I had good initial conversations with 3 people from the world of education this week—well, two were email correspondences, and one was a real voice on the other end of the phone. Each is working on a different piece of this same puzzle—how to explain to the general public what we can do in the world of education so the next generation can have happy, productive lives. Vicki Abeles and I talked about the progress of her film, RACE TO NOWHERE. Her main focus is the unintended negative consequences of a system and culture based on competition. Her film is designed around interviews with students, teachers and parents. Our conversation was around what ways we can support each other’s efforts, knowing that it will take a great deal of effort to overcome the current trends. We also sympathized about the difficulty of finding funding when there are so many societal needs going unmet. She may have use for a bit of our footage for some positive visual images.
Jodie Newdelman, a parent in our district’s Montessori program, heard a radio interview with Richard Rothstein, and suggested he was right “up our alley”, so I wrote to him. He teaches at Columbia, and has a book called Grading Education that sounds well worth reading, and I have added it to my list!! The book has an appendix of transcribed interviews with a dozen or so creative teachers in inner city schools, who have been forced by NCLB to abandon successful approaches.
Last, but not least, I chatted with Jerry MIntz. Jerry is the man behind AERO–the Alternative Education Resource Organization. They publish a newsletter called Education Revolution, have an online store full of resources for people looking for alternatives to status-quo education, and host a very successful conference every June in upstate New York. Jerry helped film maker Dorothy Fadiman find progressive public schools for her 1990 film WHY DO THESE CHILDREN LOVE SCHOOL?. The film is an overview of practices that make for a positive school environment, in contrast to AUGUST TO JUNE’s intimate following of one class. In some ways our film is a logical extension of hers, which aired on PBS. As we talked, I realized that at this point I have at least made a dent in identifying many of the players in the world of education who are speaking and writing from perspectives similar to my own. There is still a lot for me to read!!