In this one…
- Inclusive, connected cultures
- Segregation, isolation, and compliance
- Consent in ed.
- Hyperactivity and postponing kindergarten
- Structural ideology, systems thinking, and the three tier caste system
- Progressive, connected education
- Neurodiversity inclusion and class size
- The Open Schoolhouse
- Typing > handwriting, plain text editors
- Open by default
- Respectful parenting
- Diversity and inclusion resources
Inclusive, connected cultures
Subject-specific lessons – an hour of history in the morning, an hour of geography in the afternoon – are already being phased out for 16-year-olds in the city’s upper schools. They are being replaced by what the Finns call “phenomenon” teaching – or teaching by topic. For instance, a teenager studying a vocational course might take “cafeteria services” lessons, which would include elements of maths, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills and communication skills.
There are other changes too, not least to the traditional format that sees rows of pupils sitting passively in front of their teacher, listening to lessons or waiting to be questioned. Instead there will be a more collaborative approach, with pupils working in smaller groups to solve problems while improving their communication skills.
We come across children playing chess in a corridor and a game being played whereby children rush around the corridors collecting information about different parts of Africa. Ms Jaatinen describes what is going on as “joyful learning”. She wants more collaboration and communication between pupils to allow them to develop their creative thinking skills.
Segregation and isolation are reflexes of compliance culture
Renay Ferguson, whose 10-year old son has ADHD, gave The Seattle Times school records that show her son was placed in isolation 148 times in the span of two years at two different elementary schools. Each isolation incident ranged from two minutes to three hours, the records show.
Ferguson’s son felt like he was “going to die” when he was in the Rose Hill Elementary isolation room in Kirkland, and he would take off his clothes to relieve the feeling of suffocation, he reported to his mother and doctor.
While in the isolation room April 18, Ferguson’s son banged his head against the door and tied his shoelaces around his wrist and neck, according to district records. He suffered a concussion that day, according to a report from his doctor.
Consent in ed.
Within schooling, no consent is sought, in fact mainstream schooling requires that intellectual or educational consent (which term is best I am not yet sure) is not sought. It is a system that is coercion dependent, and it uses an infrastructure of punishment and reward to facilitate and reinforce the coercive environment.
Hyperactivity and postponing kindergarten
Let them play.
A new study from Stanford University shows that Danish kids who postponed kindergarten for up to one year showed dramatically higher levels of self-control.
“We found that delaying kindergarten for one year reduced inattention and hyperactivity by 73% for an average child at age 11,” Thomas Dee, one of the co-authors and a Stanford Graduate School of Education professor, said in a release.
Dee did his research with Hans Henrik Sievertsen of the Danish National Centre for Social Research, who told Quartz that the impact was strong and lasted a long time: “We were a bit surprised at how persistent the effect was.” The effect of delaying school on hyperactivity and inattention didn’t diminish over time, as they expected, but increased: in fact, waiting one year virtually eliminated the chance that an average kid at age 11 would have higher-than-normal scores on those measures.
One interesting hypothesis is posed: did attending school later allow kids more time to develop through unstructured play? Developmental psychology research emphasizes the importance of imaginative play in aiding children’s emotional and intellectual self-regulation. “Children who delay their school starting age may have an extended (and appropriately timed) exposure to such playful environments,” the study noted. Party time, kids.
Structural ideology, systems thinking, and the three tier caste system
Structural ideology and restorative practices acknowledge the actuality of our systems and the lived experiences of students. Students live and learn within the context of a three tier caste system. Cultivate intersectional systems thinking with this engaging 11 minute primer on the three tier system,
the documentary 13th,
“Oh, so design isn’t about this pixels thing. It’s about systems thinking.” I’m a systems thinker. “Oh, so it isn’t just about the appearance.”
Progressive, connected education
Because now is the time to prove that progressive and connected education is the only way we build hope for the future.
We have a generation asking us to be better, and so we must be that for Generation Z. And we must begin with schools that become unschools. We’re not there, but we’re trying.
We know we need to help our kids become communicators, curators, inventors, problem solvers, and critical thinkers. And we need to reimagine education to get there.
Neurodiversity inclusion and class size
Children with autism who are in a large class at school are more likely to play with peers at recess than are those in a small class.
The new findings reveal that large class size and opportunities to connect with classmates may help children with autism gain a foothold in their school’s social network.
The most socially successful children with autism came from the largest classes and, not surprisingly, showed the strongest communication skills and the fewest repetitive behaviors on the ADOS. The findings suggest that schools can boost the social success of children with autism by putting them in large classes, which maximizes the number of familiar faces they can approach on the playground.
The researchers also noted that children with autism are most likely to occupy a prime spot in the social network when they have ample opportunities to interact with typical classmates.
Programs that teach typical students how best to engage and interact with children who have autism may also help build the social circles of those on the spectrum, Anthony says. The researchers suggest in the study that “a successful inclusion model would start by training the peers, not the child with autism.”
The Open Schoolhouse
What I love so much about open source philosophy, and what I strive to replicate on the help desk, is the participatory, inclusive environment where traditional power structures dissolve and students are empowered to act, contribute, express, learn, and think. Together as a team, students and staff shape the world around them. Once we stop treating students like data banks waiting for downloads, once we trust students as equal partners in their education, and once we empower students to contribute to their school community, the open schoolhouse emerges.
Typing > handwriting, plain text editors
“I’ve had a fair number of kids that were traditionally disengaged— The most common complaint: ‘I don’t like to write, so I don’t like school.’ When I said, ‘Well, you can type it. You don’t have to write; you can type. And you can use the spell checker, and you can look up words.’ All of the sudden they say, ‘Oh, OK. I’ll do that.’”
“If you’re not a good writer, sitting and writing on a piece of paper is hard. But when they have a computer that can help with spelling, and with grammar, and they can go online and look up words and the pronunciation, and they can hear how it’s said, and they can write it down correctly. Now they feel good about themselves because they’re not getting a paper back with a thousand red marks all over it, correcting grammar and spelling that they don’t necessarily understand in the first place.”
High school students are often reluctant writers, especially when assigned to produce work that is uninteresting and unrelated to their personal lives. However, writing is a vital part of the help desk. Apprentices, both on and off the Communication Team, regularly craft articles for the support blog. My team offers starter ideas, but the apprentices select most topics based on their interests and the support needs of their peers. In this setting, writing feels less stilted, less pedantic, and more authentic. Writing for a real-world audience is vastly different from a traditional school writing assignment where a single teacher is a sole spectator.
Plain text writing (and marking up text elements for later formatting) is simple. If you’ve been socialized in Word (like me), you may disagree at first. But I believe that if you try plain text writing, you’re likely to change your mind and come to enjoy its purity and simplicity. As for myself, I think now that text processors are actually cumbersome, and many writers just got so used to this fact that they don’t question it anymore.
So writing plain text means to separate writing from formatting for the sake of productivity. The essential structural elements of a text are marked up while writing: You can write headings of various levels, add emphasis, add lists and more. What you can’t do: Tweak margins, or choose your first order headings to be 24 pt, and red-colored. All the layout tasks that have nothing to do with the content you’re trying to compose. Take care of layout later. This first instance should be about writing, and writing only.
If you want to publish your text more than once, but in different formats, plain text is very effective – thanks to the use of markup, you can easily convert it. Ulysses, as an example, can use one and the same text to create a formatted PDF, an e-book or standard HTML – with just a few clicks.
Open by default
Leaving emails and other routine documents subject to FOIA encourages a general culture of transparency within agencies while creating another reminder that government employees work for the people.
But it’s equally important that government officials do get used to working in public, so to speak, and part of that job is being able and ready to share, explain, and occasionally defend their work.
The more routine they make that practice, and the more deeply ingrained it is in their culture, the harder it is for anyone to turn it into a “gotcha.”
18F has done a great job of working to embrace openness as a core value, doing much of its programming work in public on Github, and even working to open up much of its Slack services to the public.
That strategy has seemed to work: 18F has achieved a lot, and what scandals have emerged have been taken in stride, with the agency preferring open and honest communication around the challenges as they move to update the technological engines of governance for the digital age.
What typically hurts officials is when they fight requests, rather than embracing them as an opportunity to share their work with constituents.
In a communication is oxygen culture, open by default comes naturally.
- Instead of intensive speech therapy – we use a wonderful mash-up of communication including AAC, pictures scribbled on notepads, songs, scripts, and lots of patience and time.
- Instead of sticker charts and time outs, or behavior therapy – we give hugs, we listen, solve problems together, and understand and respect that neurodivergent children need time to develop some skills
- Instead of physical therapy – we climb rocks and trees, take risks with our bodies, are carried all day if we are tired, don’t wear shoes, paint and draw, play with lego and stickers, and eat with our fingers.
- Instead of being told to shush, or be still– we stim, and mummies are joyful when they watch us move in beautiful ways.
- Instead of school – we unschool and can follow our interests, dive deep in to passions, move our bodies, and control our environment
- Be patient.
- Presume competence.
- Meet them at their level.
- Treat challenges as opportunities.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate.
- Seek inclusion.
- Embrace the obsession.
- Create a calm oasis.
- Let them stim!
- Encourage play and creativity.
Diversity and inclusion resources
Recent diversity and inclusion discussions from the tech water coolers I lurk about: