Define Your Own Road In Life

“Roadtrip Nation empowers you to define your own road in life instead of traveling down someone else’s.

We encourage you to engage in self-construction, rather than mass production. We encourage you to be proactive and actively participate in defining your future by hitting the road and learning from Leaders who have resisted The Noise of conformity and stayed true to themselves.

Our philosophy is that when we listen to ourselves and are honest about whom we are, and what we love, we are able to seek our own path and contribute to the world with our unique talents.

We believe that by helping others discover their own paths, there will be a significant positive change in the world—the world needs people in tune with who they are and what they care about.

Living a life fueled by authenticity and passion allows people the ability to offer their creativity, ingenuity, and enthusiasm toward their goals. We hope that this, in turn, will build a better local, national, and global community.

The Roadtrip Nation Movement exists to support, empower, and encourage individuals who want to define their own roads in life.”

~ Roadtrip Nation

 

 

Learning Through Play

Image

“Learning through play with “hands-on, minds-on” approaches (not workbooks) is a powerful way forward. Play gives children space to dream, discover, improvise, and challenge convention. It’s crucial to social, emotional, cognitive and even physical development, helping them grow up “better adjusted, smarter and less stressed.” We know this.

So, where did play go?

Over the last three decades, while schoolchildren K-12 have become better test-takers, they’ve also become less imaginative, according to many experts in education, including Kyung Hee Kim, a professor of education at the College of William and Mary. 

In 2011, she analyzed scores from the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking and found that: “children have become less emotionally expressive, less energetic, less talkative and verbally expressive, less humorous, less imaginative, less unconventional, less lively and passionate, less perceptive, less apt to connect seemingly irrelevant things, less synthesizing, and less likely to see things from a different angle.”…

If we want a better, smarter planet, we need to change the way the next generation children are taught. Allowing more students to grow up without those prosocial, exploratory skills, leaving them unable to reach their potential, would be criminal.

Play can deliver.

What are we waiting for?”

~ John Converse Townshend, “Why Playful Learning Is The Key To Prosperity” Forbes 4/10/14

Rock and Roll High School

Image

“The reasons for this project are many, obviously…But as I looked into it, I saw one word recur in discussions of the dropout epidemic: ‘Engagement.’ 

At-risk students are very often the students who do not feel engaged in school. Put another way, they are not seeing how the classroom relates to their lives.”

~ Steve Van Zandt , “Steve Van Zandt, Grammy Museum team to put rock in the classroom 4/26/13 Rock And Roll: An American Story !

Art Matters

Image

 “A new report by a presidentially appointed committee on arts education makes the case that art education not only helps young people find their voice but also is an effective tool in improving student achievement in all subjects. It even ends up helping the private sector too….

What the report advocates makes a great deal of sense, especially in an era when the arts have been given short shrift in a rush to concentrate on subjects that are measured by standardized tests, especially math and reading, and education funding has been cut…

The report strains to discuss research that attempts to connect arts education with student achievement, because today, somehow, we have to have “research” that proves things that are self-evident.

If you have ever watched kids learn, you know that engaging them through the arts is much easier than trying to get them to memorize facts. It’s a no-brainer to infuse arts in learning across the disciplines, but, because there is no standardized test attached to it — at least not quite yet — it is looked on as less important…

So this is where we are today: Not only do advocates find themselves in the defensive position of having to “prove” the value of arts education in relation to test scores, but the whole exercises belittles the importance of creativity as a value necessary to the development of young people who are going to become active participants in American civic life…”

Source: “Report: Why we need arts education (not only to improve test scores)” Valerie Strauss, The Answer Sheet, 5/20/11

 

More Than A Game

Image

“One thing I have learned about interviewing people is that an interview often turns out to be about something other than, or greater than, what the producer and I thought it would be about.

This particular interview promised to be about football and heroism but turned out to be about fathers and daughters. As a father of two daughters, both of whom possess talents far beyond my own, I am still delighted to hear Y.A. Tittle, the great New York Giants quarterback of my youth, and his daughter Dianne Tittle de Laet. 

She is a charming aesthete and classicist, a harpist and poet who saw in her father heroics worthy of the ancient epics. The two of them reminded me that (a) children assimilate the gifts of their parents in unusual ways and (b) some people play football for money so that their kids can play the harp for personal fulfillment…

I would say, out of my entire childhood, that is the one thing I remember more than anything, in particular the last 10 minutes or so of the game when my father threw an interception. That game stands out in my mind as sort of perplexing, a riddle as Perseus was for me when I found him in the book. That’s why I chose to make this game the subject of my victory ode in a sense. 

I feel that, at least for me, there was a victory that was shared by my father and maybe me, too, because I think he did show his excellence that day, even though it was the worst day of his career. 

I came away from that game with something that I needed to keep in mind as I continue to grow and explore my own art, and go and run down the field with my own ball, so to speak.”

NPR Interview: “A Football Giant and His Hero-Worshipping Daughter” by ROBERT SIEGEL September 19, 2006

 

Weapons of Mass Instruction

Image

One of the underlying premises of the Common Core is that students who cannot independently read and write on an advanced college level are destined to be unsuccessful in life.

Do proponents of CCSS really believe that the 15 to 20% (NICHD) of our population with language-based disabilities are doomed to failure in life?

Thomas Edison, Richard Branson, Winston Churchill, Henry Ford, Erin Brockovich, Pablo Picasso, Magic Johnson, Anderson Cooper, Albert Einstein, John Lennon, Steve Jobs and other dyslexics were fortunate CCSS wasn’t around when they were in school as they might still be serving time in AIS class trying to pass a tier two vocabulary word quiz rather than testing a new theory, creating a new work of art, or discovering new principles that actually generated brand new vocabulary words.

These individuals and many others like them did not allow limited reading and literacy skills or a low score on a standardized test to define them and curtail their goals and achievements in life.

Instead, they relied upon their own unique gifts, talents, personality, and learning strategies to overcome obstacles and compensate for any academic deficiencies.

The heck with art, film, music, sports, vocational, trade, and alternative education programs…force feeding complex informational texts 70% of the time is the key to success in college and careers for all students… why not 38%, 55%, or 61.25%?

We expect our students to question the accuracy and reliability of any data they may collect from resources. We encourage them to consider the source of information and look for any possible bias or conflict of interest.

This same degree of scrutiny and skepticism should be applied vigorously to the data and claims of the Common Core sales team.

While Common Core advocates may decry the plight of college students who don’t read closely, many students actually enjoy the challenge and mystery of a puzzle and will refrain from reading the instructions for a newly purchased electronic device as they prefer to learn through discovery, experimentation, play, and trial and error.

Rather than focusing our efforts on teaching students how to learn we should be creating vigorous learning activities and experiences that capture students’ interest and stimulates their own desire to learn, also known as “flow”.

According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, students achieve flow when they find a challenge or task so enjoyable they will pursue it as a reward in itself.

When a person experiences flow they want to do more of an activity leading to advanced skill development and mastery of the task.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi further explains in, ”Thoughts About Education” …

“…Yet it seems increasingly clear that the chief impediments to learning are not cognitive in nature. It is not that students cannot learn, it is that they do not wish to…

 Of the two main forms of motivation — extrinsic and intrinsic — I focus primarily on the second kind. Although both are needed to induce people to invest energy in learning, intrinsic motivation, which is operative when we learn something primarily because we find the task enjoyable and not because it is useful, is a more effective and more satisfying way to learn…”

Image

There are some things of value in life, like the dynamic relationship between a teacher and student, that are not easily quantified and measured.

A teacher may wear many “hats” during the day; educator, counselor, mentor, role model, referee, parent, advisor, and friend.

It is fanciful to suggest that a single score on a standardized test is somehow going to assess the overall effectiveness and quality of a teacher or even begin to measure the impact a teacher has had on his or her students and how that will be manifested and revealed in their future achievements and accomplishments.

Working with teenagers for more than two decades, the most important lesson I have learned is to never give up on a student as the fruits of my labor are not always immediate and very often will become apparent over time.

Education should be about preparing future artists, caregivers, citizens, leaders, problem solvers, decision makers, innovators, teachers, and volunteers….not test takers.

Back in 2011, David T. Conley warned in his essay, “Building on the Common Core” about the potential for misuse and misapplication of assessments…

“Implemented correctly, the common standards and assessments can vault education over the barrier of low-level test preparation and toward the goal of world-class learning outcomes for all students. Implemented poorly, however, the standards and assessments could result in accountability on steroids, stifling meaningful school improvement nationwide.”

Assessments should measure multiple performance indicators and be administered over an extended period of time to assure that accurate, comprehensive, and reliable data is collected.

Attempting to determine a student’s overall level of achievement for an entire school year (180 days) by measuring his or her performance during a very narrow and limited period of time (3 to 4 hours) will most certainly produce inaccurate and incomplete data.

This data is further compromised and corrupted whenever the student’s performance is hindered by extraneous factors such as; carelessness, anxiety, sleep deprivation, hunger, stress, apathy, depression, fear, illness, anger, etc…

Scores on a standardized test do not differentiate between students who answered a question wrong because they lack the requisite knowledge and skills, and those students who are sufficiently skilled but suffered from diminished performance the day of the test.

Therein lies a critical flaw and weakness of standardized assessments…while the results may identify specific questions a student failed to answer correctly, they do not provide a definitive reason or explanation as to why this occurred?

Project-based and performance assessments provide a more reliable, robust, and comprehensive means of documenting student achievement because they assess student performance over an extended period of time.

Most importantly, an extended task generates valuable data regarding student character development and soft skills.

Projects and presentations help students to develop essential college and career skills including; time management, public speaking, problem solving, creativity, decision making, resilience, collaboration, communication, persistence, resourcefulness, risk-taking, and self-reliance.

Image

 The most vigorous and vibrant qualities of the Common Core… constructivism, media literacy, technology integration, project-based and student-centered learning are de-emphasized in the classroom because these standards don’t easily adapt or conform to the boilerplate format of a standardized test.

“Rigor Redefined” and other research based writings by Tony Wagner offer great insights into career readiness and the expectations of employers…

“…He’s an engineer by training and the head of a technical business, so when I asked him about the skills he looks for when he hires young people, I was taken aback by his answer.

“First and foremost, I look for someone who asks good questions,” Parker responded. “We can teach them the technical stuff, but we can’t teach them how to ask good questions—how to think.”

 “What other skills are you looking for?” I asked, expecting that he’d jump quickly to content expertise.

 “I want people who can engage in good discussion—who can look me in the eye and have a give and take. All of our work is done in teams. You have to know how to work well with others. But you also have to know how to engage customers—to find out what their needs are. If you can’t engage others, then you won’t learn what you need to know.”

A bachelor’s degree is not a requirement for every occupation in the 21st century. Advising and encouraging all our students to attend college and accumulate a considerable amount of debt, is both thoughtless and irresponsible.

The headline of this 4/23/12 AP article says it all “1 in 2 new graduates are jobless or underemployed”

“According to government projections released last month, only three of the 30 occupations with the largest projected number of job openings by 2020 will require a bachelor’s degree or higher to fill the position — teachers, college professors and accountants. Most job openings are in professions such as retail sales, fast food and truck driving, jobs which aren’t easily replaced by computers…

…Any job gains are going mostly to workers at the top and bottom of the wage scale, at the expense of middle-income jobs commonly held by bachelor’s degree holders. By some studies, up to 95 percent of positions lost during the economic recovery occurred in middle-income occupations such as bank tellers, the type of job not expected to return in a more high-tech age.”

Schools should be in the business of creating diverse and stimulating learning environments and experiences where a child’s athletic, artistic and creative talents are free to flourish and thrive.

Education should always be focused on helping each student to discover his or her unique gifts and abilities while providing numerous opportunities for students to pursue their passions.

With the new testing regime, the whole school experience has been diminished and transformed into a forced march toward a “designated performance level.” Under this system students are actually learning more about what they can’t do, than what they can do.

Matthew B. Crawford’s 2006 essay, “Shop Class as Soulcraft” discusses the importance of vocational education programs along with the inherent value and rewards of manual competence.

Crawford’s essay may lead readers to consider the possibility that readiness for college and career might be mutually exclusive endeavors for some students, and our noble efforts to prepare every student for the academic rigors of higher education could be negatively impacting the career readiness of those students who wish to obtain employment in the manual trades.

In 2009 the essay was expanded into a book; “Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work”. This excerpt from the book jacket explains…

On both economic and psychological grounds, Crawford questions the educational imperative of turning everyone into a “knowledge worker,” based on a misguided separation of thinking from doing, the work of the hand from that of the mind. Crawford shows us how such a partition, which began a century ago with the assembly line, degrades work for those on both sides of the divide.

 But Crawford offers good news as well: the manual trades are very different from the assembly line, and from dumbed-down white collar work as well. They require careful thinking and are punctuated by moments of genuine pleasure. Based on his own experience as an electrician and mechanic, Crawford makes a case for the intrinsic satisfactions and cognitive challenges of manual work…”

In Tara Tiger Brown’s 2012 commentary; “The Death of Shop Class And America’s Skilled Workforce” she laments the decline of shop class…

“During my freshman year of high school I was required to take home economics and shop class where I learned basics skills in sewing, cooking, woodwork and metal work… 

I have continued to use those skills throughout my life both professionally and when needed around the house…

75% of the students in California are not going to attend university yet they are taking classes that will help them get into UC and CA State schools. Just like there are people who are not inclined to become welders or machinists, not everyone can be a rocket scientist or a football star. 

Students take physical education class in elementary school and with that opportunity they discover their abilities and their like or dislike for various sports. The schools breed our pro football and basketball stars. What would it be like if as adults we didn’t have exposure to sports in school?…

Without early exposure to shop class many kids are going to lose out on the opportunity to discover whether or not they like making things, and the inclination to pursue a career as a drafter, carpenter, welder or auto mechanic.

As shop teachers around California retire, high schools aren’t replacing them and shop classes are closing. There is no training for teachers going through university to learn how to teach shop…

What is America going to do without skilled workers who can build and fix things?”

image009 (1)

If education leaders and proponents of the Common Core want to be taken seriously regarding their campaign to improve college and career readiness for all students perhaps they should consider if accounting, athletics, character education, civics, community service, culinary arts, foreign language, geography, health, history, home economics, humanities, driver education, marketing, media literacy, political science, psychology, sociology, speech and debate, sign language, trade and vocational skills and visual and performing arts, are being adequately addressed in our schools today, or have they been left behind in a Race To The Top?

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

Image

“I couldn’t read. I just scraped by. My solution back then was to read classic comic books because I could figure them out from the context of the pictures. Now I listen to books on tape…Many times I can see a solution to something differently and quicker than other people. I see the end zone and say ‘This is where I want to go.’…Passion is the great slayer of adversity. Focus on strengths and what you enjoy.”

~ Charles Schwab

“You don’t have to be the fastest runner in the relay team or the best speaker on the debate panel, as long as you surround yourself with great people and contribute in your own way.

It’s no secret that I wasn’t the most academic student. Dyslexia held me back from focusing on school work and achieving good grades. However, I learned that if I flanked myself with people that complemented my weaknesses and shared my passions, I could work with them towards greater achievement…

Finding the spotlight isn’t about standing in it. There’s so much to be gained from working with a collective of people who support each other to achieve great things…

It’s therefore incredibly important to surround yourself with people who complement you, aid your self-development, and most importantly allow you to shine – even if it’s in their shadow.”

~ Richard Branson

quote_yourself-17292

As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has–or ever will have–something inside that is unique to all time. It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.

~ Fred Rogers

Learning should be passion-driven and student-centered rather than data-driven and test-centered. Classroom activities should provide numerous opportunities for our students to explore their interests and unleash their special talents.

Learning activities in and out of the classroom should cultivate essential social and emotional skills that students will most surely rely and depend on whether they choose to continue their education in a classroom and/or on the farm…

Considering the diversity of student skills and abilities represented in our classrooms It is foolish and inherently unfair to define and predict student success in life based on a narrow and shallow set of testable math and reading skills.

How proficient 5th grade students become at multiplying or dividing by a power of ten is much less an indicator or predictor of success in life than how many learning opportunities and activities they have in school that help to cultivate student confidence, courage, creativity, and the JOY of feeling “Ten Feet Tall”

I’m clumsy, yeah my head’s a mess Cause you got me growing taller everday…

But you got me feeling like I’m stepping on buildings, cars and boats I swear I could touch the sky…I’m ten feet tall.

You build me up Make me what I never was…

I’ll be careful, so don’t be afraid You’re safe here, no, these arms won’t let you break…

~ Afrojack, “Ten Feet Tall”

Regardless of skill level or ability, all students should feel safe, supported, and valued in school for who they are, and not just for what they can do .

Learning should be a self-directed journey of discovery and students should be “free to learn” how worthy they are, rather than be subjected to repeated testing, sorting, and comparisons only to learn how much they are worth.

data wall

Education programs should cultivate lifelong learners who are passionate and creative risk-takers that follow their dreams rather than proficient and compliant test-takers who can follow directions.

Those students who are resilient and who persevere will succeed in life despite learning or reading disabilities. It is foolish to demand all students independently “dive into” complex informational text before they have learned to “Swim”

You gotta swim And swim when it hurts…

I swim to brighter days Despite the absence of sun…

I’m not giving in I swim…

Yeah you gotta swim Don’t let yourself sink

Just find the horizon I promise you it’s not as far as you think

~ Jack’s Mannequin, “Swim”

While determining the success of schools and effectiveness of teachers based on how many students graduate Common Core “ready” for college and careers may benefit corporate education reformers, history has clearly taught us that society will benefit when every student graduates eager to test their limits and ready to change the world.

Learning Standards

Image

I approached him in a humble spirit: “Mr. Edison, please tell me what laboratory rules you want me to observe.” And right then and there I got my first surprise. He spat in the middle of the floor and yelled out,

“Hell! there ain’t no rules around here! We are tryin’ to accomplish somep’n!”

September, 1932 Harper’s Magazine “Edison in His Laboratory” by Martin André 

Imagine (we are still allowed to do that, right?) what our nation would be like today if Thomas Edison ran his Menlo Park Laboratory the same way Common Core is running our schools?

There would be no testing things, just taking tests. Workers would think critically about scientific texts rather than creatively about scientific experiments. Plausible strategies and solutions (called “distractors” on Common Core tests) would be considered wrong and not worthy of consideration or investigation. There would be only one right way and process to solve math problems.

The Common Core puts more attention and emphasis on learning standards that are aligned with Singapore’s Math than learning standards about civics and America’s History.

I would much rather live in a nation that values individual freedom and leads the world in registered patents than one that restricts human rights and leads the world in PISA scores.

In a rigorous Common Core world “marginal” students are expendable and in the vigorous history of America these students were exceptional.

1441549_670116326353533_813846144_n

I wandered lonely as a Cloud

Image

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood, 
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

~ William Wordsworth
“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” (1804)