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Summary: In this short and powerful piece, architect and school designer Prakash Nair outlines the a vision of learning spaces designed for the twenty-first century. Rather than continuing with the out-dated classrooms and hallways typical of many schools, Nair recommends spaces that allow for personalization, collaborative learning, self-directed learning, and that are environmentally conscious and connected to the broader community surrounding the school.
Summary: This report, initiated by a task force established by the Economic Policy Institute and signed by hundreds of educators, aims to broaden the goals and nature of education reform beyond academics and beyond the school itself to include also social and community issues that impact learning. From the report, "America has a decision to make. We can continue to pursue education strategies that focus on schools alone and on narrow, test-based accountability and be content with the modest improvements long associated with this approach. Or we can ratchet up our ambitions and adopt a new and expanded strategy with the capacity to improve student achievement and adult outcomes more effectively and efficiently."
Summary: This report from the National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement calls on the nation to reclaim higher education's civic mission. Commissioned by the Department of Education and released at a White House convening in January 2012, the report pushes back against a prevailing national dialogue that limits the mission of higher education to workforce preparation and training while marginalizing disciplines basic to democracy
A Crucible Moment calls on educators and public leaders to advance a 21st century vision of college learning for all students - a vision with civic learning and democratic engagement an expected part of every student's college education. The report documents the nation's anemic civic health and includes recommendations for action that address campus culture, general education, and civic inquiry as part of major and career fields as well as hands-on civic problem solving across differences.
Summary: A Nation at Risk is one of the most influential education policy reports in recent decades. Commissioned by President Reagan and Education Secretary T. H. Bell, this 1983 report set off what became a widespread belief that the nation's schools were failing and falling farther behind other nations. Urging a broad curriculum and stronger standards and expectations, A Nation at Risk is still commonly referenced today and is an important document to be familiar with.
Summary: All Our Ideas is a research project to develop a new form of social data collection that combines the best features of quantitative and qualitative methods. Using the power of the web, we are creating a data collection tool that has the scale, speed, and quantification of a survey while still allowing for new information to "bubble up" from respondents as happens in interviews, participant observation, and focus groups.
Users of All Our Ideas can start their own sites where visitors can vote on existing ideas (e.g. "bring more hammocks to campus") and upload new ones.
Summary: A powerful study connected to self-determination theory and student motivation, this study demonstrates the link between school culture and adolescent adjustment. It makes the case that if schools support student autonomy and belongingness, students will become more engaged in learning and will be more psychologically adjusted and filled with "hope."
Summary: "Big Ideas in Science Education", a blog post from Teaching Science presents Principles and Ideas of Science Education, a great informal resource for teachers of young scientists who want students to know what real science looks like.
Summary: A short and helpful primer on how the brain develops and learns. This is the basis for the broad research into neuroscience and it's implications for educational practice. Educators and researchers ought to understand these basic processes as a grounding for other research into learning and development.
Summary: Dubbing themselves The Resistance, a group of Bronx students have decided to “Occupy” public education, releasing a 10 point plan for reforming New York City's public school system. Some of their demands include "a healthy, safe environment that does not expect our failure or anticipate our criminality,” class sizes that are “humane and productive,” and “student assessments and evaluations that reflect the variety of ways that we learn and think.”
Summary: Through a case study of Avalon High School in Minnesota, this article explores the notion of democratic teacher-run schools where teachers collaboratively make school decisions rather than a single principal. Also discussed is the self-directed project-based learning approach of Avalon, and a method to assess school climate and the impact on students, called The Hope Study.
Summary: CAST is a nonprofit research and development organization that works to expand learning opportunities for all individuals, especially those with disabilities, through Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn.
CAST's work is inspired and informed by the learners who often get pushed aside in traditional education settings. In other words, "the future is in the margins," as Founding Directors David Rose and Anne Meyer write.
Summary: Lending circles, self-help groups, and study circles are all examples of one of the oldest and most effective tools for creating personal and social change. Leveraging the potential of Circles requires a clear understanding of what they are and how they work.
Summary: Leading civil rights organizations provide a Civil Rights Framework for the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. From the report: "As civil rights organizations, it is our responsibility to seek to close and ultimately eliminate the opportunity and achievement gaps experienced by communities of color. To this end, we outline six major principles that we will collectively advocate to strengthen the ESEA and ensure that the federal government provides the support necessary to protect every child's civil right to a high quality education."
Summary: Color Lines is an online journal which has made a home for journalists writing for racial justice since 1998. Color Lines publishes articles on a wide range of topics and includes a 'schools and youth' section which speaks to the issues of racial injustice that still prevail in schools nationwide. Color Lines focuses on assessment of racial issues and some writers advance possible solutions for resolving those issues. Public schools remain racially segregated and underfunded while more young people of color face the cradle-to-prison pipeline. Color Lines provides a round up of stories, updates and analysis on the state of education and the young people who are challenging the status quo. Access to Color Lines' articles does not require a subscription nor payment.
Summary: The Community Learning Exchange is a network of resilient local communities, vibrant organizations, and active change agents who share their local wisdom and collective leadership approaches with each other so they can be more effective in addressing critical social issues. It provides an opportunity for community leadership groups to openly examine their challenges, freely exchange successful approaches, and become familiar with tools that can enhance local change initiatives. CLE envisions a world in which community challenges are addressed, not by individual leaders, but by collective leadership--groups of local residents working together for sustainable change in 21st Century settings. Unlike conventional learning institutions, which may be grounded in traditional pedagogy and offer a curriculum delivered by credentialed experts and supported by academic texts, the Community Learning Exchange views communities and people as the new instructors and texts for learning.
Summary: This powerful series was created by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.
"Community organizing for school reform offers an urgently needed alternative to traditional school reform - one that situates schooling issues within larger economic and social systems, directly attends to issues of power, and builds democratic capacity to sustain meaningful reform over the long term (Anyon 2005; Mediratta, Shah & McAlister 2009a; Oakes & Rogers 2006; Shirley 2009)."
Summary: Kindergarten has changed radically in the last two decades in ways that few Americans are aware. Children now spend far more time being taught and tested on literacy and math skills than they do learning through play and exploration, exercising their bodies, and using their imaginations. Many kindergartens use highly prescriptive curricula geared to new state standards and linked to standardized tests. These practices, which are not well grounded in research, violate long-established principles of child development and good teaching. It is increasingly clear that they are compromising both children's health and their long-term prospects for success in school. This report analyzes decades of research on early childhood learning and provides clear recommendations for what early childhood education should look like and how we can get there by supporting teachers, doing more research, and enacting new policies.
Summary: Report by the Forum for Education and Democracy that provides analysis and recommendations that call for a new federal role in education to provide every child with the skills needed to strengthen our democracy. Drafted by Linda Darling-Hammond and George Wood along with the Forum's conveners and staff, the report focuses on a new vision of learning, support for quality teaching, and the equalizing of resources.
Summary: A valuable primer for educators, students, and parents looking to bring democratic education practices into their schools and classrooms. This paper presents the history and theory of democratic education and explores both the opportunities and the challenges involved with building more democratic classrooms. This is the first part of Morrison's two part paper. A link to part two is provided below.
Summary: Democratic Dialogue is committed to the critical exploration of democratic ideals in education and society through a program of international collaborative research and dissemination. We engage educators, political scientists, sociologists, philosophers, teachers, policymakers, and cultural workers (e.g., artists, curators, and critics) as well as the broader public community who are concerned with ideals, tensions, policies, and practices of education for democracy. Democratic Dialogue reaches across disciplinary, institutional, and national boundaries through innovative research projects and methods of dissemination, community dialogues and events, and the pursuit of creative approaches to projects that engage themes of democracy, education, and society.