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Almost all education research takes place in the US -- but another country is using it better | Business Insider
"Year after year, Finland is ranked as one of the world leaders in education while America lags far behind.

But it’s not that Finland knows more about how to build effective schools than the US does.

Almost all education research takes place in the US, and American schools can’t seem to learn from any of it — and yet Finnish people do.

“My estimate is that about 80% of all significant intellectual work regarding education is done here, in the United States,” says Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish education expert and the author of “Finnish Lessons 2.0: What Can the World Learn About Educational Change in Finland?”.

According to Sahlberg, the most influential figure behind Finland’s achievements in education is the American philosopher John Dewey, who is known for his seminal theories on education and psychology. “Many Finnish schools have adopted Dewey’s view of education for democracy by enhancing students’ access to decision-making regarding their own lives and studying in school,” Sahlberg wrote for the Washington Post in 2014.

Sahlberg studied Dewey when he was a graduate student in Finland in the 1980s, and many universities continue to rely on Dewey’s writing and the work of other American academics today.

Over time, the ideas have helped shape the Finnish education system as one that prizes autonomy, peer learning, collaboration, and varied forms of assessment. These were all ideas developed at one time or another by American theorists, yet modern American classrooms — noted for their heavy reliance on tests and teacher-guided lectures — bear little resemblance to those up north.

Consider the Finnish program known as Me & MyCity, a set of projects designed to get kids thinking like entrepreneurs. Through role-playing they learn financial literacy and gain an understanding of how public and private funding works.

More than 70% of Finnish 6th-graders participate in Me & MyCity, often to great success. Research presented at the Association of European Economics Education conference in August showed kids “clearly” gained economic knowledge from the program, while 75% said they had a greater interest in economics, reports Tim Walker for the Atlantic.

Me & MyCity took its early cues from BizTown, an American program started by the organisation Junior Achievement, that had a similar mission of making kids financially savvy. While BizTown has seen similar improvements, no state has made it a curriculum requirement for schools to teach the program.

Sahlberg says America’s inability to make that leap — from pilot programs to widespread implementation — stems from a key difference in how America and Finland treat educational policy.

“Many of these good ideas actually stop in the school boards, who may have completely different intentions for how to run the schools in their own districts,” Sahlberg says. “Overall, education in the United States is much more political than it is in Finland, where it’s much more of a professional issue.”

Finland implements policies based on their observed effectiveness. It looks at outcomes and weighs the costs against the benefits. And unlike America’s education system, Finland essentially has just one school board, the federal Ministry of Education and Culture, which has near total oversight in which new policies schools will adopt.

“I cannot find any other reason why these great ideas that have been researched and clearly found to be effective in helping young people to learn are not more widely implemented,” Sahlberg says.

He goes on to criticise the argument that America somehow struggles to implement forward-thinking policies because of its size. Finland is small, but its population of 5.4 million is still greater than most US states. While the federal government may struggle to pass creative policies, Sahlberg believes states should be able to pick up the slack in the aggregate.

“If anybody says that the United States as a whole cannot take anything from smaller places like Finland or others,” he says, “then people should remember that America has 15,000 local systems that all have enough autonomy to do these things if they want to.”"
education  us  policy  politics  research  2016  chrisweller  finland  implementation  johndewey  sfsh  schools  learning 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Understanding Hillary: The Clinton America sees isn’t the Clinton colleagues know. Why are they so different?
"I don’t buy it. Other politicians find themselves under continuous assault, but their poll numbers strengthen amid campaigns. Barack Obama’s approval rating rose in the year of his reelection. So too did George W. Bush’s. And Bill Clinton’s. All three sustained attacks. All three endured opponents lobbing a mix of true and false accusations. But all three seemed boosted by running for the job — if anything, people preferred watching them campaign to watching them govern.

Hillary Clinton is just the opposite. There is something about her persona that seems uniquely vulnerable to campaigning; something is getting lost in the Gap. So as I interviewed Clinton's staffers, colleagues, friends, and foes, I began every discussion with some form of the same question: What is true about the Hillary Clinton you’ve worked with that doesn’t come through on the campaign trail?

The answers startled me in their consistency. Every single person brought up, in some way or another, the exact same quality they feel leads Clinton to excel in governance and struggle in campaigns. On the one hand, that makes my job as a reporter easy. There actually is an answer to the question. On the other hand, it makes my job as a writer harder: It isn’t a very satisfying answer to the question, at least not when you first hear it.

Hillary Clinton, they said over and over again, listens.

How a listener campaigns

“I love Bill Clinton,” says Tom Harkin, who served as senator from Iowa from 1985 to 2015. “But every time you talk to Bill, you’re just trying to get a word in edgewise. With Hillary, you’re in a meeting with her, and she really listens to you.”

The first few times I heard someone praise Clinton’s listening, I discounted it. After hearing it five, six, seven times, I got annoyed by it. What a gendered compliment: “She listens.” It sounds like a caricature of what we would say about a female politician.

But after hearing it 11, 12, 15 times, I began to take it seriously, ask more questions about it. And as I did, the Gap began to make more sense.

Modern presidential campaigns are built to reward people who are really, really good at talking. So imagine what a campaign feels like if you’re not entirely natural in front of big crowds. Imagine that you are constantly compared to your husband, one of the greatest campaign orators of all time; that you’ve been burned again and again after saying the wrong thing in public; that you’ve been told, for decades, that you come across as calculated and inauthentic on the stump. What would you do?"



"Laurie Rubiner, who served as Clinton’s legislative director from 2005 to 2008, recalls being asked to block out two hours on the calendar for “card-table time.” Rubiner had just started in Clinton’s office six weeks before, and she had no idea what card-table time was, but when the boss wants something put on the calendar, you do it.

When the appointed day arrived, Clinton had laid out two card tables alongside two huge suitcases. She opened the suitcases, and they were stuffed with newspaper clippings, position papers, random scraps of paper. Seeing the befuddled look on Rubiner’s face, Clinton asked, “Did anyone tell you what we’re doing here?”

It turned out that Clinton, in her travels, stuffed notes from her conversations and her reading into suitcases, and every few months she dumped the stray paper on the floor of her Senate office and picked through it with her staff. The card tables were for categorization: scraps of paper related to the environment went here, crumpled clippings related to military families there. These notes, Rubiner recalls, really did lead to legislation. Clinton took seriously the things she was told, the things she read, the things she saw. She made her team follow up.

Her process works the same way today. Multiple Clinton aides told me that the campaign’s plan to fight opiate addiction, the first and most comprehensive offered by any of the major candidates, was the direct result of Clinton hearing about the issue on her tour. “Her way of dealing with the stories she hears is not just to repeat the story but to do something about the story,” says John Podesta, the chair of Clinton’s campaign."



"One way of reading the Democratic primary is that it pitted an unusually pure male leadership style against an unusually pure female leadership style. Sanders is a great talker and a poor relationship builder. Clinton is a great relationship builder and a poor talker. In this case — the first time at the presidential level — the female leadership style won.

But that wasn’t how the primary was understood. Clinton’s endorsements left her excoriated as a tool of the establishment while Sanders's speeches left people marveling at his political skills. Thus was her core political strength reframed as a weakness.

I want to be very clear here. I’m not saying that anyone who opposed Clinton was sexist. Nor am I saying Clinton should have won. What I’m saying is that presidential campaigns are built to showcase the stereotypically male trait of standing in front of a room speaking confidently — and in ways that are pretty deep, that’s what we expect out of our presidential candidates. Campaigns built on charismatic oration feel legitimate in a way that campaigns built on deep relationships do not.

But here’s the thing about the particular skills Clinton used to capture the Democratic nomination: They are very, very relevant to the work of governing. And they are particularly relevant to the way Clinton governs.

In her book Why Presidents Fail, Brookings scholar Elaine Kamarck argues that "successful presidential leadership occurs when the president is able to put together and balance three sets of skills: policy, communication, and implementation."

The problem, Kamarck says, is that campaigns are built to test only one of those skills. “The obsession with communication — presidential talking and messaging — is a dangerous mirage of the media age, a delusion that inevitably comes crashing down in the face of government failure.”

Part of Kamarck’s argument is that presidential primaries used to be decided in the proverbial smoke-filled room — a room filled with political elites who knew the candidates personally, who had worked with them professionally, who had some sense of how they governed. It tested “the ability of one politician to form a coalition of equals in power.”

Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination by forming a coalition. And part of how she forms coalitions is by listening to her potential partners — both to figure out what they need and to build her relationships with them. This is not a skill all politicians possess.

As I began to press the people I talked to about why they brought up Clinton’s listening skills, a torrent of complaints about other politicians emerged. “The reason so many people comment on this is most of us have experienced working with people who are awful listeners,” says Sara Rosenbaum, who worked with Clinton on the 1994 health reform bill and is now at George Washington University. “Because they don’t listen, they can’t ask good questions. They can’t absorb the information you’ve given them.”"



"The danger of leading by listening

There is a downside to listening to everyone, to seeking rapport, to being inclusive, to obsessing over common ground. Clinton’s effort to find broad consensus can turn her speeches and policies into mush. Her interest in hearing diverse voices can end with her chasing down the leads of cranks and hacks. Her belief that the highest good in politics is getting something — at times, anything — done means she takes few lonely stands and occasionally cuts deals many of her supporters regret.

Clinton spent much of the primary defending herself against criticisms of deals her husband made and she supported — welfare reform and the crime bill, specifically. Her great failure, the 1994 health reform effort, unwound in part because she created a sprawling, unruly process in which hundreds of experts came together to write a bill no one understood and no one could explain."



"This is, in general, one of the frustrations you hear from Clintonites: Her network is massive, and particularly when her poll numbers flag, or she feels under attack, she reaches out into that vast, strange ecosystem. The stories of Clinton receiving a midnight email from an old friend and throwing her campaign into chaos are legion, and it was all the worse because she often wouldn’t admit that’s what was happening, and so her staff ended up arguing against a ghost.

In an exhaustive review of private communications from her 2008 campaign, Joshua Green wrote that “her advisers couldn’t execute strategy; they routinely attacked and undermined each other, and Clinton never forced a resolution.” Under duress, Clinton’s process broke down, and her management proved cumbersome, ineffective, and conducive to staff infighting.

“What is clear from the internal documents is that Clinton’s loss derived not from any specific decision she made but rather from the preponderance of the many she did not make,” Green concluded. “Her hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency.”"



"Clinton laments how polarizing she is, but the fault lies at least partly with her. Asked at a Democratic debate to name the enemies she’s most proud of making, she replied, “The Republicans.” For all her talk of finding common ground, of reaching out, of respecting each other, she stood up, on national television, and said she’s proud of the enmity she inspires in roughly half the country.

I asked her if she regretted that statement, whether she thinks she’s feeding the negativity, becoming part of the problem. “Not very much,” she said. “I mean, you can go back and look at how I’ve worked with Republicans, and I … [more]
2016  hillaryclinton  politics  elections  listening  consensus  policy  billclinton  barackobama  governance  berniesanders  gender  coalitions  media  journalism  press  communication  networking  decisionmaking  relationships  implementation 
july 2016 by robertogreco
My Objections to the Common Core State Standards (1.0) : Stager-to-Go
"The following is an attempt to share some of my objections to Common Core in a coherent fashion. These are my views on a controversial topic. An old friend I hold in high esteem asked me to share my thoughts with him. If you disagree, that’s fine. Frankly, I spent a lot of time I don’t have creating this document and don’t really feel like arguing about the Common Core. The Common Core is dying even if you just discovered it.

This is not a research paper, hence the lack of references. You can Google for yourself. Undoubtedly, this post contains typos as well. I’ll fix them as I find them.

This critique shares little with the attacks from the Tea Party or those dismissed by the Federal Education Secretary or Bill Gates as whiney parents.

I have seven major objections to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

1. The CCSS are a solution in search of a problem.

2. The CCSS were implemented in a remarkably undemocratic fashion at great public expense to the benefit of ideologues and corporations.

3. The standards are preposterous and developmentally inappropriate.

4. The inevitable failure of the Common Core cannot be blamed on poor implementation when poor implementation is baked into the design.

5. Standardized curriculum lowers standards, diminishes teacher agency, and lowers the quality of educational experiences.

6. The CCSS will result in an accelerated erosion of public confidence in public education.

7. The requirement that CCSS testing be conducted electronically adds unnecessary complexity, expense, and derails any chance of computers being used in a creative fashion to amplify student potential."

[continues on to elaborate on each objection, some pull quotes here]

"there is abundant scholarship by Linda Darling-Hammond, Diane Ravitch, Gerald Bracey, Deborah Meier, and others demonstrating that more American kids are staying in school longer than at any time in history. If we control for poverty, America competes quite favorably against any other nation in the world, if you care about such comparisons."



"As my colleague and mentor Seymour Papert said, “At best school teaches a billionth of a percent of the knowledge in the world and yet we quibble endlessly about which billionth of a percent is important enough to teach.” Schools should prepare kids to solve problems their teachers never anticipated with the confidence and competence necessary to overcome any obstacle, even if only to discover that there is more to learn."



"When teachers are not required to make curricular decisions and design curriculum based on the curiosity, thinking, understanding, passion, or experience of their students, the resulting loss in teacher agency makes educators less thoughtful and reflective in their practice, not more. The art of teaching has been sacrificed at the expense of reducing pedagogical practice to animal control and content delivery."



"The singular genius of George W. Bush and his No Child Left Behind legislation (kicked-up a notch by Obama’s Race-to-the-Top) was the recognition that many parents hate school, but love their kids’ teachers. If your goal is to privatize education, you need to concoct a way to convince parents to withdraw support for their kid’s teacher. A great way to achieve that objective is by misusing standardized tests and then announcing that your kid’s teacher is failing your kid. This public shaming creates a manufactured crisis used to justify radical interventions before calmer heads can prevail.

These standardized tests are misunderstood by the public and policy-makers while being used in ways that are psychometrically invalid. For example, it is no accident that many parents confuse these tests with college admissions requirements. Using tests designed to rank students mean that half of all test-takers be below the norm and were never intended to measure teacher efficacy.

The test scores come back up to six months after they are administered, long after a child advances to the next grade. Teachers receive scores for last year’s students, with no information on the questions answered incorrectly. These facts make it impossible to use the testing as a way of improving instruction, the stated aim of the farcical process."



"It is particularly ironic how much of the public criticism of the Common Core is related to media accounts and water cooler conversations of the “crazy math” being taught to kids. There are actually very few new or more complex concepts in the Common Core than previous math curricula. In fact, the Common Core hardly challenges any of the assumptions of the existing mathematics curriculum. The Common Core English Language Arts standards are far more radical. Yet, our innumerate culture is up in arms about the “new new math” being imposed by the Common Core.

What is different about the Common Core approach to mathematics, particularly arithmetic, is the arrogant imposition of specific algorithms. In other words, parents are freaking out because their kids are being required to solve problems in a specific fashion that is different from how they solve similar problems.

This is more serious than a matter of teaching old dogs new tricks. The problem is teaching tricks at all. There are countless studies by Constance Kamii and others demonstrating that any time you teach a child the algorithm, you commit violence against their mathematical understanding. Mathematics is a way of making sense of the world and Piaget teaches us that it is not the job of the teacher to correct the child from the outside, but rather to create the conditions in which they correct themselves from the inside. Mathematical problem solving does not occur in one way no matter how forcefully you impose your will on children. If you require a strategy competing with their own intuitions, you add confusion that results in less confidence and understanding.

Aside from teaching one algorithm (trick), another way to harm a child’s mathematical thinking development is to teach many algorithms for solving the same problem. Publishers make this mistake frequently. In an attempt to acknowledge the plurality of ways in which various children solve problems, those strategies are identified and then taught to every child. Doing so adds unnecessary noise, undermines personal confidence, and ultimately tests memorization of tricks (algorithms) at the expense of understanding.

This scenario goes something like this. Kids estimate in lots of different ways. Let’s teach them nine or ten different ways to estimate, and test them along the way. By the end of the process, many kids will be so confused that they will no longer be able to perform the estimation skill they had prior to the direct instruction in estimation. Solving a problem in your head is disqualified."
garystager  commoncore  2015  education  policy  schools  publicschools  standardization  standardizedtesting  standards  learning  teaching  pedagogy  technology  testing  democracy  process  implementation  agency  howweteach  howwelearn  publicimage  seymourpapert  numeracy  matheducation  math  mathematics  numbersense  understanding  memorization  algorithms  rttt  gatesfoundation  pearson  nclb  georgewbush  barackobama 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Damian Bariexca on Twitter: "Two must-read blog posts for my #LTPS friends by @chrislehmann (http://t.co/GVPN7L2QQe) and @garystager (http://t.co/M4QJe4UVdH). Thoughts?"
Damian Bariexca: "Two must-read blog posts for my #LTPS friends by @chrislehmann (http://practicaltheory.org/blog/2014/11/20/curriculum-design-putting-the-horse-before-the-cart/ …) and @garystager (http://stager.tv/blog/?p=3408 ). Thoughts?"

[Pointing here for the subsequent back-and-forth between Chris Lehmann and Gary Stager (selectively chosen here), including a couple of comments from Ira Socol.

I share Gary's philosophy of education much more than that of Chris Lehmann's and I admire Gary's knowledge and body of work, but Gary's condescending tone often does his attempts to convince others a disservice. He frequently dismisses others with snide remarks and belittling comments. Gary also falls into self-aggrandizement. For example, complaining the other day that *he* hadn't ever been invited to the White House* (see end for references). So, while I don't share Chris's interest and preference for structure (more the type and source of structure than the presence of structure), I agree with his responses here, especially regarding the day-to-day realities of progressive schools and the need for measures to make working in them sustainable. That's why the majority of the tweets quoted here come from him. Notes added.]

Chris Lehmann: "Gary's a great revolutionary but a lousy policy-maker. Sooner or later, the May Day speeches need to lead somewhere."
[I would love to see Gary get off the workshop and conference circuit and start a school to show others how his approach and philosophy can be the core program of a school and stay intact over time.] https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535788736374910976

"Gary, I think you fundamentally underestimate the need for useful structures to help teachers teach this way." [I'd add that there is also a fundamental underestimation of the day-to-day toll that countercurrents have on those in progressive schools.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867057074872320

"It isn't just about workshops. It's about sustaining the effort over years and finding ways to keep getting better." [Standalone workshops, events, or summer classes are one reality that is often embraced. A core progressive/constructivist/constructionist program is something different altogether and it comes with an unrelenting set of apprehensions, anxieties, doubts, ambivalence, undermining, and accusations from adults who aren't fully committed.] https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867165208231936

"And you, too often, downplay any effort to create structure because of your own dislike of structure. But that is+"
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867291507130368

"too much about you, and not enough about the people you would support - teachers and students. The many failures of+" [Here Chris calls Gary out for making things about him. I have seen this too. For example, rather than critiquing what went on during #FutureReady and suggesting others (day-to-day educators) who should have been there, he griped about not being included, placing himself at the center of the conversation.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867469966352384

"progressive schools that had beautiful visions and insufficient roadmaps toward implementation and therefore suffered"
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867633892347904

"mission drift and founder fatigue, and in time, regressed to the mean is the thing we work daily to avoid. Thus, the+" [Regression to the mean. I've seen that happen in a school. I know of many other schools where that has happened. And sometimes I wonder if it's even worth the while to work in a progressive school rather than focus my energy on supporting those that opt out of school altogether.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867774846119936

"need for thoughtful systems and structures that help good people do the work together through reflective practice."
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867907071541248

"I impune nothing, Gary. I think you are brilliant. I also think you let the perfect being the enemy of the good." [Agreed. There is no need to pit one school against the other. Again, why not create a new school (or lea an existing school) as an example rather than cut down those that are doing their best, aligned with their philosophy? I often say that I have no problem with traditional schools as long as they own what they are doing and don't belittle what others are doing through direct comparison or bashing.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535881338604498945

"not discredit. Merely speak to different experiences. Everything I do is toward SLA as a sustainable structure."
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535881898250473473

"I do not reduce your work. I'm tired of you reducing ours. We at SLA believe in more structure than you. We know." [Here Chris is owning what he believes and what he tries to deliver at SLA. So much respect.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535884701266092032

Ira Socol: "the everyday is very different. It just is" [This. The everyday cannot be compared to workshops, camps, conferences, theory, etc. It's also dangerous to hide (by not sharing or by implying that everything is unanimously embraced by the adults in the community) the very vocal contrary voices that begin to appear when implementing a constuctionist program as the core school day.]
https://twitter.com/irasocol/status/535885352788303872

Gary Stager: "I don't think balance is the goal. This is a matter of stance, of choices." [I agree with Gary here, but that is our philosophy and it's not for everyone. Similar thoughts by Alfie Kohn: http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/progressive.htm ]
https://twitter.com/garystager/status/536214550329044993

Ira Socol: "and where/how one chooses to work" [Yes. One can choose to disagree with the way SLA does things, but one doesn't have to work there.]
https://twitter.com/irasocol/status/536215980184465408

Chris Lehmann: "so when you say "Bridging Differences," you mean "convince Chris he is wrong."" [I think Chris is right here. Impasse is impasse. Time to move on.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/536217394193383425

----------

*"Anyone led more professional development on teaching for the future than me? Funny how I never get invited to the tea party."
https://twitter.com/garystager/status/535485803552456706

"Perhaps a Republican President will invite me to the White House."
https://twitter.com/garystager/status/535487172225146880
garystager  chrislehmann  education  progressive  teaching  structure  2014  irasocol  cv  tcsnmy  disagreement  policy  practice  constructivism  burnout  regression  mediocrity  balance  missiondrift  fatigue  implementation  purity  condescension  alfiekohn  respect  difference  differences 
november 2014 by robertogreco
dy/dan » Blog Archive » TEDxNYED Metadata [Forgot to bookmark this—thanks to Basti for making it resurface. Also, see the comment from Michael Wesch.]
"I'm not saying that the only people capable of describing or critiquing classroom teaching are classroom teachers. There are people who don't work in a classroom who know a lot more about my business than I do. I'm saying it's difficult, as one of public education's foot soldiers, to do much with inspiration. I don't have many places to put inspiration, certainly not as many as the edtechnologists walking away from TEDxNYED minds buzzing, faces aglow, and so it tends to settle and coagulate around my bile duct. It's too hard to forget that tomorrow I and three million others will have to teach too many standards of too little quality to too many students with too few resources. What can you do with this?"
danmeyer  education  tedxnyed  curriculum  math  reflection  reform  theory  practical  doingvsimagining  wcydwt  teaching  schools  doing  inspiration  doingvsinspiring  edtech  hereandnow  now  implementation  constraints  frustration  flexibility  constructivecriticism  power  control  jeffjarvis  michaelwesch  georgesiemens  davidwiley  andycarvin 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Thinking in Mind: Using Technology - "If You Want To"
"In light of the trajectory my own professional learning is taking, I find that discussions about tools and applications are too often disembodied from the particular learning environment where they could be powerful and appropriately used. In a sense, I no longer want to hear about wikis – I want to hear about how wiki were used in a particular classroom, and how they supported strong disciplined understanding. I’d also love to hear why not to use a particular tool. I want to see how the implementation of technology lined up with solid assessment practices, and how the technology allowed students to engage in rich, inquiry-based work. Basically, I would love to see more discussion about the appropriate contexts and subject matter for particular tools."
education  technology  web2.0  discipline  edtech  value  neilstephenson  tcsnmy  applied  implementation  teaching  schools 
december 2009 by robertogreco
OLPC News: Free the XO Laptop For Chilean Children
"Let me be clear here: I have an extremely positive view about the goals and strategies behind the OLPC initiative. However, in my humble opinion maybe it is time to for central command to loosen up a bit."
comments  chile  olpc  implementation  pilots 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Artichoke: Hysteresis: Teachers, technology and red herrings
"All this means we have to be especially careful about what and how we choose to use ICTs with students of any age …. and that the teacher who fails to implement may well be a red herring."
technology  curriculum  schools  education  learning  implementation  teaching  leadership  administration  management  change  artichokeblog  pamhook 
april 2008 by robertogreco

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