A Thank-You and a Cheer for My Readers

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At some point in the last week Not Your Father’s School passed two milestones: the total number of page views passed the 30,000 mark and the number of visits as recorded by the little “Who’s Reading?” widget moved beyond 10,000 since I added it last summer.

I just wanted to pass along my gratitude and my sense of excitement that people continue to find this blog to be of interest. Although those numbers can’t compare to the number of hits on kittens doing cute things or celebrity screw-ups, it gives me hope that a growing number of educators really are interested in the complex and challenging business of moving schools and education in new directions.
In their excellent and comprehensive presentation on 21st-century assessment tools and techniques at the 2012 National Association of Independent Schools annual conference, Doug Lyons of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools and Andrew Niblock of Hamden Hall Country Day School (CT) observed that “Success can be a powerful disincentive: it may be
hard to become a great school if you are a very good school.” As Jim Collins puts the case in Good to Great (2001), consistent success can breed a kind of complacency, and the independent school world has had quite a few schools that can claim consistent success.
Lyons and Niblock make the point that there are a slew of novel and innovative ways to measure and present evidence not just of what students are learning but how their capacities grow in response to their learning experiences; Lyons and Niblock also suggest a couple of ways to make distinctions among overall student experiences in different school environments. But first, they imply, a school has to recognize the value, immediate and potential, of the measurement itself as a tool for driving or at least informing intentional change. That is, the tools are only useful in schools where curiosity, not complacency, informs the culture.
So, with spring in the air and the college season receding, I’d like to offer up a rousing cheer for the readers of Not Your Father’s School and the good things for schools, teachers, and students that I believe your interest portends.
All good wishes, Readers–PG
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