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To everyone who joined these forums at some point, and got discouraged by the negativity and left after a while (or even got literally scared off): I'm sorry.

I wasn't good enough at encouraging people to be kinder, and removing people who refuse to be kind. Encouraging people is hard, and removing people creates conflict, and I hate conflict... so that's why I wasn't better at it.

I was a very, very sensitive teen. The atmosphere of this forum as it is now, if it had existed in 1996, would probably have upset me far more than it would have helped.

I can handle quite a lot of negativity and even abuse now, but that isn't the point. I want to help people. I want to help the people who need it the most, and I want to help people like the 1996 version of me.

I'm still figuring out the best way to do that, but as it is now, these forums are doing more harm than good, and I can't keep running them.

Thank you to the few people who have tried to understand my point of view so far. I really, really appreciate you guys. You are beautiful people.

Everyone else: If after everything I've said so far, you still don't understand my motivations, I think it's unlikely that you will. We're just too different. Maybe someday in the future it might make sense, but until then, there's no point in arguing about it. I don't have the time or the energy for arguing anymore. I will focus my time and energy on people who support me, and those who need help.


The forums are mostly read-only and are in a maintenance/testing phase, before being permanently archived. Please use this time to get the contact details of people you'd like to keep in touch with. My contact details are here.

Please do not make a mirror copy of the forums in their current state - things will still change, and some people have requested to be able to edit or delete some of their personal info.

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[split] Steve Hein's Thread
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xcriteria Offline

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[split] Steve Hein's Thread

Let's start with this:

Quote:xc has been kind of attacked, lightly, for writing walls of text. he or she seems to sincerely want to write more concisely and keep ppl's interest. i'd like to help him / her but i dont know how open s/he feels, how motivated.

I'm open, and I'm motivated. I'm not sure how effective 1-10 scales are, but let's say 8 for both.

Quote:i am worried about the time i would need to spend reading his xc's replies to my questions. but if i could as xc a question like how open do you feel to my suggestions from zero to ten and s/he would give me a number. it would be very fast to read and also give me a lot of motivation.

Basically, I want to get better at putting information and ideas into forms people find interesting and engaging. I'm highly motivated. Phrased that way, I'd say a 10.

Quote:i really really really have limited time online. i dont feel very understood about that by anyone who i communicate online with.

That's an important point to clarify. I have various draws on my time, too, but at the moment I have quite a bit of flexibility in how I juggle things. The question is how to make the most of that time, not only for myself, but for others.

Quote:it really pains me that i cant do more with my life. i worry about dying before i have done more to help the world. i worry that i will feel overwhelmed with things to read that xc suggests. i worry i will feel bad if i dont check them all out. and i worry he or she won't feel valued or appreciated. and then i will lose him or her as a reader.. i would feel sad if that happened.

I feel the same way. I'd like to do more. However, I think that these days, a lot of good things are happening in parallel, more people are taking emotional learning or "non-cognitive skills" seriously than in the past. More people are questioning education, and more resources are available to learn from.

As for not checking out all my links, that's a great point to spend some time considering. I get overwhelmed, too, with all the links that are out there. I've spent a lot of time digging through them. I can cite statistics but obviously there are huge numbers of pages, videos, links on the web, leading to the problem of information overload, otherwise known as opportunity overwhelm.

Maybe it would help to more effectively explain why I link to particular items. I'm trying not to just spray out links, but link them together and present them in a meaningful way. In reality, much of what people do on social media is spray out links. Usually they do that one at a time instead of in long posts, but there are many to dig through if you start looking for them. I'm hoping that I can use the time I've spend digging to save other people some time.

Needs analysis

This leads to the question of identifying people's needs and preferences. A big part of this is identifying their available resources and constraints, background knowledge and backstory, and how they feel about things. So in your case, your time constraints are an important factor. Your desire for clear feedback is another.

So, an anecdote and another video: I took an open course (a MOOC) on Stanford Venture Lab, called Designing a New Learning Environment (DNLE.) The instructor, Paul Kim, teaches educators, and a lot of teachers took the course. Two of his videos stood out to me as especially important. I know that by linking to yet more videos, it adds to your burden of things to either watch or ignore, but these hit on some meta questions about how to understand needs.

These videos focus on education in underserved regions, but the basic ideas he discusses are relevant to people understanding each others needs and stories in general:

DNLE: Needs Analysis (4 min.)

Watch on YouTube

DNLE: 1001 Stories Project (14 min.)

Watch on YouTube

Turning the question around

Needs analysis can also be considered with respect to teachers, coaches, or caregivers. Everyone has needs, capacities, and constraints. "Everyone has a story," made up of lots of sub-stories. That might sound like a cliche, but I think it has more meaning when you think about how the parts are connected, and how one person's experience relates to someone else's.

In the 1001 Stories Project, Paul Kim's team had students record stories from their lives on voice recorders, and they were then adapted into illustrated books. Some of those books were then used in the students' own communities for reading instruction.

But how does that relate to you or me, or the question of reaching out to schools?

One thought is that it could help build credibility to show what's already being done. I've tracked down a lot of examples of people people promoting social/emotional learning in schools. I can link to them, but that means even more items to present, so I'll hold off for anther time. I think a lot of these things work best when they're presented outside the context of school, as a personal choice, rather than a set of assignments in the classroom. But both approaches can have merit.

What do you think?

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(This post was last modified: 05-20-2013 06:44 AM by xcriteria.)
05-20-2013 06:17 AM
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xcriteria Offline

Posts: 3,090
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Steve Hein's Thread

I saw the video. Actually it gave me some hope. There's plenty to scrutinize about Gates, but I see a lot more positive in what he's doing than it seems most see.

For one thing, simply video recording classroom scenes has the potential to do tremendous good in the right hands. In totalitarian hands, it means evidence to burn people in all kinds of ways, but in kindler, gentler circumstances, it means an opportunity to learn. It means an opportunity for more kids to give impromptu speeches and get a gold star for them rather than only giving speeches on Speech Day in Speech Class.

Video in classrooms also provides more material to look at the value teachers are providing. Again, all of this recording can be utterly creepy with the wrong Powers That Be, but empowering and informative when people are using the evidence to learn, reflect, and create something better.

My personal motivation here is that I've spent too much of my life, too many hours, days, and years bored out of my mind, often basically unconscious, sitting in classrooms and not learning or doing much of anything. Living like that leads to the later problem, even upon "freedom from prison" of undoing the habits of disconnection and unconsciousness that factory model routines build up.

Here's a one 2-minute summary of part of that problem from neuroscientist David Eagleman:

Watch on YouTube

Feedback *from the students* is indeed vital. Even Gates Foundation has recognized that. For example:

"The project has demonstrated that it is possible to identify great teaching by combining three types of measures: classroom observations, student surveys, and student achievement gains."

The sinister aspect of this is that student surveys don't always translate into good teacher feedback. And, very often, when teachers are bound to single subjects, single age-grades, and single classrooms, education just breaks down for a lot of students, especially for people who think in terms of the big picture.

So, watching Gates, I'm not depressed, I don't think what they're doing is wrong, but I do think a lot more needs to be done.

In one of your texts, you asked about teachers who get the kind of things you have in mind. I think Justin Schawmm is a great example. He writes about what goes on his classes, he links it to the challenge of transforming from a dehumanizing factory-model approach to a "joyful learning community," and he references current events and people like Daniel Pink who write about the importance of "autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

For example,

Quote:One critical part is what Daniel Pink talks about in Drive ( – the "big three" intrinsic motivators of autonomy, mastery, and purpose. With a strong sense of those, I can create conditions where my students' levels of all three will increase ... and I keep seeing evidence of that increase, as C, D, and others who had "always" accepted the "bad and lazy" label begin to label themselves differently and live up to their new self-definitions. I'm still thinking about the power of I will statements to express criteria for success – still thinking, but also beginning to experiment, and maybe that helped, too. I find that I'm ending blog posts with will questions, which empower, rather than can questions, which can feel a bit overwhelming. "How can we ..." vs. "What will I ...?" – there's a difference, and it's one I want to continue to explore.

I think Bill Gates is smart and well-intentioned, but yeah there are more dimensions to consider, and active, real student feedback is important -- including feedback form former students -- including feedback that says factory model schools, based on subject-bound, period-bound, age-grade-bound teachers just can't work for many students, is important. This needs to be discussed. But I'm hopeful, rather than depressed, by the potential for change. Honestly, I don't see enemies of this, as much as roadblocks. The selling point is, it's in everyone's interests to have a more educated population. And education means more than standardized test scores, it means a sense of how to make it in the world without taking down others. I think it's possible, but that idea still has to be sold to some people.

If you haven't seen Gates' talk, here it is:

Watch on YouTube

Feedback *is* important. But it has to be in a meaningful format.

Peter Gray & allies launching the Alliance for Self-directed Education

ASDE Newsletters: #1 Announcement | #2 History of ASDE | #6 Education Liberation

School Survival & Catalyst Learning Network featured on AlternativestoSchool's blog
“Mom, Dad, can I stop going to school?”

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when the Stakes are High

Hidden stuff:
05-21-2013 01:08 PM
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