Monthly Archives: January 2011


‘I use the language of decline, decay, and despair rather than doom, gloom, and no possibility because I think any talk about despair is not where you end but where you start..and then the courage and the sacrifice come in…but at the level of hope not optimism. Optimism and hope are different. Optimism tends to be based on the notion that there is enough evidence out there that allows us to think that things are going to be better, much more rational, deeply secular. Whereas hope looks at the evidence and says “it doesn’t look good at all,” says “it doesn’t look good at all.” Says “we gonna make a leap of faith…go beyond the evidence in the attempt to create new possibilities based on visions that become contagious to allow us to engage in heroic actions always against the odds no guarantee what so ever.” That’s hope. That’s hope.’  ~  Cornel West


Image licensed under Creative Commons by happygreentea via flickr.

Cornel West Makes a distinction that may seem a little academic.  Yet, I like his point!

In Michigan we have had to ‘go beyond the evidence’ and have the ‘courage’ to begin to recreate our economy. We have a long way to go. We still need to generate even more of this kind of commitment to a brighter future within our state. We need to be engaged in heroic actions.    

As educators from Michigan or around the country, the evidence sadly shows that not all kids are learning under our American system.  That doesn’t mean that it has to be that way!  We need to ‘go beyond the evidence’ of the present system and have the ‘courage’ to do things differently and be guided by results.  When we are successful with new approaches we need to replicate them.  If we are not successful, then we need to make changes.  Sadly, we in education often do the same thing we have done before expecting different results. We need to engage in heroic actions that truly focus on improved outcomes for all learners.  One of the biggest changes would be to not continue with practices that are not productive.  


Teach to the Red Dots!

I met Tim this summer.  He is a teacher.  I respect him very much.  Here is a portion of a recent blog of his.

“Teach to the red dots. Those are the ideas and thought processes just off center from the standards. Those are the areas where students have to think and not just recite. Those are the areas where students create and not just list. Those red dots are where rigor, relevance, and relationship line up to make education interesting to the students again.”

Read more at Tim Childers’ blog.  These piece is titled: Education and the Rule of Thirds.  You may think it is just about photography.  Keep readying!





Only credible leaders earn commitment, and only commitment builds and regenerates great organizations and communities.

The contribution of leadership is often the ability to help others see the possible.  And then to help others to stay focused on both, moving toward and reaching the shared goal.  I like the way Kouzes and Posner write about this necessity.

“(A leader) must remind others, who are often so mired in day-to-day details of work and life that they lose their bearings, that there is a larger purpose to all this doing.  You and they are working hard in order to build something different, to make something new, to create a better future.   You are here to make a difference in the world.  That’s why it’s important to invest the time today in tomorrow’s future.”  ~  The Truth About Leadership by James M. Kouzes and Barry Posner, Jossey-Bass, 2010, page 52

And then the leader must be believable.  As a result of their research, Kouzes and Posner have something to say about that as well.

“It turns out that the believability of the leader determines whether people will willingly give more of their time, talent, energy, experience, intelligence, creativity, and support.  Only credible leaders earn commitment, and only commitment builds and regenerates great organizations and communities.” Ibid.  ~  page 15



Geting Results with Appreciative Inquiry and Positive Power

The quotes below comes from a very good book!  One I recommend!  It is Appreciative Leadership by Diana Whitney, Amada Trosten-Bloom and Kae Rader, 2010 McGraw Hill.

“Appreciative Leadership is the rational capacity to mobilize creative potential and turn it into positive power – to set in motion positive ripples of confidence, energy, enthusiasm, and performance – to make a positive difference in the world.”

“Embedded in this definition are four formative ideas about Appreciative Leadership: 1) it is relational; 2) it is positive; 3) it is about turning potential into positive power; and 4) it has rippling effects.  You may also realize, as many others have, that each of these four ideas represents a paradigm shift: a clear movement away from the habitual, traditional, and individualized command and control practices of leadership toward “a new normal”: the positive, socially generative principles, strategies , and practices of Appreciative Leadership.” p. 3


We need to work toward our dreams – for all learners with determination!

I have been thinking about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during this last week.  As I read more I was reminded that he did not say, “I have a strategic plan.”  Instead:  He shouted, “I have a DREAM!” and he created a movement.

Today we need to be willing to formulate dreams.  We need to work toward those dreams with determination!

We need to imagine a world anew!

This is true in education.  We need to imagine an educational system that successfully serves each learner.  Unchallenged learners, dropouts, and apathetic learners who feel caught in a downward spiral of poor grades: These are part of the current situation in our schools.  We need to imagine engaged students, students that successfully graduate, and learners who ‘want to’ and can meet reasonable learning expectations.

We need to imagine these and other positive outcomes and then we need to do our part as educators to make this positive picture become a reality.

We need to create a dream that all learners will learn and we need to work with others to make this dream and the work behind it widespread. 



"Otherizing" will continue the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality rather than the ‘we’ mentality – Irreconcilable is UNACCEPTABLE!

Elizabeth Lesser makes a point worth listening to.  Please watch.

Here is a poem I wrote as a result of watching her.

Too easy to avoid interaction

Too easy to name call

Too easy to throw language bombs

Too easy to not listen

So, how can how can any form of sincere reaching out and authentic contact – be trivial?

Irreconcilable is unacceptable!

The idea of drawing the circle ‘to include’ others is one many see as viable.  Here are the lyrics to a song by two friends, David and Michael.  Let’s build a bunch of chances to “start over”.

Gather the Family

Written By Michael A Hough & David W Tamulevich

Gather the family here we belong
And welcome good stranger come in
Our voices together all singing one song
And its here that the future begins

Our ancestors came from a way far away
From a thousand traditions and kin
What we all share together as we stand here today
With a chance to start over again


Our measure of worth’s not in power or gold
The greatest truth come from the heart
It’s how we take care of the weak and the old
And this is a place we can start


And so like a forest our roots hold the past
While our branches reach into the sky
Let our gift to our children be family that lasts
And a future to which they can fly


The album this song is from is: The Yellow Room Gang: Live at Big Sky


Day two of thinking about what it takes to raise well balanced children

Yesterday I shared the David Brooks column regarding the Amy Chua’s approach to parenting.  Today I share a link to an NPR story: Tiger Mothers: Raising Children The Chinese Way by MAUREEN CORRIGAN

Amy Chua, a professor of law at Yale, has written her first memoir about raising children the “Chinese way” — with strict rules and expectations. Maureen Corrigan predicts the book will be “a book club and parenting blog phenomenon.”

If my yesterday’s post was of interest to you, today’s certainly will be, as well.


Amy Chua and daughters.