Copyright 2009 Goodwork Toolkit Wed, 14 Sep 2011 09:39:57 EDT A research unit of Harvard Project Zero. Copyright 2009, President and Fellows of Harvard College. This website was made possible by a generous grant from the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation Goodwork Toolkit :: Blog en-us Revisiting "Making Good" Wed, 14 Sep 2011 00:00:00 EDT <p> After reading David Brook's recent column in the New York Times, we would be remiss if we did not point out that his conclusion that adolescents are "bad" at talking and thinking about moral issues is exactly what we report in Making Good: How People Cope with Moral Dilemmas at Work ((Harvard University Press,2004), nearly seven years ago. In this book, we highlight the findings of our research with young people—those in high school, college, graduate school, and just beginning their careers. Specifically, we interviewed nearly a hundred individuals, including young scientists, actors, and journalists, to understand what it took for them to carry out "good work," work that is at once excellent, ethical, and engaging. Though these individuals often espoused positive values that we would all want to work and live by—honesty and integrity, meaningful relationships, and hard work and commitment, many of them also told us about incidents in which they easily compromised on these values. Interestingly, however, they didn't frame their behaviors as compromise. Just as Brooks proports about young people today, the young people we interviewed (some of them now nearly 10 years older) felt justified to make decisions that "felt right" to them at the time. We found that by and large, young people did not have a "moral compass," they often justified their own ethical missteps in order to get ahead in their respective fields, gain attention, win awards, and gain acceptance to college.<br /> <br /> Based on these findings, we created the GoodWork Toolkit to encourage those who work with young people to talk with them about what good work is and its importance in their work and to society. We developed the narratives (based on actual participants in our study) and activities so that young people could grapple with the issues that threaten the incidence of good work with the hopes that the next time they confront similar situations, they will be able to recognize the problem, have the language to talk about it, and some strategies to navigate it. As Brooks comments (in summary of a different research study), young people do not have the "categories" or "vocabulary" to talk about ethical issues. Interestingly and poignantly, we recently talked with students in a course on GoodWork (the teacher is using the GoodWork Toolkit as the basis of her curriculum). In interviewing some students at the beginning of the course (to understand where they are starting in their understandings of excellence, ethics, and engagement), we asked students to talk about what ethics means to them and if they have faced any ethical issues in their own life. One student remarked, "I don't know how ethics relates to my life...we haven't gotten to that chapter yet." Needless to say, we encourage those of you who work with young people to think about how to incorporate conversations about ethics and good work into your own settings, so that we can help these young people as Brooks writes, "to cultivate their moral intuitions, to think more broadly about moral obligations, to check behaviors that may be degrading..."</p> <p>  </p> <p> Below is a link to the Brooks article:</p> <p>  </p> Riding for Change: Mitigating Sexism Within Sport Through GoodWork Tue, 06 Sep 2011 00:00:00 EDT <p> A few months ago, at the age of 26, I purchased my first longboard (skateboard).   I’ve always been somewhat adventurous and inclined to try new, exciting sports, though for one reason or another, I never gave skateboarding a try.  Now was the time.  I did a bit of research and learned about longboards, which are longer and wider than skateboards and typically used for cruising around town or carving down hills.  Upon stepping on what would become my new pintail longboard, I was hooked.  In the months that followed my purchase, my love for the sport grew tremendously (impulse buy it was not!).  In my free time, if I was not riding my longboard or doing another outdoor activity, I was reading up on longboard maintenance, gear, functioning, etc.—I couldn’t learn or ride enough! </p> <p> It didn’t take me long, however, to realize that longboarding, like skateboarding and other ‘extreme’ sports, is very much male-dominated, with a high degree of both covert and overt sexism pervading the community.  I couldn’t visit a popular longboarding forum or read articles about longboarding without being exposed to a variety of misogynistic imagery and text.  While this was not surprising as sexism within sport communities is well established in the academic literature, it was extremely disheartening and enraging to witness.  Indeed, sexist discourse that objectifies, disparages, or ignores female athletes creates an environment in which women and girls are less likely to feel safe and empowered to participate.  It is unacceptable that women’s options—in this case, sports participation—are limited due, in part, to such unjust discourse. </p> <p> Fortunately, not all of my sports-related Internet searches yielded such sexist results; in fact, I came across numerous sports camps and clinics in the New England area that are women/girl-specific, helping to introduce women and girls to male-dominated sports.  I’ve had the opportunity to participate in one such program: Ride Like a Girl*, a free mountain bike clinic series hosted by the New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) and Highland Mountain Bike Park.  Once a month, from April thru October, women from across New England gather to hone their technique and learn new skills from expert mountain bikers.  The all-female nature of the clinics helps to provide a safe, supportive environment in which the athletes are free from the subtle (and not so subtle) sexism that is present in sport communities, helping them to focus more fully on their sport.  Additionally, the Ride Like a Girl series extends its mission to empower women by helping to raise money for the Elizabeth Stone House—an organization that provides support to women and families who have experienced trauma. </p> <p> In my mind, this series is a perfect exemplification of GoodWork within sport.  The staff, which consists of female mountain bike instructors, mechanics, and patrollers, volunteers their time to provide quality instruction that is very engaging and rewarding.  The ethical considerations that guide this series—a concern for women, families, and the environment—are also very pronounced.  Lastly, not only does the program help to empower individual women, but it is contributing to a culture change in which women’s representation in traditionally male-dominated sports is increasing, helping to minimize the gender disparities present in such sports. </p> <p> Eradicating deeply seated sexism within sport, however, will take more than female-specific sports programs; furthermore, the responsibility to create such social change should not lie solely on the shoulders of women.  Multiple scholars have identified social responsibility as a tenet of GoodWork—something for which athletes are not exempt (for more on this, see Reid Warner’s 2005 article about GoodWork in professional basketball).  While the women running the Ride Like a Girl clinics are clearly acting in socially responsible ways by helping to create empowering environments for female athletes, I believe all sports administrators, coaches, and athletes need to take on such responsibility.  Indeed, the onus to carry out GoodWork within sport, which includes challenging and mitigating social injustices, such as sexism, must be shared by all participants. </p> <p> It is my hope that, in the future, other young women visiting websites dedicated to longboarding, or a sport of their choice, find themselves surrounded by positive, affirming messages—content that does nothing but motivate them to participate and fully develop their athleticism.  This, unfortunately, will remain a pipe dream unless everybody within the sports community takes it upon themselves to strive for nothing less than GoodWork.</p> <p> *Ride Like a Girl also has a sister program, Wrench Like a Girl.  With the help of Hub Bicycle—a woman owned bike shop in Cambridge—Wrench Like a Girl teaches women basic bike repair and maintenance skills.</p> <p> Mentioned sources:</p> <p> Warner, 2005</p> <p> <a href=""></a></p> <p> Tucker Institute for Research on Girls and Women in Sport</p> <p> <a href=""></a></p> <p>  </p> <p> Below is the link for "Ride Like a Girl":</p> <p>  </p> Second Update GoodWork Pilot University Medical Centre The Radboud in Nijmegen, Netherlands, May – July 2011 Mon, 29 Aug 2011 00:00:00 EDT <p> This update of the Pilot in The Radboud Medical Centre is about sessions, methods and cases used from the (translated) GoodWork Toolkit and about our first experiences.</p> <p> <em>Yolande Witman and Alexandrien worked with three groups: medical heads of clinical departments , residentsphysician, nursing managers and nurse practitioners, 18 persons in sum. </em></p> <p> <em>With each group we held four sessions, planned in the period April – July 2011. </em></p> <p> Session 1 ‘Good Work’ We started with an interview of the professionals with each other about the question: What makes you a good professional? After that we gave an introduction about the concept of Good Work. Then we asked them to give their opinion about GoodWork of other professions in cases from the toolkit. The professionals thought about criteria of good work of their own profession. We finished the first session with the value sort cards from the toolkit by each participant.  In the last session we will do this again and we are curious if there will be any differences.</p> <p> Session 2 ‘Excellence’:</p> <p> We asked every participant to bring along something regarding to what they see as an example of excellent work.  We also discussed the case of Alfred Bloom and the decisions that he made. We asked them to think about excellence and the relation with ethics. For this purpose we used the case about Ethical Values in Business.  After discussing this case we asked them to bring up examples of excellence from their own working experience. That resulted in all groups in inspiring stories, which illustrated the commitment of these professionals with their work.</p> <p> Session 3 ‘Ethics’ This session started with a reflection about the responsibilities in daily practice and their influence on the work of the participators.  We discussed the case ’ serving a cause versus serving a client’. To conclude, the participants told stories regarding the moral dilemmas they face in their work. Emotional stories with regard to very difficult dilemmas occurred.</p> <p> Session 4  ‘Engagement’. We started this session with an interview about personal engagement. Is this important in work and for the patient?  How do you want to be a mentor for others?  We discussed a case of the toolkit about mentorship, and after that we had a dialogue about their own experiences with mentors. What would you learn to others? What would you change in your work? They finished with filling in the value sort cards for the second time.</p> <p> <em>In June the medical staff and the organization decided that also a group of 8 enthusiastic medical students may participate in this pilot. In August and September we scheduled  four sessions with them. Some of them are involved in de movement </em><a href=""><em>Compassion for Care.</em></a></p> <p> Next week we will analyze the outcomes and prepare the next joint meeting in September. In October, the groups will exchange their conception and awareness. The results will be presented to the board of the Medical Centre and the rest of the organization.</p> <p> Yolande and Alexandrien are leading the sessions. Their first impression is that there are different points of views within the groups, this makes the dialogue useful. The differences itself are not the most interesting aspect; the possibility to exchange professional and personal experiences in an open and safe atmosphere makes it very valuable for the professionals. </p> <p> The toolkit offered us good material, for all four sessions. The toolkit is developed for students, so we changed some exercises to make them more suitable for our senior participants. Because of limited time for each session, we made choices which parts we used. We also think that we have to ‘translate’ some cases to more visible for the Dutch situation. Finally we discovered in practice the importance of Good Work and the GoodWork Toolkit</p> <p> Before we started to work on this pilot, we knew the GoodWork Project from the chapter Gardner et. al. wrote in the book ‘Professional Pride’. The GoodWork Project provides values of which we believe are very important. This pilot made us see that we are ready to work with the GoodWork Toolkit. The Professional Honor Foundation want to make work of it in different sectors  in the Netherlands. Working with professionals and discussing their work shows the importance of finding the right ‘language’ for Good Work. The cases of the participants confirm the importance of trust towards professionals.</p> <p> Stay tuned-In September we tell you more about the results of the plenary session and the results in the University Medical Centre in Nijmegen.</p> Challenges of a Young Professional Mon, 01 Aug 2011 00:00:00 EDT <p> From the time we enter kindergarten we hear the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” We answer with utmost confidence: a firefighter, a doctor. From a young age, our idealized versions of both jobs and our potential in the workplace take root. The formative years attempt to prepare people, through formal and informal education, for myriad types of success – and, importantly, to do goodwork in their fields.</p> <p> By the time I reached high school, I was positive that I wanted to be a news anchor. I was thrilled by the potential of bringing stories from around the world into peoples’ living rooms and, in turn, helping people to become more globally aware. I believed that broadcast journalism was uniquely positioned to humanize the planet and I wanted to be at the forefront of this mission. My education successfully prepared me for various aspects of the industry: I cultivated relevant skills in research, writing and public speaking.</p> <p> When I was eighteen, I was lucky enough to score (with a bit of help) an internship working for a news network.I loved the fast pace and relished constantly managing new information. Each day I sat in two meetings to discuss and select the content of that evening’s show. Team members would spend the morning following feeds from the Associated Press and other sources and then suggest segments for the show during brainstorming meetings.</p> <p> Among the stories pitched during one mid-day meeting was a statistic about deaths in Africa. (The entire discussion was so brief that I do not even remember the details of the story.) This was one of probably two dozen ideas proposed during that particular session and the producer did not miss a beat before remarking, “Africa doesn’t sell,” and turning to the next person. The next suggestion, a pop-culture story, was added into the line-up for the evening.</p> <p> Although this particular experience was somewhat unique, I regularly saw the effects of rating-driven motivations on the content of the news. While perhaps I should not have been surprised that a media conglomerate operating in a market-driven economy was making decisions based on consumer desires and what would “sell,” the obvious discrepancy between my ideology and the realities of the industry was unsettling to me.</p> <p> At a different stage of my career, I might not have been surprised by the nature of the comment, or, perhaps, might have felt more comfortable advocating coverage of the Africa story. For a multitude of reasons, however, I did not express the seeds of my discomfort in that moment. In fact, I did not do or say anything. I honestly believe that my boss, who was not in the room during the session, would have been equally taken aback by the comment, if not the final decision about which story to air. However, I was young and well aware that I was lucky to even be in the room; I did not feel that it would be appropriate to voice qualms about the philosophy driving news production.</p> <p> By the time I started college later that fall, I had crossed broadcast journalism off my list. I was simply unsure that the version of success I imagined for myself was entirely compatible with industry standards.</p> <p> During subsequent summers I had brief stints in other industries, including an internship with a fairly well known law firm. While I struggled with my gut reactions to working on a team defending a rapist  we all suspected was guilty, I was equally uncomfortable with the culture of fudging hours. I witnessed lawyers and paralegals take trips to the gym, shopping excursions, and numerous daily coffee breaks – all while billing unknowing clients. Again, I said nothing.</p> <p> I don’t consider myself a wimp or a pushover. In school, I was selected as a representative to my college’s Academic Integrity Hearing Board, as well as the Greek Judicial Board. Despite my ease participating in discussions of difficult, value-ridden issues in school, I watched myself become a silent observer in corporate environments.</p> <p> I started wondering what I would do if I were a full-time employee at either company, with more vested in my compliance or adjustment to the norms. I started thinking about young professionals entering not only journalism and law, but also industries in which “cheating” seems to be commonplace. What must it be like to be a professional athlete, attempting to compete with players who use performance-enhancing substances? Or to work at one of the most significant news companies in the world, where phone-hacking is apparently a tool of the trade? I don’t mean to blur the line between value judgments within the news industry and examples of more blatantly unethical behavior, yet as I reflect on the development of my own ideology, I find that these examples – though different in fundamental ways – both contributed to my personal and career development. </p> <p> Following my news internship, I had personal concerns about pursuing a career within the industry. In this sense, reading about the News Corp. scandal made me relieved that I am not beginning a career in journalism. Yet now, I have more a general concern. Even for those of us who learn the rules of the game and honestly believe that we will play by them, the desire for success and the nature of competition can make these objectives feel difficult to reconcile.</p> <p> Although these challenges can affect young professionals’ abilities to do goodwork, they also represent an area of opportunity. For me, reconciling my own ideology with these experiences facilitated thoughtful career development. I remain optimistic about my ability to make a difference through my work and, while my professional goals have changed, the nature of my goals has remained largely intact.</p> To Improve U.S. Education, it’s Time to Treat Teachers as Professionals Thu, 21 Jul 2011 00:00:00 EDT <div class="article_body"> <article> <p> <i>This piece is part of a <a href="">leadership roundtable</a> on the right way to approach teacher incentives — with opinion pieces by Duke University behavioral economics professor <a href="">Dan Ariely</a>, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Harvard Graduate School of Education professor <a href="">Howard Gardner</a>, and Washington Post columnist <a href="">Steven Pearlstein</a>.</i></p> <p> “What are the right incentives to have in place for teachers?” The very question itself is jarring. It implies that teachers don’t want to perform well and that they need incentives, which in today’s parlance translates into rewards (money) and reprimands (fear of loss of benefits or position).</p> <p> Let me present a very different picture: Teachers should be regarded as and behave like professionals. A professional is a certified expert who is afforded prestige and autonomy in return for performing at a high level, which includes making complex and disinterested judgments under conditions of uncertainty. Professionals deserve to live comfortably, but they do not enter the ranks of a profession in order obtain wealth or power; they do it out of a calling to serve. Be it law, medicine, auditing, education or science, the expectation is the same: professionals should work hard to gain the requisite credentials, behave ethically as well as legally, and when they err, should take responsibility for their error and try to learn from it.</p> <p> Does this sound hopelessly romantic? I have had the good fortune of working with many professionals with the attributes I’ve just described. And yet, I would be naïve if I did not admit that this picture of professionals is not as vivid today as it was in 1950 or even 1980. The reasons for the decline of the professional are complex, but certainly the hegemony of market thinking is the dominant factor. If one thinks of professionals simply as individuals thrust into a market place, subject to supply and demand, and seeking to accumulate as many financial and other resources as possible, then they are indistinguishable from individuals who are not by definition professionals—such as business people or artists or athletes...</p> <p> This piece was originally published in The Washington Post. Click here to continue reading:</p> </article></div> Summer Reading, Summer Experience, Summer Learning Thu, 14 Jul 2011 00:00:00 EDT <p> One of the annual quandaries facing teachers is the pit of quicksand we call “summer reading.” Do we go “light” and risk either exacerbating students’ summer learning loss or—worse, perhaps—being perceived as soft? Or do we pile it on, operating on the theory that lots of reading will be “good for the students” or that, if they don’t complete all the work, at least some of a lot is better than some of a little? And what about accountability?</p> <p> There are plenty of creative approaches to getting students to read over their vacations, including incentive programs, book giveaways, and library reading sessions. But lurking in the back of teachers’ minds is the worry that kids won’t do the reading—or, that in forcing kids to read a set list or number of books during what students perceive as their “free” time, they run the risk of actually turning their students off to reading.</p> <p> It’s a real fear. A couple of years back <a href="">Kelly Gallagher’s <em>Readicide</em> gave a name to the phenomenon</a>, and it has become axiomatic that dogmatic teaching, uninspiring texts, digital distractions, and homework-for-homework’s-sake all get in the way of our wish that children might read for pleasure.</p> <p> I don’t propose a solution here, although I would emphasize that whatever we ask students to do, in class or at home, had better be meaningful in the critical contexts of their lives, present and future, as social, productive, and culturally engaged people. If homework has to matter, then it should matter because it connects authentically with their lives as learners, friends, family members, and—yes—citizens.</p> <p> Of course, one solution would be to cut back on the long summer break that is <a href="">blamed for summer learning loss and that is cited as especially insidious in its effect on disadvantaged children</a>, whose summers are unlikely to include the stimulating middle class delights of travel, camp, enrichment programs, or interesting internships, paid or not. Whatever the merits of this idea, a materially different kind of school year seems a long way off.</p> <p> But I think there may be an approach to the summer “reading” issue that could offer, if not an alternative, but a kind of complement to summer reading lists. While my own school did not pursue this idea after a couple of years’ experimentation, I believe that it could go a long way toward adding an authentic, experiential learning element to students’ summer lives.</p> <p> In a nutshell, what we offered students was a menu of actual activities they could do toward fulfilling both the ostensible goals of our summer reading program and the broader mission of the school around cultural awareness and civic engagement. The list included suggestions like “Listen to a radio broadcast in the language you study at school” and “Find a grocery store that specializes in the foods of a culture with which you are unfamiliar, and look at the products they are selling; if you are able, take a few home and try them.” Also included were suggestions aimed at having students expand their knowledge of the history, culture, and the natural world—along the lines of “Go to a museum and make notes on things that especially interest you;” “Go to your public library and find a magazine that looks interesting; read through it, looking at the articles and the advertisements;” “Try making a drawing of something in your neighborhood that you like to look at;” or “Find a park that has a walking or hiking trail, and try to identify five kinds of plants or trees.” </p> <p> Other than keeping a log or ticket stubs or other memorabilia, I’m not sure that this idea requires a great deal of “accountability,” at least not of the “write an essay” variety. The point is in the <em>doing</em>, just having the sort of experience that can add up to an interested life.</p> <p> A couple of years ago I extended and annotated the defunct school list, and maybe some day I will find a publisher for it. But while I wait for that to happen, I think schools and students could grab onto an opportunity not only to have some fun but also to make explicit connections between real life and real learning.</p> <p> Any school, or any teacher, should be able to whip up a great list of age- and resource-appropriate suggestions for their students, and it might be fun to see kids on their own studying the offerings of a local South Asian or Central American grocery or trying to decide which exhibit they like best at a local gallery or museum. They might still grumble over having to read <em>The Giver</em> or <em>The Old Man and the Sea</em>, but I like to think this idea harnesses the natural curiosity of children in the service of discovering interests that, as they develop and deepen, can add meaning, purpose, and satisfaction to their lives.</p> Will young children learning about choices and purpose better prepare them for navigating adolescence in a digital world? Mon, 27 Jun 2011 00:00:00 EDT <p> My daughter is a 1<sup>st</sup> and 2<sup>nd</sup> grade multiage teacher, and I’ve often observed her as she helps her students creatively solve problems, generate goals to guide their decisions, and think about planning for the best solutions.  Between the years of kindergarten through second grade, children experience a developmental shift characterized by an increase in self-reflection, control of attention, and emotions, and improved perspective-taking <a href="">(Daniels & Clarkson, 2010)</a> .  Young students are also busy learning associations between words and their meanings; as such, two words, I believe, are emerging as key concepts for young children to develop a greater understanding about during their early elementary years.  With intentional energy and focus, we should be helping children make tangible their understandings of “choice” and “purpose.”</p> <p> Let me explain why I am making this assertion.  In the summer of 2008, I read two influential books and was introduced to an area of brain research targeting executive function and its impact on decision-making.  The subjects in the books and studies were not young children, but I began to think about and explore how we can perhaps better prepare children in the early childhood years so that as adolescents and young adults in a digital world, they can navigate more successfully the complexities of our time and to engage productively in all its opportunities.</p> <p> The first book, <a href=""><em>The Path to Purpose </em>(2008)</a>, illustrates the importance of purpose in youth development.  Damon’s landmark study of some twelve hundred 12-22 year olds offers initial findings that “…reveal a society in which purposefulness among young people is the exception rather than the rule” (p. 8).  Sixty-percent of young people from Damon’s study are lacking purpose.  The subjects were from US regions spanning coast to coast, north to south, urban, suburban, and rural and his findings did not vary by region or population.  They all had in common their age, ranging from 12-22, and all lived and played during this time in our society characterized by the ever-expanding digital presence. </p> <p> The digital natives of Damon’s study literally grew up along with the technology explosion…from basic Nintendo systems to X-box Live; from beepers to today’s sophisticated cell phones; from the early AOL Instant Messaging to today’s popular social networking sites; and the interactive applications of Web 2.0 and 3.0.  Young people born between 1980-2000 are sometimes defined as the first digital generation.  While these uses of technology are powerful and amazing in their connectivity and potential for learning, is there a causal relationship between growing up in the digital world with its ever-present demands, and the current state of ambivalence and absence of commitment as seen in young adults? </p> <p> Findings in brain-based research may help to get at the root of what may be ailing the digital generation’s psyche and examining the increased physiological demands on the executive function of the brain operating in a digital world may hold clues.  The executive function of the brain is a term used to describe “<em>a set of processes that all have to do with managing oneself and one's resources in order to achieve a goal”</em><a href="">(Cooper-Kahn & Dietzel, 2008, para. 2)</a><em>.</em><em>  T</em>he brain resources for executive function are limited and “…types of actions exhaust executive function and affect subsequent decision-making may even involve the very common activity of making choices itself…The mere act of making a selection may deplete executive resources in the brain” (<a href="">Amir (2008)</a>p.1).  So then when it comes to making important choices that require more attention and are accompanied by real consequences, the resources needed for executive function may already be depleted from the bombardment of inconsequential choice-making and high frequency responding that characterizes life in the digital world. </p> <p> The brain’s executive function that is used for choice making is a limited resource tapped equally by making choices of all kinds.  Theoretically, one could expend the executive function resource in a plethora of inconsequential choices.  Executive function has also been shown to be impacted by multitasking, another demand of technology use, which has resulted in lower and less effective organizational function (<a href="">Franzen, 2001</a>; <a href="">Manhart, 2004</a>).  The digital playground has exponentially increased the number and complexity of choices students make throughout a day.  Is it any wonder then that the ability to identify positive purpose in life can be likened only to finding a “needle in a haystack?”  To what extent do the constant multitasking demands for making choices and decisions contribute to a pervasive feeling of anxiety and exhaustion that may manifest itself as a lack of purpose?  And if this is the case, then are we perhaps fighting a natural disposition toward purposeful activity?  Damon (2008) summarizes implications from neuroscience research, stating, “…a disposition toward purposeful activity has been bred into us and plays a central role in energizing and guiding [us] through the most important choices that we make in life” (p. 26).</p> <p> In the second book that inspired me to begin my exploration, <a href=""><em>Paradox of Choice </em>(2004)</a>, Schwartz describes well the paralyzing effects of having too many choices.  After reading this book, questions emerged. Are aspects of our current society and the digital environment responsible in part for the apparent anxiety of this generation? Is the seemingly unlimited array of choices at any given time when we are using digital applications getting in the way of pursuing a positive purpose?  Is there a set of skills or strategies teachers can apply that will help to prepare students over time to face these digital demands?  I’m determined to find out what we can do to better prepare the young learners of the next digital generation and I submit that making concrete connections to expand understandings about purpose and choice for young children may be a good start. </p> <p> Curriculum targeting the most effective means for young children to investigate purpose and choice has not as yet been developed. As <a href="">Gardner (2011)</a>aptly describes, young children are essentialists—“…they believe that the phenomena of the world each have a fundamental essence” (p.122).  Theirs are the unchallenged understandings of a basic moral code.  Simply put, choices are good or bad and when one does something “on purpose,” it is usually not very nice.  Recently, in a small pilot study, first graders’ journal entries bore this out.  I was not surprised, in that having been a K-2 grade teacher for several years, I knew this to be true.  But it is only in the past three years or so that I’ve been thinking about what is in essence the <a href="">GoodPlay Project</a> directed to young children.  Without pointedly providing young children with many activities and much discussion about choice and purpose so that their schemas can expand to gradually learn associations between choice and purpose and the variety of meanings these notions embrace, we may be missing a valuable opportunity to better prepare them as they enter the middle elementary years with perspectives beyond essentialists’ understandings. </p> <p> Current research is limited when it comes to studies of 4-8 year olds’ and their emerging self-reflection/metacognitive abilities.  Desautel (2009)* examined emerging metacognition in second graders, but with the focus on metacognition about themselves as learners.  What other 21st century skills need to be taught so that perhaps our second generation of digital natives won’t be as affected as the first? </p> <p> I am suggesting that examining K-3 students’ perceptions of purpose and choice before and after specific intervention activities and discussion may be a good place to begin. (See Hoffman, 2010.)**  In the current study being designed, I will be investigating young children’s development in understanding choice, decision-making, and purpose given specific integrated intervention experiences and activities.  The study will continue building on the findings and implications from the pilot study within a developmentally appropriate context about the need to make concrete the abstract notions of choice and purpose for young digital age learners to broaden their perspectives and to better prepare them for the neurological demands that come from growing up in a digital world. </p> <p> Recently I read Gardner’s  <a href=""><em>Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed</em>(2011)</a> and thought about the relationship of choice and purpose to truth, beauty, and goodness.  It may be that as children’s abilities to understand the purpose of things and the choices we make associated with defining and pursuing purpose will help them to recognize truth, beauty, and goodness.  I am exploring how to help today's young children so that when they become adolescents and college-age they have seen learning as purposeful and are challenged to select a positive path.  It is necessary for young adults to be self-reflective about their choices and decisions with a better understanding of the impact that their digital lives has on their ability to make choices of all kinds.  As the use of digital tools and the content on the Internet becomes more and more personally generated and complex, we need the second digital generation to have learned to critically apply skills of authentication to truths, have an expansive list of criteria of beauty, and feel grounded in what it means to seek and recognize goodness. </p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> *   <em>Desautel, D. ( 2009). Becoming a thinking thinker: Metacognition, self-reflection, and  classroom practice. Teachers College Record, 111, 1997-2020.</em></p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> ** <em>Hoffman, J. (2010).  What can we learn from the first digital generation:  Implications for developing twent-first century learning and thinking skills in the primary grades.  Education 3-13, 38(1), p. 47-54.</em></p> Part 3 of 3: Collaboration in Elementary Schools: The Role of Collaboration in Excellent Teaching Fri, 17 Jun 2011 00:00:00 EDT <p> <em>In teacher Jan Duffy’s last two entries, she has detailed the story of her students’ choreography of many dances this year, and how impressive the end result was.  She wrote about the process of creating the dances and the significance of engagement in order to produce such an excellent result. Here, in the final installment, Jan reflects on how collaboration plays a part in her teaching.</em></p> <p> <input alt="" src="/writable/images/files/b2(1).jpg" style="width: 100px; height: 150px;" type="image" /></p> <p> I can’t continue to talk about what made this year so special without mentioning the professional collaboration that went on all year between the teacher of the “Beatles Fans” and myself. This collaboration began before the school year, when Roberta Carrasco-Taylor and I attended Project Zero Classroom in July 2010 at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  </p> <p> A firm believer in “Writer’s Workshop”, with some appreciation for the idea of Multiple Intelligences, whose classroom hummed with activity in different learning stations scattered about the room, Roberta didn’t know anything about Project Zero when I asked her to come with me for professional development, but by the end of our first mini-course she claimed she “totally drank the PZ Kool-Aid.” We resolved to try to Teach for Understanding and use Visible Thinking techniques, and most importantly, get together to talk over and reflect on what we were seeing in our classrooms-which was particularly helpful since ¾ of her students were mine as well! </p> <p> Right from the very beginning of the year, Roberta and I were not only on a shared quest to uncover the personal strengths of her students-we were bound and determined to help them develop their thinking skills and group dynamics too.  I shared with Roberta what I was seeing among her 13 dancers, and heard how those dynamics shifted within her larger class of 17 boys and girls, and across the different subjects she teaches in her classroom, how they interacted during their “free time”, and what their numerous transitions were like as they all navigated those together between activities, and as well as between the eight 40 minute periods of each and every school day.</p> <p> Roberta can’t teach dance or choreograph at all, and she thinks she can’t act, or write children’s plays as easily as I do, just like I’m sure I can’t teach writing or math or social studies, or do much of anything she does so easily and well in her classroom.  But we’re somehow able to more or less accurately reflect back to each other what the other one says, and allow each other to reflect on that without judging each other, even when we disagree.   We help each other find the good in our students and in what we’re trying to do with them, and celebrate and commiserate during our ups and downs, and you can’t ask for much more than that.</p> <p> I helped Roberta's class by writing an outline for their class play, which the kids wrote themselves, and helped with staging, making a prop, and brainstormed with her some ways that her kids could make very easily moveable sets.  And in return, Roberta voluntarily loaned me her para-professional, Judy Gorman, who has an excellent eye for theater and dance, to help me with the various recital tasks that I enjoy, but that tend to pile up on my desk, like hair accessories that need gluing, etc. </p> <p> While Judy helped me out with those tasks, she never failed to watch the rehearsal, and was always willing to give us constructive feedback.  She backed me up whenever I insisted that some part of a dance needed extra cleaning-a difficult concept for most Primary age students, who tend to think dancing is like riding a bike-once they get the hang of it, they'll never forget any of it-(but of course, most of them usually do, and what a shock that is for bright children)! </p> <p> Half the challenge of teaching dance to kids who learn most things quickly is getting them to realize the necessity of going over some parts of the choreography “one more time” just for the sake of one or more of their classmates, or for the look of the Team's effort onstage as a whole.  The last month of rehearsals I sound like a broken record: "It doesn't matter if you know your own part well, if the dancers next to you are still making mistakes, it's time to fix things--otherwise the result is not going to be anything that Any of Us will be able to take real pride in onstage.  As a Team, what do you want us all to create together- a Disaster, or a Dance?"</p> <p> Roberta, I think, helped her class all year the same way she often helps me – just by taking a deep breath and modeling restraint to all of us on countless occasions-and not jumping in to impose her will or her perspective on any of us unasked, even when she very well could.  She gives her kids room to find their way, the same way she does me-asking probing questions to make us think. I love it when she leans back and lifts an eyebrow, and laughs a little bit whenever we need some extra prodding!</p> <p> In return, I hope I’ve helped her to better understand the kids in her class who share my louder, more dramatic, and occasionally impulsive ways-even if I just provided extra practice on a adult she can immediately and freely ask, “What makes you say that”? , “Where’s your proof”? , Or “What in the world made you do that?” and even, “Come on, is that the best you can do-can’t you think of something better than that?”  She may really listen to the answers, but I like to think I helped her figure out what questions to ask too, just because I’m still such a goofy kid myself sometimes.</p> <p> I like to think her class advanced by leaps and bounds in their understanding of what it means to be there for each other, collaborate together and really perform too, because between the two of us, and Judy, we reinforced all those same important lessons just about as many ways as it was possible to reinforce them.</p> <p> As I write these words it suddenly strikes me how funny it is that I never noticed before now that the way Roberta and I’ve interacted in our periodic “reflective conversations” this year is surprisingly very much like how her students and I ended up interacting too.  That also has to be the major difference between her class and all the others I spent 12-14 weeks in creative collaboration with this year. </p> <p> Even though we’re very different people, teaching very different subjects, the particular way that Roberta and I learned to communicate with each other this year as we made the extra effort to help each other Teach for Understanding, use Visible Thinking techniques, and Make Learning Visible in our classes, is what Really made this year with her students seem more like a collaboration between all of us, and something greater than I could have ever created all by myself. I’ve come to believe that’s what catapulted the "Beatles Fans' into being able to connect with each other despite their differences, and with every member of their audience too, and not just with their very own families and friends.</p> <p> I don’t know what next year will bring, but I’m firmly convinced that collaboratively choreographing with our young dancers is one of the best educational opportunities I can offer them. I'm looking forward to collaborating again with Roberta and Judy, and I hope other teachers will want to collaborate with me, and with our dancers too, for the benefit of all of us, as well as all of our students.</p> <p> <input alt="" src="/writable/images/files/dgirls.jpg" style="width: 100px; height: 126px;" type="image" /></p> <p> <em>Below, find a link to the full story of Jan’s students and their exceptional work. </em></p> Part 2 of 3 Collaboration in Elementary Schools: The Role of Engagment Tue, 07 Jun 2011 00:00:00 EDT <p> <em>In the previous installment of this series, teacher Jan Duffy introduced us to her incredible 2nd and 3rd graders. Together, Jan and her students choreographed dances for the school’s spring recital. Jan was amazed not only at the intelligence, focus, and creativity of her 7 and 8 year old students, but also with the power of collaboration in inspiring and enhancing their excellence of their work. In this blog, Jan continues her story, focusing on she keeps her students engaged as dancers and as “thinkers.”</em></p> <p>                                                                                                                        <input alt="" src="/writable/images/files/danceplan.jpg" style="width: 120px; height: 187px;" type="image" /></p> <p> As I typed away, and cut and pasted and deleted countless versions of this blog, I kept coming back to what I wanted most to know myself-“Why was the “Beatles Fans” class different?”  What was so special about them that gave them “an edge” over all the others?  I’m not the kind of person who sits back and congratulates herself on a job well done; this wasn’t Me-this was US-together- but there’s no denying that this class overall developed a more advanced form of understanding almost right from the very beginning-Why???<br /> <br /> Was it because several influential leaders in the class entered 3rd Grade with a full year of collaborating with constructivist 2nd Grade teachers Chris Andres and Tami Hurst, whose Whole Child philosophy of education is so much like mine and Roberta Taylor’s?  Very possibly, since 3rd Grade is the year most children begin to focus more on being like their “cool” peers, but I’m also convinced that what makes dance “cool” is the fact that I try to teach for personal, interdisciplinary understanding in almost every single thing I do.<br /> <br /> That’s the main thing I do that’s different from a lot of dance teachers-I teach to make “Thinkers” out of my students, and possibly a few choreographers-not just dancers.  Because of that, I don’t teach any part of class exactly the very same way, twice in a row, ever.   Not even in their warm-up sequence!  This helps to engage the students immediately-they know they have to pay attention to follow the movements.<br /> <br /> The barre exercises in ballet may go in pretty much the same order, but we do usually do them center floor, and still, the patterns, and sequences, and number of repetitions are always a little different. I like to do the exercises in a different order each class, to avoid “boring” repetition.  I also “get tricky” if I see that someone isn’t watching me closely enough!  I lighten up all the brainwork and visual training by adding surprising improvisational moments too, right in the middle of technique, if I feel there’s just no energy coming back to me from the class, or their attention might be wandering. <br /> <br /> Even if my students are just following along closely because they’re hoping I’ll do something funny right in the middle of a “serious” exercise, they're still learning the importance of paying attention to pick up visual cues quickly -without me having to say a word!   From the children’s perspective, that makes paying attention a personal choice-one that has a positive pay-off.   If the dancers aren’t engaged and never see the point-if their learning isn't personal enough-we’ll never get anywhere!  <br /> <br /> I also use ‘real” music-and a wide variety of it- so the kids get exposed to more than what they hear on the radio on the way to school, or what they hearing in music class. In the same class period I may run through 5 to 6 types of music: classical, world music from various cultures, pop the kids like-though I have to check the lyrics and the intent of the lyrics too, or look for a Kids Bop or a super clean version from Wal-Mart.  But I also use a lot of pop and rock they haven’t heard before too: oldies from the ‘50’s through the ‘90’s, musical theater show tunes, jazz, swing, electronic music-even sound effects sometimes-you name it.  Keeping the dancers musically “on their toes” to where they seldom know exactly what's coming next helps maintain their interest and focus.<br /> <br /> I try to lay down the choreographer’s way of thinking in my students’  brains right at the beginning of the year, and keep that going throughout the year.  Every time I teach a step, the students get 1-20 minutes to “experiment” with it-they have to add their own moves to whatever step or combination I’ve taught or reviewed that day.   That’s how I get them to drill the step into their own heads- imaginatively.  Most of the kids have so much fun they never even notice they’re practicing-much less working up a sweat doing it!<br /> <br /> I always say my teaching style is more related to what I think Vaudeville must have been like: I’m the Performer and the students are the Audience-if I don’t keep them engaged by being ready to change my act at a moment’s notice, before my “audience” gets bored or restless, then the equivalent of rotten tomatoes is going to be thrown at me, and if that happens often enough-I might as well consider myself out of a job!  And that’s why, as it unusual as it may sound, Improvisation, whether structured or free, with props or without, is an important part of every single one of my classes, whether I’m teaching ballet or modern or any other type of dance-from age 3 to age 18-it's not just the way I work with Primary School students.</p> <p> <input alt="" src="/writable/images/files/fave.JPG" style="width: 130px; height: 210px;" type="image" />                                                                                                            <br /> I love dance, but what’s more important is that my students come to love dance too-as quickly as possible- each in their own individual way. <br /> <br /> It’s kind of a backwards thing to do-empowering mere children to feel and to act like choreographers and powerful creative thinkers before they’ve mastered the10 years worth of dance technique that it takes to make a professional dancer, but it works.   </p> <p> When I accomplish that, they have a personal basis of comparison with which to more closely identify with me, which is important-once we're "family", it's much easier to interest them in everything else I have to teach them. </p> <p> If we stay together long enough for them to figure out how to work for themselves, that is, to stay intrinsically motivated long enough to make through the 7-10 years they’ll still need to study technique, all of the rest really does, eventually, fall right into place-and they wind up with what it takes to start a career in dance. </p> <p>                                                                                                                                                                                                                 <input alt="" src="/writable/images/files/jump.jpg" style="width: 130px; height: 163px;" type="image" /></p> Part 1 of 3: Collaboration in Elementary Schools: The Power of Many Wed, 25 May 2011 00:00:00 EDT <p> Jan Duffy is a lifelong educator and has been a teacher at Woodward Academy since 1991.  A frequent poster on our GoodWork Toolkit Facebook page, one day Jan wrote about a recent dance performance:</p> <p> <span style="font-size:10px;">“My Primary School Dance students, (Grades 1-3), recently presented their annual Spring Dance Concerts and of the 10 pieces of original choreography performed, no less than 7 pieces were co-choreographed by the students and me. Although those 7 pieces took a month longer to finish than the other dances, I think the empowerment the children felt when they performed those pieces was worth every extra minute! I don't know a way to prove how much more they understand about what they learned as compared with other young dancers, much less as compared with other students, but I believe there's a difference. One that every teacher who appreciates Whole Child, authentic instruction can find a way to relate to, and build upon.”<br /> (Complete posting at:</span><br />  </p> <p> We asked her to tell us a bit more about it.   Her response was so enthusiastic and thoughtful that it was far too long for just one blog.  We’ve divided it into three installments:  1) an introduction (below); 2) a discussion about the importance of engagement and 3) some thoughts about the collaborative process of GoodWork.</p> <p> On May 1, 2011, 157 very excited young boys and girls in grades 1 to 3 took turns performing on stage in our school’s theater to the delight of their family and friends.  While this recital has taken place for the past 18 years, this year was different. What was remarkable about their program this year was that 6 of the 10 original children’s ballet and modern dances presented, were collaboratively choreographed!  The students in the 2<sup>nd</sup> Grade Ballet classes made up 2 of their 4 dances with me , and all of my 3<sup>rd</sup> Grade Modern Dance classes made up their dances with me.</p> <p> Since 2007, when I began teaching full time at this private, independent day school, I’ve collaboratively choreographed at least one 3<sup>rd</sup> grade modern or modern/jazz dances each year, but never this many dances - and never with such young students!  It may not sound like such a big deal to those of you who teach authentically - who routinely present the collaborative work of your students - but I’m talking about some very young <em>dance </em>students.</p> <p> That these 7-9 year old dance students all co-choreographed with me such lengthy pieces for their ages is somewhat of a feat when you consider that the formula I use myself as a “fast” professional choreographer is this one:  1 hour of choreography equals 1 hour of music-just to make up all the movement!   These children’s dances were completely co-choreographed, memorized, cleaned, added to, rehearsed, cleaned again, and rehearsed in costume two or three times in our classroom before we ever went to the theater-and almost all of the work was accomplished in two 20-30 minutes sessions of their 40 minute bi-weekly classes, over a period of 14 weeks. </p> <p> <img alt="" src="/writable/images/images/mercer.JPG" style="width: 131px; height: 130px;" /></p> <p> To me, looking back on it, the fact that I even attempted it is pretty amazing!  After all, when you boil all that math down, and we’re talking about young children making up those dances with me, and getting them ready for performance in just 14 hours!  The piece' de resistance' was a suite of modern dances collaboratively choreographed by one of my 3rd grade classes to four of their favorite Beatles tunes. Before, During, and Between the dances, the kids arranged and rearranged 13 small folding chairs in various formations, and through their movements-with the judicious addition or subtraction of several small props- managed to successfully create in turn a "a book-seller's convention", "three limos and a sportscar", "the sun", and a "stadium style rock concert". They brought down the house!</p> <p> Even though their levels of ability, experience and actual technical prowess were no greater than any other class, as individuals, and as a group, this group seemed to intuitively understand how to seamlessly fit their contributions into the work as a whole.  Whether with a partner or a small group,  or as a class, the children worked with “the big picture” in mind to create and extend our movement phrases together, and did so much more cooperatively and professionally-and with more artistic integrity-than I’d ever experienced with a group of young 8 and 9 year olds in over 20 years.  Why was that?  As I began typing this, that’s what I wanted to know, and that’s how this blog post grew so long!  It’s not easy for me not to speak volumes about what’s been my greatest passion in life now for almost my entire career-empowering kids by helping them become leaders and learners just by helping them choreograph.  More on this in the next installment…</p> <p> <input alt="" src="/writable/images/files/photo3(1).JPG" style="width: 100px; height: 75px;" type="image" /></p> GoodWork Pilot in Radboud Academic Hospital, Nijmegen, the Netherlands Fri, 13 May 2011 00:00:00 EDT <p> <em>The GoodWork Project has been working with Stichting Beroepseer (The Professional Pride Foundation) in the Netherlands  for many months, and we are very excited about the  work they are doing. They started a GoodWork Hub this year, and now are piloting GoodWork sessions using the Toolkit in various professional settings. Below, read an account of the first of these sessions at the Radboud Hospital in Nijmegen and the plans for future sessions. </em></p> <p> The Professional Pride Foundation in the Netherlands is starting to use  the GoodWork Toolkit  to lead sessions on GoodWork in an academic hospital. The translated GoodWork Toolkit will be used during four sessions.  For these sessions, three groups of hospital employees will be selected: the junior staff, the nurses, and the heads of the different departments of the hospital, including senior doctors and educators. The first session took place in April, and the second session will start this week.</p> <p> Yolande Witman, doctor and researcher, and Alexandrien van der Burgt, trainer, coach and chairman of the Stichting Beroepseer (Professional Pride Foundation) are the process leaders of these sessions.</p> <p> The central theme of the first session was, “GoodWork in general”. The main questions here included: what is GoodWork? Why is it important? What do we need to achieve GoodWork? What questions do we have about GoodWork?</p> <p> The session started with interviews. The participants were asked to interview one another. They discussed the question “What makes you a good professional?”. </p> <p> After the interviews, the facilitators led a discussion about GoodWork and the inherent challenges in achieving GoodWork.  This discussion enabled the participants to think about their own criteria for GoodWork in their professions.  At the end of this first session the participants were asked to sort the value-sort cards to determine which values they prioritize in their careers.</p> <p> In the second session, participants will talk about excellence. Two narratives from the Toolkit will be used:  one about Alfred Bloom (“Chasing Excellence”) and Lauren (“The Price of Principles). The target of this session is to formulate a useful definition for excellence and to explore the criteria included in excellence.  Participants will also investigate the difference between professional and personal standards for excellent work. </p> <p> In the third session, the focus will turn to ethics and GoodWork.  The fourth session will involve a discussion about engagement, or the meaning professionals find in their work.</p> <p> At the end of these sessions facilitators plan to organize a central meeting where the three different groups will be brought together. During this final meeting, they will share their experiences from previous sessions and exchange ideas. The hope is that these disparate groups will learn from one another.</p> <p> In September the results of the GoodWork pilot in the Radboud Hospital in Nijmegen will be presented and discussed.</p> <p> <em>Stay tuned for updates on the next few sessions and on the final session in September.</em></p> Needed: A Reversal of Figure/Ground Wed, 20 Apr 2011 00:00:00 EDT <p> Those who remember their introductory psychology will recall the concept of 'figure /ground.' Most graphic displays, like photographs or paintings, feature a dominant object (or 'figure') in the foreground; to the extent that background is noticeable, its function is to support perception of the central figure.</p> <p> In considering education in the United States today, what's wrong with the picture? In a word, we've focused so exclusively on one figure--performance on a certain kind of standardized test instrument--that all other considerations are obscure or absent. I recommend a dramatic reversal of figure and ground. At the center of the image called American Education, I propose three dominant figures: the kinds of Persons we value; the kinds of Workers we cherish; the kinds of local, national, and global Citizens that we need.</p> <p> A tall order, you are thinking. But in fact, over the course of history, these considerations have loomed large. The greatest educational thinkers--from Plato to John Dewey--have thought much about the human beings we would like to have, in the neighborhood, the individuals we'd like to encounter at the workplace, and the citizens needed for a well-functioning society.</p> <p> Why, as a a nation, have we embarked on a well-meaning but misguided pathway? Principally, I propose, because a model of human existence, based heavily on market considerations, has come to dominate educational discourse worldwide, and the United States has absorbed this model totally and uncritically. I have much more to say on this topic, and I hope that those who are interested will inform themselves about <a href="">The GoodWork Project</a> and our <a href="../../index">Toolkit</a>, our effort to move such considerations to the fore.</p> <p> To forestall the most obvious rejoinder (and with a nod to my colleagues in this series of Harvard-emanating blogs): I am not for a moment saying that literacy, or numeracy, or the scholarly disciplines are unimportant. Nor am I saying that learning in these areas should remain unassessed. Nor am I doubting the importance of the biological, digital, or global revolutions. What I am saying is that unless we place in the foreground the individuals and society that we long for, all the rest will be in vain.</p> <p> It has become commonplace, in this "Waiting for Superman" era, to blame the problems of U.S. society on our schools and our teachers. But that is nonsense. As David Halberstam pointed out decades ago, our misadventure in Vietnam was brought about by 'the best and the brightest.' Whether it is the massive deceptions at Enron, the greed of the financial world, or the prostitution of the academy, those with high SAT scores have lots to answer for. (The movie "<a href="">Inside Job</a>" provides far more insight into our troubles than does "<a href="">Waiting for Superman</a>"). These facts about American society today constitute the principal reason why we need a new guiding figure at the center of the educational landscape.</p> <p>  </p> <p> Check out more blogs on school reform topics:</p> Coaching at the Frontiers Wed, 20 Apr 2011 00:00:00 EDT <p> Compare and contrast:  Marshall Goldsmith, Jayson Blair, and me. First, I’ll tell you how we are different.  Dr. Goldsmith has a reputation for doing “good work”.  He is a <em>New York Times</em> and <em>Wall Street Journal</em> best-selling author, and according to <em>Forbes</em> one of the most influential business thinkers in the world.  Mr. Blair is a former reporter for the <em>New York Times</em>.  He notoriously engaged in “compromised work” by plagiarizing and fabricating news stories and was forced to resign, along with two editors, in 2003.  As for me, I am a master’s student in Human Development and Psychology at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, currently reflecting on my professional aspirations.</p> <p> Aside from a connection to the <em>Times</em> (yes, I am a reader, building a stomach for the digital subscription transition), what all three of us have in common is that we call ourselves “coaches”.  Dr. Goldsmith is an authority on executive coaching.  Mr. Blair, having left the journalism profession, now works as a life and career coach. After completing a year-long training and certification program, I’ve been building my own coaching business focused on human development.  This year I’ll be mentoring a group of students through the same coach training process.</p> <p> Beyond our shared professional titles, what are the similarities in our work?  The troubling answer is that, even as one of the three coaches mentioned above, I don’t know.  Coaching is an emerging field of practice, still in the process of finding its identity.  It began attracting attention in the 1980’s, and has steadily gained in popularity.  The number of coaching-related articles in peer-reviewed journals has climbed steadily and coaching has been estimated to be a billion dollar industry.  It has also been called a “Wild West”, devoid of barriers to entry or clear selection criteria for consumers.</p> <p> This wild western terrain is populated by practitioners offering a wide range of services: from Six Sigma business coaching to aura coaching; from Tony Robbins-style motivational work to ADD coaching.  People call themselves “coach” after having read a book, taken a day-long seminar, or dedicated months or even years of their lives to training. </p> <p> The coaching community did its best to bring a sheriff to town in 1995 by establishing the International Coach Federation (ICF).  The ICF has delineated standards of practice for coaching called Core Competencies, and it has established a Code of Ethics.  These two sets of symbolic codes—one for <em>knowledge and practice</em>, the other for <em>ethics</em>—are what the industry presumptively needs in order to be considered a bona fide profession.  Yet debate continues: whether coaching should be a profession, how it should be monitored,whether its focus should be delineated.</p> <p> For a study conducted last fall, I interviewed thirteen full-time coaches. A few endorsed the ethics and standards proposed by the ICF, while others said, “I don’t know if the ICF is the answer”, and “I don’t agree with all the ICF has to say”.  Interviewees indicated concerns about the continued lack of barriers to entry, since anyone can “hang a shingle” and call him or herself a coach.  One coach said she was keeping up her ICF certification, but that it held little meaning for her clients. Interestingly, Dr. Marshall Goldsmith does not claim to be certified, yet of the three coaches mentioned in my original comparison he has had the greatest impact on the field. </p> <p> I’m left with the puzzle of  how best to establish coaching as a profession characterized by <em>good work</em>—work that is excellent, ethical, and engaging.  The good news is that if coaches are “cowboys” exploring the frontiers of a new profession, we certainly represent the warmest hearted of mavericks.  The coaches I interviewed in the fall expressed deep dedication to their work and an impressive sense of responsibility to their clients, their own integrity, and the wider world.  Indeed, such a sense of responsibility is integral to good coaching.  To cultivate a culture of good work, the coaching community will need to do more than tip its hat and ride off into the sunset.  We mustreflect on how we can keep ourselves and each other on a well-travelled path,and how we will invite others to advance toward horizons that are still hazy in the distance, but worth pursuing.</p> It's Time for Universities to Apply the Mirror Test Thu, 14 Apr 2011 00:00:00 EDT <p> On April 13, Professors David Korn and Max Bazerman facilitated a several hour symposium at HLS on conflict of interest (COI, as it is called) in professions, particularly medicine. The papers were of high quality but they did not discuss the issue as it pertains to universities, and Harvard was not mentioned, except incidentally in opening remarks.</p> <p> I raised the question of what universities in general, and Harvard in particular, should do, with respect to high profile and less dramatic cases of COI and other ethical lapses, such as plagiarism or data manipulation or creation by faculty. I mentioned that at Harvard, in the absence of ‘official’ statements by the President, Deans , and/or the Corporation, or posting on Richard Bradley’s (or Harry Lewis’) blog, there was no ‘commons’ at which these issues could be discussed, both by individuals themselves (I have cases in which I’ve been involved) and by thoughtful observers (like many readers of this blog). (The question was raised as to whether such a site should be curated).</p> <p> Anyway I’d be quite interested in participating in such a Harvard- or University- endeavor, and I think that our recommendations about other professions and other ’sectors’ would be taken far more seriously if we also held up a mirror toward our own actions and activities.</p> <p>  </p> Toolkit in Action: A Conversation with Teacher Kathleen FitzGerald Wed, 06 Apr 2011 00:00:00 EDT <p> I recently spoke with Kathleen FitzGerald, a teacher at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, about her internship and service-learning course. Ms. Fitzgerald has taught this course for the past 3 years to seniors at CRLS, and uses portions of the GoodWork Toolkit as a framing device and as a text for the course.</p> <p> <img alt="" class="medright" src="/writable/images/images/kf2.JPG" style="width: 161px; height: 176px;" />Ms. FitzGerald was hired to initiate the internship program at CRLS, and designed a class where students are placed in internships (which they attend 10 hours per week) supported by a seminar in school every other week. She was given the Toolkit by a mentor teacher at her school and found it the perfect way to discuss ideas of meaningful work and personal values with respect to her students’ internships. She has devised a course where students begin their semester discussing ideas of good work, and the meaning of engagement, ethics, and excellence in their lives and in a broader sense. When asked about her goals for the course, she replied, “I would love to allow them to reflect on their values. I also want to discuss the transition from school to career, work readiness, and engage in bigger picture questions with my students.” Students reflect on their weekly experiences at their internships, answering the question “how does my work relate to good work?”</p> <p> Ms. FitzGerald’s thoughts on how her 17 and 18 year old students interact with the concepts of good work were interesting and thought-provoking. In talking about engagement, she reflected that this is often a priority for the teenagers in her course. She explained, “they are really interested in the question of engagement, wanting to make sure they are having a good time no matter where they are. There is a balancing act, there are always moments when you are doing something that is are not thrilling, but it is fulfilling a larger goal for you, are you connected to it, is it taking you where you want to go?” She hopes her students can leave the course understanding engagement in a broader sense, especially in its relation to excellence and ethics.</p> <p> <img alt="" class="medleft" src="/writable/images/images/engaged.jpeg" style="width: 195px; height: 195px;" />She attributes their perspectives on the 3 E’s to their social development, their position as high school seniors and limited “real world” work experience. In thinking about excellence, Ms. FitzGerald worries that students have developed a skewed notion of what it means to be excellent. “I worry about their construction of excellence. To some, it seems to mean they have tried hard enough, rather than met a standard. I worry about what will happen when there are fewer formal evaluations and they need to determine excellence from within.”</p> <p> In her class, Ms. FitzGerald hopes to help develop students’ thinking about themselves, meaningful work, and their personal values. She finds it frustrating that high schools today do not give students the space to pause and reflect on their work in relation to their lives and their values, and thus hopes to provide her students with this space in her class. She has them grapple with bigger picture questions, and as she told me, wants them “thinking about who they are and what their ethics are,” and hopes “they can leave the course with a deeper understanding of themselves as a student and worker.”</p> <p>  </p> Time Well Spent with Jacques d’Amboise Fri, 25 Mar 2011 00:00:00 EDT <p> “I don’t like the word education, it implies an end. I like ‘learning,’ as it is ongoing.” These words spoken by Jacques d’Amboise at the Harvard Graduate School of Education began a passionate hour and a half long talk by the long-time New York City Ballet principal and National Dance Institute founder. D’Amboise was visiting to discuss his ideas on arts and education in between stops on his book tour, celebrating the release of his autobiography, <em>I am a Dancer</em>.</p> <p> D’Amboise’s talk left me feeling inspired by his passion and his connections to GoodWork. He touched on the link between engagement and excellence in work and the responsibility all individuals should feel to give back. His impressive career provides many examples of GoodWork in action.  </p> <p> D’Amboise confirmed the importance of engagement in all areas of life, as his success in ballet and teaching art is a testament to the significance of loving what you do. D’Amboise’s love for dancing came through clearly during his talk, and he made it explicit that if you do not love what you are doing, there is no point in doing it. Time well spent in his mind, is time working to achieve your dreams. Engagement is a key ingredient to success and happiness (as seen in d’Amboise’s case) as without it, you will struggle to find excellence or meaning in what you do. He spoke with enthusiasm and reverence for the art form, and more broadly, described how important it is to have excitement for and commitment to your life and work.   He entertained the audience with a tale of the birth of wonder, and how it continues to play a part in his learning and his hopes for learners - both young and old - to continue to wonder, create, and pursue their dreams.</p> <p> From this deep engagement with his craft, d’Amboise showed how excellence is sought after and attained. His love for dance inspired a hard work ethic, a commitment to mastering the technical and emotional skills required in ballet, and most importantly, allowed him to continue to enjoy and excel at his work for decades.  D’Amboise's creation of the National Dance Institute is a mark of his continued efforts to bring art to students around the world. His innate sense of responsibility to the greater good (ethics) was present inhis stories of supporting his female dance partners in their careers and, more overtly, in his creation of the National Dance Institute. The NDI was founded out of d’Amboise’s feeling that if youth from all walks of life have access to discover the arts through dance, they will be able to develop excellence, self-confidence, and a feeling of achievement that will lead them to future successes in all endeavors.  D’Amboise is now helping to foster passion and wonder in a new generation of dancers, students, and learners worldwide.</p> <p> The hour and a half spent listening to Jacques d’Amboise was a unique experience. It seems for d’Amboise, dance is time well spent as it draws on excellence, engagement, and ethics, thus making it meaningful work for him. His energy and love for his craft was contagious. His commitment to helping children achieve excellence was inspiring.</p> <p> See link below for information on the National Dance Institute:</p> Opening of the GoodWork Hub, Netherlands Wed, 02 Mar 2011 00:00:00 EST <p> On January 26, 2011 the Good Work Hub started its program in The Hague, Netherlands, a spot for people “who want to turn their profession into work, realizing that as such it has meaning. Whether you are a teacher, policeman, nurse, doctor or social worker, you contribute a building block to our society, development and civilization."</p> <p> These opening words were spoken by Alexandrien van der Burgt, founder and president of the Stichting Beroepseer (Professional Honor Foundation) and starter of the Good Work Hub. She explained how she got this idea in the summer of 2010, after attending a meeting with public servants of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports and another with “shop-floor workers”. The public servants said that they could not agree on financial legislations and incident politics. At the second meeting members of parliament were so caught up in their political programs that they were incapable of listening to the people who do the actual work. After these meetings, Alexandrien van der Burgt resolved, “We must bring these different worlds together. People must meet again and start changes.”</p> <p> <img alt="Alexandrien van der Burgt (left) and Thijs Jansen (right)" class="author_image" src="/writable/images/images/vanderburgt-and-jansen.jpg" style="width: 350px; height: 263px; float: left; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid;" />The next speaker was Jacqueline Rutjens, who works in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations. Ending her speech with an invitation, she said: “The Good Work Hub is there for professionals with drive, managers and policy makers, scientists and others who are interested in good workmanship, good regulations, stimulating leadership and effective definitions of rules and laws. You are here to improve professional quality but also because you believe in the chances for new social networks. You are searching for contacts you might not make otherwise. We have high expectations of you.” </p> <p> Jacqueline Rutjes also said in her speech that Thijs Jansen will make a start finding out what good work in the public sector means. Giving a scientific definition of the exact content of good work will be part of  his program.</p> <p> Thijs Jansen is founder and member of the board of the Stichting Beroepseer and research/professor at the Tilburg School of Politics and Public Administration Management.</p> <p> The name Good Work Hub is based on the Good Work Project, started in 1995 by the American psychologists Howard Gardner, Mihaly Csikszentmihaly and William Damon with research in the field of leadership, creativity and morality. The project was created to address their concern for the possible results of professionals coming under enormous pressure from growing social attention for incidents, individualization and increasing market forces.</p> <p> The book “Beroepstrots – een ongekende kracht”, edited by Thijs Jansen, Gabriel van den Brink and Jos Kole and published in 2009, was translated in 2010 as “Professional Pride – a Powerful Force”.  It contains a chapter dedicated to the Good Work Project. The core of good work is professionalism, ethical responsibility and personal engagement. This project forms the basis for the Good Work Toolkit, by Lynn Barendsen and Wendy Fischman. They developed a toolkit showing the way for professionals to discuss all kinds of dilemmas they might encounter in their work. The book “Good Work Toolkit” has been translated into Dutch under the title of  “Goedwerk Gereedschapskist”. The Good Work Hub plans to make use of the gereedschapskist.</p> <p> <img class="author_image" alt="GoodWork Hub" class=".author_image" src="/writable/images/images/goodwork-hub.jpg" style="width: 227px; height: 248px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; float: left;" />During the opening of the Good Work Hub Thijs Jansen connected via Skype with Lynn Barendsen in her place of work at Harvard University in the U.S.A. She talked about her research of, and interviews with some 1200 people in different professions, from very young devoted students and young professionals to people in their sixties. One of the insights she gained during her research was the realization that just thinking about ones profession may lead to many advantages.</p> <p> Finally Alexandrien van der Burgt mentioned that the Good Work Hub now has a number of allies where the message of GoodWork will continue to be spread. Amongst them organisations in the field of education, public service, the police, home care, social work and a college of hotel, tourism and management. The ideas of ethics, engagement, and excellence in work are global characteristics, and apply to individuals in all sectors of work.</p> <p>  </p> How Can Educators Help Reduce Student Stress? Thu, 10 Feb 2011 00:00:00 EST <p> The Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA recently released <a href="">findings</a> from its annual survey of more than 200,000 college freshmen.  This year’s headline-grabber is the negative trend in students’ self-reported mental health (see this <a href="">NY Times</a> article, for example). The entering class of 2010 gives their own mental health the lowest assessment of any cohort in the survey’s 25 year history. They say they are frequently overwhelmed by all they have do – a feeling that seems to carry over from the stress they experienced in high school.  Interestingly, more women report being overwhelmed than men, and women’s perceived stress levels are actually greater as well.</p> <p> My own work in higher education has been motivated by a concern for students’ holistic success.  Although I’ve enjoyed many roles inside the classroom, my professional responsibilities and research interests have revolved around the time students spend in residence halls, campus governance, clubs and organizations, student employment, and much more. In each of these roles I witnessed the highs and lows that students experience as they encounter what one wise colleague termed “the tyranny of opportunities” that can exist in a collegiate environment.</p> <p> Although I did not find the UCLS report surprising, it is nevertheless sobering to be reminded of how challenging our students’ lives can be.  The findings hit home, in part, because many educators occasionally experience the same feeling of frenzy that our students convey.  And, for some, stress is a similarly unhealthy way of life.</p> <p> In the wake of this press I’ve found myself wondering whether even lives that are “purpose-full” and relatively low-stress can unwittingly reinforce the notion that busy-ness is necessary, or that overflowing days convey achievement and worth. It is probably fair to say that the adults who are most personally involved in young adults’ lives balance many roles while putting in long hours at work and serving in their communities. Young people often see us on the move and hear us talking (and sometimes complaining) about our fine-tuned schedules. What they typically don’t see are the difficult, ongoing – and typically private – deliberations in which adults weigh priorities and decide to say “no.”</p> <p> It goes without saying that many students need and benefit from the expertise and guidance found in their school counseling centers.  However, I don’t think we should overlook the power that stories and experience have to support students in their struggles.  I’ve been involved in assessing two programs that are designed as proverbial ports in the storm. Consisting of panels and/or discussion groups, these initiatives invite students to slow down, take stock, and consider what they are doing with their lives and why. These sessions often include recent alumni, faculty, staff, and “older-wiser” peers who tell their stories so younger students can learn from their difficult decisions and, occasionally, their failures.   </p> <p> Such exchanges go beyond time management to the more challenging and meaningful task of how to manage one’s self.  Participants’ feedback underscores how valuable it is to know others also find their must-dos and want-to-dos isolating and oppressive.  More important, they hear in these stories a message that it is normal and necessary to be proactive in charting one’s course and revising it constantly.  Learning to prioritize, commit to, and let go of opportunities and commitments are difficult lessons but ones that every person confronts – often many times over!  Unless educators make the lessons of doing so explicit we run the risk that young people will take implicit cues from busy environments and continue feeling overwhelmed.</p> “Think-load” versus Workload Thu, 27 Jan 2011 00:00:00 EST <p> Between Tiger Moms and racing to nowhere, we’re a nation obsessed with stress. Do our students experience too much of it, or too little? Does an endless cycle of high-stakes standardized testing turn kids into jibbering shells of their authentic selves, or do parents and schools need to push students even harder to extract from them the most perfect essence (and the last drop) of their true potential?</p> <p> The answer lies elsewhere, I think, and schools can play a role in keeping the conversation on this topic both real and helpful.</p> <p> A few weeks back my school was featured on <a href="">an NPR piece ostensibly about stress among seniors</a>. Predictably in what was overall a very good piece, the reporter became fixated on a decision that we had made some years back to replace our few courses with “Advanced Placement” designation with several new, teacher-created Honors Advanced electives. To the reporter, and to many of those who read the article, this move seemed to have something to do with stress reduction.</p> <p> In fact, we created our Honors Advanced courses to push our students even harder in the direction of in-depth, analytical thinking in the sciences and mathematics. Rather than being somehow less stressful or less work, these courses are designed to have students thinking like biologists, chemists, physicists, and mathematicians rather than amassing knowledge for one three-hour information dump on a May examination. If our Honors Advanced courses have had anything to do with stress, it is to spread a heavy think-load (as opposed to a workload) over months; hardly a let-up.</p> <p> It’s no secret to most of us in the profession that analytical and critical thinking skills are what we most need and want our students to have. We can teach these in a whole slew of ways, but along the way we need to create the conditions in our school that truly foster their development—to build a culture of think-load, not just workload.</p> <p> What do I mean by think-load? I mean work whose central element is the application of critical and analytical thinking skills, with a hefty dose of logic. In a thousand books, articles, and blogs we can find educators and education writers extolling the virtues of mathematics problems that require the use of multiple skills and multiple kinds of reasoning; of open-ended problems with real-world applications in all disciplines; of a design-thinking approach to problem-solving; of intentional, smart problem- and project-based learning exercises; of creating exhibition-style work for authentic audiences. <em>Think-load</em> is the sum of the learning experiences, and learning exercises, that focus on this kind of work.</p> <p> High think-load education does not preclude the need to master basic content and skills, despite the attempts of many educational polemicists to portray this is an either/or (and right/wrong) situation. As one of our students said in commenting on work he was doing at the <a href="">new NuVu Studio program</a>, which is built around the design-studio model, “You need to learn the facts and skills in order to solve the problem, but you need to understand the problem in order to know which facts and skills you need.” “Facts and skills,” to use his language, become authentic and valued tools for doing real work rather than simply fodder for endless problem sets, worksheets, and tests.</p> <p> It is not easy for schools to swim upstream, especially when funding and teachers’ careers depend on standardized test scores. I am fortunate to work in an independent school, but even we are not exempt from the pressure to ramp up workload. But I think schools can begin to shift toward think-load by making a few changes of mindset, by focusing on what students today need to know how to do and by making sure that students, and the student experience of school, are seen as in the light of their particular talents and interests.</p> <p> The greatest danger in our love affair with workload and with standardized testing is that it tends to reduce students to aggregates—to score numbers, to percentile bands, to elements of <em>n</em>: “How did they do?” rather than “What can s/he do?” A whole lot of schools claim to be student-centered, and the best way to express this value in our time is to keep each student and the work they are doing in view, despite all the challenges associated with overcrowded classrooms and schools.</p> <p> If we focus on each student’s think-load, the kinds of analytical and critical work we are asking them to do and the level of real thinking that goes into this work—this Good Work—we can begin to wriggle out from under the press of numbers and the tyranny of an educational culture obsessed, one way or another, with stress.</p> <p>  </p> The Value of Play Thu, 20 Jan 2011 00:00:00 EST <p> The importance of play in a child’s life has been debated from every angle in recent weeks.  Articles have discussed the value of recess, the significance of structured play during the school day, the need for creativity, and most recently, from the perspective of the “Tiger Mother,” the benefits of extreme structure and no play. Groups, such as Alliance for Childhood,  have formed that are dedicated to increasing the culture of play in children’s lives, while at the same time, schools are devaluing the importance of recess, art, and physical education as a result of NCLB and the focus on standardized testing that has swept the nation.  Parents, educators, and researchers all have varying, often conflicting views on what is appropriate for children in their “free” time.</p> <p> During my two years teaching 3<sup>rd</sup> grade in West Philadelphia, I viewed the 30 daily minutes of recess time as almost equally important to time devoted to math and reading.  8 year-olds have a remarkable amount of energy and, without a space to release it, behavior, anger, and attention issues are sure to follow.  On days without recess, my students’ behavior and attention levels were noticeably decreased. Their engagement in lessons was not there, and thus, their ability to internalize the material declined. Learning was far more challenging for my students without the 30 minutes they usually had to run around, socialize, and have the freedom for creative play.  Further, for many of my students, this was the only time they had to run around outside, as many lived in urban areas where outdoor safety and supervision were unavailable for them if they desired to play outside. Recess was a special time for my students, and a time where they could explore, create, and be kids.</p> <p> Recess took place on a large blacktop. There was no playground equipment, and the toys and sports gear were long lost or broken. Despite the lack of resources, I was always amazed to watch what my students did during their free time. They created games, made up dances, and devised elaborate games of tag. Their ingenuity and resourcefulness impressed me, and I viewed this time as its own form of learning. Due to space and financial constraints, gym classes had been cut to once a week, so recess truly was a unique time of day.</p> <p> I find it hard to consider the issue of play without thinking about GoodWork. Teaching a lesson where students stayed in their seats and were talked “at” often resulted in sleepy eyes, heads on desk, and an obvious lack of engagement.  However, when I attempted to incorporate some aspect of play in a lesson-a skit about verbs, a race outside to learn decimal points, a hands-on science experiment-the engagement level skyrocketed. Further, the understanding of the material, and the excellence at which the students retained and processed the lesson was always far higher following creative lessons. No child can be expected to sit still in a classroom for 8 hours a day and remain focused.  Countless studies reveal that physical activity aids in learning and triggers brain activity. Beyond the academic benefits  of play and movement, the childhood obesity epidemic in our country, coupled with the fact that children spend  7 hours 38 minutes a day on average in front of a television or computer (according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation last year)  should motivate teachers and parents alike to encourage activity, structured or not.  Taking away the chance to play from a child is taking away an essential part of growing up.</p> <p>  </p> <p> Link below to story on pro-play groups that are forming:</p> A Case of Bad Work Thu, 16 Dec 2010 00:00:00 EST <p> Background: For fifteen years, my colleagues and I have studied GoodWork--- work that is excellent, engaging, and carried out in an ethical, responsible way (see and From time to time, I have written about Compromised Work—work that, while not strictly illegal, is carried out in an irresponsible, unethical way.</p> <p> Recently, I’ve been the victim of fraud—an example that goes beyond Compromised Work and is best described as a scam, a swindle, a prototypical example of Bad Work. In what follows I report the facts of the matter, as best I have been able to ascertain them, and then draw a few conclusions. By doing so, I hope to spark discussions of how best to reduce the incidence of blatantly Bad Work.</p> <p> The Case: On October 31st 2010, I received an email from a person in Mexico City, expressing regret that my plane had been cancelled and that, therefore, I had been unable, at the last moment, to attend a conference at which I was the featured speaker. Though my memory is far from perfect, this note did not ring any bells. Consulting my records, I confirmed that indeed I had not accepted any invitation to any conference at that time. Further correspondence with my informant indicated that a Dr. Dzib had said that my plane was cancelled and had then read aloud an entire paper that purported to be from me. I was angered to learn of this “whole cloth deception” but did not think that there was much if anything that I could do.</p> <p> Then, at the beginning of December, I received in the mail a book length publication from Mexico, entitled APRENDIZAJES Y DESARROLLO EN CONTEXTOS EDUCATIVOS, compiled by Joaquín Hernández González, Gilda Rocha Romero, José Pérez Torres, Nicolás Tlalpachícatl Cruz, and María Imelda González Mecalco, dated October 2010, and published by Universidad Pedagógica Nacional—complete with the customary notice “all rights to reproduce prohibited.” The lead essay in the book contains my “Conferencia Magistral”. There is no copyright on the essay; but there is an acknowledgement of thanks to Dr. Alma Dzib and a reference to Dr. Dzib Goodin. The essay is mostly my words, though there is inserted material devoted explicitly to the conference. With the mailed book came an unsigned piece of paper from the Rector, expressing regret at the cancellation of my flight. According to the publication, the Rector is Sylvia Ortega Salazar. That piece of paper is reproduced directly here.</p> <p> <a border="0" href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Dr. Howard Gardner note" src="" /></a></p> <p> Thanks to sleuth work by Kirsten Adam, Yael Karakowsky, and Charles Lang, I’ve been able to ascertain the following additional bits of information. This conference was advertised for several weeks on the Internet. The organizer at the conference (presumably Dr. Dzib) reported that I had sent the presentation the day before, thinking ahead of the worst case scenario—a cancelled flight. She went on to read the paper as if I had written it in the first person. She apologized that she could not add the remarks about American education that I might have included. She indicated that she is at the Harvard Medical School, that she and I are friends (I have never met her, to my knowledge, and she is certainly not a friend or colleague), and that she and I are both members of Mensa International (an organization that I know nothing about and certainly don’t belong to). And she includes a reference to my parents’ departure from Nazi Germany which is completely wrong and gratuitously hurtful. In other words, one complete falsehood after another.</p> <p> For further information, see and</p> <p> Implications:</p> <p> This episode is an unambiguous instance of bad work. As far as I am able to ascertain, there was nothing that I ever did or said that indicated or implied that I would attend such an event or prepare a paper for a volume—particularly a volume that had clearly been planned ad prepared well before the Conference took place. Nor do I ever give permission to reproduce my work without retaining the copyright. Any statement or implication that I had anything to do with this event has no basis in fact.</p> <p> The episode raises a number of questions:</p> <p> l. What was the motivation for the fraud? We have no direct information on this. I suspect that a person or persons wanted to have a conference and used my name and interests as a pretext for setting up the conference, securing an audience, and issuing a publication that purportedly grew out of the conference.</p> <p> 2. Who was involved in the fraud? It is completely unclear whether the fraud was the creation of one or a small group of persons, or a much larger undertaking, involving many people, including the editors, the Universidad Pedaogica Nacional, and/or other parties.</p> <p> 3. Who are the victims of the fraud? Clearly, those who attended the conference, expecting to hear me speak, were deceived. They may well have invested time and money to come to the Conference and they are owed an apology by the organizers, if not reimbursement for any expenses that they incurred. Also, any readers of the book who believe that I spoke there and prepared a paper for the conference were also victims. Since I was misrepresented, I (and my reputation) are victims as well. So are those who believe in honoring international copyright regulations.</p> <p> 4. Why bring attention to this shameful event? This is not the first time that my name has been exploited, and I have also been the victim of other frauds and swindles. In general, rightly or wrongly, I have kept quiet about these events. In cases where I know the deceivers personally, I have registered protests which may or may not have had any impact.</p> <p> In this case, however, the fraud is of such a scale, and so blatant, with so many victims, that it seems wrong simply to be silent about it. Indeed, when people remain silent about circumstances where they have been deceived, they often, if inadvertently, encourage the deceiver to initiate yet another deception, perhaps even one on a broader scale. By bringing attention to this event, I hope both to embarrass the perpetrators of the fraud and to reduce the chances that they can repeat the deception again, on other unwitting victims.</p> <p> As pointed out by Katie Davis, this fraud underscores the powers of the internet. The internet makes it possible to advertise the conference and circulate the proceedings to a very wide audience. But the Internet also makes it possible to track down the perpetrators of a fraud and at least call attention to their misdeeds.</p> <p> The case raises the broader question of how to deal with instances of compromised work, or of blatantly bad work. I’ve given my own views, and I’d be very pleased to hear views from others.</p> <p> There is one other moral to this episode.. If you learn that I am coming to a conference, or that I have failed to show up at a conference, it is best if you confirm that report. The same thing ought to apply when you consider attending any event of whose existence you are uncertain.</p> <p> The health of a society depends upon trust. When trust is diminished or absent, life becomes difficult. Alas, the executors of this bad work have torn apart the fabric of scholarly trust, and for that they deserve condemnation.</p> <p>  </p> <p> See an article in Mexican newspaper about the Swindle:</p> <p> <a href="">Spanish language PDF</a></p> <p> <a href="">English translation PDF</a></p> Howard Gardner on best approaches for teaching ethics Wed, 15 Dec 2010 00:00:00 EST <p></p>Howard Gardner responds to a question posed from Korea, from someone interested in best approaches for teaching ethics: <p></p>Thank you for your inquiry. You raise the question of the advantages of teaching ethics as a ‘stand alone’ course, as is done in Korea. My own view is that no one is born moral or immoral, ethical or unethical. Our upbringing and our surrounding culture determine how we behave toward others—those whom we know (what I call neighborly morality); toward those with whom we have a work relationship (what I call the ethics of roles). <p></p>Across cultures and history, morals and ethics have been taught or conveyed in multiple ways: through religion, through stories, through history, through the media, through formal education, and, most importantly, through the individuals with whom one spends time, particularly when we are young. Traditionally parents, grandparents, older siblings, and other relatives have had the most influence; we see how they behave, for what they are praised and rewarded, for what they are shunned and punished, and we decide how we should behave ourselves. In recent times, and particularly in the United States, the examples of peers are very important. <p></p>When formal schooling began, it often featured a very strong moral and ethical curriculum. Indeed, except for acquiring literacy, learning how to behave toward others—and how not to behave toward others—was the chief curriculum of traditional schooling. And so the ethical curricula featured in Korea, in China, in Scandinavia, and indeed in most countries is probably the norm. And yet, the existence of moral /ethical education scarcely guarantees the emergence of moral/ethical human beings. To take just one recent example: in China, during Mao Zedong’s era, there was plenty of moral education in school. Yet in the Cultural Revolution, young people were extremely destructive, often participating with enthusiasm as their own parents or teachers were ridiculed, punished, even murdered. <p></p>In my view, the important consideration is not whether there are formal classes in school. Rather, there are two crucial considerations: l) How do the influential persons in the young person’s life behave toward other human beings? 2) Are the messages in the society consistent or inconsistent with one another? When the influential persons behave morally and ethically, and their behaviors are similar to one another, then young people are likely to emerge as moral and ethical human beings. This happens whether or not there is formal schooling. If, on the other hand, the role models are immoral and/or unethical, or the messages across the society (including school) are inconsistent with one another, then it is unlikely that young people will merit the labels ‘moral’ or ‘ethical’. Howard Gardner Visits Bloomsburg Tue, 30 Nov 2010 00:00:00 EST <p>I first learned about the GoodWork Project five years ago. Since then I have collaborated with researchers in the nursing profession to learn about the meaning of good work among nurses in local, regional, and international settings. I have integrated the theory of good work in courses across disciplines at Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, PA.</p> <img src="" alt="Emma & Dr. Howard Gardner" /> <p>Recently, Dr. Howard Gardner delivered the Provost Lecture at Bloomsburg University to an audience of over 1500 faculty and students. Dr. Gardner provided an overview of the theory of multiple intelligences. He transitioned seamlessly into the theory of good work. Following the lecture students approached Dr. Gardner to ask questions about both theories. Students grasped the theory of multiple intelligences and the need for both individualized and pluralized teaching. They understand that individuals have intelligences that cannot be measured solely by psychometric tests. However, they struggled with the notion of what it takes to become the kind of people we want to be and to build the society in which we want to live. </p> <p>At breakfast the following morning, conversation with students turned to a discussion of what it means to falsify a resume. One student stated she would want to present herself just as she is, with enthusiasm for her profession and no falsification. She wants to be accepted for the person she is. Another student stated she would not be able to 'put her head on the pillow' at the end of the day if she falsified a resume. However, she is concerned about how hard it is to adhere to high ideals when others in the work place do not. She stated, "At the end of the day, a young person can return home and even there witness compromised work and values. What is a young person to do?" This student seemed desperate for a role model.</p> <p>How are we preparing the next generation? Have we abandoned the role of the trusted role model? Have we failed as educators or is there hope for a better future among those committed to preparing the next generation of professionals to assume roles as responsible citizens? What does it take?</p> Howard Gardner's Provost Lecture: Educating for Today and Tomorrow Mon, 22 Nov 2010 00:00:00 EST <p>Last week, along with several colleagues from Project Zero, I participated in a conference in Washington DC. Our hosts were CASIE (Center for the Advancement and Study of International Education) and WIS (the Washington International School). Project Zero's first "off site" conference! Very exciting for all of us, and a great opportunity to learn from passionate, creative teachers and researchers. I thought I'd share a sampling of thoughts that are still lingering with me:</p> <p>Our first day was spent at the National Gallery of Art - a treat! Considering the idea of the museum, Shari Tishman asked us to consider the various "frames" we bring to our experiences. She referred to studies which demonstrate that most of us place a great deal of trust in our museums. Thinking through my goodwork "frame," I wondered: what are the responsibilities that go along with this trust? </p> <p>Our second day began with a plenary in which David Perkins talked about the Languages of War and Peace. Guiding us through how meaning is made, using phrases such as "regrettable necessity" or "zealous allegiance," David enriched our understanding of what global competence means in the 21st century. As global citizens, whether or not we may agree with the actions of our nation's leaders, we are all complicit in the societies to which we belong. A question Wendy and I have been thinking about for years, but one that seems to be getting increasingly complex: what does it mean to be a responsible global citizen?</p> <p>Howard Gardner spoke about <em>Five Minds for the Future</em> on the final day of the conference. I always learn something when I listen to Howard, and this day was no exception. But what I found most moving was his response to a question posed by a participant. Attending the conference as a parent, not an educator, a woman asked how she might encourage new ideas in her school system. She is apparently up against a difficult school board, undoubtedly facing budget cuts, and feeling quite powerless. He offered encouragement, pointed to some examples of incredible "boutique" approaches (e.g. Reggio Emilia), and then pointed to what is really most important in our education system. We should not be focusing solely on test scores, or even on intelligence or knowledge. Education should be about teaching young people to be the kinds of human beings we want them to be.</p> <p>Just a few of many ideas I'll continue to mull over as Thanksgiving approaches.</p> <p>Link to Conference website:</p> <a href=""></a> News from India Tue, 09 Nov 2010 00:00:00 EST <p>Our colleague and inspired educator Kiran Sethi has sent us news about the Design for Change (DFC) initiative. The DFC Contest is an international contest encouraging children to make positive change happen in their communities. In India, an international jury narrowed the children's stories from 2000 to 225 and the national jury met to further filter the stories to the top 100, and then the top 20. 10 special jury awards were also announced.</p> <img class="author_image" src="" alt="India News"> <p>This year, over 200,000 children across all 29 states of India became "Changemakers." The stories grew bolder and several age old superstitions and rituals like Mrityu Bhoj (rituals based on feeding people when a family member dies) and Black Magic were challenged. Children designed solutions for a range of problems such as traffic, rainwater harvesting, drug addiction, science aids for the visually impaired, bullying, heavy school bags and garbage. In Kiran's words, "The children showed all of us what can be achieved when we say 'I CAN', instead of 'Can I'!!"</p> <p>Several of the top 100 stories are going to be documented and published as part of value and character building curriculum for schools. </p> <p>Below, please find links to some of the outstanding stories of DFC '10, and to the contest's website:</p> <p>Contest website: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Mrityu Bhoj, Satya Bharti School, Alwar</a></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Jal Hai to Kal Hai, Satya Bharti School, Jaipur</a></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Every Child is an Entrepreneur, Sunrise English Medium School, Pune</a></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Go Garbage, Amrit Vidyalaya, Kalol, Gujarat</a></p> The First Rule of Teaching: Do No Harm Mon, 25 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EDT <p>It wasn't until I went on a field trip with my son and his eighth grade teacher that I started pondering the recent debates about how a teacher's performance in the classroom should be evaluated.</p> <p>My son and his teacher, Jennifer, were deep in conversation about some machine that my son had built at home out of spare parts. Jennifer listened, asked questions, then listened some more. She's a former engineer, so she has lots of high-powered technical knowledge she might have sprinkled onto my son's head like falling leaves. Instead, she focused on getting my son to ask the right questions, inserting facts only where she had to, until at last he said, “Oh! I know what I could try next. Thanks!” I couldn't follow their conversation in detail – I barely passed high school physics – but it was suddenly clear that I was in the presence of one of those brilliant teachers who we hope like hell our children have at least a few times in their lives.</p> <p>What makes a teacher brilliant? It's not easy for me to say, despite the fact that I've ushered three children and two stepchildren through school and into college. Along the way, I've attended countless parent-teacher conferences and PTO meetings. I've been a school volunteer. But it was only at that moment, with Jennifer and my son, that I really considered what makes a teacher brilliant and not just okay, or downright evil. While we've never had a teacher as evil as Miss Trunchbull in Roald Dahl's brilliant book, Matilda – the one who locked children in a tiny room with spikes on the walls – we've certainly had our share of scary teachers.</p> <p>There was, for instance, the elementary school teacher who made fun of my youngest son because he was anxious and had facial tics. When he told her that he wanted to be a mathematician, she laughed and said, “You'll never be a mathematician if you keep making those faces!” He also had a teacher who, when it was time to make gingerbread houses for Christmas, called him “defiant” because he didn't follow her A-frame plan and created his own design. The very next year, a teacher told my son that he would “grow up to be another Unibomber” because he had drawn a sketch of a gun he'd seen on YouTube.</p> <p>Most teachers, thankfully, have not been so woefully ignorant or mean. Among the many teachers in the lives of our five children, most have simply followed their hearts in an effort to do good in the world. They get up every morning, balancing family life with work like most of us – only their work involves the emotional and exhausting rigors of caring for other people's children. They fight for what their students need, and sometimes, like the rest of us, they are irritable or too exhausted to be kind. They snap at the kids, or even, in the case of one math teacher at our junior high who, after being pushed to the limit by a wayward kid taunting him from the doorway, chase kids down the hall while waving chairs over their heads. Really.</p> <p>Burnout isn't their fault, or at least not entirely. The educational system is overburdened – we all know that – and often more of a premium is placed on crowd control and compliance among students than on anything else. Students come to class unprepared or are confrontational, and parents are equally so. It's no wonder that our teachers are stressed and overwhelmed. If they'd wanted to be cops, they would have signed up for the police academy.</p> <p>Yet, a few rare teachers continue to do their jobs well, or even brilliantly. My oldest daughter, always fearful of writing, became an avid writer because her sixth grade English teacher made her believe that she could do it – even as that teacher was battling breast cancer. My oldest son's first social studies teacher inspired in him a lifelong love of politics. A French teacher's encouragement led our younger daughter to study in Paris.</p> <p>What sets those teachers apart? Brilliance in the classroom isn't about a teacher's education, training, or classroom experience. No, the kind of teacher who inspires students to learn because they want to, instead of because they have to, has more to do with elusive qualities, like being willing to meet a child where he is, having a keen and sturdy sense of humor, respecting every child's strengths, and bravely setting forth every day ready to try something new.</p> <p>There has been a lot of debate about how best to test our teachers, such as asking whether we should use standardized student test scores to evaluate a teacher's performance. But the most important things to measure in a teacher are things you can't test for, like the willingness to trust that, within every child, there is a better person who just needs to be coaxed to come out. How do you test for that? While we figure that out, the first rule to follow when evaluating teachers should be the same one we use in medicine. Teachers, like doctors, should First, do no harm. </p> <p>Learn more about Holly and her work at her website.</p> The New and Improved GW Toolkit Thu, 14 Oct 2010 00:00:00 EDT <p>This past summer, Wendy and I reworked the GoodWork Toolkit. Conceived in 2004, piloted and tested for several years afterwards, from what colleagues and teachers told us, the materials were in good shape. But we had lots of ideas, new narratives, and wanted to devote some thinking to the design and structure of our work. We’re very excited by the result – and hope you will be too.</p> <p>The GoodWork Toolkit now consists of three different components: A Guidebook, a book of Narratives, and a set of Value Sort Cards. The Guidebook is a resource manual that includes narratives, activities, introductory materials that explain our theoretical framework and guiding questions to help teachers bring good work to life in the classroom. The Narrative volume consists of just the GW stories, to be used as a text for classroom use or in a professional development setting. The Value Sort Cards are a hand-held version of the online sort available on this website. Over the years, Wendy and I have witnessed hundreds of people do this value sort. In our own course at Harvard, in high schools, and in many other settings, we’re always impressed with how much reflection is involved with this activity, and with how much enjoyment individuals derive from thinking through what they value.</p> <img class="author_image" src="" alt="The NEW GW Toolkit"> <p>We’re hopeful that this new and improved GW Toolkit will be useful to you, and we look forward to hearing feedback from those of you who are already using it in your classrooms. It certainly isn’t necessary to purchase all of the pieces – the online Value Sort, for example, is available for <a href="">free here on the website.</a> Additionally, some of the cases and activities are also available to download (see our <a href="">Cases and Activities links</a>). Over the coming months, we hope to be in touch with many folks who are working with GW ideas, with some or all of the new materials, and we’ll let you know how things are going. We may see some of you next month in Washington DC at the Educating for Today and Tomorrow Conference (link below). And if you have thoughts to share, as always, please be in touch!</p> Educating for Failure, Seeking Success Fri, 24 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EDT <p>Antonio arrives to the classroom, greets the children and sits with them. He is holding under his arm a box of wooden toys. Kids are excited by his visit; it seems like a fun activity. One by one, Antonio takes out the wooden characters from the box, and so, the adventure begins. He gives each child a character in the story, and all of them, unwittingly, become involved in his history.</p> <p>Antonio was born in Veracruz, and he remembers his departure to Mexico City as if it were yesterday. He was around 5 years old when his father got a better job opportunity. For him, “Goodbyes on trains are just like in the movies…. The saddest ones.” “Have you seen one?” He asks the children, and while he does so, he takes out a wooden train from his box. It was time to leave Veracruz, time to start a new life and deal with new challenges as a family. </p> <img class="author_image" src="" alt="Antonio" /> <p>While listening to his words and seeing the movement of the train, it was clear that the children were filled with sadness. It was certainly different from what Antonio experienced…but they were attentive both to his words and his heart.</p> <p>- “Goodbye to my cat.” (Antonio asks a child for the wooden cat, and removes it from the scene while mentioning these words.) </p> <p>- “Goodbye to my friends.” (Again, he asks those who are holding these characters to put them away.) </p> <p>- “Now…My grandparents? Goodbye, too.” (And again, he removes pieces from the game.)</p> <p>Little by little, the staging remains with fewer characters and the childrens’ faces show surprise, sadness and empathy.</p> <img class="author_image" src="" alt="Andre"> <p>Suddenly, there is a twist in the story. Even though Antonio recalls this experience as a sad and difficult moment, Mexico City had its charms. After some time and while requiring some effort on his part, he now perceives Mexico City as a city that gave him many opportunities. He found new friends, learned new things, met his wife, and has formed a beautiful family. Today, he is in the classroom in order to share a life experience with Mariana, his daughter. (In anticipation of his visit to the classroom, Mariana and the rest of the children prepared a thank you note for him. She greeted her father eagerly on the day of his visit.)</p> <p>This is how Antonio participates in the Project Educating for Failure, Seeking Success. We narrate real stories to children, or as Antonio wrote in his own story and said to Mariana: “I have been asked to tell you a story, but this is not a story Mariana…this is part of my history.”</p> <img class="author_image" src="" alt="Andre"> <p>Educating for Failure, Seeking Success seeks to involve parents actively in their children’s education. How? By providing children with real stories, life experiences through which parents become “humanized” and are much more than “perfect” images. Through this project, each parent is invited to write about a personal encounter with failure, pain or difficulty that can be used to teach and be an example of a learning experience. </p> <p>Why? Because we were probably all educated to seek success, not realizing that failure is inevitably a part of the journey. Because dealing with failure at the outset can be the first step to success. Because a person that grows by learning may be more prepared to face an unpredictable life and have better tools while dealing with future frustrations. What for? To share a life lesson, to teach children that in life it may take many plantings before you can, successfully, harvest your crops. </p> <p>Like all stories, our stories have an introduction, a body and a conclusion. It is important to consider that the conclusion of these stories does not refer to a solution, but a proposal to address the challenge. The project seeks to share with children that not all stories have a solution, since life doesn’t offer solutions for everything.</p> <img class="author_image" src="" alt="Antonio" /> <p>I considered the Project a success. After these experiences and by their own initiative, kids started writing and sharing their own stories. Suddenly, the classroom was full of stories, all being heard and respected. The librarian was amazed after receiving a donation from one of the kids – he wanted to keep his “book” on the library shelf, expecting everyone in school to be able to read and understand him. Would I do it again? The more I read, the more I hear, and the more I perceive…the more I learn. So yes, I would do it again, and again. </p> Announcing <i>Shelter</i> - a new book by one of our GW Alumni Thu, 16 Sep 2010 00:00:00 EDT <p>Scott Seider is an assistant professor of education at Boston University. He completed his doctorate in education at Harvard University where he worked under Professor Howard Gardner on the GoodWork Project. His research focuses on the ethical development of teenagers and emerging adults -- the ethical "E" of the GoodWork Project. In 'Shelter,' he considers the impact upon college students of volunteering at an entirely student-run homeless shelter.</p> <p>Every winter night the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter brings together society's most privileged and marginalized groups under one roof: Harvard students and the homeless. What makes the Harvard Square Shelter unique is that it is operated entirely by Harvard College students. It is the only student-run homeless shelter in the United States.</p> <p><em>Shelter</em> demonstrates how the juxtaposition of privilege and poverty inside the Harvard Square Shelter proves transformative for the homeless men and women taking shelter there, the Harvard students volunteering there, and the wider society into which both groups emerge each morning. In so doing, <em>Shelter</em> makes the case for the replication of this student-run model in major cities across the United States.</p> <p>Inspiring and energizing, <em>Shelter</em> offers a unique window into the lives of America's poorest and most privileged citizens as well as a testament to the powerful effects that can result when members of these opposing groups come together.</p> <p><i>Shelter</i> can be purchased on <a href=" "></a>.</p> My Summer Job Mon, 16 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDT <p>I have so loved working on the Good Work Project this summer. The Good Work Team is a wonderful and inspiring group of people, and it has truly been a pleasure to work with them. In addition, it was difficult for me to immerse myself in the ideas of Good Work and not come away with a fresh perspective on my own life. As I typed up discussion questions for the Toolkit, I mulled over the questions myself. How would I have acted if faced with this or that dilemma in my academic work? As I drafted reflective activities, I imagined how the core idea of each activity might illuminate the places in my own work that needed improvement. Was my own current academic work excellent? I found myself wondering. Was it ethical? Engaging?</p> <p>The answer that emerged struck me with particular force with regard to the third quality of Good Work: engagement. This is not to say that I do not also struggle to make my work excellent at school, or that I never face ethical dilemmas in my work. It is simply that excellence and ethics tend to be more at the forefront of my mind when I think of what I strive for in my school work. When I asked myself if my own work was engaging to me, my answer was sometimes. I find that I often disregard the importance of finding work that is personally meaningful. I have a tendency to discount work that is fun and exciting for me because it somehow seems less serious and important! An academic mentor who knows this tendency of mine well once encouraged me to pursue work that “made my heart sing,” and I think this gets to the core of what engagement means. When I find work that truly engages me, it makes me feel energized and impatient to begin. For me, the arts have this effect: there is nothing more exciting than having a fresh canvas before me and a paintbrush in my hand; and there is nothing more exhilarating than performing a dramatic scene onstage with a group of committed actors.</p> <p>It is also becoming easier for me to sense when work is not engaging to me. Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote: “If your morals make you dreary, depend on it: they are wrong.” I think the same could be said of work. Work that makes me dreary is not engaging, and is not work that I should be pursuing. Of course, it is easier said than done, I have found. It is easy to convince myself that soul-deadening work is too important, or too serious to give up. And yet, I have at times paid the price for blindly pursuing work that makes me dreary. It is not helpful to me or to anybody for me to slog—feeling martyrish—through a sea of work that I dislike.</p> <p>I have come to understand that when I find work that truly engages me, I cannot wait to get out of bed in the morning. Instead of waking up with a sense of dread and hitting the snooze button, I am excited to start the day. This does not have to be true every day; but it ought to be the trend. In his recent commencement speech at Stanford, Steve Jobs said he tries to look the mirror every day and ask himself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" He said that “whenever the answer has been ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” This is his way of keeping himself honest. As I look ahead to my final year of college and further still to the great wide unknown of life after college, my goal is to keep myself honest. I want to find out what makes my heart sing, and then I want to pursue this work whole-heartedly.</p> <p>I feel so honored to have had a chance to help out a little bit with Good Work this summer, and I know that I will be drawing upon tools from the Toolkit in the coming months as I figure out my plans for the next few years. Working with the Good Work Team has been a true pleasure, and the work has been—among many other things—very engaging! </p> Early Warning Signs of Ethical Disaster Mon, 09 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDT <p>It seems that every major disaster is followed by almost pro forma revelations of danger signs that should have alerted us to the danger but were ignored. We heard those revelations in the aftermath of 9/11 and we're hearing them now as the BP oil spill takes its place as the worst environmental disaster in American history.</p> <p>My research into ethics education gives me the uncomfortable feeling that we might be in danger of a collapse in ethical values, not as dramatic perhaps but in its own way as detrimental to America as a terrorist attack or environmental disaster. </p> <p>Ethical danger signs usually come from adult business and poltical leaders, whose egregious ethical shortcuts often warrant headlines. But I'm more concerned about ethical danger signs among young people, like the one raised for me by an experience shared by a college ethics professor.</p> <p>This professor told a class of college freshmen about a long-running scandal on the Long Island Railroad, a commuter line connecting New York City with the Long Island suburbs.</p> <p>Extensive investigative journalism by the New York Times in 2008 revealed that for years almost every employee retiring from the railroad applied for and received occupational disability payments as well as his or her regular pension and retirement benefits. Those results could only indicate that wholesale fraud was taking place, especially since the railroad had won national awards for improving worker safety.</p> <p>With the full knowledge of management, retiring employees were essentially gaming a complicated system that made unjustified occupational disability benefits a virtual part of their retirement package. Not only were perfectly healthy retirees drawing disability payments from their former employer, they were also using their disabled classification to claim taxpayer-paid benefits. They qualified for free passes at state parks and free access to publicly owned golf courses, which they used with great frequency despite their "disabled" status.</p> <p>The professor expected outrage from the class at this epidemic of fraud and ethical failure. But the class reacted quite differently. They concluded that if any problem existed, it lay with "the system" that allowed such institutionalized theft of undeserved benefits. As they saw it, the individual retirees had no ethical responsibility at all. They were just dipping into the trough with everybody else.</p> <p>These college freshmen found no problem with that and saw no failure in ethical values. In fact, more than one student expressed the hope that he or she could take advantage of a LIRR style "perk" someday.</p> <p>Talk about a warning sign! The attitude of these young adults indicated they had reached college age without absorbing the concept of individual ethics and collective responsibility to society. Unfortunately, that attitude is not an aberration. I'll spare you statistics, and I'll stipulate that not all kids would react the same way. </p> <p>Still, those students reflect the danger that the most hovered-over generation in history has been raised in an ethical wilderness -- in an environment that emphasizes individual entitlement over individual responsibility. </p> <p>We owe it to our children and to the future of our society to at least give young people the intellectual ammunition to evaluate life's choices in terms of ethical values. The warning signs are there. We ignore them at our peril.</p> Five Star Green Hotels Thu, 05 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDT <p>This spring I was fortunate enough to undertake a round-the-world trip, visiting St Petersburg, Helsinki, Beijing, and Singapore. In each city I was the guest of a local host who booked me a room—and sometimes a suite—at a well regarded hotel. I was treated well and enjoyed myself. But at the same time, I was struck and disturbed by the huge waste in each place. To begin with, the rooms were way too large, sometimes ridiculously so. Such large rooms have to be heated or cooled down, and hotels tend to overcompensate in the least responsible direction. Guests are told that towels and sheets will be reused, but this rule is often not followed. And of course, there are all kinds of disposable goods—soaps, vanity sets, etc.—in every room and these are often changed as a matter of course, even when they are only partially used.</p> <p>The waste of food is particularly painful. The hotels all feature lavish breakfasts, buffet style. There are dozens of different dishes, which are regularly replenished. In one of the hotels, there were buffet lunches and dinners as well, with yet more dishes to choose from. I don't want even to think about the amount of food that is thrown away each day—this when so many (indeed, at least one billion persons) go hungry each evening.</p> <p>These luxury hotels are competing on amenities. I'd like to see them compete on the basis of environmental concerns, wise use of space, and a limited menu with portions on the small side. Why doesn't the widely admired Four Seasons' hotel chain start a set of hotels, called Four Seasons Green? And why don't the competitors come up with their own suite of offerings—Hilton Healthy, Sonesta Sustainability, etc? Of course these hotels ought to be immaculate and have good service, but with the amount of money gained by the aforementioned savings, they could probably charge less than their lavish competitors. At the same time, those of us who can afford to stay—or to be put up at—lavish hotels would be sending the message, that we value the viability of the planet more than we value our own creature comforts.</p> <p>In this regard, a useful concept is 'the nudge.' Currently at such hotels, the default assumption is that people want fresh everything and endless food. Why not set up the hotels in reverse? That is, unless you explicitly ask for new towels and new linens, you won't get them. Unless you explicitly ask for an outsized, overly heated (or over cooled) room, you won't get it. And why not throw in or feature a green restaurant, so only those who ask for it get overstuffed meals?</p> <p>To be sure, there are economy hotels, some of which do attempt to be green. A different headline results when Four Star hotels, serving the rich and the celebrated, adopt these recommendations. Often, inadvertently, even those who favor green policies don't exemplify them in their own practices. I am not just talking about Al Gore travelling in a private plane. In a conference on climate change that I attended a few years ago, the very same individuals who espoused limits on carbon in the atmosphere travelled in limousines from one hotel to another. Only when those with real choices live and act green all the time, will we have taken important steps toward putting our planetary energy and climate needs in order.</p> Thoughts about the Summer Institute Tue, 03 Aug 2010 00:00:00 EDT <p>We have just wrapped up our Project Zero annual Summer Institute—when hundreds of educators from all over the world come to Cambridge to learn about Project Zero research and practice methods. It is always an energizing experience for us researchers—it is a reminder for many of us that we are fortunate to do work that is engaging and stimulating, and attendees always make us feel as though it is important and helpful to their own work‚ which is rewarding for us to hear.</p> <p>Lynn and I taught the GoodWork Toolkit course twice, and we had two very different, very interesting groups. In the first group we had twenty participants, and in the second course, we had nine. Though sometimes, as a presenter, it is energizing to have a large group of participants, the smaller group can be more intimate and sometimes easier to get to know on a more personal level. We followed the same agenda (of course staying flexible to participants' needs), which is similar to the one posted on this site.... (link pasted below).</p> <p>In this course and in other presentations and seminars, we have used the narrative of Meg hundreds of times. Meg is an Asian-American actress who is unsure about accepting a role in play that she feels degrades stereotypes of her own race. Interestingly, last week we heard a comment we had never heard before (if you have not yet read this narrative, see the link below). In each of the two different sessions during last week's institute, a participant suggested that Meg might be in the wrong profession. If her goal is to undermine racial stereotypes, perhaps she should think about becoming an academic, a writer, or a journalist—not an actress. How can she take a role that compromises this goal? Our participants argued that being an actress is not going to satisfy her goal—and that should not be her mission as an actress. What do you think? Do you agree with these two institute participants?</p> <p>The other tidbit that we learned from this year's course related to the Value Sort Activity. A participant suggested that it would be interesting to have her peers sort the values in terms of how they think <em>she</em> would sort them. She was interested in how her peers interpret her own values and what is most important in her work. I thought this would be fascinating.</p> <p>Lastly, one other important note: in addition to being able to sort your values on this site, we now have new and improved Value Sort cards available (for purchase), as well as two new resources: a narrative volume (with some new narratives) and a guidebook (with suggested structure for educators who want to use the GoodWork materials and need some guidance). We are very excited about these revised resources, and look forward to hearing your thoughts about them.</p> <p>Related links:</p> <p><a href="">Summer Institute Course</a></p> <p><a href="">Meg's story</a></p> <p><a href="">Online value sort</a></p> In Search of Corporate Heroes... Thu, 29 Jul 2010 00:00:00 EDT <p>In one of my books, published in 2004, I singled out for praise John Browne and BP for its initiative in going 'beyond petroleum' and having a flat, transparent organization. And so I fully deserved it when my irreverent son said to me "So, Dad, what about your heroes now?"</p> <p>In retrospect, I realized that while I had spoken to some BP executives, and read some of their materials, I had relied way too much on the conventional wisdom, and had not at all used any investigative journalist techniques to probe behind the story that BP wanted to tell.</p> <p>We live in a time of publicity, public relations spin, and it is extremely difficult to find out which of the leaders in any sector who are singled out for praise (or for castigation) really merit these characterizations.</p> <p>I don't think we lack any CEO heroes. But I suspect that the true heroes are largely unsung, and prefer to remain that way. They prefer to give credit to others, to remain behind the scenes, to avoid grandiose statements and predictions and promises, and to perform better than anyone expected them. And the ultimate test of these individuals may be the extent to which they plan for an orderly succession, to individuals who share the desire to remain out of the limelight, rather than to attempt to dominate it, and quietly but responsibly, to do good work.</p> <p>This blog originally appeared in the <a href="" target="_blank" >Washington Post column on leadership.</a></p> Children and Good Work Mon, 28 Jun 2010 00:00:00 EDT <p>Very young children appear to embrace Good Work with greater enthusiasm than their older classmates.</p> <p>That was one of the surprising conclusions of my recent Sonoma State University Master's project, "The Peace Crane Project: How Children Can Be Inspired To Do Good Work." The project's mission was to: (1) create an environment and provide guidance for children to do good work, (2) provide stimulus and assistance for children to develop their innate artistic abilities, (3) offer an environment and guidance for children to develop their social consciousness, 4) teach children to express their feelings through art-making and (5) honor the extraordinary contribution to world peace by Sadako Sasaki.</p> <p>This project first saw light in my kindergarten classroom at the Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts. As a way to pay tribute to victims of 9/11, kindergartners decorated giant pre-folded origami cranes and wrote reflections responding to the prompt, "My wish for the people of the world is..." </p> <p>The success of the kindergarten 9/11 peace crane art exhibit inspired me to expand this activity to my fourth-through-eighth grade art specialty classes. By folding and decorating origami peace cranes, these older students added their artistic voices to a Japanese tradition that was over one thousand years old. Completed peace cranes became part of a year-long traveling exhibit that ended in Japantown, San Francisco on International Peace Day, August 6th.</p> <p>To enhance their understanding of the peace crane symbolism, children studied the activism of Sadako Sasaki, who was two years old when the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. Sadako used traditional crane-folding as a way to heal spiritually. She died from leukemia at age twelve. Her activism and bravery encouraged children globally to work together for world peace and inspired my inquiry: "How can children learn to do good work?"</p> <p>The kindergartners hurled themselves into this project with triumphant abandon. Moreover, their responses were drawn from the heart: concerns about wellness, safety and personal responsibility. Examples: "My wish for the people of the world is for more fireman to help out." And "My wish for people of the world is bread for everyone." But eighth graders played back "pop" media-inspired slogans, such as "Peace out!" and "Have a great day every day!", short-circuiting their hearts. One could chart a descending line of joyful participation, from the kindergartners' eagerness, to the eighth graders' conditioned reflexes.</p> <p>Seiko Fujimoto, international peace activist and Hiroshima bombing survivor, told me, "Children are the hope for peace because their minds are still clear. When children ask for peace it ís different than when adults ask for peace. Kids care more and have more ideas for peace." </p> <p>The Peace Crane Project was finally about fusion. For nine years in elementary and middle school, we teach our students about numbers and dates and places. Then on weekends some of the students go to church, temple or synagogue to address their spiritual selves. The twain rarely meet. The project sought to join the two worlds, to help children get in touch with their better angels, to open their lives to the possibility of wonder. </p> <p>I emerged from this project with a profound sense that children come to earth with a built-in need to do good things for others. Before grown-ups show them all the things they cannot or should not do, they see things purely. They cherish their connection to others and are happy making others happy. </p> Google and Goldman Sun, 27 Jun 2010 00:00:00 EDT <p>At least until the spring of 2010, two lines of work have been particularly seductive for 'the best and the brightest'—the graduates of our leading colleges and universities. One professional option has entailed work at the cutting edge of the technology sector—for Facebook, Apple or Google. Complementing Silicon Valley, the other option has been to work on "The Street"—in investment banking, hedge funds, or some other branch of the financial industry.</p> <p>One attraction, of course, is the possibility of making a lot of money, preferably soon. While the salaries may not be exorbitant, the possibilities of options, bonuses, or "striking it rich" are patent: many young adults dream about becoming the next Marc Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, or the next John Paulson, the trader who made billions shorting the mortgage market (technically, collateralized debt obligations).</p> <p>How does one think about these career choices with respect to the execution of GoodWork™? As defined by my colleagues and me, the good worker embodies three qualities. He/she is technically Excellent: knows what to do and how to do it in the sector under consideration. The good worker is Ethical: thinks about what is the right thing to do, not just for oneself and now, but for the broader society and in the long run. Finally, the good worker is Engaged: likes the work, looks forward to it, finds meaning in it.</p> <p>While I don't have expertise in either field, I will assume that those who are recruited for these sectors—Google or Goldman for short—know what they are doing. In terms of good work, they may be deemed Excellent. They are informed and thorough students; they work hard to master material; they can pass the formal or informal tests that are posed by potential employers; and, thrown into a new situation, they are able to make sense of it, ask the right questions, finish the task expeditiously and move on to the "next next thing".</p> <p>But good work does not depend exclusively on excellence. One ceases to be a good worker if the work loses interest, on the one hand, or if one cuts ethical corners, on the other. With respect to school teachers in demanding urban settings, there is the risk of burn out. While they may still be excellent and ethical, these teachers find the job demands too difficult and eventually they become disengaged. Only those who have ample collegial support systems, or very strong religious or idealistic principles, are able to remain as engaged good workers. In the case of many professionals, the desire for fame and fortune—especially Warhol-like fame and Trump-style fortune—can come to 'trump' ethical considerations. Every day in the press, one reads about compromised or unethical work on the part of doctors, lawyers, professors, or engineers.</p> <p>Which brings me to the young persons who want to work for Google or Goldman (or perhaps both!). Whatever attracts these individuals initially, it is clear that, once hired, they have joined a very exciting enterprise. At Google, they are developing the technology and technological applications of the future, and are even granted a day a week to focus on their own projects. At Goldman, they work along side the best and the brightest to analyze business and financial opportunities and to make the 'best bet'—the decision that will result in additional riches for the company, and for themselves.</p> <p>To borrow the terminology of my colleague Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, working opportunities within Google or Goldman are rife with the possibility of 'flow'—that pleasurable psychic state where skills and challenges are in mesh. The problem with the state of 'flow' is that it is distinctly amoral: one can have flow equally in resecting a tumor, climbing a mountain, or cracking a safe. I submit that the flow opportunities at these cutting edge companies are so alluring that they risk undermining sensitivity to ethics, rendering one prone to ethical violations.</p> <p>However, engagement need not occur at the expense of ethics. Until 1999, Goldman Sachs was a partnership. Partners did well, but they had an investment in the long term growth of the company and in the preservation of its excellent reputation. And so, no doubt with some exceptions, workers at Goldman Sachs behaved in an ethical manner. But once the company became public traded, and once the power began to flow to the traders, Goldman's ethical muscle became flabby.</p> <p>Google's motto is "Do no evil"—an injunction to watch what one is doing, morally, ethically, and legally. There have been ethical lapses at Google; indeed some of the firm's policies of advertising, and of sharing of data, have been widely criticized. Yet Google has not always taken the easy solution. Confronted with evidence that China was censoring websites and spying on the digital footprints of dissidents, Google made the difficult decision to stop working in China and to direct users to the uncensored Hong Kong site. In this instance, I would argue, Google has taken an ethical stance—one that would not necessarily have been taken by companies with a different ethos or companies with eyes glued to the next quarter's profits.</p> <p>Fifty years ago, there was a common view of American newspapers. In this view, it was too bad that the New York Times was controlled by the Sulzberger family, and the Washington Post was controlled by the Graham family. Better that these firms become publicly held companies, not subject to familial whims. In retrospect, of course, the opposite has been the case. Today, virtually the only widely respected newspapers are those that remain under family—as opposed to public traded—names. Apparently it matters whether and how your name is being used.</p> <p>In this respect, there is an interesting distinction between Google and Goldman. While Google is public traded, it remains in important respects the fiefdom of founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Their imprimatur remains strong. In contrast, Goldman is no longer under the directorship of individuals who are integrally connected to the past and the conscience of the company. CEO Lloyd Blankfein may be sincere in believing that the firm is doing "God's work" but few would argue, any longer, that it is doing good work.</p> Lay It on the Table Wed, 26 May 2010 00:00:00 EDT <p>I attended a fairly small public high school that graduated roughly two hundred or so kids every year. One of the more memorable moments at my graduation came as a result of a well-intentioned classmate, who, in honor of our departure, followed through with his regrettable urge to re-write the lyrics of Simon and Garfunkle's "Bookends". The Vienna Boy's Choir are the only folks I can think of who could manage this tune, which, incidentally, possesses all the celebratory joy of Leonard Cohen at the dentist. Nobody could sing it. Nobody wanted to sing it. We didn't even bother to mouth it. Most folks used the moment as a bathroom break. Another notable juncture occurred later when the seemingly endless awards' portion overlooked me. They gave out awards for every possible character trait or career choice. Everybody received at least three scholarships or commendations, even the kids who had dropped out. To endure this, I convinced myself that what I was witnessing was really a raffle.</p> <p>The end of the year for graduates is understandably pretty much all about them, but to be honest, sometimes we all can lose perspective down the final stretch. Any student who gets accepted into Nobles (many do not) and then successfully navigates the Sisyphean demands required to maintain their place in this school (not everyone makes it through) should realize that their diploma is in itself an honor. I cringe a bit on those rare occasions when I hear folks mutter that their son or daughter got the shaft because someone else got the nod. Anything beyond a Nobles diploma really shouldn't be expected. Yet, I do expect every graduate to take the time and effort to express their appreciation, whether it be to classmates or faculty members, for all that they have been given. Truthfully, every student should do just that every year whether they are graduating or not.</p> <p>But often it's the parents of graduates who get overlooked in the waning weeks of the school year---mostly by their own children who are rushing happily from one celebratory event to another. In a perfect world, the run up to graduation would include a Mardi Gras of sorts in which the parents of Class I students could be given a well-deserved tip of the hat for all they have done. To be fair, there are moments at various events prior to graduation that parents get their due. That said, it is unrealistic for us to expect our seniors to fully appreciate all the anxiety, heartache, and sleepless nights that came with our unbridled joy in raising them. Nor can they completely understand how their departure leaves our world in some ways just a little less than what it was. But at this crucial transition it is imperative that each of you carve out a quiet moment with your soon-to-be-graduate and share with them in no uncertain terms everything that they have always meant to you, how they always will, and how that being their parent has been the greatest gift that you have ever known. Lay it on the table and give your child both the means and the moment to do the same. </p> <p>What are your thoughts during this graduation season?</p> On Being a True Activist Tue, 11 May 2010 00:00:00 EDT <p>Students often misplace their stuff and, when an initial search proves futile, an anxious email is often sent out, a day's worth of movements are retraced, and aspersions cast. It doesn't take too long before the words "someone took my…" are uttered. The truth is that most of the time missing items reappear. We don't often hear that side of it. No one sends out an email announcing that they eventually found their backpack exactly where they last left it. While books and small items do indeed get swiped from time to time, calculated theft is rare; when it does occur, folks agree that those who steal need to be stopped and answer for their actions. Few students would balk at turning in a peer if that peer were a thief. Everyone is pretty much in agreement that doing so would not result in social ostracism. Besides, most kids would agree that those who steal someone's Ipod or computer or phone deserve what they get. Everyone knows the havoc that one thief - and they usually act alone - can create in a community such as ours.</p> <p>So how is it that when a thoughtless student repeatedly steals another kid's dignity with ridicule and verbal slices, many of us either treat it as a right of passage or find a way to put this universal experience into a digestible perspective? Both approaches are tough to swallow, especially if you are the kid on the receiving end. If anyone accused you or your child of placing greater value on material goods over another child's rightful place in this community, you would be insulted. Rightfully so. Yet, many students and parents feel it would be a form of social suicide to call out a bully on their actions, and I would argue that this perspective is more often than not learned behavior. But I get it. No one wants to be seen as that person, the rat. No one wants to navigate the endless whispers and cold shoulders that surely would follow from some quarters. (Why any adult would allow the opinions or the perceived status of some folks to hold them hostage is a topic for another day.) Most folks, students and the like, believe that being systematically ostracized, humiliated or bullied for any length of time is arguably the worst thing that could happen to anyone during their time at Nobles. Who would argue that one? Clearly, we adults have the power, ability, and belief to make sure that our ethical and moral obligations to our children do not wither for the same reasons that hold our own children in check.</p> <p>A while ago I put forth the proposition that there are no innocent bystanders, that those who sat idle while classmates were being humiliated or taken advantage of against their wishes were a major part of the problem. Our students will forever hesitate to stand up for what is morally right if they perceive a social cost, and they may never do it if the adults in their world do not stand up with them and for them in their formative years. That said, like it or not, kids are influenced more by their peer group than they are by adults. But in the world of bullying and systematic humiliation, the adults of this community need to be trusting partners and activists in their own right. We must make it our priority to address all situations in which a student's dignity is undermined with clarity, action, and courage so that our children can not only take better care of themselves but of each other.</p> <p>Useful links:</p> <p><a href=""> </a></p> <p><a href=""></a></p> <p><a href=""></a></p> Inspiring for Change: GoodWork for Mexico's Children Wed, 28 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDT <p>My name is Yael Karakowsky; I am from Mexico and have been a preschool teacher for the last 3 years. I often ask myself how many "dreamers" are out there … doing everything they can, walking that extra mile, never missing a chance and always seeking to do a little bit more. I consider myself a fighter, a dreamer and sometimes … a person that expects more than what is actually possible. Being a good citizen and a dreamer in Mexico can be a little hard, since we are dealing with a society full of contrasts. This could be even harder when you are working with children and pretending you can inspire them to change the world, since "children are the future".</p> <p>Mexico is a beautiful country full of welcoming, warm-hearted and family-oriented people who love to be surrounded by family and friends with high moral values. So then, what is wrong with this picture? The fact is that we always pretend to be the "perfect family" (everything happens behind closed doors), we love shortcuts and easy things, labor is cheap and there is a high lack of education. At the same time we face serious economic issues: money is concentrated in approximately 13-17% of our population, while according to some estimates, 40%-60% of the population lives below the poverty line (OECD) and 60% households are below 6 minimum salaries. This added to the actual economic worldwide situation ends up in educational backwardness, unemployment, sickness, and much more. All this results in: a) very successful parents - in business - with no time for their children; b) parents that have to work hard – many times in more than one job, since labor is cheap and not well valued; or c) unemployed parents that may end up sending their kids to work. </p> <p>In Mexico, while schools can be doing great efforts, the entire society strives to keep on the traditional path - grow up, study something 'good' for your future, get married and have kids. It is rare to find someone who finds the time to actually analyze his future, his professional career and goals, as well as someone who wants to be a responsible parent, as opposed to just wanting a child. Years ago we faced authoritarian and chauvinistic families - women were supposed to stay at home and educate children, the father was the economic support and his word was the law at home. Children were not allowed to ask, listen or talk at every time. There were unlimited rules and "because I say so" was the last and -never under discussion- word. I wouldn't dare to say that we are not chauvinistic anymore, but I do think that the Mexican society as many others, has passed to the total permissiveness, dragging a high lack of values. Since everyone is a parent and there is a high rate of unemployment, passion in life is lost and it is hard to transmit or inspire. So, many could have the opportunity to study a career, but as said before, there is a high lack of passion in each person's own life and goals.</p> <p>This is what I mean by saying there are great contrasts. Children may have the opportunity to attend good schools, but they would be dealing with ambivalence when facing a very different reality in their daily lives, at home, and when dealing with the entire society. We can inspire children to think and analyze, but if parents and outsiders act differently, stop their initiatives and get the same results, children will be affected and our future, too. </p> <p>As school leaders, we should go further. We should involve parents, students and the entire society. It would be only this way in which we can make an effort to make it as a whole and not just as part of a change. Children should face real dilemmas and start analyzing, thinking and resolving them by themselves. We should encourage new generations to break with the established, to live instead of pretend, and inspire while doing so. </p> <p>So,are we probably focusing too much in the results, without analyzing the way and the procedure it takes in order to get there? We are probably either:</p> <p>-Too worried to teach, to educate, to set a good example… that we are missing our own goals, our own happiness, which could be a good option to follow in order to be able to reach what we are looking for and transmit and inspire others to do the same.</p> <p>Or,</p> <p>-Too immersed in ourselves, trying to get the results we are looking for; the child we are expecting to have, the medals on our shelves, and the "perfect society" … that we are forgetting how to be human, how to connect with children and with ourselves? </p> <p>Comments welcome here or on the Forum:</p> Inspirando al cambio: GoodWork para los niños de México Tue, 27 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDT <p>Mi nombre es Yael Karakowsky. Soy mexicana y he trabajado como maestra de preescolar durante los últimos tres años. Constantemente me pregunto ¿cuántos soñadores hay allá afuera?... personas que salen de la norma, que no descansan hasta dar ese paso extra, intentando no perder oportunidades y siempre buscando hacer un poco más. Me considero una de estas personas; una luchadora, una soñadora y en ocasiones… una persona que podría esperar más de lo que es realmente posible. Ser un buen ciudadano y un soñador en México podría ser un poco difícil, dado a que vivimos en una sociedad llena de contrastes. A nivel personal, trabajar con niños implica un reto en mi vida. Más aún, cuando pretendes inspirarlos a cambiar el mundo en el que viven, ya que "los niños son nuestro futuro".</p> <p>México es un país hermoso, lleno de personas cálidas y acogedoras. Para la sociedad, la familia es un valor fundamental y buscamos siempre estar rodeados de personas cercanas, con valores morales similares a los nuestros. Pero entonces, ¿Qué hay de malo en esta imagen? La realidad es que siempre perseguimos o pretendemos ser la "familia perfecta" (los problemas suceden a puerta cerrada), somos profesionales a la hora de cortar caminos o buscar soluciones más simples a nuestros problemas, la mano de obra es barata, el trabajo es poco valorado y existe una gran falta de educación. Al mismo tiempo enfrentamos serios problemas económicos: el dinero esta concentrado en aproximadamente 13 – 17% de nuestra población, mientras que de acuerdo algunas estimaciones, el 40 – 60% de la población vive por debajo de la línea de pobreza (OECD) y 60% de los hogares ganan menos de 6 veces el salario mínimo. La situación de México, sumada a la situación económica mundial termina arrojando desempleo, retraso educativo, enfermedad, entre otras. Esto provoca: a) Padres muy exitosos en el ambiente empresarial – sin tiempo para sus hijos; b) Padres que tienen que trabajar mucho – en ocasiones en más de un trabajo, dado a que la mano de obra es barata y el trabajo poco valorado; o c)Padres desempleados que podrían terminar enviando a sus hijos a trabajar.</p> <p>En México, mientras las escuelas pueden esforzarse en realizar un gran trabajo, la sociedad se esfuerza por mantener el camino tradicional: crecer, estudiar algo "bueno" para la vida y tu futuro, casarse y tener una familia. Es raro encontrarse con alguien que realmente se tome el tiempo para analizar de forma sincera su futuro, su carrera profesional y sus metas – así como alguien que realmente quiera ser un padre responsable, en lugar de sólo querer tener un hijo. Años atrás nos enfrentábamos a familias autoritarias y machistas – las mujeres debían permanecer en el hogar y educar a los hijos, el padre era el soporte económico y su palabra era la ley en la casa. A los niños no se les permitía preguntar, escuchar o hablar en cualquier momento, había un número de reglas ilimitado y "Por que lo mando yo" era la última palabra, nunca bajo discusión.</p> <p>No me atrevería a decir que el machismo se ha quedado atrás, pero si creo que la sociedad mexicana, como muchas otras, ha pasado del autoritarismo a la permisividad total, arrastrando consigo una gran pérdida de valores. Mientras todos podemos ser padres de familia o modelos a seguir, al mismo tiempo hay grandes índices de desempleo… la pasión por la vida se ha perdido y se vuelve difícil transmitir o inspirar. Entonces, muchos podrían tener la oportunidad de estudiar una carrera, pero como se menciona antes, hay una gran falta de pasión por la vida, por crecer, por alcanzar y conocer las metas personales. </p> <p>Esto es lo que intento decir cuando hablo de contrastes. Los niños pueden tener la oportunidad de asistir a buenas escuelas, pero al mismo tiempo se enfrentan con un mundo de ambivalencia al toparse con diferentes realidades en su vida diaria, en el hogar, en la escuela y en la sociedad. Podemos inspirar a los niños a pensar y analizar, pero si como padres y sociedad en general actuamos diferente, ponemos un alto a sus iniciativas y terminamos por obtener los mismos resultados, los niños se verán afectados, al igual que nuestro futuro. </p> <p>Como líderes educativos, nuestra responsabilidad es ir más allá. Debemos involucrar a los padres, a los estudiantes y a toda la sociedad. Sería sólo de esta manera en que podríamos generar un esfuerzo en conjunto, y no conformarnos con ser sólo parte de un cambio. Los niños deberían enfrentarse a dilemas reales y comenzar a analizar, a pensar y a resolver por ellos mismos. Como adultos, deberíamos animar a las nuevas generaciones a romper con lo establecido, a vivir en lugar de pretender y a inspirar a otros en el camino. </p> <p>Entonces, Es probable que estemos enfocándonos demasiado en los resultados, sin analizar el camino y los procesos que nos toman llegar a ellos?</p> <p>Esto es, que estemos:</p> <p>- Tan preocupados por enseñar, por educar, por ser un buen ejemplo… que nos estamos perdiendo nuestras propias metas, nuestra propia felicidad – Lo que podría ser el mejor camino a seguir, a fin de lograr inspirar a otros.</p> <p>- O probablemente, demasiado sumergidos en nosotros mismos. Tratando de obtener los resultados que buscamos: el niño que esperamos tener, los trofeos en nuestras repisas y una sociedad "perfecta" … que nos estamos olvidando de ¿cómo ser un ser humano, cómo conectarnos con el niño y lograr conectarnos con nosotros mismos? </p> Can We Trust Goldman Sachs? Mon, 26 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDT <p>Goldman Sachs is widely acknowledged to be a leader in its field and has certainly been successful by most commonly applied criteria.  But it has to decide what business or profession it is in.  If it is just a business, whose goal is to make as much money as possible for partners and shareholders, then it needs to make that clear. "We will do anything legal that we can,"--and, implicitly, cut as close to illegality as we can without crossing the line. </p> <p>But if it claims to be socially responsible, if its partners claim to be professionals, then it has to apply much stricter standards to its own actions and take full responsibility for the consequences of these actions.  By most accounts, so long as Goldman Sachs was a partnership, it behaved in a professional manner and was justifiably respected for its behaviors. But it is clear from recent events in the post IPO period, that it is strictly a business, one that aims to make as much money as possible, by any and all means, including ones that involve deception of its customers.</p> <p>Goldman Sachs does not need a new strategy or a new public relations gimmick. If it wants to become a respected firm, it needs to alter fundamentally its hiring, its training, its reward systems, its accountability, and its transparency. Absence a new leadership, with a wholly different set of ethical standards, that won't happen-- even if the firm claims to be doing "God's work."</p> <p>Visit Washington Post Blog for additional perspectives.</p> GoodWork in Nursing Wed, 17 Mar 2010 00:00:00 EDT <p>My name is Joan Miller. I have been a nurse for over 35 years. I currently teach in a baccalaureate nursing program at Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, PA. I entered the profession with a desire to provide excellent care for my patients. I wanted to be known as a caring nurse, one willing to work hard, listen well, and show that my patients were always my top priority. I've worked hard to foster professional growth and excellence among my students. However, much to my dismay, many new graduates become disillusioned when they enter the work place. In today's changing health care environment, new graduates experience what many call a 'reality shock.' They lament the fact that they do not have time to listen, to be present to those who are vulnerable, and to achieve the level of excellence that they had hoped to achieve. </p> <p>-What attracted you to the profession?</p> <p>-Why do you think new graduates become disillusioned when they enter the practice environment?</p> <p>While preparing for a sabbatical, I read a review of Wendy Fischman's book, Making Good: How Young People Cope with Moral Dilemmas at Work. This book sparked interest in the research being conducted at Good Work Project at Harvard University. Using the Good Work Project research methodology, I studied the perception of good work among nurses at different levels of professional development. I explored how it is that excellent nurses ride out storms in the profession while remaining committed to excellence. </p> <p>-How do you define good work in nursing?</p> <p>Veteran nurses talked about the strategies they used to overcome adversity. A Chief Executive Officer for Nursing in a large teaching hospital told me she "had to be a risk taker." She was asked to help stabilize an economic downturn in the hospital. She was unwilling to sacrifice the values that informed her identity as a good nurse and an excellent administrator. Her solution: build a team of leaders who share the same values and commitment to excellence. She stated, "If my nurses are good nurses who do the right thing, people will want to come here for their care." She accomplished her goal and continues to lead nursing into the future at this medical center. </p> <p>The young nurses I interviewed spoke of the dilemmas they face at the bedside when they are expected to produce more with fewer resources. Early one morning I met a new graduate in the hospital coffee shop after she had finished a 12-hour night shift. This new graduate, whom I will call Jamie, told me how she went home earlier in the week and cried for hours knowing she had not been able to comfort a troubled patient who simply needed a caring presence. When asked if she ever thought of leaving the profession, Jamie responded, "No, I will never leave. I just focus on the reasons I came into nursing. That's what keeps me going."</p> <p>-What strategies have you used to overcome adversity in the practice environment?</p> <p>Jamie's experience is not unlike the experience of many nurses around the world. Nurses in every culture are dealing with the global nursing shortage and its impact on patient care, safety, and job satisfaction. It is important to consider reasons nurses enter the profession. What values prompt selection of nursing as a profession? How can we sustain those values? Why do nurses leave the profession? Some nurses, just as Jamie implied, become disillusioned as they transition from the academic to the practice setting. </p> <p>-Is it possible to arrive at a common definition of good work in nursing across cultures?</p> <p>I have been using the GoodWork Toolkit® as a curricular strategy to help student nurses focus on the values and vision that initially brought them into the profession. The GoodWork Toolkit® provides an opportunity for beginning students to reflect on themes and strategies that will support good work in nursing. Students learn about the meaning of values, beliefs, and integrity. They reflect on the influence of role models in their lives. They learn a new vocabulary. I believe that students who engage in a dialogue around the concept of good work will be better prepared to cope with the frustration and difficulty they may experience in fulfilling the goals that prompted nursing as a career selection. Dialogue is needed to identify interventions and/or practices that have supported the development and sustaining of values essential to good work in nursing. I suggest that educators consider integrating the GoodWork Toolkit® into the curriculum as a means of promoting good work in nursing. </p> <p>-What tools do you think new nurses need to overcome adversity?</p> <p>-How best can we prepare the next generation of nurses for the challenges they will encounter in the work place?</p> Success in Teaching Fri, 26 Feb 2010 00:00:00 EST <p>Today is the second day of the Expeditionary Learning (EL) National Conference 2010, in Kansas City (where the temperature outside seems to be "warming up" to a whopping 30 degrees!). The conference has been inspiring and powerful thus far, and even more so for us on the GoodWork Project because of its focus on "good work."</p> <p>Lynn and I are facilitating two "master classes" in which we have about 40 participants in each—teachers, administrators, and counselors at schools engaged with EL practice. (For more information about this organization, please visit their website, link below). We planned a similar course outline to others we have facilitated in the past. In the course, we ask educators to reflect on their own work lives and to consider their own goals, objectives, and interests in education. Participants pair-up and interview each other with 5 questions:</p> <p>- What initially attracted you to your work?</p> <p>- What kinds of things are you trying to accomplish in your work right now?</p> <p>- What are you hoping will be the greatest impact of the work you are currently doing?</p> <p>- How do you define success?</p> <p>- What direction do you see for the future of your own career?</p> <p>Although each course takes different shape, participants share similar feedback about this activity. Specifically, they report that considering these questions is a helpful and rare opportunity to think about their own work, and that the question about success is the most difficult. This is not a surprise to us, we hear this from most participants.</p> <em><p>Why is it that it is so hard to define success in this domain?</p></em> <p>We frequently hear educators struggle with the definition of success. For most educators, it is defined through the actions, behaviors, and performances of the students, and rarely about themselves (even though educators' work is focused on students). So, for example, students' improved test scores, engagement of students who are not usually "present" in the classroom, or students coming back to thank their teachers for the impact they had on their lives —are all indicators and signs of success for educators. But what about the educators themselves?</p> <p>One participant in the EL conference talked about a personal dilemma he faced in teaching. At one point in his career, he taught individuals who were going into teaching. There was at least one student that he felt was not ready to become an independent teacher—he was concerned about his lack of skills for future students. This participant was faced with the decision about whether to pass this student or to confront him with honesty and hold back his career plans. This dilemma reminds me of the story of Steven in the Toolkit, an engineering professor that faces a dilemma about grade inflation. Even though he was in a university setting that supported grade inflation to move students swiftly through the program, he refused to compromise his values of honesty and integrity—and only gave students the grades that reflected their work and progress, even if these grades were not always favorable. We've heard similar pressures from other educators who have participated in our courses. For example, an administrator told us she was pressured by a superintendent to fabricate attendance records of students in an inner city school. And a teacher, who when she covered for a colleague on maternity leave, discovered that students were not being graded fairly. She struggled to decide whether to make other administrators aware of this (and jeapordize her colleague's job) or just let it go.</p> <p>In all these cases, the stories are complex. One EL participant stated that she likes to let students know that lives are complicated—there are not always going to be easy "right" and "wrong" answers, but that students should be equipped with experiences and skills that help them make the best choices at that time. This is exactly the purpose of the GoodWork Toolkit. And we believe that with these genuine, real complexities, thinking about tough choices in terms of levels of responsibility is helpful: responsibility to self, responsibility to others (colleagues, peers), responsibility to workplace, responsibility to domain, and responsibility to society. These different responsibilities do not necessarily make decisions any easier, but they do provide a framework that can be used to think deeply about the choices with which we are confronted and the consequences of our decisions.</p> <p>All of this gets me back to that pesty topic of success. I believe it is hard for educators to talk about success because there is no alignment in the domain about this issue. In general, politicians believe success is favorable numbers (test scores, attendance numbers, etc.). Students strive to excel and move to the next grade. Parents may define success as having their children get into top colleges and eventually get good jobs. For teachers, it is different. At least for teachers involved with EL, success is about thinking deeply, being able to solve problems, being a "good" citizen, and pushing the boundaries. We have a lot to learn from this group.</p> "Good work. It's what we're all about." Thu, 25 Feb 2010 00:00:00 EST <p> Expeditionary Learning 2010 National Conference</p> <p> Wendy and I are attending the Expeditionary Learning Schools National Conference in Kansas City. An amazing group of educators, and an inspiring series of discussions. This year's focus is on good work and we're honored to be a part of it. For those of you who aren't yet familiar with Expeditionary Learning, let me tell you a little bit about it, because it's growing, it's having impact, and that impact is of exceptional quality. What was once a small group of schools now seems to be a movement: 165 ELS schools now serve over 46,000 students.</p> <p> Ron Berger, Chief Program Officer of ELS and a treasured colleague of the GWP, explained how good work appears in Expeditionary Learning Schools as follows. Their schools are good in quality: they have academic rigor, accuracy, craftsmanship, and beauty. They are good for the soul: they are engaging and fulfilling for students and for teachers. And they are good for the world: they provide contributions that go beyond the classroom, they build character, citizenship, and 21st century skills. Expeditionary Learning is all about the student work; it is on display at this conference in abundance, and it is beautiful. I have only words – no pictures - to describe some of the visuals I've seen today, but I'll do my best by relating one of Ron's many stories about student projects.</p> <p> Years ago, 3rd graders at the Capital City Public Charter School in Washington DC asked a simple question. In their school, they were taught to treat everyone with respect and kindness. And yet, every day on the way to school, they passed homeless people and never said a word. They questioned themselves and wondered why they treated homeless people differently than they treated one another.</p> <p> They began with research, asking how people become homeless, and wondering what they could do to help. They interviewed police, workers in shelters, and eventually the homeless themselves. They decided they wanted to create a product to educate very young children about the homeless, to teach them that "homeless people are people too."</p> <p> Working with a grant from a local foundation, these 3rd graders wrote "The ABC Book of Homelessness". Each page has a watercolor illustration and text addressing an aspect of the issue. For example, "H is for Heart. Homeless people have heart. They help other homeless people." This book was published and sent to schools around the DC area. Some cynics might ask what, if anything, was accomplished by this work. Did the homeless population decrease? Did anything change? According to one child involved in the work, "everything changed." As he explained it, "now we know the names of the homeless people and they know our names and we say hello to each other. Everything's changed."</p> <p> Indeed, something registered in the minds of these students. Several years later, now in middle school, some of these students remembered their project on homelessness vividly. So vividly, in fact, that when the President and First Lady came to their school, this was the work they wanted to show them. I know I don't remember anything that formative from my own 3rd grade experiences … do you?</p> <p> We spoke in a session on Good Work this morning about people that inspire us: individuals that we believe truly exemplify good work. We brainstormed together about their qualities: they are brave, visionary, humble, honest, collaborative, trustworthy, hardworking, creative … the list goes on and on. An intimidating list of qualities and sometimes, as we hold these standards up to ourselves, the list seems unrealistic and impossible. How can anyone be "all that?" But interestingly, the exemplary "good workers" looked up to by our group were neither famous nor, by some standards, extraordinarily accomplished. When asked to tell us more about the people who inspire them, we discovered that they were thinking about their parents, their students and their colleagues.</p> <p> So, I guess a couple of lessons learned today in Kansas City. First, when we're pushed beyond our comfort zone, (for example, to interview the homeless), we learn about ourselves. ELS students are regularly pushed to accomplish more than they ever imagined possible. Second, we don't need to look too far to find inspiration. There are examples of good work all around us. It's just a question of seeing it, learning from it, and trying to help it grow.</p> Digital Media and American Youth Mon, 22 Feb 2010 00:00:00 EST <p>Have the digital media changed American youth? That's the question that a group of researchers, including members of Howard Gardner's research team at Project Zero, met to discuss last December in Princeton, New Jersey. The MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative sponsored the day-long event, which gave researchers from a variety of disciplines the chance to share their research and reflections on the changes over time in youth’s interests, experiences, and development that appear to be associated with their digital media practices. Katie Davis, a researcher at Project Zero, wrote about the event for <a href="">MacArthur's Spotlight Blog</a>. Her full report on the convening is also available from the link below.</p> Surface Manifestations of Leadership Fri, 12 Feb 2010 00:00:00 EST <p>Surface Manifestations Can Make it Difficult to Judge Good Leadership...</p> <p>With President's Day around the corner, it seems a good time to reflect on the nature of leadership. Below, we share Howard Gardner's responses to some questions recently posed by an Italian journalist.</p> <p>Until the 20th century, most citizens had no idea of what their leaders looked or sounded like, and certainly did not feel that they had any personal relations or connections to the leaders. This did not matter so much, because most countries were not democracies, and even those that were usually had parliamentary systems rather than direct election of leaders.</p> <p>We live in a time of more direct voting for leaders and where most citizens have access to the media-- first radio, then television, now a 24-7 news cycle which includes Youtube, Facebook, Twitter etc. Even though leaders themselves do not know that many citizens, citizens feel that they know the leaders. Indeed, they might well want to use the first name with Tony or Bill or Silvio because they feel that they have an intimate relationship to the leaders, even if the relationship is obviously one way and largely illusory.</p> <p>Also, politics in terms of parties has declined universally. Fewer and fewer people ALWAYS vote Labor, or Christian Democrat or Communist. Indeed, as the world now knows, my home state of Massachusetts, regarded as the most liberal state in the United States, just voted in a Republican Senator by a wide margin. In most elections, only a tiny minority of voters actually know the stated positions of the candidates, and even fewer understand the issues well enough to paraphrase a law (like health care legislation) or a policy (on immigration, on nuclear test ban, on carbon emissions etc).</p> <p>Accordingly, we now have a state of affairs where elections are significantly 'beauty contests'. Just as voting on television programs like "American Idol" have a lot to do with how comfortable the audience feels with the performers now invading their living rooms, so, too, elections often hinge on how likeable and simpatico are the candidates. It is not that most Americans thought that George W. Bush was MORE competent than Al Gore or John Kerry. They liked Bush better and that sufficed for him to win two elections, against individuals who were arguably more competent and certainly more knowledgeable, but with whom the voters would not have liked to 'share a beer'.</p> <p>Your questions focus on the faces and on the body language of leaders in the world today. In ordinary life, we do judge people in terms of how comfortable they seem to be with themselves (that is signaled by body language) and on how sincere and friendly they seem (and that is signaled by eyes, mouth, and facial expression). With respect to the British case, it is clear that the smiling, comfortable charming Blair wins out over the rather dour and awkward Brown. And Cameron also wins in that comparison against Brown, and perhaps that is why he is the head of the Tory party. </p> <p>Turning to France, Sarkozy comes off as too active, too energetic, too frenetic, but with the passage of time, people are getting used to these personal characteristics and, for his part, Sarkozy has calmed down a bit.</p> <p>Obama certainly comes off as likeable and as comfortable in his own skin, and those are major reasons why he was elected. But there is something about the presentation of self that is rather distant, rather professorial. Obama likes people well enough but, unlike Clinton or Blair, does not seem like he NEEDS to have people around him. And that sense of distance-- which served Charles deGaulle well-- does not play well in a determinedly demotic, populist environment.</p> <p>Which leaves Silvio Berlusconi. Truth to tell, most of the rest of the world cannot understand why Berlusconi remains a popular leader, despite his checkered past and his obvious personal and professional involvement in shady activities (financial, sexual). I have to think back to Latin leaders, like Juan Peron, for a similar example. And of course, Berlusconi cannot really be a 'man of the people' with his billions of dollars and control of the media.</p> <p>I suspect that Berlusconi prevails for two reasons: l) There is no viable opposition (Sarkozy benefits from this lack of opposition as well); 2) His rascal personality and behavior has an appeal to the Italian population, particularly older males-- just as Zuma's persona in South Africa justifies sexism on the part of macho males. This is not just an Italian or South African phenomenon: Both Scott Brown in Massachusetts and Arnold Schwarzenegger in California benefit from this male chauvinist persona.</p> <p>As an American with little sympathy for Berlusconi or Zuma, I like to quote Abraham Lincoln: "You may fool all of the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can't fool all of the people all the time." There will be a post-Berlusconi era!</p> Howard Gardner in Mexico City Mon, 01 Feb 2010 00:00:00 EST <p>Last October, Mexico City had the pleasure of receiving Dr. Howard Gardner. Banamex, one of the most important Mexican Financial Groups, invited him to their "2009-3rd Encuentro de Educación Financiera "Respuestas de Pe$o" Ser, conocer y hacer para vivir juntos". Dr. Gardner's lecture "Five Minds of the Future" gave participants new alternatives to develop strategies within ourselves, and everyone who is devoted to education in a formal or informal way. He focused on how ethics must be present in each of our goals in the fields of knowing how to be, how to do, how to know and how to live, introducing his GoodWork Project to our Mexican society. In this forum, participants worked to find new answers for big questions such as: how to get new resources, how to administrate those resources, and how to create and save a legacy to our people.</p> <p>Some participants in the forum were Alonso Lujambio, secretario de Educación Pública, who opened the event. Also, Enrique Zorrilla, General Director of Banamex, Alejandro Werner, subsecretario de Hacienda, Javier Arrigunaga director corporativo de Jurídico y Desarrollo Institucional de Banamex, Andrés Albo, director de Compromiso Social de Banamex y Loreto García Muriel, directora de Educación Financiera Banamex.</p> <p>Dr. Gardner's presentation contributed to analyze our social and economical situation from another point of view, giving to those who are concerned about education and about our global situation the opportunity to make deep reflections on our personal behavior, and how our daily work has a big impact on others, considering ethics, respect, creativity, synthesis, and discipline as the stones to construct a better future for mankind.</p> <p>Some conclusions were: that we must work together to increase financial stability to Mexican families, giving them access to education through different cooperative programs, to promote GoodWork in order to make people realize how important it is for a country to work with its principles, and make a link with personal values to develop their financial situations, educating through values, and through the "Five Minds for the Future" principles, acting and working hand by hand to make that happen in every way, within each one's job, family, government, society, school, mass media, and corporations.</p> <p>We thank Dr. Gardner for being among us, and for his guidance in making a better Mexico.</p> <p> See Howard Gardner discuss <a href="">5 Minds for the Future at the RSA</a> in London in December of 2009.</p> The Ministers' Misconceptions Mon, 11 Jan 2010 00:00:00 EST <p>Copyright © 2010</p> <p>Of all the findings from cognitive psychology that are relevant for education, one stands out. That is the repeated demonstration, across a number of disciplines, of the prevalence of misconceptions and the difficulty of getting rid of them and replacing them with more powerful and more veridical conceptions. The most famous examples occur in physics. Students at outstanding universities, who have studied the laws of motion and have done well on standardized measures of achievement in physics, are asked to explain a new phenomenon—one that they have not studied but one governed by the laws of motion. Not only do these star students typically fail on these performances of understanding. More dramatically, their responses are often indistinguishable from those obtained from students who have never studied physics. Comparable examples can be found in biology, astronomy, psychology, economics — indeed across the disciplinary spectrum.</p> <p>These difficulties can be blamed in part on inadequate instruction, but they also reflect a disturbing reality. When young, without the need for formal instruction, nearly all human beings develop 'folk theories' of how the world works: the physical world (if an object is broken into tiny, no-longer-visible parts, it ceases to exist); the biological world (all organisms were created at a single, pre-historical moment) and the social world (people who look different from me are to be feared and shunned). More effective theories can only be constructed in the mind of the learner through effective teaching and significant involvement with the materials (object, data) for which the disciplinary understandings are appropriate.</p> <p>Nowadays almost everyone goes to school. And even in the remaining unschooled societies, there is informal tuition. Nonetheless, misconceptions continue to hold sway. Here are the some of the powerful misconceptions about learning and teaching that characterize the folk theories of human beings:</p> <ul> <li>Education involves the transmission of ideas and skills from older and more powerful persons to those who are younger and under the control of their elders.</li> <li>The young mind is a blank slate on which correct ideas and needed skills need to be implanted.</li> <li>Learning should occur bit by bit; to the extent possible, errors should be identified, discouraged, corrected.</li> <li>The best way to teach—indeed, the only effective way — is to reward correct answers and punish wrong ones.</li> <li>On any dimension worth considering, you can array people from the best to the worst (a so-called 'league table').</li> <li>If someone does not do what you want them to do, just ask them to do it, louder and louder, over and over again.</li> </ul> <p> </p> <p>Now, since misconceptions like this are part of the human condition, it is not surprising that most children and most parents believe them. But that does not mean they are correct, any more than that the world is flat or that all creatures were created at the same moment. Indeed, considerable social-scientific research over the last century calls each of these so-called truisms into severe question.</p> <p>It might seem reasonable to expect that those who are in charge of educational policy should have moved beyond these misconceptions. And indeed, if engaged in quiet discussion, at least some policymakers reveal their awareness of the research. And yet, in observing ministers of education all over the world, I find them remarkably tied to these powerful, though erroneous ideas. Indeed, I sometimes think that for most Ministers of Education, their only goal is to improve the performance of their nation in the international comparisons, independent of the worth or utility of that comparison. In fact, I've recently encountered a new ironical twist on this: The absolute standing of Scotland is less important than its relative position vis-a-vis England. Better to be 20th if Britain is 21st, than to be 10th if Britain is 9th.</p> <p>Going beyond this 'league table' mentality, I am constantly surprised at the persistence, in ministerial talk and writing, of allegiance to the 'transmission theory' of education; the focus on rewards (even monetary ones) and punishment; the lack of openness to multiple answers, productive errors, creativity; and the preferred solution to bad performance on tests—the administration of more and more tests. It is like the misguided belief that if the patient is sick, the royal road to health involves repeating measurement of temperature.</p> <p>I don't mean to demean all Ministers of Education. As already suggested, some of them know better, and a few try to do better. It may be that there is something about the air in the ministries of the world, and in their all-too-frequent meetings with one another, that reinforces the worst of these misconceptions and repeats them endlessly to the public at large.</p> <p>Of course, we do know a great deal about what actually brings about strong achievements in education around the world; plausible goals, understood and subscribed to by the range of constituents; awareness of the changing nature of knowledge and the need to prepare learners for an uncertain future; respect for teachers who, because of their knowledge of content and pedagogy and sensitivity to individual differences, merit respect; regular parental involvement; instilling in young people a love for learning that endures throughout life, even when no one is looking. If I were trying to determine in which school system to send my children or grandchildren, I'd beware of Ministers bearing misconceptions, I'd look instead for ones who understand these equally simply, and yet surprisingly elusive powerful ideas.</p> Press Release: On Teens' Online Activities Fri, 04 Dec 2009 00:00:00 EST <p><strong>NEW REPORT REVEALS IMPORTANCE OF ADULT INVOLVEMENT IN TEENS' ONLINE ACTIVITIES</strong></p> <p>"Meeting of Minds" reports the result of cross-generational dialogues between adults and teens on ethical behavior</p> <p>New York, NY/San Francisco, CA - Global Kids, Harvard's GoodPlay Project and Common Sense Media today released Meeting of Minds, a report that highlights the ways in which parents, teachers, and teens relate to the emerging ethical dimensions of life online. The report is the result of a series of cross-generational online dialogues held this past spring about digital ethics, and reveals the critical importance of active adult engagement with teens to help develop healthy attitudes about online behaviors that often have long-lasting and far-reaching effects.</p> <p>"Youth are largely navigating these new online spaces on their own, without any real adult guidance," said Rafi Santo, Senior Program Associate in Global Kids' Online Leadership Program. "We wanted to facilitate genuine conversation between generations about real-life issues kids are facing, such as how to present themselves online and how to relate to intellectual property. Adults often feel like they're in the dark about new technologies, and teens need guidance navigating the ethical issues associated with them. We hope the report will help to bridge this gap."</p> <p>"Both adults and teens have important points to bring to conversations about digital literacy and citizenship. Adults bring their wisdom about the world, while teens bring their comfort and understanding of technology," said Linda Burch, Chief Program and Strategy Officer at Common Sense Media. "We are so happy with the quantity and the quality of participation in this dialogue. It's our hope that other groups will follow our lead and facilitate their own conversations between adults and teens on these online ethical issues over the Internet, in classrooms, at dinner tables, through community forums, and even at the policy level so that young people are empowered to be good digital citizens."</p> <p>The findings from the report revealed that teens' biggest concerns in ethically challenging situations online are repercussions for themselves, rather than the implications of their actions for larger communities. Adults, on the other hand, are more concerned with responsibility to others and to communities when discussing digital dilemmas. For example, a teen who makes a fake profile page about her teacher might think it's funny, while adults are more likely to point out how such an act might hurt or damage the teacher's reputation.</p> <p>The cross-generational dialogues, the first of their kind, included more than 250 participants from around the world and 2,500 posts from members that yielded rich information about the greatest points of connection and contention between teens and adults. Throughout the dialogues, adults and teens discussed their varied perspectives on how to behave in a digital world through a variety of scenarios concerning online ethics. Conversations ranged from illegal downloading and the creativity associated with remixing, to the factors that go into deciding to meet an online connection face-to-face.</p> <p>About Global Kids, Inc. Founded in 1989, Global Kids' mission is to educate and inspire urban youth to become successful students, global citizens and community leaders by engaging them in academically rigorous, content-rich learning experiences. We educate youth about critical international and domestic issues and promote their engagement in civic life and the democratic process. Through our Online Leadership Program we provide teens with opportunities to address community needs, raise awareness about global issues, and develop 21st-century skills through the use of new media. You can read about this work at <a href=""></a></p> <p>About The GoodPlay Project at Harvard's Project Zero Supported by the MacArthur Foundation, the GoodPlay Project is an initiative focused on the ethical contours of young people's digital lives. Led by Howard Gardner, we are exploring five issues we believe to be ethically charged in the new digital media: Identity, privacy, ownership/authorship, credibility, and participation. In our research, we study the ethical stances of digital youth with respect to these issues. We also create curriculum to scaffold greater ethical thinking online. <a href="">Download the white paper</a> on digital ethics that framed the Focus Dialogues.</p> <p>About Common Sense Media Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the media and entertainment lives of kids and families. We exist because media and entertainment profoundly impact the social, emotional, and physical development of our nation's children. As a non-partisan, not-for- profit organization, we provide trustworthy information and tools, as well as an independent forum, so that families can have a choice and a voice about the media they consume. Common Sense Media also works with educators and policymakers to build programs that empower kids to become good digital citizens. Visit <a href=""></a> for parent media tips, media reviews, and educational resources for classroom use.</p> A Choice with Real Value Tue, 27 Oct 2009 00:00:00 EDT <p>Choice and opportunity are emblems of freedom. But researchers tell us that the myriad options available to us are no longer liberating but quite oppressive. Studies indicate that the number of decisions we make every day - in the cereal aisle, at the espresso stand, on our cable TVs - are literally exhausting us. Perhaps more significant is the implication that the constant stream of relatively minor decisions we make may lead us to make poorer choices across all areas of our lives.</p> <p>I wonder whether the number of choices available to us is the real problem. Maybe choice has become so challenging because we aren't really equipped to make decisions, or because our communities don't encourage a habit of using knowledge and tools that may help us. Most of us make daily decisions quite automatically: we eat what our families ate, what our friends eat, what is readily available, or what is on sale this week. And yet we all have decisions we just won't compromise on, such as eating organic food, being loyal to a brand, or supporting family businesses.</p> <p>What we care about deeply can be an invisible hand that guides the big and small decisions that we make: our human inclination is to bring our actions into alignment with our image of ourselves. Throughout life – and certainly throughout the K-16 years - this "self" is a work in progress. A tough choice for educators is whether and how to explicitly help young people develop not only self-understanding but to help them acquire tools for checking-in on who they aspire to be as students, community members, parents, and employees. You likely found the GoodWork community because of your own commitment to supporting students and/or colleagues in defining what excellence means, exploring meaningful pursuits, and considering how their decisions affect others.</p> <p>Our research at the GoodWork Project consistently shows that young people struggle to make decisions about major aspects of their lives. Too often they fall prey to the mantra "not to decide is to decide." The latter is certainly true when they follow their close peers into a college major – a trend documented in a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research earlier this year. We witness them "falling back" on their parents' dreams or the profitable occupation du jour. It is also evident in their stories about taking the path of least resistance – often one down an unethical road – in order to develop traction in their careers. Not surprisingly, students struggle with the "minor" decisions too, choices that pit their personal values against what is the norm in their families and peer groups. </p> <p>The great news is that most students are grateful for opportunities to stop and think about what they find personally meaningful. They are often surprised that not only can their personal values be a compass to guide decision-making but that, in fact, many admirable adults intentionally make time to think about decisions past and pending in order to evaluate how their choices measure up to their personal dreams, standards, and commitments. One university vice president who I much admire made it his habit to have weekly lunches with the president of the student government association. To a one, these students expressed gratitude not simply for the generosity of the V.P.'s time, but for the his willingness to model and share the ongoing process of aligning the responsibilities of one's position and an organization's dreams while refining personal ambitions, too.</p> <p>It is similarly encouraging that many teachers, coaches, and parents are finding ways to help students discover what they care about deeply and encourage them to be mindful of how their choices reflect those personal values. We know, however, that this is difficult work at a time when economic decline casts a shadow on students' aspirations and focuses the public's eye on "basic skills" that rarely address how life gets lived or how work gets done. We invite you to use the Toolkit Forum to share ways you are honoring the third "E" of good work by helping young people in your life to discover what is personally engaging while, of course, helping them focus on the implications enacting their dreams may have for others.</p> <p>Related Links:</p> <p> <a href=""></a></p> <p> <a href=""></a></p> <p> <a href=""></a></p>