"Why is everything massified in the [education] system, rather than individualized in the system? New technologies make possible customization in a way that the old system--everybody reading the same textbook at the same time--did not offer." That is the perspective of Alvin Toffler, the well-known chronicler of our nation's social and technological prospects and the author of Future Shock, as expressed in a question and answer session with edutopia magazine. To be sure, the idea of educational customization has been around for decades in different forms. But Toffler tells edutopia he thinks that technological innovations and the need to educate ...


In a Nov. 10 post about a review of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, I promised that I would read this book. The review was very positive, but I wanted to pass my own judgment. Well, I can tell you the review was right on target. If you are interested in helping kids see the world through a lens that values hard work and a commitment to improvement, this book is a must read. It includes common sense advice backed up by research, and a host of anecdotes about students, teachers, and parents to illustrate ...


The challenges rookie teachers face are well documented. They have to design lesson plans, master new curricula, and learn to navigate the oftentimes tricky politics of school life. But for many, the biggest challenge they face is figuring out how to react to student apathy. Do you punish lazy students by giving them more assignments? Do you devote most of your time and energy to the kids who want to be there, the ones who work hard and pay attention? Or do disengaged students deserve as much attention as engaged ones? A nicely written piece in American Secondary Education, a ...


Students in special education programs benefit from having individualized education plans, or IEPs, which are customized to meet their learning needs. But why should such customization be limited to special education students? What about those students who were right on the border of being put in special education, but were not put in that category? What about kids who are struggling in school? Couldn't they benefit from a customized education plan too? Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne seems to think so, according to a Jan. 22 Associated Press story. He would like to see every student in 7th ...


"Show me the money!" That's the motivational slogan teacher Geralyn Raach uses with her 3rd graders at Central Elementary School in Coshocton, Ohio, to entice the youngsters to work harder, according to a recent story in Education Week that details an unusual research experiment in that Ohio district to pay students modest cash awards for passing or doing well on state exams. Such an experiment is a virtual slap in the face to advocates of intrinsic motivation, who argue that such extrinsic motivators are educational gimmicks that might have some short-term results, but little impact over the long term. As ...


The tale of the hard working immigrant teenager who balances the demands of school with the responsibilities of home has been told so many times that it has become a predictable narrative that many readers look at and say: "I've seen that story before." Yet I hope readers' familiarity with such storylines does not prevent them from digging a little deeper into what lessons can be learned from hard working immigrant kids that can be used to heighten motivation among typical U.S. students. Recently, I was reading our local weekly community newspaper, The Old Bridge Observer, a small, understaffed ...


As the loyal readers of this blog are well aware, one of my areas of interest is the motivational philosophies and tactics sports coaches use to build strong teams that might also be utilized in the classroom to raise student achievement. And that brings me to a book I am reading, The Education of a Coach by David Halberstam, the author of The Best and the Brightest and other best-selling books about American culture, sports, and politics. This book is a biography of Bill Belichick, the current head coach of the New England Patriots, the most successful team in the ...


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