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Not long ago I met some dedicated young women who were doing their student teaching at an impressive nature-based preschool. They made it clear that they’d love to pursue careers at similar schools. But they were discouraged about the prospects. Despite growing demand from...
Most children in our society protest going to school. Am I telling you something new?  They protest in many ways—by feigning illness, by dragging their feet in the morning, by doing the least they can to meet the school's demands (or not doing even that), and by violating...
We don't need no education. At least not of the traditional, compulsory, watch-the-clock-until-the-bell-rings kind. As a growing movement of unschoolers believe, a steady diet of standardized testing and indoor inactivity is choking the creativity right out of our kids. The...
The following statement somehow showed up on my Twitter feed the other day: “Spontaneous reading happens for a few kids. The vast majority need (and all can benefit from) explicit instruction in phonics.”  This 127-character edict issued, as it turned out, from a young...
Necessary cognitive fortification against propaganda, pseudoscience, and general falsehood. Carl Sagan was many things — a cosmic sage, voracious reader, hopeless romantic
This is what you shall do: love the earth and the sun and the animals… -- Walt Whitman Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring in 1962, but I suspect for most people reading it today the information would be fresh, enlightening, and alarming.  I can say that with some...
The Kansas legislature just passed legislation that strips teachers of  the right to due process, a move pushed by conservative lawmakers who were forced by a state Supreme Court ruling to provide more funding to poor school districts and wanted to get something out of the...
Imagine the following exercise: You enter with your spouse, partner or good friend. The purpose is to deepen and improve your relationship through honest communication -- a mutual assessment for growth. Each of you prepares a thoughtful inventory of the things you most love...
At first glance, Quiet Time - a stress reduction strategy used in several San Francisco middle and high schools, as well as in scattered schools around the Bay Area - looks like something out of the om-chanting 1960s. Twice daily, a gong sounds in the classroom and rowdy...
The news: Norway is well on its way to digitizing every book in its National Library and making them all free to access for any Norwegian citizen. That means hundreds of thousands of books will be available to anyone accessing the collection online with a Norwegian IP...
And the grand total is... A mere $62.6 billion dollars! According to new Department of Education data, that's how much tuition public colleges collected from undergraduates in 2012 across the entire United States. And I'm not being facetious with the word mere, either. The...
Cory Doctorow, guest of honor at the upcoming FenCon science fiction convention in Dallas, notes (“During the shutdown, some scientists can’t talk about science,” Boing Boing, October 4) that some of his fellow speakers will be unable to speak if the government shutdown...
Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is? Most people haven’t heard of him. But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in your stomach as when you read about Mussolini or Hitler or see one of their pictures. You see, he...
Longer school years aren't the answer. The problem is school itself. Compulsory teach-and-test simply doesn't work.   Parents send their chil
Just in time for back to school: In Massachusetts this week, a venerable classroom tradition is facing a high court challenge. The state’s Supreme Judicial Court is currently weighing an atheist couple’s argument that the words “under God” be  struck from the Pledge of...
On May 31st, president Barack Obama strolled into the bright sunlight of the Rose Garden, covered from head to toe in the slime and ooze of the Benghazi and IRS scandals. In a Karl Rove-ian masterstroke, he simply pretended they weren't there and changed the...
At TED talks, the most viewed video — now surpassing 14 million hits — is “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” by England’s Sir Ken Robinson.
Documentary films are not only wildly entertaining, but also serve as a powerful and engaging educational tool. As quality documentary films continue to be produced around the globe, we encourage teachers to take advantage and enlighten their students with some of these...
Mitch Daniels’s covert war on Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States A recent Associated Press expose—drawing on e-mails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act—revealed that in 2010, Mitch Daniels, then Indiana’s Republican governor, covertly set out...
As parents begin to seek a more gentle method of discipline, they often start by dropping the obvious 
In historic breakthrough, Mass. Sen. Elizabeth Warren offers bill to force the Federal Reserve to finance student loans at 0.75% with no cost to taxpayers; measure embodies principles needed for US economic recovery from current depression. I urge a...
I entered engineering school at Columbia University in September of last year intent on pursuing my interest in the development of alternative energy technology.  Throughout this past year, my classmates and I have been often reminded of how engineers are really public...
Seeing gurneys of babies trundled through the chiaroscuro of old black-and-white footage at the start of Scott Noble’s Human Resources, the gurneys in the tunnels of God only knows what kind of institution, the viewer does well to brace herself for the coming...
When it comes to competition, we Americans typically recognize only two legitimate positions: enthusiastic support and qualified support. The first view holds that the more we immerse our children (and ourselves) in rivalry, the better. Competition builds character and...
Davis Guggenheim's 2010 film Waiting for Superman is a slick marketing piece full of half-truths and distortions. The film suggests the problems in education are the fault of teachers and teacher unions alone, and it asserts that the solution to those problems is a greater...
At a protest last year at New York University, students called attentionto their mounting debt by wearing T-shirts with the amount they owed scribbled across the front — $90,000, $75,000, $20,000. On the sidelines was a business consultant for the debt collection industry...
It finally hit us several years ago. A heavily monopolized, commercialized and profit-driven media was choking the health of our culture. It was the problem that made every problem in our culture worse. But rather than wait for these media conglomerates to reform, or hope...
"I remember the first time that a grading rubric was attached to a piece of my writing….Suddenly all the joy was taken away.  I was writing for a grade -- I was no longer exploring for me.  I want to get that back.  Will I ever get that back?"   ...
Fraternities, sororities and football, along with other outsized athletic programs, have decimated most major American universities. Scholarship, inquiry, self-criticism, moral autonomy and a search for artistic and esoteric forms of expression—in short, the world of ethics...
As students, we are told that we are being made into an “informed citizenry” capable of maintaining a vibrant democracy. Indeed, we are told that we must give up most of our constitutional rights in the name of achieving this goal. We are compelled to attend an institution...
One of the most profound changes that occurs when modern schooling is introduced into traditional societies around the world is a radical shift in the locus of power and control over learning from children, families, and communities to ever more centralized systems of...
Over the last six months of researching for my work-in-progress documentary about the pitfalls of American higher education, The Elephant on Campus, there have been many problems I have come across. One of the biggest and least talked about problems is that public...
Traditionally, young people have energized democratic movements. So it is a major coup for the ruling elite to have created societal institutions that have subdued young Americans and broken their spirit of resistance to domination.   Young Americans—even more so than older...
In response to Arne Duncan's Open Letter to America's Teachers, Kansas high school teacher, David Reber wrote an open letter of his own that criticized the Secretary of Education's "corporate-style education reform". The following is the beginning paragraphs of Reber's...
I think now is a good time to be talking about Bucky’s vision of a World Game.  We have the technology to do this and a new administration could easily provide the funding.  I don’t think any of this material is Utopian or far out, but if you do, let me know why.  From...
Reaching out to young people is especially critical at this time. With mounting psycho-social stress attributed to an increasingly uncertain future, young people are going to need support grappling with the social effects of so many convergent crises. The world is rife with...
“Every child,” wrote pioneer botanist Luther Burbank, “should have mud pies, grasshoppers, tadpoles, frogs, mud turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb. Brooks to wade, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet...
A dangerous thing can occur when you start learning about what's really going on in the world. The problems start to seem so complex, and you're just one person, doubts begin to creep in. You sincerely want to help change the world, but from all this knowledge you start to...
When we try to engage people politically we never know who will respond, or when someone will shift from reveling in their apathy to taking powerful public stands. Here's a striking example of one such transformation. Virginia Tech freshman Angie De Soto didn't vote in the...
WARNING!!!!  THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS HEAVY SARCASM!!!   Teachers' hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year! I feel we need to put things in perspective and pay them for what they currently do - babysit. And I am sure we can get that for...
I want you to consider the frightening possibility that we are spending far too much money on schooling, not too little. I want you to consider that we have too many people employed in interfering with the way children grow up — and that all this money and all...
Another revolution is brewing, but in an unlikely place: Wisconsin. Teachers are on strike, classes canceled, in protest of a state government plan to cut their benefits and weaken their unions. The governor says the cuts are necessary to balance the state budget. Given...
A new study says 3-year-olds who mostly eat processed foods have lower IQs five years later. (So Pop-Tarts and Sunny-D are why we're "falling behind" China in math and science?) The study, cited in The Guardian, examined the diets of 14,000 wee Britlets, based on what their...
Lawrence, KS -- After 12 months in development, Films For Action has launched its new website - a head-to-toe redesign that lays the foundation for a vibrant community-powered news site dedicated to inspiring positive social change. At the heart of the new site is a...
What happens when you fail to invest in education (and no, I don't mean investment in excessive layers of school administration), the most important single item in our nation's success or failure? You end up with this result: An unprecedented study that followed several...
While London has been rocked by student protests over proposed tuition hikes, United States college campuses have been largely quiet. Tens of thousands of students in the UK have taken to the streets -- confronting police, storming the Conservative Party headquarters...
Wireless Generation, a US education technology company, will become a subsidiary of News Corporation for about $360 million in cash as Rupert Murdoch seeks to expand his company into academia. The company provides technology solutions for an audience of over 3 million...
Let me speak to you about dumbness because that is what schools teach best. Old-fashioned dumbness used to be simple ignorance: you didn't know something, but there were ways to find out if you wanted to. Government-controlled schooling didn't eliminate dumbness - in fact, we...