Showing posts from November, 2017
Civility, Politeness and the Common Good
The words and concepts of Civility and Politeness have great pedigrees. Civility is the code of conduct that was expected from a citizen (a civilus) of Rome. It might seem logical that “politeness” was the code of conduct expected from a citizen of a Greek city-state (a polis) but it is rather from the Latin verb politus - having been polished, or made smooth.  Behavior that was incivilis was behavior “not of a citizen.” It was the behavior of a barbarus, a barbarian.
And it still matters a lot more than many of our students and families realize.
Formal standards of civility and polite behavior are typically created and understood by the upper classes (Roman classis) of a society and then passed on to their children. Courtesy is the display of those standards, a word whose roots are found in those pretentious manners expected in the royal court. Of course, informal standards of civility are found in all social classes, and in some cases formal c…
Leadership and Instruction
The US Army, with 242 year years of leadership development, says that leadership development starts with the raw materials - Rule number one: Choose leaders well.
Effective leadership constantly monitors the institution's core mission, establishes institutional mores and high standards, is decisive, communicates frequently, is confident in execution, and uses those traits to intervene  when evidence indicates the institution is off-mission.
A foundational trait of highly effective leaders is the ability to influence others to have ownership in the institutional mission, and staying “on-mission” even in the absence of the leader. The essential after-action question in the Army is always, “Did we accomplish the mission?” If the answer is “no” there is a leadership problem. There is a deficit of influence. And influence is the key teacher trait, too. As Steve Jobs said, “Be a yardstick of quality.” Do things right.
But influence is not  not the only trait t…

Veteran's Day 2017

Veterans Day 2017
99 years ago, in the absolute last minute of the last hour of the last day of the First World War, US Army SGT Henry Gunther was killed in action. He was from Maryland and was 23 years old - the same age I was in Desert Storm, and which itself now seems like a very long time ago.
He was killed in action at 10:59, on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 - one minute before the Armistice (which had been signed at 5:am that very morning) was to go into effect - precisely at the 11th hour of that day. Allied commanders were pushing units forward to gain as much ground as possible in those six hours between 5:am and 11:am  in case the cease-fire would not work. It was a tragic, but sound, military strategy.
Tragic because there were an additional 10,944 total Allied casualties (dead and wounded) in those last 6 hours of the war.,  Of these,  2,738 American and Allied soldiers were killed in action.  Knowing that it was the last day.
In those final 60 seconds of war, PVT G…


Infrastruction, Rivers, and Deep Learning
In 2016 64% of graduating seniors took the ACT. Only 38% met the readiness benchmarks in at least 3 of the 4 core subject areas. In 2015, 40% of graduating seniors met 3 of the 4 benchmarks. The trend is declining. In 2016 34% of graduating seniors did not meet any of the 4 benchmarks.*
I think we need a new term and I’m borrowing the word “Infrastruction.” A portmanteau combining infrastructure and instruction.
Effective and rigorous instruction is much more than presenting and reviewing facts. All subjects are very deep in theory which is revealedsequentially across the state standards, and the deeper you go, even more is revealed, and connected.   Infrastruction, then is the practice of exploring underlying structures and principles; of integrating facts (sciences) and emotional responses (arts) with previously acquired knowledge, specifically “under the surface” connections between disciplines.  
It is a push to post-mastery-level understand…