17 September 2018

Educational Reform: From Simple Content Delivery to Growing Mental Maps

Playlist: How Educational Reform is Oversimplified

Educational Reform
From Simple Content Delivery to Growing Mental Maps

Part 1 of 4: The Over-Simplification of Educational Reform Script
    Educational reform is a hot topic. 
      There is big money involved and billions are being squandered on a misunderstanding. 
        Here's an excerpt from Waiting for Superman directed and co-written by Davis Guggenheim. 
          Here's how Mr. Guggenheim and the rich reformers who funded his movie think education works:

              Educational Reform by Hollywood
                [Waiting for Superman Excerpt: Male voice over animation of a female teacher opening a child's head then pouring stuff in until it appears full then closing the head and moving on to the next child. (13 seconds)] 
                  "It should be simple. A teacher in a schoolhouse filling her students with knowledge and sending them on their way. But we've made it complicated."
                    Waiting for Superman Educational Reform Movie on Amazon

                        Is it really that simple? 
                          Did we make it complicated? 
                            Let's consider how this same story might be applied to other fields. 
                              How about this: 
                                "It should be simple. 
                                  "A doctor in an office prescribing drugs to cure each patient's illness and sending them on their way. 
                                    "But we've made it complicated." 
                                      That would be a very profitable belief about medicine for Pfizer, the multinational pharmaceutical corporation. 

                                          Or how about, 
                                            "It should be simple. 
                                              "A farmer in a field planting seeds, killing weeds and sending the produce our way. 
                                                "But we've made it complicated." 
                                                  The global agribusiness giant, Monsanto, would profit handsomely from our thinking about farming that way.

                                                      Now consider this one, 
                                                        "It should be simple. 
                                                          "A physicist in a safe facility splitting atoms and giving us power along the way. 
                                                            "But we've made it complicated." 
                                                              Westinghouse, the nuclear energy corporation, would be thrilled if that belief was in circulation.

                                                                  Are medicine, farming, and nuclear physics really that simple? 
                                                                    Did we make them complicated? 
                                                                      No way, reality had something to do with it. 
                                                                        In fact, when you examine the real world, in detail, it turns out to be inherently complex. 
                                                                          Our stories about how the world works have always failed as long as our instinct for telling simple stories interfered with our ability to account for real complexity in the world.
                                                                            That's the truth about medicine, farming, nuclear physics, and education, too. 
                                                                              But, overly simplified stories about people are not new, we've seen them before.

                                                                                  Have you ever heard of phrenology?
                                                                                    Phrenology is the study of the shape of the skull and it's relationship to intelligence and personality. 
                                                                                      Phrenology is a historical example of an overly simplified psychological theory. 
                                                                                        The idea of phrenology is simple. 
                                                                                          The exterior shape of the skull should accurately reflect the internal workings of the brain, as if the brain was a mechanism that could by its activity shape the pliable biological container within which it resides. 
                                                                                            So, if you are good at math, have an outgoing personality, or whatever then each corresponding part of your brain will expand or contract or take on a shape in some way and so would your skull.
                                                                                              Thus the skull becomes a readable indicator of what kind of personality or intelligence that brain produces. 
                                                                                                Despite lots of enthusiasm for over one hundred years there proved to be absolutely no value in assessing the shape of the skull in order to deduce psychological information.
                                                                                                  nd with the insights of today's cognitive psychology we do know what the phrenologists would have found when they "read" people's skulls. 
                                                                                                    The phrenologists would have found systematic confirmations of their own prejudices about the people they were "reading." 
                                                                                                      All humans have subtle biases and unconscious mechanisms that operate outside of their awareness and that shape their experiences and thoughts.
                                                                                                        When given a set of random information, such as variations in skull shapes, those unconscious mechanisms would shape the interpretations and ultimately reinforce the preconceived beliefs of the "reader" about the people they were "reading."

                                                                                                            In the sciences there is an explicit admission that we are all biased, no matter how good our intentions. 
                                                                                                              That is why science is a social process that values the independence of both criticism and replication of results.
                                                                                                                Another important scientific guideline is that scientific theories, our stories about what happens and why, must be as simple as possible and no simpler.
                                                                                                                  Phrenology failed because it is a story that is too simple.
                                                                                                                    Despite many generations of very dedicated and otherwise intelligent people devoting lots of time and effort in trying to make it work, it failed to deal with the complexity of reality.

                                                                                                                        Another example of oversimplification is the "better living through chemistry" story of farming that brought us DDT and Agent Orange. 
                                                                                                                          Simply discovering that a chemical can do one simple task, like killing plants that we don't like, and then deploying it on a massive scale to do just that, turns out to be recipe for environmental disaster. 
                                                                                                                            Bad for all of us, not just our enemies. 

                                                                                                                                Educational Reform Based on Delivery 
                                                                                                                                  The delivery theory of education is the phrenology of schooling. 
                                                                                                                                    And high stakes standardized testing is the DDT or the Agent Orange of education. 
                                                                                                                                      The mistaken delivery idea is what got us into the craze for high stakes standardized testing and those policies are causing harm to all of us, not just the children.
                                                                                                                                        One of the ways that the harm is done is by reinforcing ridiculous levels of control over the behaviors of children and teachers.
                                                                                                                                          Those same policies also undermine healthy autonomy supportive teaching and school management practices.
                                                                                                                                            Autonomy is one of the primary human needs of both students and teachers. 
                                                                                                                                              It turns out that in order to support the autonomy of students effectively it requires teachers to have their autonomy supported, which requires their administrators to have their autonomy supported, which requires their district supervisors to have their autonomy supported and so on all the way up. 

                                                                                                                                                  Educational Reform Dead-end
                                                                                                                                                    But, before you jump to the obvious and, unfortunately, over-simplified conclusion that the policy makers at the top should just issue a mandate for "autonomy support" please understand that real change cannot be created by simply declaring it to be the new thing everyone must do.
                                                                                                                                                      Social and organizational change doesn't work that way.
                                                                                                                                                        Mainly because no matter how good a mandate is, it is still a mandate.
                                                                                                                                                          Unless the people at the top have already created a solid relational foundation of trust and respect with those all the way at the bottom then even the best mandate, even one intended to be "autonomy supportive," can come across as controlling; the exact opposite of autonomy support.
                                                                                                                                                            Also note that the current relationship between schools and legislatures is clearly not trusting and respectful, so arbitrary mandates will not work.
                                                                                                                                                              This is the crux of the problem. 
                                                                                                                                                                We know that whatever changes need to take place will only be successful, in human terms, if they are implemented in autonomy supportive ways, not controlling ones.
                                                                                                                                                                  In part 2 I will talk a little about leadership, what “actionable metrics” are and how they can guide us to accomplish real change in education.
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                                                                                                                                                                      Part 2 of 4: Vanity Metrics vs. Actionable Metrics in Educational Reform

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                                                                                                                                                                        Part 2 of 4: On Leadership & Actionable Metrics in Educational Reform Script
                                                                                                                                                                          Welcome to Part 2 where I will explain how a misunderstanding about leadership leads to the use of vanity metrics in schools and how an appropriate understanding of learning and actionable metrics can help us improve education. 

                                                                                                                                                                              The idea that productive change can be arbitrarily mandated into existence by powerful leaders is a consequence of applying the same delivery theory that misguides education. 
                                                                                                                                                                                The concept is that a leader who wants to make something happen can reduce it down to a simple unit of information, like an order or a command, then just by transferring it from the mind of the leader into the minds of the followers it will be done.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Leadership is just delivering an idea. 
                                                                                                                                                                                    Like an automatic upgrade to the followers behavioral operating systems.
                                                                                                                                                                                      Each dictate from the leader is supposed to evoke an automatic change in everything that the follower does. 
                                                                                                                                                                                        Professor Brian Greer from Portland State University calls this faith in the miracle of immaculate transmission.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Educational Reform via the Instant Expertise Trope
                                                                                                                                                                                              This is also a version of the movie trope of instant downloadable expertise. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                Education would be as simple as Davis Guggenheim would have us believe,if, like the character Mala in the movie Battle for Terra, we could each be programmed like a computer. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                  In this excerpt the alien girl child, Mala, needs to communicate with a human space ship pilot who is part of an invasion force. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                    After cleverly causing the space ship pursuing her to crash, Mala saves the human pilot and brings him back home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        [Battle for Terra Excerpt]

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Wouldn't it be great if we could learn a language by a few seconds of "simple organic data transfer."
                                                                                                                                                                                                              In one way of thinking about it, academic subjects are basically just specialized languages, so if you can download one language you could, in principle, download every academic subject.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                But the reality is that we are not programmable like a computer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Educational Reform Delusion
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So my point is that as long as the ideas and beliefs of policy makers are misguided by the over-simplified delivery story of education (and leadership) then even if they adopt the language of 'autonomy support' their policies will still fail to inspire those on the front lines.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This change, like every change that has ever come before it, has to be implemented by human beings with a primary psychological need for autonomy, amongst others.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A mandate will get changes in behavior, but if the need for autonomy is thwarted, then the behaviors you get will not be the ones you actually intended.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              What is needed is not merely policies that give lip service to "autonomy support," but a collective remapping of education itself and agreement on appropriate behavioral changes based on metrics that are both scientifically respectable and "actionable."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The term "actionable metrics" comes from entrepreneur Eric Reis. [ Lean Start-up Book by Eric Reis on Amazon}
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The delivery metaphor for education logically leads to "vanity" metrics like high stakes standardized test scores.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "Vanity" metrics are useless data that give decision makers the illusion that they know something of value.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For instance, imagine you are the owner of a web site business so you put a hit counter on your site and watch as it racks up millions of hits.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wouldn't that be a very reassuring indication that your site is successful?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As a web site owner I can tell you that it is reassuring to know that there is traffic on my site.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But, it's an illusion of success because it does nothing to further the goal of the business that the web site was created for.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There is nothing useful about how many hits a business site gets unless you can turn those hits into revenues at some point.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Much more useful information for you as a web site owner would be the behavior of the visitors to your site.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you know what visitors do once they get to your site then you could figure out how to direct them to the revenue generating pages.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The metrics that tell you how your visitors behave on your site is what Reis calls "actionable" metrics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Two Actionable Metrics for Educational Reform
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The question is: What would count as actionable metrics in education?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What kinds of measurements can you make in a school that would subsequently enable you to make productive changes?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The delivery story of education is powerful because it is simple to understand and it is doing more damage than we like to think because of how the insights that logically lead from it produce practices that at best neglect, and at worst destroy, motivation. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What we need in order do a better job is a story about education that is easy to understand, but also simultaneously facilitates the exploration and discovery of deeper insights that have some connection to reality.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The new story of education that is consistent with both behavioral and cognitive psychology is growing mental maps.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The growing mental maps story automatically implies the existence of a variety of important dimensions to education that are effectively excluded from the delivery story.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In part 3 I will explain the Attitutor Learning Tree and how we can use that model to understand education and improve schooling by gathering actionable data.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Part 3 of 4: On A Model for Growing Mental Maps in Educational Reform

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Part 3 of 4: On A Model for Growing Mental Maps in Educational Reform Script
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Welcome to part 3.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I will be explaining the Attitutor Learning Tree as a model for growing mental maps and how it provides a positive way forward for improving education and schooling.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A Story for Educational Reform
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The learning tree is growing in the soil of the now moment.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This model concerns the process of learning that we use to get from now into the future in a manner that enables us to affect the deep context that creates our moment-to-moment circumstances.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The roots of the learning tree are primary human needs for air, water, food, shelter, sleep, belonging, autonomy, and competence.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Those roots come together to form the trunk of well-being which consists of three parts motivation, followed by mindset, and then engagement.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Engagement is where the trunk divides into four major branches, the behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and agentic aspects of engagement in learning. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Accountability for Educational Reform
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  At this point we already have the key to changing educational practice because the learning tree has already provided us with several actionable metrics.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pscyhologists have valid and reliable measures of all the basic elements of the learning tree.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The easiest to measure is engagement because it is the most observable, and motivation data is also relatively easy. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This model tells us exactly what to do if the observed patterns of motivation and engagement are not adequate.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We must improve well-being by providing better support for the primary human needs.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And since you are probably not familiar with them you should know that psychologists have developed very specific behavioral descriptions of what supporting the primary human needs for belonging, competence, and autonomy entail.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The model portrays the rest of the learning process as further branches which produce the leaves and fruit of all the outcomes that are typically valued in the public sphere today with two leaves of question marks to encompass all other possible outcomes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This tree metaphor explains how we bring something up out of the now moment into the future.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But you might wonder, how does it relate to the reality of actual trees which derive over 90% of their material substance from thin air?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That material that makes up the majority of real trees is carbon.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Trees derive carbon from the air through the process of photosynthesis which separates the carbon from the dioxide.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The oxygen returns to the air and the tree uses the carbon to build itself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That major piece of this metaphoric puzzle is where culture comes in.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The air that surrounds the learning tree and gives it a major portion of it's substance is the culture that surrounds each individual. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      They contribute to that culture by producing outcomes in their lives.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The leaves and fruit of their learning fall down through the air to become the components that make up the new now.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Those leaves and fruit are the raw material that we weave together into the goals and purposes that drive our lives as we interact with the affordances of our culture.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Our larger context at each moment includes our embeddedness in what I call the moral universe and how we participate in groups and organizations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This is, you will recall, the growing mental MAPS concept of education.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The tree clearly gives us the growth component, but you are probably wondering about the mapping component.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The growth of the tree is an accretion of experience.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The opportunities to meet needs in each moment transports a unique trace of individuality to the uppermost extent of the tree.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That modicum of individuality is combined with the substance of the cultural context to add to the structure at the trees uppermost points.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Over time branches extend to give shape to individual dispositions and personalities. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Leaves and fruit of interests and passions form and are later shed, as the opportunities afforded by the environment, change.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The particular arrangement of the uppermost reaches of the tree interact with other trees in the vicinity to create a shaped surface that we use as a map of our lives.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Our maps indicate where we have each found cultural access to meeting our primary needs.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The more that an individual has had opportunities to experience well-being, leading to an abundance of motivation, and to substantial engagement then the more extensive their growth.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The more that an individual has been denied the experience of well-being, had their motivation diminished, and/or had their engagement limited then the more stunted their growth.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The tree is a map of it's place in the culture according to the consequences of the individuals constant search for primary need satisfaction. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The broader metaphor is that life is navigating a terrain.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We map that terrain by paying attention to where our need satisfying moments occur and constantly trying to find similar cues in our environment that lead to more of those opportunities in the context of whatever cultural affordances are provided. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The terrain we are mapping is the moral universe.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Morality is about access to well-being for ourselves and those we care about. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The moral universe is the practical extent of our influence both as individuals and as a society.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    To be clear, the learning tree emphasizes the completely non-conscious processes that give shape to the maps we are conscious of. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To get technical for a moment:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Cognitive psychologists call the non-conscious aspects "system 1" and they call the conscious aspects "system 2."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Our learning tree non-conscious growth processesdetermine what is possible to include in our conscious maps.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And with proper education our conscious maps can also shape the growth of the non-conscious processes that make up our learning tree.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This means that this is a dual process model for education that fully incorporates cultural context as a critical component.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Education is the part of life that deals with the cartographic, or map-making, aspect of navigating life.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So, as we navigate through life we have to figure out a variety of things, such as, where we are, where we want to go, and how much we know about the relationship between our current location and our intended destination.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We always have to update our maps as we go. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We always already have maps to guide us but no map is complete so they are always inaccurate to some degree.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Other people also have maps but they are inherently different maps, though with good coordination we can save lots of effort by drawing on each other's maps.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Collectively we create a forest canopy that makes up the lives we live together.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The outer world is the view from above, a bird's eye view, if you will.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It takes the specialized tools of psychology to figure out the actual contours of the terrain that the forest canopy covers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Unlike the delivery story, the growing mental maps story for education implies the importance of goals and purposes in addition to the resources that are available to achieve movement.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There are still units of knowledge, skill, and information that can be delivered, but they are transformed into mere data points in our mental maps.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Units can also be created or discovered independently, not just delivered.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The basic image of growing mental maps is as easy to understand as the delivery image.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But the growing mental maps image is much richer. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                When it is explored in depth it provides much more helpful guidance about what is necessary to ensure effective and efficient education.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Include Climate in Educational Reform
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Another important aspect of the data we collect should be classroom and school climate.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        School climate is the bird's eye view of the forest canopy created by a school community.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Since teachers and principals have direct responsibility for classroom and school climate then measuring those outcomes gives them direct feedback about their performance.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Kim Farris-Berg in her book, Trusting Teachers With School Success, talks about a variety of metrics, including classroom and school climate, that teachers self-select when, as her title suggests, they are entrusted to be responsible for their school's success. [Trusting Teachers With School Success on Amazon]
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But schools that give teacher's that degree of trust are extremely rare.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                What we've got now is a large-scale system that aspires to construct schooling based on a trope, a Hollywood writers fantasy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In part 4 I will explain how Hollywood writers use the instant expertise trope to solve storytelling problems and how Federal and State authorities have used the same idea to create harmful policies.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Part 4 of 4: in Educational Reform

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Part 4 of 4: On Tropes in Educational Reform Policy Script

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Welcome to part 4.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In previous episodes I pointed out how our school system aspires to a Hollywood fantasy about schooling.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The term for a particular way that writers commonly solve storytelling problems is "trope."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "Boy meets girl" is a trope because it is a plot device that many writers have used over and over again.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The boy meets girl trope happens to be based on reality to the extent that people meeting each other and falling in love is a common human experience.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But some tropes are used purely for the writer's benefit and have no connection to reality. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Revisiting Misguided Educational Reform
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        One such trope is instant expertise. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Tropes are writer's tricks to solve dramatic problems, so, the problem that the instant expertise trope solves is the fact that most learning takes a lot of time and, from the outside, the effort it takes looks boring. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Educational Reform Fantasy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In part 2 I shared a clip from the Battle for Terra.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The writer did not want to use the more common, but passe, trope of simply assuming all beings in the universe speak English. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Instead the writer chose to make the inevitable problem of a disparity in language instantly solvable.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In the Matrix the writers did not have to worry about language differences and the people doing the learning were not supreme beings, merely human ones.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          At the beginning of this excerpt Neo has just been removed from the Matrix which entailed literally unplugging him. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            He finds himself in a post-apocalyptic reality that he struggles to understand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                [Matrix Excerpt]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Educational Reform By Hollywood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Let's be very clear about this idea of learning, this is the FICTION part of science fiction, it's a fantasy, not a reality.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Writer's use the instant expertise trope to solve a storytelling problem.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          But, unfortunately for us State and Federal governments currently use the same fiction to make school policy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Let's use the growing mental maps model to understand current State and Federal education policies.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                What they are doing is trying to map out academic terrain.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  They are using ariel photographs of the forest that were taken with cameras that 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • cannot see the forest floor and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • only uses black and white film.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  They are looking for a specific shade of grey and based on the assumption that this gives them useful data about how to navigate through the forest. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Paint By Numbers Educational Reform
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Policy makers have been lead to believe that you can simply paint the color that you want on the uppermost branches of children's lives and viola we will have an educated citizenry.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Most of what passes for reforms are the equivalent of trying to make the arial photos of the forest show more uniform areas of one shade of grey by air dropping paint.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Delivering paint onto the forest canopy and delivering units of knowledge into a child's head are the same idea. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              They are just explained through the metaphors that guide two different and incompatible paradigms for education.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Davis Guggenheim in Waiting For Superman gave us a clear image of the dominant but wrong delivery paradigm.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    [Waiting for Superman Excerpt: Male voice over animation of a female teacher opening a child's head then pouring stuff in until it appears full then closing the head and moving on to the next child. (13 seconds)] 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "It should be simple. A teacher in a schoolhouse filling her students with knowledge and sending them on their way. But we've made it complicated."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Waiting for Superman Educational Reform Movie on Amazon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm so sorry, Mr. Guggenheim, but it's not that simple and the complications were imposed upon us by reality.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The map you presented has as much connection to educational reality as phrenological maps had to psychological reality and reforms based on it are making things worse not better.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But, let's face it, Davis, you're a Hollywood director, and just because your mother was a teacher does not qualify you as an expert.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And your co-author writes comedy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Neither of you should be expected to have a sophisticated understanding of education.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So, I don't blame you, personally.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It just so happens that the system is broken because it strives to be exactly how you said it should be.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If you would like to redeem yourself, Davis, I welcome an opportunity to discuss making a follow-up film that could set the record straight.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Let's present that same bit of animation again but with a huge dose of irony and, perhaps, with an animation of learning trees and how teachers and students create classroom and school-wide climates. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But, most important, we can make the case for collecting actionable data that can be used make real improvements in schools.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Educational Reform By Us
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Of course, it's an extreme long shot that Mr. Guggenheim will even see this, let alone respond to my offer to reframe his misguided animation, so for the rest of you:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I welcome your input into the discussion of how we can formulate and then promote nurturing policies based on the growing mental maps understanding of education.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It's up to us to figure out how to counteract the damage done by the misrepresentation of education as a simple delivery process.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          How can we communicate with the powers that be to enable them to embrace the complexity of education and support school reforms that actually nurture children and teachers?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If you would like to join me in this important work visit Schools-Of-Conscience.org 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for watching.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Educational Reformers That Want Educational Reform Like This
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have my doubts about many educational reform advocates but IDEA, the Institute for Democratic Education in America, has a vision for educational reform that I respect and support. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Democratic education is one of the models that has been shown to maintain intrinsic motivation, but at the same time is effectively excluded from being publicly funded by pervasive policies that require controlling behaviors which are antithetical to democratic educational pedagogy. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There is no question that some changes are happening but it is not clear how the mainstream school reformers are making things better. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                One of the key outcomes of educational reform as I propose it would be better motivation for everyone, which would lead to better ultimate outcomes. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you have ideas about how to get educational reform like this into a school district near you please contact me and share your idea. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Educational reform is not going to happen by itself, so reach out and get in touch with me if you support this kind of school reform, I appreciate the feedback.

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