The IDEA Blog

The Government is Asking for Your Opinion!

Head on over to ed.gov/blog, 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

“Standards” of Diversification: Pass the Plate [Zuleika]

You want standards? You got 'em. It's simple enough. It's not in legal terms. Give me feedback and let's get things going for the sake of students, not businesses. I propose that we all submit our own snippets of our ideal standards based on democracy, and learner choice. To get us bloggers working in lockstep aside from our other posts, let's have "Pass the Plate" posts. Eh? Eh? grin Take this post and improve it. You type the title of the post +Pass the Plate and in brackets you type your name. Then another person can snatch it and make changes. Or make a change to one or more issues and leave it in the comments!!! If we doctor it up well enough, we might have some potential legislation in ours hands!!! Edit any part!

I say let's make standards because it's a step towards people in the traditional mode of things giving us consideration. Of course I don't want every kid obliged to do something, but my standards are more like free form opportunities centered around student desire and...

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Posted on Aug 06, 2010 - 01:31 PM by Zuleka Irvin

On Spanglish

I sit here reading Lope de Vega and all of the other oldies who've come closer this Summer 2010:
William James, Jose Marti, Mark Twain, "The American Language" by Mencken, et al. The other
night, with some friends over, I made a reference to "Old Spanish," and my friend, who didn't speak
Spanish and was amazed about such a possibility, asked, "Really?" He didn't know that an
equivalent to Old English existed.

I love going back to Old Spanish in order to find some irregularities that I witness often, as I naturally
approach the matter with my regulatory and proper Spanish measure of the present. Actually,
Spanish Baroque I read for rhythm, but really, the Old Spanish of La Celestina, and the Arcipreste de
Hita, are the real oldies where I find my Spanish limits, its borders. Portuguese does the trick as well.
I experience so much pleasure in seeing how certain rules of Spanish are not followed by Portuguese,
a very close cousin, and vice versa. For example, many...

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Posted on Aug 06, 2010 - 10:15 AM by Luis Moreno

Pray For Doubt

Pray for Doubt

...is a phrase I read sometime somewhere. "Pray for doubt," the author advocated. At first I didn't understand why anyone would want to ask for Doubt. Isn't it better to be sure? Isn't Certainty the ironclad, surefire way to know something Good and Right and True and to hell with all the rest of it? I mean, what would doubt do for anyone on a mission?!

I'll tell you what doubt does: It gives you pause. And pause gives you time to step back. And stepping back gives you perspective. And perspective gives "you" (yes, ME) a chance to see things more clearly.

I had a moment of doubt the other day. Oddly enough this occurred while I was reading this article about democratic education; a positive article which featured an interview with Isaac Graves, engine driver for the education-revolutionizing, life-changing AERO Conference train. The article also had commentaries and excerpts from the book Lives of Passion, School of Hope - which chronicles the lives of...

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Posted on Aug 06, 2010 - 05:29 AM by Cian Sawyer

A Rainforest Brain in a Sea of Standardization

I read two articles today that lifted and sank my heart. The first was an article in ODE Magazine ("for intelligent optimists") written by Thomas Armstrong. It was an excerpt from his book, "Neurodiversity: Exploring the Extraordinary Gifts of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Brain Differences." The second was an education article by Our Weekly, a newspaper about current events in the African American community that circulates in my town. The title of that article is, "California's Education Transformation: New standards, programs, and funds introduced."


The article in ODE was a source of optimism for me. Thomas argues that rather than focusing on the stigmas of psychological or developmental disorders, psychiatrists and others should start looking at the unseen abilities people with these issues have, the three disorders in the title of his book being the major contenders for investigation. Based on strides in neuroscience (neuroplasticity and neurodiversity), Thomas likens the...

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Posted on Aug 05, 2010 - 06:56 PM by Zuleka Irvin

Lights. Camera. Help. Film Festival

Two weeks ago I received an exciting call from Juan Carlos Pineiro Escoriaza, a talented film-maker who directed, shot, and edited IDEA's launch-time video, "Make Your Voice Heard." He had just got word that our video was selected by the Lights. Camera. Help. Film Festival as one of 33 films to be shown during the festival out of 235 that were submitted! Here's a bit about the festival from their website:

"Lights. Camera. Help. The Nonprofit Film Festival is the world's first film festival dedicated entirely to nonprofit and cause-driven films. This 3-day event gives films-for-a-cause the attention they deserve by putting them up on the big screen in a theater setting."

The festival took place last week from July 29-31 in Austin, Texas. There were about 300 attendees, with 60 attending the screening that including IDEA's video. Nathan Felix, leader of The Noise Revival Orchestra, the group whose music is featured in "Make Your Voice Heard," lives in Austin and was IDEA's...

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Posted on Aug 03, 2010 - 06:01 AM by Dana Bennis

“Don’t Drop It!”

This morning, my mouth dropped in horror as I realized how I must sound when I speak to my child.

She was making me pretend stew in her cooking bowl and when she handed it to me to "eat," she said, "Now don't drop it! It will make a mess!" Her voice was so serious and stern, and yet so familiar. I quickly realized that was because she was echoing the same thing I tell her every time I hand her a bowl or plate.

What mistrust I must be conveying to her! At four--nearly five--of course she knows not to drop a bowl or plate. So why do I keep telling her not to, which surely only reinforces the idea that I find her incapable, clumsy, or unable to be trusted--none of which are true.

The things we learn about ourselves are just as insightful as the things we learn about our children through role play and modeling. I think if we all paid close attention to what is going on in our child's imaginative play, we might find out a lot about our parenting styles--both the good and the bad--as...

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Posted on Aug 02, 2010 - 01:10 PM by Sara Schmidt

Response to Shawn’s “Children Will Learn…”

In "Children Will Learn, With or Without a Structured Education," you bring up many things I try to process in my mind every day.
If only the "best" choices meant the "happiest" choices for youth. Competition and money are incredible factors in traditional education, and you can catch these themes in things like the President's speeches about the matter, or the way youth talk about why they want to go to college. I have taken time to think about how I would raise a youth when the time comes. I mostly consider democratic schools or unschooling, but I doubt I would have the opportunity to engage my kids. I am beginning to notice that parents don't "roam" as youth do. They don't have the time, most of them because they are in the system of competition and financial gain that is being currently perpetuated. Many people have gone to school to become marketable and sell their labor so that they can have enough money--rather than time--to get their kids ready for the same situation, the...

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Posted on Aug 01, 2010 - 06:14 PM by Zuleka Irvin

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