07 February 2008

18 inspirations for educators and social entrepreneurs

Some people collect stamps. Others collect curiosities. I collect (among other things) pedagogical models, theories of learning, writings on education, and great educators. Someday I'll boil it all down and give you just the bullion, just the essence. But I need more time. My collection is far from a complete 7-course chowdown; heck, it won't do anything more than whet your appetite... but at least that means I've probably gotten to hors d'oeuvre status.
Vincent, Levin (1658-1727) - 1719 - Elenchus tabularum...1
"My! You have such an interesting collection of... um... what are these, exactly?"

Model Institutions, Organizations, Etc.

  1. Danish Folkeuniversitetet ("Folk High Schools"). The keystone of Danish national and democratic identity. One of the great triumphs of modern liberalism (in the strict sense of the term).
  2. Hampshire College. The Un-Ivy League. Classes, but no core curriculum. Written evaluations, but no grades. Books, but no teacher's dirty looks.
  3. The Nueva Escuela ("New School"). A program aimed at the developing world which supports schools as agents of positive social change. Focuses on education which is "active, participatory, cooperative, child-centered, and life-relevant." The story is that the founder asked every Nobel laureate she could get her hands on what kind of school they wished they had attended.
  4. The KaosPilots (of course). A new kind of business school, aimed at at the fourth sector.
  5. The Acton MBA (of course). Business school on steroids, which aims to produce entrepreneurs rather than managers.
  6. Y Combinator. Although it claims to be a new kind of venture capital firm, it's really an intense education in how to be a world-class tech entrepreneur.
  7. Gever Tully's Tinkering School. Let your kids do dangerous things, otherwise they'll never learn how to handle dangerous things. When I put it that way, it's obvious, right?
Writings Worth Reading
  1. "On Education." Ralph Waldo Emerson's seminal essay on the subject, in which he argues that "the secret of education lies in respecting the pupil."
  2. "Talks with Teachers." Brilliant lectures on teaching by eminent 19th century American psychologist and philosopher William James.
  3. "Complicity." Online journal on complexity (read: chaos theory) and education. Be warned: this journal has a rather pointy head.
  4. Infinite Thinking Machine. A blog providing coverage of innovation in education.
Models, Movements, and Technologies
  1. Ignatius of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises, by which I mean more than simply the book by the same name. The exercises are a masterfully conceived and carefully refined ethical technique (read: a practice by which one acquires a particular character).
  2. Unschooling. Let the child set the educational agenda; teaching consists principally in encouraging and enabling.
  3. Moodle. A widely used open source course course management system.
Educators to Emulate
  1. Socrates. The gadfly of great Athens.
  2. Johan Amos Comenius, the Czech (Moravian, to be precise) "Copernicus of education."
  3. Nikolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig, founder of the Danish Folk High School.
  4. Amos Bronson Alcott, the original Transcendentalist, and the greatest teacher [.pdf] in U.S. history.