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Solving for X.

March 7, 2010

It’s sometimes tricky to find the value of that X that inhibits massive change in the schools where we work, the X that drives curriculum in predictable and irrelevant directions, the X that’s made some believe that good teaching is about data-driven instruction. That’s a slippery little guy, near impossible to solve for. Often, it seems to equal so many things.

But. Two things have happened in the past two days to remind me that this interest in the X – that is, the questions about why things aren’t Better – is less interesting than the possibilities of Better itself.

Thing one was a visit to Quest to Learn. Kids were deconstructing and repurposing their old stuffed animals as characters for an animation project, designing and playing each other’s digital games, and editing stories that involved green-screen dancing and script-writing. There were architecture drawings on vellum in the halls, illustrations on display for a student-designed advertising campaign (“I Heart Geeks”, for the Nintendo DS), and a huge time-capsule chest (with flashing lights) that captures and preserves excellent student work.

Thing two was TEDxNYED, an NYC conference that curated a TED-like experience for those interested in education. The content of the talks has been documented in other places (here, here, here), so I’ll leave that … there. Also, the videos will be available on the event website in the next few weeks.

I left both of those places with a very strong feeling that all places should have huge time-capsule chests with flashing lights, that all teachers should have the opportunity to feel as creative and thoughtful as we did listening to those 14 people in that room, and that the Internet can be leveraged to do amazing things in a way that we don’t yet understand. The variables that obstruct change are just less interesting than Frankentoys.

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