Posts in Category: Education

QQ: Does this mean the end of (strict) subject-based teaching in schools?

Corey Hesse


Source: John Seely Brown quotes Hesse in his presentation, Reimagining the University.

Or, maybe, K12 education is about subject-based teaching and universities are the place to step free of that? Dorothy Sayers wonderful essay, The Lost Tools of Learning, suggests something like that. I say something like that because organizing curriculum by chronological age, rather that developmental age, is a problematic assumption.

This has big implications for well-established programs such as the International Baccalaureate program. Maybe we will see it’s excellent inquiry-based approach in Primary Years Pr0gram extend all the way up to its Diploma Program?

The New Learning Ecology

#tokrew11 maps all human knowledge

My #tokrew11 students have been playing with their map of knowledge, an original metaphor they created to test the validity of the International Baccalaureate Organization’s claim that we can think of the structure of knowledge as something like a map.

They’ve used it to model the observed knowledge structures in classes at school.

And here they are mapping three abstract concepts:

  1. using memory to bring a barrel of facts and crate of skills from the land of math to the land of natural sciences in oder to solve a physics problem.
  2. the all the ways of knowing coming from all the lands (areas) of knowledge and converging on the arts
  3. the collision of reason and emotion in the current of belief off the shores of  human sciences, indigenous systems and religious systems

Once the school year is over, I’ll write up the whole project.

How to make a great presentation: get schooled by my grade 8 philosophy student

I teach a philosophy elective to some of our middle school students. At the end of the year I asked them to answer the two questions we began with: Who are you? and, What are you supposed to do here?

Alex’s answer is remarkably coherent. He was even able to frame a morality consistent with his world view: whatever promotes survival is good and whatever inhibits is bad. I don’t see that very often in adults.

Along the way, he schools us with his presentation skills!

Blast from the past: The B.C. Teacher, 1938 & 1942 #edchat #bcedchat


I found these two…magazines?…in an antique store on Bowen Island: nostalgic, earnest and sometimes funny. Here, for example, is An English Technique, with some advice the BCTF restated sometime after 2006 in this Whole School Approach

an english technique


…if any boy (italics are mine) had latent in him poetic capacity, he would find himself equipped for its expression

The just don’t write maxims like they used to!

I’ll share more of these treasures in future posts.

QQ: Are final exam questions too easy?

QQ: Will social media kill accreditation?


The University of Toronto recently hosted the first national summit devoted to Co-Curricular Records or Transcripts (CCR/T).

Is the effort coming from a real social need to accredit or from the institution’s drive for self-preservation? I have a feeling that accreditation, at least as we know it, will be made unnecessary by social media in the not-so-distant future.


When I worked in Sweden, I met an amazing human being named Sara Wallén who would send me QQs–quick questions on operational details, logistics, reference material and so on. We saved the big questions for face-to-face. I’m turning the term into a tag here and using it to grab questions that pop into my head. They’re likely big questions but I don’t have time or a face to talk to right now and I don’t want to forget that I asked.


Co-Inventing Curriculum with Students

Here’s my interview with Howard Rheingold. You can read the full post on dmlcentral.

I love that he came up with the word “co-inventing.” Co-creation, the term I have been using, doesn’t convey the originality of the work of making new knowledge.

Thanks Howard, for the the new word, and the interview. I enjoyed our conversation!

Should we get rid of schools altogether? (It’s worth asking.)

no school

I think we have to ask the question.

A long time ago very few people went to school. This was for a number of reasons:

  1. education was reserved for a privileged few
  2. there were very few schools schools anyway
  3. you didn’t really need one as could learn all you needed to know from family and friends anyways

The modern economy took care of the first two. It only temporarily removed the last and now, ironically, it has brought us back to the same conditions: As machines first replaced our muscle capacity they’re now replacing out cognitive capacity. When that’s complete, it won’t strictly be necessary to learn to read, write and do ‘rithmetic, not economically necessary anyways. The wheels of the economy can keep going with what you and I can pick up on our own. So maybe, soon, we won’t need anything like school as we know it.

That leaves us with the question, What will an education be for?

How to write a good math question.

“I love calculating these kinds of things. It’s not that I love doing the math. I do a lot of math but I don’t really like doing math for it’s own sake. What I love is that it let’s you take some things that you know and just by moving some symbols around on a piece of paper, find something that you didn’t know that’s very surprising.”

Randall Munroe*, former NASA roboticist, now magical web-cartoonist and creator of, answers what would happen if you hit a baseball travelling at 90% of the speed of light. And, at 3:07, “If all digital data were stored on punch cards, how big would Google’s data warehouse be?” His description of how he calculated the answer to the Google questions is a great example of what a good question can get you to do.

Good questions are fun questions. I’d love to see something like these on a final exam.

*It makes me smile to see that Munroe has more than 20,000 followers and hasn’t sent a single tweet.