Friday Digests

Posted by James Rainey - 22 February, 2016

Approximately every other week, I email the Randolph School faculty and staff a list of links to online resources — usually articles, essays, and videos — that relate either directly or indirectly to K-12 education. Each time that I do so, I am amazed at the sheer volume of such information that is published, much of it illuminating and valuable, every 14 days. It crosses my desk through a variety of means — listservs, Twitter, print periodicals, referrals from Randolph colleagues, conversations with others heads of independent schools — and it reminds me of the extraordinary level of attention that education receives in our culture. I do my best to winnow this biweekly harvest of information to a manageable quantity, and I share it with Randolph employees as a "Friday Digest" of professional reading.

Here are some representative selections from the most recent Friday Digest:

  • 92 Percent of College Students Prefer Reading Print Books to E-Readers: "Despite the embrace of e-books in certain contexts, they remain controversial.reader Many people just don’t like them: They run out of battery, they hurt your eyes, they don’t work in the bath. After years of growth, sales are stagnating. In 2014, 65 percent of 6 to 17-year-old children said they would always want to read books in print—up from 60 percent two years earlier."
  • Building a Bridge Between Engineering and the Humanities: "Acquiring the habit of overcoming habitual perception is one process that brings engineering and the arts together. It is how great writers impart human experience in new ways, and it is how engineers innovate. Technology does not proceed along a preordained single path, as one might suppose from a textbook or problem-solving approach. Like literature, engineering sometimes works not by satisfying recognized needs but by creating the needs it satisfies. And that is also like literature: Tolstoy did not satisfy someone’s need for a novel called Anna Karenina."
  • The Church of the Right Answer: "It’s tempting to blame the kids: these grade-grubbers, these incurious mercenaries, shuffling through our schools, forever demanding to know whether an idea will be 'on the exam' before they deign to learn it. right_answerBut let’s be honest. From right answers come good grades, and from good grades come all worldly prizes and pleasures. Students worship right answers because that god delivers."
  • How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off: "Child prodigies rarely become adult geniuses who change the world. We assume that they must lack the social and emotional skills to function in society. When you look at the evidence, though, this explanation doesn’t suffice: Less than a quarter of gifted children suffer from social and emotional problems. A vast majority are well adjusted — as winning at a cocktail party as in the spelling bee. What holds them back is that they don’t learn to be original. They strive to earn the approval of their parents and the admiration of their teachers. But as they perform in Carnegie Hall and become chess champions, something unexpected happens: Practice makes perfect, but it doesn’t make new."
  • introvertWhen Schools Overlook Introverts: "Several recent studies offer the latest evidence that students who engage in cooperative learning tend to outperform those immersed in traditional learning approaches—namely lectures.
    But cooperative learning doesn’t have to entail excessively social or overstimulating mandates; it can easily involve quiet components that facilitate internal contemplation."

Since the outset of this school year, I have shared hundreds of items like those above with the Randolph faculty and staff through periodic Friday Digest emails. Please access the links below if you would like to peruse the archive. Lifelong learning is alive and well at Randolph! We are always seeking to stay informed of ideas and events in K-12 education on behalf of the students we serve.

Friday Digest Archive:

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