are available there. Review the place based triangle. What is the ecology? What is the economy? What is the culture? I'd love to hear about your local community. Please head over to Modernlearners.community and sign in or sign up! Once you're in, share your story!
Oh...and if you missed last week's show with Peter Liljedahl, you really need to go back and listen. His work on "thinking classrooms" is outstanding.
Thinking Classrooms with Peter Liljedahl
Last week, Dr. Nicki mentioned Peter Liljedahl's research on vertical, non-permanent spaces. That took me on a journey into Peter's work, and after reading all of Peter's work around Thinking Classrooms, I had to invite him to the Modern Learners podcast. Luckily, he made time in his busy schedule before we concluded our math theme.
Meet Peter Liljedahl
Peter Liljedahl is currently a professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. He is also the President of the Canadian Mathematics Education Study Group and the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. He has an extensive body of work that he generously shares at Peterliljedahl.com.
Peter most prevalent work is his research on "Thinking Classrooms." In his forthcoming book, he writes, "a thinking classroom is a classroom that is not only conducive to thinking but also occasions thinking, a space that is inhabited by thinking individuals as well as individuals thinking collectively, learning together, and constructing knowledge and understanding through activity and discussion. It is a space wherein the teacher not only fosters thinking but also expects it, both implicitly and explicitly."
Initially, his research indicated nine principles, and the initial publication can be viewed here. However, in the interview, Peter explained that the research has evolved, and there are now 14 principles in the Thinking Classroom. In the podcast we discuss just three. First, we discuss at length collaboration and vertical, non-permanent surfaces. The two compliment and enhance one another. Peter concludes the interview with a brief mention of the random grouping principle. He says the evidence for what random grouping does for classroom community is vast.
The Bridge Between Math and Places and Spaces
This podcast episode is the perfect bridge between our MLC themes. We've spent time exploring math through our Modern Learners Lens, and now we're moving into Places and Spaces. Peter does an excellent job in this interview explaining the research behind vertical, non-permanent spaces. He even mentions that he's never seen a classroom not be able to find space or budget to create more vertical, non-permanent spaces once they experience the thinking those spaces naturally produce. The research is clear, and now we just need to make it happen.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Leave the lightweight surface conversation about education behind.....
...and put the Modern Learners podcast at the top of your podcast playlist! Will, Bruce and their guests will consistently challenge your beliefs about LEARNING, leadership and education and inspire you to transform your own learning environment to support today's modern learners. Consistently THE best K-12 learning podcast out there!
I love this podcast. I have listened and re-listened to many of the podcasts. They are great. Their guest speakers are great too. They make me think about things in a new critical way and they make me question the reasons behind why I (or we) do specific things.
I've found my educational tribe!
Fresh, courageous and clear-minded thinking. I'm so grateful for the work of MODERN LEARNERS.