Friday, January 28, 2011
President Obama made clear on Thursday that education will be a priority for the administration in the coming year. Obama even talked about restructuring the education system to incorporate new directions, claiming that the answer to many of the nation's problems can be found in the place where human consciousness first takes self-directed form, the school classroom. It's time to fight the budget cuts with innovation. It's time to invest in early childhood education, which will in turn help fight the global economic crisis, raising GDP down the line. What's more, it's imperative that we reach out to America's rural population, making sure that kids in middle America - one in four of whom is now living in poverty, versus one in five of just a year ago, claims Mark Shriver of the Huffington Post - get access to the education that they deserve. And, finally, local communities need to be more involved in the battle to save our schools from floundering, specifically through partnerships between public organizations and private businesses.
These are all great goals. The president has never failed when it comes to outlining the future of policy reform. Now let's just hope that conversation will lead to action, and that inspirational speeches about education policy will evolve from mere words to the creation of concrete change.
For this to happen, we all need to act. You can start by taking part in the Tutorpedia Foundation's 2nd Annual Benefit at the Minna Gallery in San Francisco on February 23, 2011. We will be hosting speakers Vicki Abeles, director of Race to Nowhere, Dennis Littky, co-founder of the charter school network Big Picture Learning, and Farb Nivi, founder of the educational test prep company Grockit. Proceeds will fund one-on-one tutoring for the Bay Area's under-privileged students. Don't miss out!
Thursday, January 27, 2011
So maybe it's time to start looking at what we want our students to value in high school: grades or a sense of balance? Grades are important, but do we really want middle and high schoolers to turn into “successful” college freshmen who, nevertheless, harbor intense mental health problems? After all, as the recent shooting in Tucson, Arizona suggests…we don’t know what may come of emotional problems that spiral out of control. Probably nothing good. So let’s reduce stress and think about enjoying learning for a change…
To continue the conversation on education and our students’ future, attend the Tutorpedia Foundation’s 2nd Annual Benefit on February 23, 2011 in San Francisco. We will hear from Vicki Abeles, director of Race to Nowhere, along with featured speakers Dennis Littky of Big Picture Learning and Farb Nivi of Grockit. Don't miss our exciting auction items, take part in the raffle, and try the delicious food! All proceeds from the event will benefit one-on-one tutoring for under-privileged students in the Bay Area.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
America is lagging, and something needs to be done to close the achievement gap, not widen it. According to this recent SF Gate article, California's budget cuts may result in fewer students being admitted not only to UC campuses, but to community colleges, which have traditionally offered a way for lower-income students to pursue an education. How can this be the answer to today's economic and educational crisis? I guess we'll see what the President has to say tonight...
To continue this discussion, make sure to attend the Tutorpedia Foundation's 2nd Annual Benefit on March 23, 2011, where we will delve into the future of education along with Vicki Abeles, director of Race to Nowhere, Dennis Littky, co-founder of the charter school network Big Picture Learning, and Farb Nivi, founder of the revolutionary tech company Grockit. Proceeds will fund one-on-one tutoring for the Bay Area's under-served students.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Frighteningly, it seems that today's schools are veering farther from this ideal as students' grades ultimately weigh more with educators than do "side" issues such as mental health. Perhaps it's time to re-evaluate how we envision our nation's educational institutions and discuss what changes need to be made to avoid calamities such as the January 8th shootings in Arizona.
For an engaging dialogue on today's education, join the conversation at the Tutorpedia Foundation's 2nd Annual Benefit on February 23, 2011, featuring speakers Vicki Abeles, the director of Race to Nowhere, Dennis Littky, co-founder of the charter school network Big Picture Learning, and Farb Nivi, founder of the educational tech company Grockit. All proceeds go to support personalized tutoring for the Bay Area's low-income students.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Chua's book has made a big splash in national media, forcing us to question our standards when it comes to sending children to school. Do we want them to learn and grow into self-sufficient adults who are comfortable in their own skin or do we want them to excel...or else? Then again, the answer to this question fully depends on how you define excellence. Chua seems to define it quantitatively. Her oldest, Sophia, places first at a piano competition and wins a debut at Carnegie Hall, an all-star achievement for a fourteen-year-old. And then there's that omnipresent goal on the horizon, hovering like a slightly cliche ghost: acceptance by an Ivy League college.
Parents can't help but be slightly swayed by the spirit of the Tiger Mother. She pushes, and she gets results - Lulu and Sophia continue to excel in academics and extra-curriculars. But is there more to the story? Are these kids happy, are they creative, are they individuals or pawns in the statistics of excellence game?
To hear more about these topics, stop by the Tutorpedia Foundation's 2nd Annual Benefit on February 23, 2011 in San Francisco to hear from Vicki Abeles, director of Race to Nowhere, along with featured speakers Dennis Littky of Big Picture Learning and Farb Nivi of Grockit. Don't miss our exciting auction items, take part in the raffle, and try the delicious food! All proceeds from the event will benefit one-on-one tutoring for under-privileged students in the Bay Area.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Here's a recent interview from CNN - Vicki Abeles, the director of Race to Nowhere, comments on the making of her documentary, her motivation in its creation, and her vision for America's education. Abeles believes in a grassroots movement that pays attention to students' individual learning needs. Why wait, she asks, for the government to institute appropriate policies when we can begin the revolution right here in our own homes and our own classrooms? Abeles highlights the need for an open dialogue about the changes needed in education today.
Just such a dialogue is what our own Tutorpedia Foundation will be hosting on February 23, 2011 in San Francisco. Abeles herself will be making an appearance as guest speaker, along with Dennis Littky, co-founder of the charter school network Big Picture Learning, and Farb Nivi, founder of the test-prep company Grockit.
Come join the conversation! All proceeds will go to fund free personalized tutoring for students in the Bay Area's low-income school districts.
Friday, January 14, 2011
In a recent story - "What's New In High School? Stress Reduction 101" - published by NPR, National Public Radio looks at the myriad ways in which it is possible to transform a classroom from a metaphorical torture chamber into a - gasp - enjoyable learning space. Students become super heroes who tame the Calculus Monster, and parents discuss the options available to those who want their children to learn in a less soul-draining school environment.
This point brings us back to the reality that America’s students are facing on a daily basis: school is starting to be less and less about the student, and more and more about rankings, prestige, and the quantitative analysis of academic achievement. Individual learning patterns and creativity get shoved on the back burner as students struggle to get the top grade, accumulate perfect transcripts, and be accepted by the most “prestigious” college. The question is…what happens after they get there? Does any desire to learn still remain? Can we change the system to cater, instead, to students’ intrinsic learning needs that rely on creativity and a simple hunger for knowledge?
We will be talking about this and a lot more at the Tutorpedia Foundation's 2nd Annual Benefit on February 23, 2011 in San Francisco. Featured speakers include Vicki Abeles, director of the documentary Race to Nowhere, Dennis Littky, co-founder of the non-profit Big Picture Learning, and Farb Nivi, founder of Grockit. Come join the conversation about how best to serve the needs of students from underserved schools in the Bay Area!
Thursday, January 13, 2011
I first saw Vicki Abeles's documentary Race To Nowhere together with 200 parents last week at Woodside High school, which was featured in Davis Guggenheim's Waiting For Superman. I saw it again last night at Temple Emanu-el in San Francisco with over 300 people. Movies are so much more powerful when you see it your community, and this film has reverberated within 500 communities nationwide. While I enjoyed Waiting For Superman, it is produced for Hollywood and quite biased: too pro-charter school and unfairly anti-teacher and teacher unions. Abeles, a Lafayette parent of three, created this movie for all of us that has the potential to catalyze a grassroots movement of parents, educators, and students. We can all relate to this movie. We've all been stressed out with too much homework, too many tests, too many extracurricular activities, and not enough free time, play time, and down time. Students sometimes feel this as early as 4th grade, and schedules get more crowded, classes get less relevant, and "doing school" (apologies to Denise Pope) becomes more challenging and less meaningful.
As Stanford's Education Dean Deborah Stipek says in the film, "we need to re-think the way we do education in America." One of those ways is by making education more real, relevant, and appropriately rigorous for our children. We need to focus on personal relationships. We need to cultivate critical thinking skills and problem solving techniques. We need more project-based learning. We need to make education more personalized, and focus on the whole child - the artistic and creative child, not just the math whiz and grammar queen.
Come join the conversation at Tutorpedia Foundation's 2nd Annual Benefit, on February 23 in San Francisco, for a dialogue with the Director of Race to Nowhere, Vicki Abeles, along with other education visionaries: Dennis Littky, co-founder and co-director of the internship-based charter network, Big Picture Learning; and Farb Nivi, founder of the innovative ed-tech company, Grockit. Spread the word to your friends and colleagues, educators and non-educators alike, because we can all be motivated to make a change in how and why we educate. Great food, impressive auction items, and a raffle will top off the evening. All proceeds from the evening provide free one-on-one tutoring for low-income students in the Bay Area.