The IDEA Blog

The Apple & the Arrow: Freedom & Schooling Pt. 4

A Note About Peter the Soldier

While William is telling this story to his family, it is said that Peter was “a kind man.” Hedwig, William's wife agrees and said she used to play with him as a young girl, but she is not so pleased that he became a soldier. "He was such a sweet lad." But William replied that, “‘Men do many things, Hedwig, that they do not like, just to live.”

My principal and especially my English teacher have said something similar to this. My English teacher more than once has said, “Sometimes in life you will have to do things that you don't want to do." The Principal told us this before we took the grueling AP test against our wills. It brings me to wonder, how much is "sometimes"? It seems to me that for the rest of my life I will be made or asked to do things against my will for the sake of others above me. It really does seem that people have to do what they despise in order to live, but that is in order to live by another man's hand or against it, as when...

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Posted on Aug 18, 2010 - 09:35 PM by Zuleka Irvin

The Apple & the Arrow: Freedom & Schooling Pt. 3

Ridicule and Ridiculous Tasks

In the middle of the story, William and Walter leave the inn and are walking through the village when they see a man bow before a hat on a pole. It is a “ducal hat” representing King Albrecht's Austrian heritage. William feels that the man is acting lowly for bowing. He proudly walks by the pole and the soldiers stop him. They feel that he is being disrespectful for not bowing. William explains to the men that he is a "man of peace” and also finds it unnecessary to bow before mere cloth. The men try to make William bow. They put force against him and Walter and call them “braggarts and fools.” People of the town gather and eventually Governor Gessler comes.

Gessler's first strategy was reverse psychology and he tried to paint a picture of William as being too snooty to bow before his leaders. William resisted and insulted Gessler by saying he is a "man of peace” and that he will only bow humbly before true nobles and people that deserve respect like the...

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Posted on Aug 18, 2010 - 09:32 PM by Zuleka Irvin

Ambiguity about Online Teaching

I missed my July posting due to being buried up with summer teaching along with trying to grab some moments of R&R (I know, excuses, excuses), but as George Costanza on Seinfeld would say, "I'm back, baby, I'm back!"

There's a TV show on this summer that I have caught a few times called "Minute to Win It" in which there's this sort of computerized voice narrating various challenges and counting down to the start time (hear example here). For some reason, this voice irks me. I suspect that it is truly a person speaking, but it has this computerized monotone sound that rubs me wrong. It's as if the creators of the show felt like it would be "cool" to have this semi-human-sounding, disembodied voice narrating parts of the show.

More and more, people are being exposed to these computer-like or computer-mediated experiences that, though convenient and sometimes better, take something away from being human. For example, GPS voice directions rather than asking people for directions,...

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Posted on Aug 18, 2010 - 06:57 AM by Kristan Morrison

Democratic Education: A cure of for the common Ism?

I've been thinking a lot about this recently. Is Democratic Education a cure all for the social ills that plague our society? Is that asking too much from one methodology? What I am talking about specifically, is our tendency to discriminate against that which is different from what we know; as individuals and collective "us against them" mentalities. I doubt that I need list the myriad of "isms" of which I speak. You know what I'm talking about. We've all either been an "us" or a "them" - often times, if we take a good look at ourselves, we'll see these attitudes tucked away behind our good will.

And then there is Democratic Education. Time and space dedicated to allow rapidly growing and learning human beings to explore the world around them. Freedom and Liberation!, some say. Freedom with Responsibility!, others say. <--- I personally like that one. I read a Nelson Mandela quote recently that summarized this concept.

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

So the question is: will...

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Posted on Aug 16, 2010 - 06:59 PM by Cian Sawyer

Race To The Top

I do not mean for this writing to provide a summary, synopsis, or full blown analysis of our nations most recent plan to stimulate the effectiveness of our education system, Race To The Top (RTTT). Rather I will offer some thoughts and concerns in hopes to stimulate the thoughts of readers in regards to RTTT, and provoke independent research and analysis of the effort. For an accurate description of RTTT, visit the US Department of Education website here.

In a nutshell, RTTT is the United States' most recent federal program to stimulate teachers, schools, and mainly statewide education officials and governors into practicing more effective teaching standards by offering monetary awards for those states who put forth the most promising, and appealing proposals to improve education in their state. The point of the program, put forth by U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, is not solely to award states with more money for their school budgets, but rather to inspire states and...

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Posted on Aug 16, 2010 - 12:41 PM by Shawn Strader

Education Theology

Thesis Statement: The fear-based nature of the traditional education system renders it incapable of effecting the kind of change we need for humanity to realize it's true self.

Call me an idealist but I wholeheartedly believe that the primary goal of the evolution of our species is to move toward Oneness. And that the path to Oneness is Love - pure and simple.

The way our schools and our world works today it is very much about separation through labels, competition, comparison, and judgment. Ways of being that fail us as a race; as citizens of the planet.

In school, children are pitted against one another - grading on a bell curve, being one of the ways it is a standardized practice. They are placed into streams: Smart, Average and Slow (subtext: stupid). They are made to compete for better grades than their peers. The high achievers are praised, the "non-achievers" are ignored, even forgotten.

The mainstream system of evaluation is based on the notion that all humans...

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Posted on Aug 16, 2010 - 09:32 AM by Cian Sawyer

Why People Don’t Understand Schooling

In relatively recent news, a high school valedictorian really criticized the nature of compulsory schools, and advocated a changed system of choice and autonomy. In response, I have seen many people say that she was wrong for this, and that although schools aren't perfect, they do serve a great goal of educating all citizens. When people are critical of compulsory schooling, the response is generally this, "So what, you're against education? You're defending ignorance, and blind rebellion."

No. People like myself, those proposing alternative free schools/democratic schools/holistic schools, or the "Valedictorian [who] speaks out against schooling," are not against education or learning. We are against compulsory schooling. There is a difference between all these things. Learning is a process, or experience, that leads to education - the acquisition of knowledge. Schooling is a system, a specific environment (school) in which the acquisition of specific subjects and information is...

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Posted on Aug 13, 2010 - 11:50 AM by Zuleka Irvin

The Government is Asking for Your Opinion!

Head on over to, and see the post, "What is the biggest challenge today in education?". It's odd that there aren't like a million comments on this blog site, but either way, you should head over and speak your peace. I have commented about student choice.
"As a recently graduated k-12 student, I feel the biggest challenge in education is having public schools seriously consider student choice in education. For the most part, youth have very little say in what subjects they can learn or spend time on. When it comes to education, everyone is racing to do things for others, asking for freedom for teachers, administrations, and everyone but the students, the people and citizens that this system is supposed to be serving. Not once have students been seriously considered during the adoption of all these policies for any say. Students cannot evaluate their teachers or schools. If they have a specific academic interest they want to spend the majority of their time on, they must...

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Posted on Aug 07, 2010 - 10:35 AM by Zuleka Irvin

Lucas: A Puppy with a Purpose

I stood waiting in line under the fluorescent light of my local Super Wal-Mart, a container of juice in my right hand. This was a very rare scene for me because I don't shop at Wal-Mart as a habit, but what made this occasion really rare was what was in my left hand. I looked down at the leather leash in my fist, the kind they usually use for service dogs in training. I followed the leash down until my gaze was met with soft brown eyes. At my side sat a six-month old black lab puppy wearing a red 'Guiding Eyes for the Blind' bandanna and a matching red collar with a name-tag that read: LUCAS.
Lucas is one of countless young dogs across the US in training to become a seeing-eye dog for the blind and visually impaired. I have been raising Lucas since April and we have grown together in his training and socializing. Lucas and I go to see movies together, he goes food shopping with us and he even makes the late night 'Wally World' run for juice.
Animals have always been my passion and I...

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Posted on Aug 06, 2010 - 07:50 PM by Claire Russell

Attention IDEA Bloggers!

Hello, Zuleika here.

I don't know how to post member bulletins, so I will just make announcement here. I am proposing a new "game" of sorts. It is called Pass the Plate, and is meant to bring us together outside of our own blog sections and posts. The first one is a post that I really want some feedback and ideas on. In light of the common core standards that explains what an individual should know at a certain age, I am looking more into what we can adopt for students at any stage of development. Essentially, I made my own standards that actually provide room for individuality and intellectual diversity, called "Standards of Diversification."
For Pass the Plate posts what you do is make a post that seeks to challenge or brainstorm about alternatives to traditional education practices. I know we all do that already, but what I mean is, if you read your newspaper and see an education policy that's non-democratic, like standards or district polices, or just some ideas about what we can...

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Posted on Aug 06, 2010 - 01:40 PM by Zuleka Irvin

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