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May 08, 2008

Lines Between Courtesy and Democracy

Dear Diane, The question may be: Which aspects of the Finnish “answer” are most pertinent? Maybe we should simplify our alphabetic system, maybe we should improve healthcare, maybe we should have a more homogeneous society, maybe a national curriculum. America’s “genius” has rested not...

May 06, 2008

What Finland's Example Proves

Dear Deborah, Time to disagree. Finland is the answer. No, I don't mean that we should or can copy Finland, but that we can learn from the remarkable synthesis that Finland has achieved. Their schools meet all or most of your pedagogical criteria—they "focus on a playful and wonder-filled ch...

May 01, 2008

Let Schools and Districts Defend Their Solutions

Dear Diane, I agree, Finland is not the answer. That’s my point! There isn’t one. Or even two or three. We can learn from others, but in the end we are responsible for using what we learn in our own setting—place, time, history and, of course, values. It’s instructive—for me&m...

April 29, 2008

Is Finland the Answer?

Dear Deborah, As you know, Americans have a long history of looking to other countries for answers to our educational problems. In the 19th Century, American educators traveled to Prussia to see the wonders of its national education system. In the 1960s, the British education system became the Amer...

April 22, 2008

What Should Happen in Our Houses of Learning?

Dear Deborah, Well, we do disagree about what should happen in “our houses of learning.” Maybe that is the core of our disagreement, maybe not. We’ll see. Your rumination on “the street” reminded me of one of my favorite figures in education history, and that is Junius Meriam of the Univ...

April 15, 2008

Our Overarching Disagreements

Dear Deborah, Maybe I should not have thrown George Counts’ famous challenge into the mix. I sometimes have to remind myself that most people—even most educators—know very little education history and never read about why Counts asked “Dare the schools build a new social order?” A...

April 08, 2008

Dare the Schools Build a New Social Order?

Dear Deb, We do agree: Violence is not the essential reason that schools are unsuccessful. We agree that violence is not caused by schools, and that in every community the schools are the safest environment that students are likely to encounter. That was not the point, however, that I was making. T...

April 03, 2008

Finding Purpose in School for Bored Kids

Dear Diane, You’ve opened a can of worms—or something like that. There’s so much in your last letter to take on that I’m at a loss about where to start. Our readers—especially teachers—really got excited talking about disciplining the unruly. Is there more brutal violence...

April 01, 2008

What About Students Who Don't Want to be Students?

Dear Deb, I was just sitting down to reply to your post and thought I would first scan my email. I opened the daily email from ASCD SmartBrief, which links to interesting stories about schools across the nation. There was a story from Pontiac, Mich., with this headline: “Teacher Recovers from Att...

March 06, 2008

On Bridges Across Troubled Waters

Dear Diane, To pursue the theme: Words are indeed elusive—I might even dare to claim that we are constantly “constructing” new meanings for old words, while also digging around to recover old meanings. Of course, some aspects of our occasional rants are the result of use of language that...

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