Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Monday, November 29, 2010

Compromise? No a cop out.

This is not a compromise. This is a cop out, Steiner. We haven't had a competent commissioner since Tom Sobel.

It seems we get Cathleen P Black after all. Oh sure there will be an educational sidekick. Yeah that works. It didn't before. Remember Diana Lam?

This new two headed hydra is a bad idea in a pen of alpha dogs. The educational puppy will get run over by the alpha dog Black.

Never mind the voice of the people, never mind the recommendation of the hand picked educational committee against the waiver.

Why do our leaders disregard the voices of those around them? What makes us believe Black will even listen to that educational consultant who has come from within, a lapdog. Since Steiner has disregarded his advisors, Bloomberg has never listened to advisers, what makes us believe Black is any different? This is a terrible situation.

What is Steiner's problem. No balls, no guts, no brains, no scruples. Wonder what King Michael offered Steiner as an incentive.

Isn't this special, we have three more years of this nightmare. Public education in NYC is in deep yogurt.

Oh yeah, Gloria Steinem, I hope you are happy since you wanted Black only because she is a woman. How about a qualified woman. Gloria, I'm ashamed of you and I know my mom would be too for that stupid reason. There are far better and more qualified women out there for this job.

What happened to the procedure of applying for a job or a least having a list of choices for the job?

What an upside down world we live in right now. NYC is a good example of a plutocracy.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bob Dylan at Terminal 5

I entered the Globe of 2010 when I entered Terminal 5. The venue was fabulous. A big area for the groundlings with two tiers of balcony space. I remembered seeing Stray Cats at the Bowery Ballroom and danced all night. I've seen Dylan in many venues and sat in a chair. At home I dance to Dylan. When I arrived at the venue, it was nicely packed. I made my way to a good spot with a good view of the stage and am close. I had good dancing space. The only complaint is I wished the floor was raked at a 2 - 3 % rate so those in the back could see over the heads of those in front.

The stage was set and a couple of stage hands moved around the stage setting this and setting that. Since this was the third day, I would have thought they had their shit together. They had all day too. We don't need to see these guys unless they do some kind of entertaining. The guitar tuner could have done some licks, but no. Maybe a juggler or a mime while we wait for Dylan and the lads.

Once the band came on stage, the curtain opened and we were introduced to the backgrounds that were subtle and clever for the evening. Shots from stage left, overview and front would interchange with appropriate landscapes.

I always love the outfits of the band and Bob in that huge hat. I haven't seen Bob play the harmonica so much in a show and one handed too. Wow.

The audience was young, very young.

The final treat was the encore of three.

Set list:
1. Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking
2. The Man In Me
3. Beyond Here Lies Nothin'
4. Tangled Up In Blue
5. The Levee's Gonna Break
6. Spirit On The Water
7. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
8. Can't Wait
9. Summer Days
10. Forgetful Heart
11. Honest With Me
12. Nettie Moore
13. Thunder On The Mountain
14. Ballad Of A Thin Man
15. Jolene
16. Like A Rolling Stone
17. All Along The Watchtower

Finally, I hope he plays this venue in future trips and Neil Young too, because we stand to dance and it is only 6 blocks from my home.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Capture that Idea

open up your google account
open documents and then File New
start writing down your ideas
keep this tab opened
open a new tab
when one of those
ahha moments happen
go to the untitled tab
and realize you have to label it.
call it “Today”
and label it the date
then when of those things happens
go and write frantically
for fear you forget
be sure to save
and then take a walk to the kitchen.

when you have an idea
a thought; write it down.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's not about Cathleen P Black

As we watch the current furor over the appointment of a new NYC Schools Chancellor, we are seeing a pure example of the problem. The big hitters like former mayors and major business people are coming out in support of the current mayor's power play. The mayor has sidestepped the procedures of law and is being supported by his cronies.

On the other hand, the very people about who these leaders speak about, the clients, the customers, are asking for proper procedure to be followed and for their voice to be heard about the next chancellor.

We are seeing the gulf between the haves and the have not's or those in power ignoring the very voices they depend on for votes and for their support. We are seeing another example of the Janus aspect of politics. These mayors did very little for education and in some cases caused more chaos than order. Who cares what Koch thinks. He was a blowhard then and is one now and is so far from reality. As for the other two former mayors, please. One was a one term mayor for good reason and the other was voted a terribe mayor the day before the great tragedy. Former mayors should be just that, former mayors and shut up. It is embarrassing to hear your feeble voices again. That's why you are former mayors.

As for this mayor, who has blatantly abused his power, we have seen how he runs rough shod over the city and over procedure once again.

Why do people think Klein was a good Chancellor? He wasn't. He ran an organization that was in constant turmoil, constant change, too many bad choices, and education did not improve in this city because of his leadership. He ignored parents, he insulted the employees, he had no idea about organization except how to reorganize. If we use Klein as a reason to appoint Black, then quite obviously we should not have Black as the next chancellor. We should learn from our mistakes.

It's not about Cathleen P Black, it is about power, absolute power and the absence of following the rule of law. No one is above the law, Mr Mayor.

Are we being told that we can't find someone who has both pedagogy and managerial skills? How do the universities do it? How do prep schools do it? Don't we have schools of education that train administrators to run school organizations? Education is a much different kind of institution that is not like business. It is the interaction of people. It requires certain skills because we are dealing with little humans and not products. We shouldn't be cutting corners, we should be exploring our practice to be better. Under managerial leaders in education we are not seeing a better educational system, but we are seeing a leaner one. I know a lean educational system is not successful because it is cutting necessary resources that make the educational institution successful.


Friday, November 12, 2010

We need a Revolution

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."

Buckminster Fuller

In 2000, I gave a presentation in Puerto Rico, for the governor, on school reform that suggested we reconstruct our schools to be better suited to educate our children. The presentation began with an overview of where we were and transitioned to where we needed to go. We need to leave the current school buildings and methods of educating because we know they aren't working. Reform then was a bad word because it simply meant rearranging failed methods, renaming failed ideas, and doing the same old same old in a different order. But nothing changed nor was anything reformed. Reform is still a bad idea and word, because it doesn't do anything. Instead, I have been advocating a revolution.

By 2001, I was using "paradigm shift" in many of my graduate papers and publications. One article spoke about how I was changing my classroom into a new model called CyberEnglish. Instead of being receptacles of information, my scholars became producers of knowledge and information. Many of my colleagues were on board with this idea as they, too, began looking for ways to transform their classrooms.

When I began CyberEnglish in 1993, I wanted to change education from the current stifling form of information delivery and presentation to a new model. The new model created producers, not consumers. The new model didn't rely on seat time but work done from anywhere at anytime. Schools still demand seat time and create consumers. Today I ran into a scholar who was coming to school late and had missed the class. He told me he was doing the work online at home, which I had seen and that he had some issues which caused him to be late to school, more often than he'd like. The point is, he didn't need to be in my class every day and he was able to do the work in his time and on his terms. And he was doing it well. The reason our schools are failing is that they are not considering the needs of their clients, the scholars.

Around 2007 we had a whole "shift happens" revolution on YouTube. These cute videos pointed out the change, but not a way to make it happen in schools. CyberEnglish did provide a way.

Nearly 20 years later, I was introduced to Sir Ken Robinson and his video about Changing Education Paradigms. The title struck a cord. He has a similar pair of videos at TED.

What is it going to take to change education? Certainly not the Senge model of management we see at The US Department of Education nor the one we see in New York City with the appointment of Cathleen P Black.

We need a revolution, a real revolution like the good old days.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Imagine Peace

Happy Veterans day to my fellow vets.

My hope is that our troops are out of Afghanistan and Iraq soon. How many more have to die?

Another hope is ceasing the interruption and usurpation of our seventh inning with that once lovely, now jingoistic, nationalistic, religious song, that has nothing to do with baseball and is treated more reverently than the National Anthem. Enough already. I'd prefer to hear something more rousing like "When Johnny comes Marching Home Again."


Vietnam March 1969 to May 1970

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Joel Klein resigns

What a shock to hear that Joel Klein resigned as chancellor of NYC schools.

The question now is who is Cathleen P Black and how is she a good choice as the educational leader of NYC schools?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Phone calls

I called the homes of six scholars who have not been coming to class and miraculously they showed up in class today. I hope they continue to come to school.

Phoning home is a powerful tool. Email is becoming an important tool too, finally. My own scholar's parents aren't using it enough, but I'm using it with my son and it is making all the difference.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gotta love daylight savings

The immediate perk to daylight savings was having so many students appear at school on time and even early in many cases. When I asked some of my scholars about this, they all responded they woke early and decided to come to school early. I'm sure we'll get used to the change soon enough.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Youth is wasted on the young

I was shocked when I heard the numbers of young voters who voted, which told me the number who didn't vote.

Hey guys where were you on Nov 2?

Hungover in bed? At the bar, too busy bending the elbow to vote? Too high to remember to exercise your vote? In the sack, too lazy to vote? Obviously not doing your homework, otherwise you would have voted.

I remember your enthusiasm and presence in 2008. So what happened in 2010?

Would it have made a difference? You bet it would have, you little shits.

Seems the older generation still cares more about your future than you do.

Yo young shits, get your act together next election and vote, no matter what you think about your vote. Your vote matters. So you snot nosed little shits, vote the next time you can because we have fought for that right for you little shits.

I had some respect for you last election, but you lost it all this time around you little shits.

Those who didn't vote are the best argument why parents should eat their young.

The young voter turnout sucked and so do those of you who didn't vote you little shits.

And you wonder why we can't take you little shits seriously.

Vote next time you little shits.

Quite obviously someone is wasting money on your education.

Voting is an obligation, a right, a way of making your voice heard.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Winterizing the Garden

I wasn't pleased with the garden this year for many reasons, too many to go into.

In preparation for next year I have built a cold frame. It is ten feet long, sixteen inches deep and two feet tall at the back wall and one foot tall at the front wall. I will keep some herbs in it now and maybe mess around with lettuce and such. We will use it next year to start stuff, which was something we really didn't do this year, which was one of our big mistakes.

We did make lots of pesto and had a good herb garden. The hydrangeas, roses, and flowering plants were weak, maybe because of the heat in the beginning and wet later. Tomatoes were a disaster. Oh the three goldfish have survived another year, which makes it five years now.

The garden is dead, long live the garden.