June 24 - July 1, 2018

A truly remarkable week with several essential articles.

Daniel Willingham's shot across the bow of learning styles over a decade ago was a shock to many educators then--and it still surprises many today.  In the recent AFT release, Willingham updates and deepens that claim.  It's a worthy read, and the final page enumerates several new conclusions and understandings. 
Writings about the risks inherent in football have proliferated recently, especially as our understanding of concussions has grown.  The feature article about this topic assembles some of the most comprehensive research I've seen, and wraps it in an ethical argument about what we are doing as schools.  It closes with a sharp analogy to the decline of boxing as a celebrated sport in schools nearly a century ago.

Lastly, of course, I'm really happy to announce the cohort for the 2018 Athena Summer Fellowship: 50 fellows from 45 schools in 18 states. And their enthusiasm feels as palpable as mine. They write: 
  • "As self-motivated as I often am, I am thankful for this creative kick in the tail during the summer months!  Having a specific focus toward the year ahead is a gift."
  • "Most excited about participating in a community of learners (I have nine-month-old twins, and so this is my PD for the summer!)"
  • "I'm excited to learn and gain new ideas from my peers and to bring new ideas back to my colleagues as we continue to improve and grow." 
Explore these, and a number of other terrific posts this week.



Is Football In Schools Ethically Defensible, Asks Harvard Publication  Harvard Education Review
"In this essay, ethicists... argue that the US public schools' sponsorship of tackle football is ethically indefensible and inconsistent with their educational aims. Their argument relies on three ethical principles and a growing body of evidence that many students who play football suffer traumatic brain injury and cognitive impairment that undermine their academic success and life prospects, whether or not they suffer concussions. The authors also address educational claims made on behalf of football, the legal principles governing custodial responsibilities of schools and parents, factors that limit the moral and legal significance of children's consent to participate in football programs, and evidence that sponsorship of football programs subjects educational institutions to unsustainable financial risk."

Daniel Willingham Affirms, Updates The Argument Against Learning Styles  AFT
"Research has confirmed the basic summary I offered in 2005; using learning-styles theories in the classroom does not bring an advantage to students. But there is one twist. Researchers have long known that people claim to have learning preferences... There's increasing evidence that people act on those beliefs; if given a chance, the visualizer will think in pictures rather than words. But doing so confers no cognitive advantage."

Learn where they're from, what they're excited about,
and more about the Athena Summer Fellowship.


Meanwhile, For Safety, The NFL Revises Its Use-Of-Helmet Rule Deadspin

Mathematical Studies Of The Baseball Swing Are Amazing  Washington Post

The Science Of Baseball Itself Is Extraordinarily Detailed  The Ringer


How Many Choices Do We Want? It Depends  Harvard Business Review

"Consumers motivated by pleasure believe that what pleases them differs greatly from what pleases most other people. They will therefore prefer a large assortment. But when seeking to meet a utilitarian need with the same product, they are less inclined to see their preferences as being greatly different from those of other people. They will then be satisfied by a smaller assortment from which to choose."

Is Curiosity The Biggest Driver Of Success? KQED
"A study of 6,200 children... found that elevated curiosity was linked to higher math and literacy skills among kindergartners. That effect remained strong even when researchers compared kids with similar levels of 'effortful control.' or the ability to concentrate and pay attention. Even more surprising, she discovered that students from impoverished backgrounds with a strong thirst for knowledge performed as well as those from affluent homes. 'At high levels [of curiosity], the achievement gap associated with poverty was essentially closed,' Shah says."

Carol Dweck Responds: How Much Do Growth Mindset Interventions Help?  The Conversation

"Some Thoughts On Pedagogy And The Problem Of 'Empathy'" The Tattooed Professor

What Makes You Happy? An Analysis of 100,000 Responses Flowing Data


Brain Plasticity: The Brain Doesn't Grow, It Changes MIT News
"When one connection, called a synapse, strengthens, immediately neighboring synapses weaken."


Rilke On The Lonely Patience Of Creative Work Brain Pickings
"'The most regretful people on earth,' the poet Mary Oliver wrote... 'are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time."

Mary Shelley On Creativity Brain Pickings


Two Traits That Help Teams Solve Problems Harvard Business Review
"The groups that performed well treated mistakes with curiosity and shared responsibility for the outcomes. As a result people could express themselves, their thoughts and ideas without fear of social retribution. The environment they created through their interaction was one of psychological safety."

Instead Of Restructuring Your Office, Determine Who Has Accountability MIT 
"As business leaders recognize the limitations of business silos and hierarchies, they invariably attempt to add new structures, like matrices or networks, to make their structures more agile... Instead of restructuring, companies can initiate change by assignment accountability for specific business outcomes to small teams or individual problem owners."

Why Good Decision Processes Can Be Better Than Good Decisions Farnam Street

On The Importance Of Changing Minds, Not Just Policies Harvard Business Review


One School Practices Collaborative Lesson Planning  Hechinger Report

ISTE Launches Online Teacher Training For Tech Topics EdScoop

Having A Mentor Helps Your Teaching (In Higher Ed, Too) Chronicle of Higher Ed


"Understanding Learner Variability" <-- Rebooting Learning Styles? THE Journal


A Surprisingly Deep Exploration Of Word Problems (And Humor) Medium
"An orchestra of 120 players takes 40 minutes to play Beethoven's 9th Symphony. How long would it take for 60 players to play the symphony?"

GitHub Education Is Now Free For Students And Classroom Use  eLearningInside

On Writing Good Diagnostic Questions In Math AFT

"Scientists Built A Transforming Flying Robot Dragon."  Not A Joke.  Quartz


Should Kids Be Courteous To Artificial Intelligence? Fast Company
"We may be accidentally creating a lifelong intuition in children that software has feelings that can be hurt, that it's an intelligent being to be respected -- or even an authority to be obeyed."

Larry Cuban: "Lessons I Have Learned About School Reform And Tech" Larry Cuban
"Many designers and school reformers believe that in old age, pessimism and cynicism go together. Not true... Both my tempered idealism and cautious optimism have a lot to do with what I have learned over the decades about school reform especially when it comes to technology. So here I offer a few lessons drawn from these experiences over the decades."

Lessons Learned From Colleges Offering MOOCs  Inside Higher Ed

On The Dangers Of (Tech) Distracted Parenting Atlantic

Students Find Lo-Fi Music On YouTube For Focusing When Studying Mel Magazine


"Beautiful Maps Of The World's Watersheds" Visual Capitalist