Archive for April 17th, 2007

Seed Newsvine

Žižek suggests that choice is available only within the boundaries of the overlap of conflicting interests. Only when ideas are in competition is there a need to make a choice. If everyone agrees with each and every premise then there is no need to make a choice. But, it is clear that each of us is faced with significant opportunities to make informed choices because we do not live in the bubble of the same.

In schools, where curriculum is a central issue, there are three competing interests that are often in conflict with one another. There is, of course, the district, the governing body that oversees the delivery of educational efforts to students within the oversight boundaries of the district itself. In the case of the district the goals for curriculum are driven from the top down. Districts, no matter how large or how small, are driven by the need to seek standardization, to centralize the decision making process, and to control, to the best of its ability, the outcomes of the process of teaching and learning. In direct competition with the district, and at the other end of the continuum is the classroom. Classroom teachers spend their day in direct contact with children and are, therefore, far more prone to devote their energies into understanding the context within which they work. Classroom teachers understand the need to decentralize schooling and to approach the classroom with an open and flexible attitude if they are to be successful. Stuck in the middle is the school itself. School administration is, in fact, stuck in the middle, having to contextualize yet retain administrative control. This paradox of leadership leads to understanding curricular continuity and negotiating curriculum design through professional conversations within the school. See fig 1 below.Curriculum Design

NCLB has usurped the possibility of understanding curriculum development as a meaningful conversation by successfully defining the conversation as one that is driven from the top, a conversation that is immune to considerations of context or negotiation. By establishing management parameters the professionalism has been removed from teaching and leadership roles removed from the principal’s office.

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Seed Newsvine

Seth Borenstein, writing for the Associated Press and reported by Yahoo says, in part:

As the world warms, water — either too little or too much of it — is going to be the major problem for the United States, scientists and military experts said Monday. It will be a domestic problem, with states clashing over controls of rivers, and a national security problem as water shortages and floods worsen conflicts and terrorism elsewhere in the world, they said.

Borenstein is reporting on a scientific report on global warming pointing out what many already know, that water will be the next natural resource over which global wars are to be fought. Forget oil, simple water is the resource of the future. Never mind whether you want to believe in the threat of global warming (the perpetual deniers claiming there just isn’t enough science to prove or disprove the danger) the point here is that water, something the United States will have in abundance, will become the most sought after commodity a very short time into the future. The real question, it seems to me, is do we have the political courage to do something NOW about the potential of global warming, the world wide threat of human contribution to the destruction of our environment, the only one we have by the way, or do we close our eyes to the potential–even if you believe the potential to be small–and bury our heads in the sand? I want to suggest that in the case of saving our planet it is far better to err on the side of caution than to do absolutely nothing until it really is too late.

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