Dear Diane, I'm sitting here in the hotel lounge in Winnipeg with my third try at this blog, plus one I tried hurriedly before I left. So far I've lost them all somewhere. But, as in schooling, there's nothing more important than persistence. Well, maybe not. My colleague, Jane Andrias, who is up here with me in Winnipeg, reminds me that persistence—doing the same thing over and over—can also be sheer foolishness. It's interesting how we use the same words sometimes to suggest rather different ideas. My view of tinkering, and "hands-and-minds" on—like play and imagination—don't...

Dear Deborah, I loved your last column. I really enjoyed your references to craft and tinkering. I admire hands-on work, especially since the only work I seem to do these days with my own hands is to type and occasionally to make a salad or scrambled eggs. I would only caution that handiwork, as satisfying as it may be, can never take the place of knowledge, the sort of knowledge gleaned from books and study of the experiences of others. One’s own direct experience of the hands-on kind will take you just so far and no farther. We can’t...

Editor's note: Today, Bridging Differences returns to the conversation Diane Ravitch started Tuesday, before yesterday's entries on William Ayers. Dear Diane, There’s a connection, as you suggest, between the economic crisis we’re now in and our misbegotten effort to “reform” schools. Maybe it’s got something to do with our disrespect for knowledge. An odd thing for me to say? Not at all, but I realize that there are some (maybe even you?) who might think that my argument on behalf of “less is more” in terms of curriculum coverage is because I don’t respect knowledge. Quite ...

Editor's note: Due to their timeliness, the following posts by Deborah Meier and Diane Ravitch on William Ayers appear today rather than on a usual publishing day for Bridging Differences. Dear Diane, You are right on almost all points. I forgive people more easily—it's a fault of mine that many friends complain about. For example, having been a passionate anti-Communist all my life, I find it possible to be friends with many ex-Communists who have not properly repented their pasts—although I do give them a little trouble now and then. I ignored the first round of statements...

Editor's note: Bridging Differences is publishing today because of the timeliness of Diane Ravitch's comments on Prof. William Ayers, whose association with Sen. Barack Obama has become a prominent campaign issue. Deborah Meier's reply will be published shortly. Dear Deborah, I expect we will both watch the last presidential debate. Maybe the Bill Ayers issue will come up, maybe not. Last night I received online a petition on behalf of Ayers, and I saw that you signed it. It says that he "participated passionately in the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s, as did hundreds of thousands of ...

The opinions expressed in Bridging Differences are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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