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Breakfast with Dr. King

It's Martin Luther King Jr Day! Share your thoughts on this quote & any examples from your work. #BFC530 — TheBreakfastClub530 (@BFC530) January 19, 2015

I woke up to this wonderful question from my favorite Professional Learning Network (PLN), #bfc530. This group sparks some of the most interesting (and deep) conversations in their daily 15 min Tweetchat than I experience at most conferences. BTW. I attend some really good conferences!

I loved today’s question and can think of no better way to honor Dr. M. L. King, Jr’s work than to reflect on this quote, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.

One might ask what “thinking intensively and thinking critically” has to do with eradicating bias? Isn’t that a matter of “teaching” tolerance? In my humble opinion, that is exactly the point! You can’t “teach” tolerance or “teach” citizenship. It is learned though what Dr. Bron Stuckey refers to as a “lived curriculum“.

If we fill our school days mastering content (in the Age of Information), where is the time and space to explore and solve compelling problems? Are we memorizing the Constitution or are we exploring forms of governance as Carolyn Bliesener did with her 5th graders? Are we asking our students to only read about infringements of Human Rights, or are we inviting them to engage problems (real or simulated) that give them opportunities to deeply explore issues and look for their own solutions? John Hunter beautifully demonstrated the power of 4th graders to solve extremely complex problems through his “World Peace Game

We are living in a world that is growing more complex and yet smaller at the same time. Being a Global Citizen will no longer be an ideal, but a reality. Can we help our youth develop the appreciation and respect required to live peacefully and productively in such a diverse world by demanding they spend their school day mastering content? I think not. I believe that is exactly what Dr. King meant when he encouraged us to focus on thinking intensively and critically. That is the pathway to developing both intelligence and character. We are going to need plenty of both if we are going to make this work!

One doesn’t have to delve far into the news to understand students will have many complex problems to solve in their life time. While we have made some progress towards becoming more empathetic and tolerant in a diverse world, we certainly still have a great distance to go. Dr. King believed education held the key to this work. If we are gong to honor his dream, we need to start looking beyond mastering content and start figuring out how to create space for the deep learning he prescribes. In my next post, I will be looking at New Zealand’s National Curriculum and what clues it offers in respect to moving towards this goal.


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