Monthly Archives: November 2013

It is worth our effort to begin this journey toward developing our social brain

From my point of view, the challenge of being intentional about connecting – mind-to-mind is worth accepting – because the stakes are so very high.  I believe that we live in times where interdependent thinking holds real value for all mankind.

People engaging in conversations where transformation has the potential of occurring are people who can help form adaptive interactions.  Adaptive responses to the status quo can help create futures focused on the common good.  Yes, I use the word “can” because there is no assurance that common good will be the shared focus.

Ron Heifetz, Alexander Grashow, and Marty Linsky in their book: The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World (2009) write about adaptive leadership.  Their definition: Adaptive leadership is the practice of mobilizing people to tackle tough challenges and thrive (page 14) sounds like the kind of leadership many of us might want to experience.  Tackling tough challenges and thriving is the direction to the future that I want to put my energy into. For me that sounds like the ‘common good’.

These conversations need to be more intentional than casual.  Laura Lipton and Bruce Wellman in their chapter Creating Communities of Thought: Skills, Tasks, and Practices from The Power of the Social Brain edited by Arthur Costa and Pat Wilson O’Leary (2013) write: “When, how and with whom we participate shapes the possibilities of our lives.  Participation fuses with purpose when catalytic questions energize the cognitive reaction.

Purpose, process, and reflection are the essential components of provocative and thoughtful inquiry.  The challenge of the questions that we ask ourselves, and now we ask those questions, make the difference between committees and communities.

Laura Lipton and Bruce Wellman offer the following formulation:  Purpose + Participation + Catalytic Questions = A Sustainable Community of Thought

purpose_ParticipationThe ‘with whom’ part of the above quote is crucial to think deeply about.  I suggest that we need to get very good at engaging with people across differences.

The ‘how and when’ part of the above quote is not to be taken lightly either.  These two components are fundamental to reaching the potential that is possible when people think together across differences. Working toward reaching a solid consensus is a worthy goal as is being sure to tackle tough problems when there are engaged people ‘in the room’ who look at the issue or topic from varied perspectives and are willing to work together to attempt to find a consensus agreement.

Thinking together in complex times requires being willing to develop our skills, abilities, and dispositions. We have knowledge to gain.  We have capabilities to develop.  Connecting mind-to-mind is worth the effort.  Thinking well across differences is essential in these challenging times.  It is worth our effort to begin this journey toward developing our social brain.


Successful Education Systems Make Education A Priority

Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education

Lessons from PISA for the United States

Here is a link to the report. Warning it is long. It compare the the US to countries across the world.

I find it a very interesting read.

And I have specific idea for you to consider to narrow your focus down from the almost 300 page document.

I am interested in the reading results.  You might want to look at pages 26 through 30 to set the stage for your thinking by viewing some of the comparison information and graphs.

Then focus in on page 30 Figure 2.2 and read the seven levels of proficiency in reading (as defined by this international organization) and try to place yourself among the seven.  And then think about these questions:

  • What value is there to you and your future (or the future of your children) to think deeply about this inter national  reading proficiency description?
  • Think about specific behaviors you can pursue that will likely advance your (or your children’s) level of proficiency in reading.
  • Do you sense that when PISA describes reading they are focusing on comprehension and critical thinking?
  • What kind of thinker are you  when you read?
  • What kinds of thinkers are your children when they read?

PISA_11_with_Attribution_I believe that it is not about Michigan in isolation and that it is about the children Michigan educates and how we educate them.

Do we have a world view?

Do we see the need to be successful in teaching all young people?

Do we want today’s students to be players in a world economy?

I would still be in Third Grade


I am not happy to report that if the law Michigan is considering passing which would keep third graders in third grade until they learn to read would mean I might still be there.

That is true because I was a non reader in third grade.  And more third grade would have likely just led to me being more unhappy, more full of doubt, more worried and bigger a year later.  In fact, since I wouldn’t have learn by more ‘drilling’ I may have not more on the next year.

The thought pains me to think about.

At sixty-five, with three college degrees, I look back and can see no good that could come from a retention decision like this.

I do agree with PISA that the best thing that could have happened for me would have been to help you learn reading the first time around.

Here is a great 12 minute YouTube video – Measuring student success around the world

Watching this might open our eyes to the big picture of literacy and how the United States is doing and what makes sense and what doesn’t for moving forward.

Thinking Together, Working Together and Playing Together

CBS News presents a story that makes a strong case for thinking together, working together and playing together as very good things.  This is a story of Michigan middle school that plan and implemented actions that made a difference for a fellow student and potentially helped many others to see the value of their motives actions. These middle school students figured out a way to think and behave around the concept of inclusion, team, family, group, community etc. that may stay with them for a life time.

This is a story of the Olivet Eagles football team from Olivet Middle School in lower mid-Michigan. This is a story of young people working in concert to peruse their vision of the common good.  This Middle School Football Team Went Behind Their Coaches’ Backs To Do Something Incredible. Click below to see the story.

For weeks, the football players at Olivet Middle School in Olivet, Mich., secretly planned a remarkable play.