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Winter 2014

Literary Review

Education gone rogue Volume 1:issue 3 Literary Review



Just a note


messaging & Motivation: a start



The Danger of Grades

6 7 2 Winter 2014

Battling Solidification


Revisiting & Revising

Forward Motion

Getting Dirty in the redefinition

Off Grid Volume one; issue three

ANote Athletes do it in every competition. There is a regiment, a routine, a ritual. When Shaun White didn’t make his Gold Medal dreams in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, he didn’t mask his disappointment, and he didn’t begrudge Iouri Podladtchikov for his stellar run. When Evgeni Plushenko had to pull out of the short program ending his figure skating career, he too felt the frustration of a body unable to continue on the ice. Athletes understand bad runs, hard knocks, and better competitors. Athletes understand that performance and person are not the same and a bad run is just that. Unfortunately, in education we have taken the bad runs out and replaced them with one run. Not all students are built for that one run and, sadly, when that one run continually beats the learner back, the message, although misdirected, becomes solidified as a part of the person. It is hard to face the one run every day when the message is always the same: You can’t do this. You won’t succeed. Just quit. And they will if we allow the message to seep in. However, we can combat these messages by creating numerous paths for students to explore. By taking the grades (5) away we make room for experiments and failures. We make room for conversations about what drives us individually. Working together to see strengths is how we can help students see their value past the task (6) into the refining process of self. This is where students can soar as they uproot damaging messages and replace them with messages of worth and value. Clearly there will be bad runs here and there, but with motivation to perform for passion’s sake, the process of assessing and revising (8) becomes personally valuable for each student. There will be stumbles, but the eyes can stay on the mountain, on the ice, and on the competitors because we all have the passion and drive it takes to forge ahead (9). Together, educators and learners can build bigger and brighter bridges in order create space for all humans to shine on personal podiums. To life and peace,


Literary Review


Messaging and Motivation

Educating the Holistic Student

Huxley in his Brave New World warns of a society bowing to the power of Ford, the ultimate symbol of the industrial revolution. Raw material in and product out. Within education we have embraced this ideal. Raw material in and standardized material out. As with any factory, there will be “mistakes, misfits, and seconds.” In business these are marked down and sent to outlet stores - still sold for a marginal profit. Although there are some that are so off that they must be thrown away because they just won’t do. When our raw material is a sentient being, someone’s child, that we push through the biggest and most powerful machine in our nation, we are bound to have thousands of seconds and throw aways; who then spends precious time recovering from what this machine has made them believe about themselves. Humans are not raw materials. Humans are made with individual strengths and interests. For our country to continue

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to grow and prosper socially and economically, the educational process needs to nurture and value these differences instead of cast them aside from academia’s standardized production belt. What we say and what we hear matters. These are not just off-handed statements. These are messages that individuals cement into his or her psyches; these messages effect what people are willing to try and how they are willing to perform. Thinkers from numerous divisions of our society agree that something is happening within our socialization processes and it is not fostering the type of leaders and innovators we need in order to prosper as a global economy participant. The discussion over the delivery of education has been extensive, and now begins the ugly, hard, grueling work of action. Educating the holistic human calls for flexibility, collaboration, patience, and time. There is no quick fix and there is no new system. There is evolution, and we are in a space where evolution and change must be embraced and facilitated in order to produce the kind of products our society is asking for.

Off Grid Volume one; issue three

The synthesis of teacher, mentor, student, information, skills, and talents combined with design thinking is a start. It takes the ideas presented from the following authors and combines them to tackle the problem:

How do we motivate all students to learn? Notice it isn’t to learn all the same information or at the same time. It is simply focusing on the act of learning.

The Danger of Grades Robinson, K., & Aronica, L. (2009). Finding your element: how to discover your talents and passions and transform your life. new york: penguin group. Ken Robinson explores story after story the genius of those who are not traditional students. If judged on grades, we would not have the brilliance of scientists, choreographers, artists, and actors. Godin, S. (2010). Linchpin: are you indispensable?. New York: Portfolio. Passion and follow through is what makes people linchpins. Godin explores how the truly indispensible work for the process of work, gruel through resistence, and know who they are working for. Godin boils education down to two things: solving problems and leading. mix with passion and ship. Lehrer, J. (2012). Imagine: how creativity works. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Lehrer is a fantastic example of what lazy can do. Brilliant in writing, Lehrer hinged much of Imagine on his reputation and fabricated interviews, forgot to fact check, and self plagiarized. His premise is solid - that imagination is what will build creators and innovators - too bad he could not take his own advice.

Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books. Our natural state is one of intrinsic motivation. We train that out of our kids with a standardized delivery of education with little regard to the way a human is driven. Give them the 4T’s (Task, Time, Technique, and Team) and let them flourish. Wagner, T., & Compton, R. A. (2012). Creating innovators: the making of young people who will change the world. New York: Scribner. Empower students which means, “students can go out and apply what they’ve learned to the problems that they’ve never seen before with parts they’ve never used before” (50). Simply put, help students figure out how to solve problems.

Zander, R. S., & Zander, B. (2000). The art of possibility. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business School Press. “In the universe of possibility, you set the context and let life unfold” (20). If we can let go of control, let go of calculation, and practice “rule 6” we have the ability to discover the deliciousness the world has to offer us, as individuals, not as a number in a classroom.

When we grade student performance we evoke fear of doing things “wrong” and, instead, there needs to be performance evaluations with self-directed goals and outcomes at the forefront of the conversation between instructor (mentor) and student (innovator). Without a deep-seeded respect for these roles, we flirt with cementing messages within students that are academic in nature and not valid in regards to the individual human aspect. To produce autonomous thinkers and collaborative innovators, we must foster an intrinsic curiosity and desire to solve problems for the problem’s sake, not for the potential to earn an extrinsic prize.

Literary Review


Battling solidification Brown, C. B. (2010). The gifts of imperfection: let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are. Center City, Minn.: Hazelden. Courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart” (Brown, 2010). Brown’s research shows that shame and wholehearted living are both rooted in the same state of being: vulnerability. Brown, C. B. (2012). Daring greatly: how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York, NY: Gotham Books.

Robbins, A. (2011). The geeks shall inherit the Earth: popularity, quirk theory, and why outsiders thrive after high school. New York: Hyperion.

Taking Teddy Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech as her motivation, Brown goes farther into her vulnerability research and define whole hearted living. “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness” (Brown, 2012, 10).

Robbins follows five different students through what she calls the quirk theory. These students are the “weird” ones in school but become the people most wanted to hang out with as adults. Robbins concludes that the pressure of image robs high school students of community and acceptance.

Caldwell, C. (1996). Getting our bodies back: recovery, healing, and transformation through body-centered psychotherapy. Boston: Shambhala.

Sood MD MSc, Amit (2010-12-26). Train Your Brain Engage Your HeartTransform Your Life: A Course in Attention & Interpretation Therapy. Rochester: Morning Dew Publications LLC.

Addiciton is a symptom of a bigger, deeper issue: an inability to love ourselves. In order to regain our selves, Caldwell presents the Moving Cycle which asks us to spiral through awareness, owning, acceptance, action of our thought patterns.

We suffer in our country from “an epidemic of low self-esteem” (380). It is cured with acceptance of now, of the love others give us, and by giving love to others. Grounded in practice, we can be happy.

McNiff, S. (2004). Art heals: how creativity cures the soul. Boston: Shambhala. Each person is unique with his or her own soul, spirit, and sense of creativity. Regaining the natural soul is pushing into fear as a sign that what we are creating is important. It is a sign of vulnerability, and therefore worth the fight through the process of creating. “Approach fear as a chemical catalyst...a vital energy to be transformed by the creative process” (216).

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McNiff, S. (1998). Trust the process: an artist’s guide to letting go. Boston: Shambhala. In a culture that promotes structure and “right” McNiff encourages becoming present to the right now. Sometimes that calls for a break in form, in a flexibility when we get bigger than our medium (blank page) and to interact with the process instead of try to control it. When we give out rubrics, we are controlling someone else’s creativity.

We spend such a huge part of our adult life undoing the messages we solidified in childhood. Each of these books talk about opening our heart to the purest moment we know and there we will find authentic self. I know it is a crazy idea, but what if we work at helping students, our children, hold on to their authentic self from the beginning of the educational process instead of dismissing middle school as a terrible rite of passage. Instead, let us build vulnerable confidence in our students by validating their creative, brilliant, unique souls, because they will inherit the earth.

Off Grid Volume one; issue three

Sinek’s (2009) premise is simply complex. He asserts “that people buy why we do something, not what we do. The complexity enters when biology reveals that our why aligns with our limbic brain - the decision maker in which language is not aligned. It is easier to articulate what we do, but not why we do it. Therefore, it is not an easy process. Cameron (2002) also tackled the issue of pushing through to the core our creativity with passion and patience. The Critic is real, and we must allow it voice, or it sabotages our ability to work. Pink (2006) reminds our industrialized economy to value the creatives, because it is their minds that are necessary as the machinist is replaced by the programmer. In a time of deep change, we must remind all humans to utilize their whole brain, and not just their logical left. Pressfield (2002) pushes artists to produce no matter what Resistance says. To produce art, to create, to value the process over the critic is difficult for even the most esteemed artist. Kleon (2012) encourages those fledgling creatives to persevere Sinek, S. (2009). and recognize that originality sometimes comes from Cameron, J. (2002). The Start with why: re-purposing that which already exists. artist’s way: a spiritual path how great Messages bombard us from every corner of life. Media to higher creativity ([10th leaders inspire says to drive certain cars, buy often and buy new. Those anniversary ed.). New York: everyone to same companies tell us to embrace our unique beauty J.P. Tarcher/Putnam. take action. by buying their products. Parents ask for performance, New York: teachers evaluate our effort and tell us whether or not it Portfolio. makes the cut. The voice that really matters, the one that needs to be heard is that of our own spirit. Pressfield, S. Kleon, A. (2012). Pink, D. H. Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes in her audio book (2002). The war Steal like an (2006). A whole Red Shoes (1992) reminds us that our 9-10 of art: winartist: 10 things new mind: why year old spirit is the most pure, the most ning the inner nobody told right-brainers true, and the one we need to listen to. The creative battle. you about being will rule the more we listen to that message, that voice New York, NY: creative. New future. New that says, “you are original, unique, and Rugged Land. York: Workman York: Riverhead awesome,” the more we redefine out mesPub. Co.. Books. sage into one that is purely our own.

Redefining the message Education continues to standardize the classroom which is easy, but it isn’t what we need as a country or a global community. Healthy competition is great, but as the Olympics proves, it is the individual drive and quirk that sets the athletes apart from one another. To get dirty and help students become learners, we must create space for curiosity and experiments, time for reflection, and a partnering between educator (mentor) and student (learner). We are evolved past conformity, but not past our instinctual need to move in our own way. Logan Laplante in his Ted Talk refers to this as fighting the urge to take the safe and known path and instead “life hack” our way through our own journeys, and that is when the dirty work becomes ours alone.

Literary Review

Getting into the dirty work

Wallace, M., Buettner, D. Knight, J. (2012). & Knobel, B. (2008). The Blue High-impact instruc(2010). Heat and Zones (Second tion: a framework light: advice for ed.). Washington for great teaching. the next generaD.C.: National Thousand Oaks: tion of journalist. Geographic corwin. New York: Three Society It is not easy to Rivers Press. redefine messages and hold onto the hard work and Medina, J. Salm, L. (1996) effort to combat other. De La Salle (2008). Brain The work is (Salm, 1996) in the early 18th century rules: 12 princiyours: the life of worked doggedly against the tradiples for survivSt. Jean Baptional religious view of education to ing and thriving tist de la salle. give the poor and hopeless a chance at work, home, Landover: Chrisat a good life. He redefined the way and school. Setian Brothers educators were trained and opened attle, WA: Pear Publications up paths and new messages to those Press. born into poverty. Knight (2012) nearly 300 years later continued to push the training of teachers for the benefit of our learners. Through reflection and time, Knight encourages the development of self-sufficient students who partner with the instructor instead of blindly following directions; which Medina (2008) enthusiastically supports as he reminds our beings that our brains need to move in order to retain and internalize knowledge. The internalization of information bolsters confidence and when that is paired with passion and drive, Wallace and Knobel (2010) prove the pay off from digging into the why of any story (especially our own) is what matters to self-satisfaction. Buettner (2010) reminds that to live a long healthy life, we need purpose, community, and health.


revisiting and revising

Flaherty, J. (1999). Coaching evoking excellence in others. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Lockwood, T. (2009). Design thinking: integrating innovation, customer experience and brand value. New York, NY: Allworth Press.

Fullan, M. (2008). The six secrets of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Miller, D. (2009). A million miles in a thousand years. Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson.

Goulston, M. (2010). Just listen. New York: American Management Association.

Singer, M. A. (2007). The untethered soul. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

Lencioni, P. (2002). The five dysfunctions of a team: a leadership fable. San Francisco: JosseyBass.

just workers. It is never too late to restart, which is what Lencioni (2002) proposes in five dysfunctions of a team. Most of this comes down to value. Are we clear with our why statement? Have we given our team a say in what that statement is? Are Imagine how many times as individuals we will revisit we valuing the individual work and revise this information. Now imagine organizations revisiting and revising. Flaherty reminds that organizations as well as the team work? As individuals are we revising our do not function without people, humans, who must feel fulfilled as well. David Logan in his TED Talk “Tribal Lead- own why statements? Are we reflecting on why we have skin ership” (2010) reminds organizations that effectiveness in the game? Both Miller (2009) comes from believing that each person is making a difference, is working toward a common goal, and that their in- and Singer (2007) tackle our dividual self is a linchpin to the success of the whole. Until desperate need for control and leaders let go of hierarchical control and allow employees power. Miller reminds us that it is us to us to script our life as it to work, know they are loved and trusted, Fullan (2008). Goulston (2010) gives practical advice to the revising pro- happens, not in advance. The cess. It is not clean, producing quality never is, but when it best parts come from revising. gets messy, reward those working and resist shaming those Refining into our Spirit is Singer’s point. God made us to be indiwho are not. Instead, listen to what they are really telling viduals and no boss, no “other” you (actions) and help them into their best self. This will gets to take that away. help you both remember each other as humans and not

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When Steven King writes, he writes for an audience of one: his wife. He refuses to show the manuscript to her until it has rested in a drawer for six weeks, has been brutally edited and revised, and feels “done.” Her reaction is what determines when it is done, though. The biggest myth continually fed to our youth is that adulthood is magical and it provides all the answers. We live in a perpetual story that is in constant revision determined by Life as author. Culture feeds us all sorts of places to “arrive” but those places are as imaginary as Hogwarts, and yet I still close my eyes tight and hope that I can and will receive an invite to teach there. The only true secrets revealed in these books is that we have to constantly evaluate where we are in the story, revise if we have written ourselves into a character we no longer believe, and redesign accordingly. Lockwood (2009) has the closest model to arrival because it also includes the destruction. There is no obstacle too big, no problem too large, and no source of energy too powerful to destruct and make something better. Tradition is only tradition when it is still functional. Once it loses function, it becomes obsolete and an obstacle to revolutionary revision. Lockwood also recognizes, much like King, that this is a process worked in partnership, not in silos. We need each other, we need community, and we need sources that are returning us to who we are so we can revise.

Off Grid Volume one; issue three

Forward Motion The art is in understanding who we are as humans first and position second. Too often we mold our youth to follow compliantly in the name of politeness. However, a silent classroom doesn’t automatically mean a learning classroom. If we want to continue in the name of innovation and creativity then we must get dirty and revise and revise often. Although there are many stages to curing cancer, there is never an end to the revisionary process. Vigilance and diligence is what keeps Cancer in remission. Our educational system in stage four cancer and if we want to get to remission, there is a nasty and extensive surgery we are facing. If we do nothing this disease will ravish our society. If we get in, it is going to hurt, it is going to be messy, we might not get it all, and we might not get it all right, but there is a change. There is hope. Education has been treated as a system, but our youth are not cogs in a machine. The classroom can have processes that support individual growth and curiosity but shouldn’t be seen as a process to “get through.” Life is full of experiences and it is these experiences that constitute our education. As we dissect this tumor, the reconstruction should include experiential learning which is about engineering a learning atmosphere that supports critical and holistic thinking and learning. The art of instruction is linked to acutely knowing who we are as people first and instructors second. Teaching isn’t about dumping facts into machines and asking them to regurgitate those facts. Instead, it is about helping learners understand who they are, embrace who they are, and confidently try new experiences understanding full well that they may fail, they may find inconclusive results, they may success, and they can anticipate all three with excitement and an opportunity to know more than before. With an instructor who can see students as people, encourage them to play to their strengths and ask for help in areas that they need it, we are creating a culture that values differences. Albert Einstein, esteemed scientist, professed horrible Literary Review

traditional student, could see the tumor growing. Why is it that this conversation about education has been circular for so long? What are we as educators, we as a society scared of? Are we in the business of being in power or empowering? When patients face Cancer and decide to fight they win. The victory is in the mindset. The victory is in the bravery. The victory is in the fixed gaze on fear and coming along side it. We are all under the knife as we take on this growing tumor, but it cannot wait any longer. The urgency is within the glaring message from these twenty nine authors and the message from countless more -- we are not machines and neither are our youth. The tentative plan begins with our why statement. Why are we in the business of educating youth? From there, we tap into our own strengths, recognize where our tendencies as humans may need to be made transparent to learners in the classroom. We stop shoving more students in a classroom and restructure schools to look like think tanks. We break down walls and look at how skills are mastered through experiences and experiments. We give individuals time to reflect on what happened and try again. We work at solving a problem and then assess the skills learned after. We converse as equal humans and help with respect and knowledge of where we are within the skills gained through experience. The first cut is the hardest, but it is the marker of movement. It is the marker of conviction and it is the marker of action. We don’t all have to climb trees, but if that is what we need to do, we do need the skills to figure out how to conquer the task. Innovation does not come from running away. Innovation comes from facing the tumor and making the decision that living with the tumor is not the answer. The answer will come once we wield the scalpel.


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