October 21 - October 28, 2018

Great writing this week, in pedagogy, in tech, and elsewhere.

The feature post on the state of competency-based education (CBE) is an extraordinarily richly researched report. It's worth reviewing for anyone seriously interested in pedagogical change in schools. It's also stuffed with buzzwords and seems to present CBE as the silver bullet to a host of problems. So, take the claims and lingo with a grain of salt, but also recognize the depth it offers.  For a counter argument, however, the report about Maine (in Pedagogy) is a relevant cautionary tale and meaningful partner text.

The short piece on raising aspirations in students (or others) aligns with some recent reading I've been doing about how having high expectations for students can significantly increase their performance.  It makes sense -- believing in people encourages them to reach for more, and it encourages teachers to hold higher or firmer standards.

The Harvard admissions case is making transparent many behind-closed-doors practices -- and opening the door further to a host of conversations about higher education admissions practices, including the role of athletics in the admissions process. The numbers put it all in stark relief.  The Atlantic explores some of the data and questions involved.

Also, colleagues have often spoken about how time spent in the art studio is not only time spent on an arts curriculum, but also a distraction-free, often physically engaging time for peace and quiet.  It can be meditative. And now doctors are prescribing seeing art.  See below, in Curriculum, and consider the role of art at your school.

And lastly, the shooting in Pittsburgh is tragic, and we are keenly aware that our students often need guidance in how to engage with moments like these.  Teaching Tolerance has assembled a response that is usable in multiple contexts.  See the post below in the Diversity/Inclusion section.

These and more, below!



A Deep, Deep Look At The State of Competency Based Education  Getting Smart
"Our purpose in sharing this report is to spur much-needed dialogue about the shift to competency-based education and how that shift can be done in ways that advance equity, ensure teachers have the tools they need, and open up new opportunities for truly effective high school learning. There are no prescriptions here. Instead, we hope the reader will find the evidence cited thought-provoking and engage in serious conversation about the compelling questions the report raises."

A.I.'s Growth Means Schools Should Double Down On Interpersonal Skills  Brookings
"K-12 Education should prioritize teaching critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork across subject areas. Teaching students to become analytical thinkers, problem solvers, and good team members will allow them to remain competitive in the job market even as the nature of work changes."


The Harvard Admissions Case: Athletics, Race, And Equity  Atlantic
"All applicants to Harvard are ranked on a scale of one to six based on their academic qualifications, and athletes who scored a four were accepted at a rate of about 70 percent. Yet the admit rate for non-athletes with the same score was 0.076 percent -- nearly 1,000 times lower."


SAT Reclaims Title From ACT As Most-Taken Test  Washington Post


A Collection Of Research Articles About Concussions  Stanford


Media Multitasking (Again) Correlated With Worse Memory Performance  Stanford
"People who frequently use many types of media at once, or heavy media multitaskers, performed significantly worse on simple memory tasks." 

In Praise Of The (Underappreciated?) Cerebellum  NPR


Limitations Breed Creativity: Via Music For Super Nintendo In The 1990s  Kottke


"Doctors In Montreal Will Start Prescribing Visits To The Art Museum"  Quartz

The Dollar Costs And Educational Benefits Of Music In The Curriculum  Education Dive


"Pittsburgh Shooting Reminds Us Why We Need To Talk About Hate"  Teaching Tolerance
"Although we've witnessed hate-fueled moments many times before, that doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about them when they occur. If we don't, it means we've normalized them... Although such moments can feel confusing and out of control, there is a time-tested model we can rely on to help contextualize these events."

"Books For Teaching Diversity, Unity, And Addressing Controversy"  History Tech


On The Dangerous Dance Between Colleges And Corporate Sponsors  New York Times
"More than ever, it's really important for Americans to closely examine the costs of abandoning public institutions and hand them over to corporate interests to save a few dollars on our tax bills. This is a case study of what happens when we do that. Spoiler alert: it ends badly."

Search For the Tuition Of Any College In America  Tuition Tracker
"Tuition Tracker is an interactive tool designed to help parents and students find the 'right' college or university among thousands by using search criteria, such as desired location, price and size, to filter results."

2018 Report On Trends In College Pricing (Detailed, If Technical)  College Board


Revisiting Frederick Douglass: A Compelling Celebration Of His Life  New Yorker
"In his legacy as a prophetic radical and political pragmatist, in the almost unimaginable bravery of his early journey and the resilience of his later career, in his achievements as a writer, activist, crusader, intellectual, father, and man, the claim that he was the greatest figure that America has ever produced seems hard to challenge."

A Moment In Praise Of Jill Lepore, And The Power Of Stories  New York Review of Books
"For Lepore, history is essentially a writing problem: how we know what we know (or think we do), how different forms and genres transmit different kinds of signals, what it might mean to encounter a gap between the evidence and the truth. Her work has confronted the tension between what a reader needs to know for a story to work and the limits of what can be known, and what makes the difference between a person and a character."

Kids These Days... Are Actually Better Than Others At Spotting News vs. Opinion?  Pew Research

Understanding The Generational Divide In Spotting News vs. Opinion  Atlantic

A Deep Dive Into The Role Of Civics In History Classes And School  EdWeek

Is "Civilization" The New "Oregon Trail" As A Learning Game In Schools?  Medium

Printed Books, 600 Years Before Gutenberg, In Dunhuang, China  London Review of Books


A Wealth Of Information On How To Give Professional Feedback  Quartz


Maine Went All In On "Proficiency Based Learning" -- Then Rolled It Back  Chalkbeat
"Meanwhile, new research documents the challenges that beset the effort seemingly from day one. And there remains little evidence that proficiency-based education has boosted student learning, in Maine or elsewhere."

"The High Return Activity Of Raising Others' Aspirations"  Marginal Revolution
"At critical moments in time, you can raise the aspirations of other people significantly, especially when they are relatively young, simply by suggesting they do something better or more ambitious than what they might have in mind."

Rigor: Defining it, Defending It, Improving It -- For All Levels Of Students  Education Dive
"Rigor is not about making student tasks and assessments harder, but about creating high expectations for learning, supporting students as they perform at higher levels, and allowing students to demonstrate that they have learned at those levels."


Are We Teaching Reading Wrong? Phonics Or No Phonics?  New York Times


Teens Now Use Instagram More Than Snapchat  Mashable


An Island Is Washed Away: Climate Change In Action  Quartz


Should Ethics For A.I. Be Governed By Human Rights Laws?  MIT Technology Review
"Lawyers, activists, and researchers emphasize the need for ethics and accountability in the design and implementation of A.I. systems. But this often ignores a couple of tricky questions: who gets to define those ethics, and who should enforce them?"

More Detail On How Different Cultures Imagined A.I. Ethics Differently  The Hustle
"Respondents from individualistic cultures (France, US, UK) saved young people, while collectivists (China, Japan) chose old people. Citizens living under strong institutions (Finland, Japan) chose to hit jaywalkers more often than those with weak institutions (Nigeria, Pakistan)." 

In An Age Of A.I., Apple Has Humans Pick Relevant News Stories  New York Times
"Ms. Kern said she prioritizes accuracy over speed... Ms. Kern said Apple News also strives to provide readers with views from both sides of the political debate. When Apple in June unveiled a special section on midterm elections, it highlighted Fox News and Vox as partners. Apple said there are as many people reading traditionally left-leaning publications as traditionally right-leaning publications on Apple News."

"The Digital Gap Between Rich And Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected"  New York Times
"It wasn't long ago that the worry was that rich students would have access to the internet earlier, gaining tech skills and creating digital divide... But now, as Silicon Valley's parents increasingly panic over the impact screens have on their children and move towards screen-free lifestyles, worries over a new digital divide are rising. It could happen that the children of poorer and middle-class parents will be raised by screens, while the children of Silicon Valley's elite will be going back to wooden toys and the luxury of human interaction."

The Average Email User Spends 5.6 Hours On Email... Per Weekday? Cal Newport

Nearly 1 In 5 Teens Doesn't Have Home Internet -- Can't Do Homework  Pew Research

More And More Kids Are Using Quizlet (And That's Not A Bad Thing)  TechCrunch

3D Printing: A Bridge  Dezeen