Posts Tagged ‘Seth Godin’

So, I’ve been thinking about history and history projects. Projects that not only require knowledge of facts and events, but that ask students to think about a particular  historical time period and how those in it would relate to our lives today. I know that when I taught ancient civilizations in 5th grade it was easy to get caught up in the time period, learning great stuff, having good discussion, etc. and then move on without connecting it too much to modern times. I mean, we were supposed to be studying ancient civilizations, so that is what we did. My concern is and was that the kids were left with the idea that these ancient places might as well be on mars for the connection they had to us. We did talk about inventions and ideas that have been significant; however, I think I could have, should have, done more. I tried a few different things, but was never all that satisfied with any of them.

What got me thinking about this again was a book that I picked up in my school library in the graphic novel section. It’s called And the Pursuit of Happiness by Maira Kalman who is an illustrator and author of numerous kids’ books. In an early chapter she is writing about her interest in Abraham Lincoln and talks about where she would take him based on what she infers were his interests.

Ok, I think this is a great idea! And, how fun would this be in class?! It could totally be leveled up or down depending on knowledge base etc. Conversations could be imagined, itineraries planned, photo journals written. The possibilities are endless. It could be adapted to be two different people in the past, but from different times or places, you name it. To do a good job would require a real understanding of time periods and/or places. I think as a teacher it would give you a good sense of who “got it”–a great way of seeing who could connect the dots. (I just watched this TEDxYouthBFS talk by Seth Godin in which he asked, “are we asking our kids to collect dots or connect dots?” Although I didn’t agree with everything he said, I think this is a good question. I also understand that there will be some dot collecting too, even it is involuntary.)

If I’m going to collect and grade a project or piece of work, not just evaluate informally and give feedback, then I want to be sure that the item being graded does a good job of giving me the information I want. I think a project inspired by this idea would do just that.

Any takers?

(Calvin Trillin wrote about the restaurant tour he would plan if he got to drive Mao around NYC for a day, called “Mao and Me” from Alice, Let’s Eat and also included in The Tummy Trilogy. His essay was more about food than history, but also worth reading.)

So, I’ve been thinking about fitting in and not fitting in. Three seemingly unrelated things brought this together for me.

First, I’ve been thinking about the financial cost of having our children in an independent Quaker school. If I were to be very responsible and talk to a financial planner about this, I feel quite certain there would be gasping for air about the expense we are incurring relative to our incomes, plural though they may be. (Thank you family, and dear, departed grandparents for your assistance!) I loved the trips my family took when I was young, yet I just don’t see that happening for us at the moment, since we did not win the most recent MegaMillions. It has been suggested that maybe it would be better to save tuition money and be able to take some trips. This theory says that the cultural experiences of travel combined with going to the local public school would better than the independent school combined with a lot less travel. I’ve been thinking about it.

The shirt my daughter liked.

Second, in the early spring I went into GAP Kids with my daughter. We were at our local Trader Joe’s and it’s across the parking lot so I said we could stop in. My daughter has recently become a huge fan of plaid shirts, and she was on the lookout for more. (I had not promised to buy anything, it was just a reconnaissance mission.) Anyway we headed into the store. The girl side was all pastel and sparkles. My daughter quickly determined there was nothing there of interest at all. She is not a girly girl, at the moment, and her short hair often gets her mistaken for a boy–a boy with little heart earrings, but a boy. On the boy side she found several plaid shirts that she liked and which we did not buy. In this instance we just happened to be at The GAP, but I we have had similar experiences at other stores.

Third, I read Seth Godin’s most recent manifesto about school: Stop Stealing Dreams. I’ve read a couple of his other books (Tribes, Linchpin, and Poke the Box) so I knew what I was getting into with him. He writes about the early purpose of mass education being the production of a labor force for the new industrialized work place. The goal was to churn out trained and obedient workers for jobs on assembly lines. He contends that too many public, and independent schools, still work on this model, squeezing all passion out of students, forcing them into compliance, and creating graduates ready for the jobs of a previous decade (in a nutshell).

So, putting those three little bits together, I started thinking about trips and school first. If school is a bit boring, that might not sound that bad, but if boring is not “just boring” it can head right into mind-numbing. Then we are into the realm of and dangerous in my opinion. Yes, those fun trips surely would be memorable, but if I believe, as I do, that the school my children attends is fostering their love of learning, encouraging them in their passions, and valuing them as individuals, a week or two a year of big excitement is not a good trade for an entire school year of boredom and potentially the need to undo a lot of what happened during that school year. Now, we live in a “good” school district, so I know it would not be as bad as all that. And yet, my school gets students from the local “good” districts all the time. The parents and children are, almost to a person, thrilled with the difference they see.

Then, I added in the GAP piece and thought about my daughter in particular and fitting in. I find her to be an interesting, challenging, and sometimes infuriating person. Seems about right for 9 1/2 I think. She still has good friends who are both boys and girls and invites either over to play. She loves poetry, LEGO, reading both fiction and nonfiction, playing in the dirt/garden, and is currently creating a ninja club with my son and some friends from school. Training is proceeding according to schedule as far as I can tell. So far I have not received my letter to join. As we walked around the GAP kids, I felt that my daughter, the interesting, and yes sometimes infuriating, person in front of me was not really wanted. We have no problem shopping in the boys’ department there or at any store (especially when buying shorts as apparently all shorts for girls are actually made for hookers, which I find inappropriate, even though I do have a bit of a soft spot for short-shorts.). But why weren’t some of these shirts that could be worn by anyone, as clearly several of the shirts in the boys’ section could be, in some sort of anyone zone in the middle of the store? Traditional girl colors have been adopted for boys, great. Boys now have the option for dark traditional boy colors and patterns as well as new pastel options. What about some range for the girls? (Note: on a later visit to the GAP there was a wider range of color choices for the girls as well as some shorts that did not make me think of the “street-walker or starlet” game on Joan Rivers’ Fashion Police.)

Finally, as I have been reading Seth Godin’s manifesto, I am more convinced than ever that although we should check out our local public school more thoroughly, and perhaps play the lottery a bit more, we should stay the course in terms of our children’s school. I don’t think any trip can compensate for a year of having the fire stamped out of you. If a world of pastel and sparkle is what is waiting, it’s clear that my daughter does not see herself in those neatly defined boxes right now, and I certainly have no need to put her into one. Her class is very small and she has had her issues with a student or two. She’s not perfect. She gets her feeling hurt and is very undone by any perceived injustice. And, she has a healthy sense of self, regardless of where we buy her clothes. Her school is not perfect either. Still, I think we are making the right choice for now.

So, this spring vacation we hung around the house. We did a lot of cleaning out of junk and rearranged bedrooms. It was very satisfying. We drove to Washington, DC and spent 1 night. We had a great time, and on Monday we all went back to school feeling good about our choices.

So, I’ve been thinking about probability, the probability of getting selected for things.

53/365 - May 11, 2008 - Above AverageLast week I heard back from 2 different things I “tried out for.” First, I found out that I did not get picked to be part of Seth Godin’s “Medicine Ball Sessions.” This was not a big shocker as it was a long shot for many reasons. My super-supportive husband, upon being emailed this information, replied, “Seth is dead to me. We’ll drown our sorrows in crafts.” (We were going to a craft show that weekend. So nice. And, side note, I bought a great hat at the craft show. Sorrows officially drowned.) Then, on Sunday I heard that a proposal that I worked on with 2 other teachers did get accepted for EduCon, which is very exciting and a little nerve-wracking at this point.

But this got me thinking about averages. Because it’s all about perspective here. If I think about it as a test average then 1 out of 2 is not so great, to put it mildly. However, if I change my perspective to batting averages, then I’m batting .500, which is quite a different story. So, I’m choosing to go with batting averages on this one. I like the sound of it a whole lot better.

Sometimes is all in how you sell it, even if you’re just selling it to yourself.


(Photo by meddygarnet used under creative commons license)

It’s worth a shot

Posted: November 8, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

So, I’ve been thinking about Seth Godin. I haven’t been thinking about him personally, but his ideas and writing.

I have read several of his books (Tribes, Linchpin,Poke the Box) and read his blog sometimes. Someone mentioned a recent post of his on Twitter and once I read one, I started scrolling back and read a few more, including one announcing a 3 day workshop he is having. I read the post, followed the link, and applied. We’ll see what happens.

One of the things that I appreciated about his explanation of the event was the value he put on being face to face with people, even if they had already read his books and were familiar with many of his ideas. I am finding this to be true in some ways as well. For example even though I participate in a many virtual communities and think Twitter is super fantastic for teachers, I have really valued attending conference recently. I have attended a number of unconferences or edcamps as well as EduCon and ISTE. Sometimes I get to meet people with whom I have interacted digitally and sometimes I meet new people, but in both cases those interaction, in real-time, were really worthwhile.

So, I don’t honestly expect to be chosen for this 3 day event. It’s not aimed at educators, and I would need a significant break on the cost, but I can’t win if I don’t play.

(photo by Incase used under creative commons license)