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robertogreco : missionstatements   17

The Wikimania conference in Stockholm wants to save the world.
"At its annual convention, the international Wikimedia community has adopted ambitious human rights goals."

"At the Wikimania conference this weekend in Stockholm, the Wikimedia Foundation signed a first-of-its-kind partnership with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. According to an announcement by foundation Executive Director Katherine Maher, the partnership involves increasing the quality and quantity of human rights content on the encyclopedia as well as mobilizing the global Wikimedia community on human rights. While many people might not associate Wikipedia with the United Nations, the partnership is in keeping with the overall theme of the conference—how the Wikimedia movement can support the U.N.’s 17 sustainable development goals."
wikimedia  wikipedia  wikimania  humanrights  2019  missionstatements  goals  stephenharrison 
yesterday by robertogreco
All Aboard the LeaderShip - Alfie Kohn
"If you’re going to lead a school or other organization, it might be smart to give some thought to what it means to be a good leader. But that fact doesn’t explain why some schools proudly announce that they train their students — every last one of them — in the art of leadership. What’s up with that?

I’d suggest three possible explanations. The first is that leadership, like a lot of other terms that show up in mission statements (transformational, responsible, good citizens, 21st-century as an adjective), is just a rhetorical flourish — something we’re not supposed to think about too carefully. No one is likely to stand up and say, “Hey, wait just a minute! Exactly which characteristics does this school regard as admirable in the 21st century that it didn’t value in, say, 1995?”

Similarly, you’re not expected to ask how it’s possible for everyone to be a leader. You’re just supposed to smile and nod. Leadership good.

Possibility number 2 is that the term does have a specific meaning — a meaning that’s actually rather disturbing in this context. “When colleges promise to make their students leaders, they’re telling them they’re going to be in charge,” William Deresiewicz wrote in the September issue of Harper’s magazine. In fact, that pact with the privileged begins well before college. The message, if made explicit, would sound something like this: “No, of course everyone can’t be a leader. The elite are far more likely to attain that status. So buy your kids an education here and we’ll equip them to be part of that elite.”[1]

It’s a shrewd selling point for a selective school, granted. And it explains why, as someone observed recently, you don’t find many institutions that refer to themselves as “followership academies.”

The relatively benign word leadership may be a way to mute the objectionable implications of grooming certain students to run the world. It’s not unlike how adults try to make themselves feel better about punishing children by referring to what they’re doing as “imposing a consequence.”

*

When I mused about this issue on Twitter a few weeks ago, wondering whether appeals to leadership implicitly endorsed a competitive hierarchy, my post produced a bushel of responses that made me consider possibility number 3: Maybe leadership, like a lot of other words, just means whatever the hell you want it to mean.

One person pointed me to a website about being a “servant/leader” — a phrase with religious roots, I discovered. The site, which had the feel of a late-night TV commercial, offered materials to promote both “personal development” and an “entrepreneurial mindset.”

Here, reproduced verbatim, are a few of the other replies I received:

* Leadership requires that we lead ourselves first. Part of being a great leader is being a good follower too

* Students can lead in 4 directions- leading up, leading peers, leading down, and leading self

* Everyone can be a leader, everyone can be a servant, and everyone can treat others w/ respect

* Some leadership actually comes from the followers within a group

* Lead from YOUR passion. All can.

* [I] always interpreted “teaching leadership” to mean recognizing/owning our gifts & challenges, and learning what we can do with them

One reasonable reaction to all these declarations would be: “Huh?” The dictionary says a leader is “one who is in charge or command of others.” The leader’s style doesn’t have to be (and ideally wouldn’t be) heavy-handed or authoritarian. But that doesn’t mean the word can be redefined to signify anything we choose, such that the inherent power differential between leaders and followers is magically erased. To deny that feature, or to claim that leadership can refer to being a good follower, stretches the word beyond all usefulness. Likewise for the blithe reassurance that everyone can be a leader, which recalls Debbie Meier’s marvelous analogy: It’s like telling children to line up for lunch, then adding, “And I want all of you to be in the front half of the line!”

In a political context, it makes sense to discuss how to prevent leaders from abusing their power. But if our focus is on education or child rearing, then I’m not sure why we’re promoting a hierarchical arrangement. And teaching kids to “follow as well as lead” doesn’t address this concern any more than the harm caused by having a punitive parent is rectified by having another parent who’s permissive.

It’s fine to hope that those children who do eventually end up in leadership positions will act with kindness and skill. But, again, why frame education in these terms? Why not promote characteristics that apply to everyone (just by virtue of being human) and are relevant to children as well as adults: compassion, skepticism, self-awareness, curiosity, and so on? Why not emphasize the value of being part of a well-functioning team, of treating everyone with respect within a model that’s fundamentally collaborative and democratic? At best, a focus on leadership distracts us from helping people decide things together; at worst, it inures us to a social order that consists of those who tell and those who are told.

*

Alongside my substantive objection to an emphasis on leadership (as the word is actually defined) I will confess to some irritation with the more general tendency to be unconstrained by how words are actually defined. This temptation presents itself with respect to all sorts of terms, and even people with admirable views give in to it. Faced with an objection to a certain idea or practice, the response is likely to be, in effect, “No, no. I use that label to mean only good things.”

Thus: “I reject your criticisms of the flipped classroom [making students watch lecture videos as homework and do what’s more commonly assigned as homework during class] because when I talk about flipped classrooms, I mean those that include wonderful student-designed projects.”

Or: “Why would someone who’s progressive raise concerns about the idea of a growth mindset [attributing outcomes to effort rather than to fixed ability]? The way I use that term, it includes a rejection of grades and other traditional pedagogical practices.”[2]

We’ve disappeared through the looking glass here, finding ourselves in a reality where, as Lewis Carroll had Humpty Dumpty put it, “a word…means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”[3] Like Carroll, I think it’s fine to argue that x is consistent with things you already like (if you can defend that proposition), but it’s not fine to defend x by redefining it however you see fit.

After all, that’s something a good leader would never permit."
alfiekohn  leadership  education  howweteach  schools  williamderesiewicz  skepticism  power  elitism  buzzwords  missionstatements  2015  deborahmeier  compassion  self-awareness  curiosity  democracy  collaboration  society  selfishness  language  lewiscarroll  growthmindset  flippedclassroom  pedagogy  whatweteach  words  kindness  consensus  hierarchy  horizontality  competition 
october 2015 by robertogreco
[Essay] | The Neoliberal Arts, by William Deresiewicz | Harper's Magazine
"I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.

leadership
service
integrity
creativity

Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.

A spatial structure, the sentence also suggests a temporal sequence. Thinking clearly, it wants us to recognize, leads to thinking independently. Thinking independently leads to living confidently. Living confidently leads to living courageously. Living courageously leads to living hopefully. And the entire chain begins with a college that recognizes it has an obligation to its students, an obligation to develop their abilities to think and live.

Finally, the sentence is attributed to an individual. It expresses her convictions and ideals. It announces that she is prepared to hold herself accountable for certain responsibilities.

The second text is not a sentence. It is four words floating in space, unconnected to one another or to any other concept. Four words — four slogans, really — whose meaning and function are left undefined, open to whatever interpretation the reader cares to project on them.

Four words, three of which — “leadership,” “service,” and “creativity” — are the loudest buzzwords in contemporary higher education. (“Integrity” is presumably intended as a synonym for the more familiar “character,” which for colleges at this point means nothing more than not cheating.) The text is not the statement of an individual; it is the emanation of a bureaucracy. In this case, a literally anonymous bureaucracy: no one could tell me when this version of the institution’s mission statement was formulated, or by whom. No one could even tell me who had decided to hang those banners all over campus. The sentence from the founder has also long been mounted on the college walls. The other words had just appeared, as if enunciated by the zeitgeist.

But the most important thing to note about the second text is what it doesn’t talk about: thinking or learning. In what it both does and doesn’t say, it therefore constitutes an apt reflection of the current state of higher education. College is seldom about thinking or learning anymore. Everyone is running around trying to figure out what it is about. So far, they have come up with buzzwords, mainly those three.

This is education in the age of neoliberalism. Call it Reaganism or Thatcherism, economism or market fundamentalism, neoliberalism is an ideology that reduces all values to money values. The worth of a thing is the price of the thing. The worth of a person is the wealth of the person. Neoliberalism tells you that you are valuable exclusively in terms of your activity in the marketplace — in Wordsworth’s phrase, your getting and spending.

The purpose of education in a neoliberal age is to produce producers. I published a book last year that said that, by and large, elite American universities no longer provide their students with a real education, one that addresses them as complete human beings rather than as future specialists — that enables them, as I put it, to build a self or (following Keats) to become a soul. Of all the responses the book aroused, the most dismaying was this: that so many individuals associated with those institutions said not, “Of course we provide our students with a real education,” but rather, “What is this ‘real education’ nonsense, anyway?”"



"So what’s so bad about leadership, service, and creativity? What’s bad about them is that, as they’re understood on campus and beyond, they are all encased in neoliberal assumptions. Neoliberalism, which dovetails perfectly with meritocracy, has generated a caste system: “winners and losers,” “makers and takers,” “the best and the brightest,” the whole gospel of Ayn Rand and her Übermenschen. That’s what “leadership” is finally about. There are leaders, and then there is everyone else: the led, presumably — the followers, the little people. Leaders get things done; leaders take command. When colleges promise to make their students leaders, they’re telling them they’re going to be in charge.

“Service” is what the winners engage in when they find themselves in a benevolent mood. Call it Clintonism, by analogy with Reaganism. Bill Clinton not only ratified the neoliberal consensus as president, he has extended its logic as a former president. Reaganism means the affluent have all the money, as well as all the power. Clintonism means they use their money and power, or a bit of it, to help the less fortunate — because the less fortunate (i.e., the losers) can’t help themselves. Hence the Clinton Foundation, hence every philanthropic or altruistic endeavor on the part of highly privileged, highly credentialed, highly resourced elites, including all those nonprofits or socially conscious for-profits that college students start or dream of starting.

“Creativity,” meanwhile, is basically a business concept, aligned with the other clichés that have come to us from the management schools by way of Silicon Valley: “disruption,” “innovation,” “transformation.” “Creativity” is not about becoming an artist. No one wants you to become an artist. It’s about devising “innovative” products, services, and techniques — “solutions,” which imply that you already know the problem. “Creativity” means design thinking, in the terms articulated by the writer Amy Whitaker, not art thinking: getting from A to a predetermined B, not engaging in an open-ended exploratory process in the course of which you discover the B.

Leadership, service, and creativity do not seek fundamental change (remember, fundamental change is out in neoliberalism); they seek technological or technocratic change within a static social framework, within a market framework. Which is really too bad, because the biggest challenges we face — climate change, resource depletion, the disappearance of work in the face of automation — will require nothing less than fundamental change, a new organization of society. If there was ever a time that we needed young people to imagine a different world, that time is now.

We have always been, in the United States, what Lionel Trilling called a business civilization. But we have also always had a range of counterbalancing institutions, countercultural institutions, to advance a different set of values: the churches, the arts, the democratic tradition itself. When the pendulum has swung too far in one direction (and it’s always the same direction), new institutions or movements have emerged, or old ones have renewed their mission. Education in general, and higher education in particular, has always been one of those institutions. But now the market has become so powerful that it’s swallowing the very things that are supposed to keep it in check. Artists are becoming “creatives.” Journalism has become “the media.” Government is bought and paid for. The prosperity gospel has arisen as one of the most prominent movements in American Christianity. And colleges and universities are acting like businesses, and in the service of businesses.

What is to be done? Those very same WASP aristocrats — enough of them, at least, including several presidents of Harvard and Yale — when facing the failure of their own class in the form of the Great Depression, succeeded in superseding themselves and creating a new system, the meritocracy we live with now. But I’m not sure we possess the moral resources to do the same. The WASPs had been taught that leadership meant putting the collective good ahead of your own. But meritocracy means looking out for number one, and neoliberalism doesn’t believe in the collective. As Margaret Thatcher famously said about society, “There’s no such thing. There are individual men and women, and there are families.” As for elite university presidents, they are little more these days than lackeys of the plutocracy, with all the moral stature of the butler in a country house.

Neoliberalism disarms us in another sense as well. For all its rhetoric of freedom and individual initiative, the culture of the market is exceptionally good at inculcating a sense of helplessness. So much of the language around college today, and so much of the negative response to my suggestion that students ought to worry less about pursuing wealth and more about constructing a sense of purpose for themselves, presumes that young people are the passive objects of economic forces. That they have no agency, no options. That they have to do what the market tells them. A Princeton student literally made this argument to me: If the market is incentivizing me to go to Wall Street, he said, then who am I to argue?

I have also had the pleasure, over the past year, of hearing from a lot of people who are pushing back against the dictates of neoliberal education: starting high schools, starting colleges, creating alternatives to high school and college, making documentaries, launching nonprofits, parenting in different ways, conducting their lives in different ways. I welcome these efforts, but none of them address the fundamental problem, which is that we no longer believe in public solutions. We only … [more]
williamderesiewicz  education  highereducation  neoliberalism  capitalism  learning  purpose  stevenpinker  2015  individualism  economics  leadership  missionstatements  courage  confidence  hope  criticalthinking  independence  autonomy  liberalarts  wealth  inequality  citizenship  civics  society  highered  publicpurpose  business  ronaldreagan  billclinton  margaretthatcher  government  media  lioneltrilling  socialgood  creativity  innovation  amywhitaker  service  servicelearning  change  fundamentalchange  systemsthinking  us  civilization  transformation  money  power  aynrand  meritocracy  plutocracy  college  colleges  universities  schools  markets  wallstreet  helplessness  elitism  berniesanders  communitycolleges  aristocracy  reaganism  clintonism  politics  entrepreneurship  volunteerism  rickscott  corporatization  modernity  joshuarothman  greatbooks  1960s  stem  steam  commercialization  davidbrooks 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The fiction of most school mission statements | Dangerously Irrelevant
"Autonomy. Mastery/competence. Purpose. Relatedness. These are four principles around which we can build powerful learning environments for students. They also are four principles which are violated nearly every single day in most classrooms in America. Ask yourself these questions about your own classrooms:

• Autonomy: Do students have freedom to make meaningful choices in school, and does that freedom increase as they get older? Or are they told what to do almost every minute of every day?

• Mastery/competence: Do students want to be good at the things that we ask them to do in school? Or do they just do those things because we ask or force them? Do students get to work at their optimal level of challenge? Or do they have to do the same things as everyone else, regardless of their own learning needs and readiness?

• Purpose: Do students see the meaning and relevance of what we ask them to do in school? Or do they struggle to see the authenticity and purpose of the things that we have them do?

• Relatedness: Do students get to connect and collaborate with others in meaningful ways in school? Or do they primarily do their own work in isolation from others?

Reading over these questions, it’s easy to see why students are disengaged from the learning tasks that we give them. The big question is whether we care. So far, most of our school systems don’t seem too bothered by their environmental deficiencies when it comes to fostering internal motivation."

[via: http://www.shawncornally.com/BIG/philosophy/ ]
lcproject  openstudioproject  scottmcleod  2013  education  schools  motivation  intrinsicmotivation  autonomy  tcsnmy  cv  mastery  competence  purpose  relatedness  context  relationships  why  missionstatements  schooling  unschooling  deschooling 
june 2013 by robertogreco
What does your school stand for? « Re-educate Seattle
"What does it stand for? What is its mission? What does it believe in? What outcomes does it consistently deliver? Is there a match between what the school offers & what kids & families want?…

Finally, it’s unlikely that a match exists between the school & families because the school has never really figured out what it’s trying to accomplish. Many families have reduced their hopes to merely surviving the ordeal w/ a minimum amount of pain.

One of the best things we can do to help transform our schools is figure out—specifically—what they’re trying to accomplish. & that doesn’t mean all schools should have the same mission. In fact, each school should have its own unique mission.

Once that’s established, schools can go about the business of connecting w/ families that are a good fit for their particular mission. Either that, or they can continue declaring “academic achievement for all” & stumbling on the never-ending “reform” treadmill."
education  values  mission  missionstatements  tcsnmy  clarity  purpose  outcomes  lcproject  teaching  learning  community  parents  students  stevemiranda  pscs  publicschools  2011  pugetsoundcommunityschool 
june 2011 by robertogreco
The School Day of the Future is DESIGNED | MindShift
"Unpredictable, inconsistent, & designed to be wildly relevant for learners, their engagement, & their development."

"Designing the day around discovery of information, connections to real world challenges, discussions digging into our experiences with the world."

[But then The School of One is brought up… goes to show that we need to move beyond slogans and mission statements to concrete examples of what we mean.]

[Oh, & Delicious is suggesting 'hybrid' as a tag for this bookmark. (I've used it to point back to these thoughts, which are now almost blog-length.) I've lost tolerance for that word ('blended' might eventually have the same effect) considering how I've heard it used for the past few months. More and more, I'm convinced that a hybrid of the traditional and the progressive (I know, another term that needs clarification) breaks both and likely creates something that is less effective or valuable than either of the two in their unaltered state.]

[My remarks seems appropriate considering Jim Groom's divorce from Edupunk http://bavatuesdays.com/dear-edupunk/ ]
schools  education  hybrid  mindshift  tcsnmy  progressive  onebreakstheother  purity  unpredictability  inconsistency  learning  studentdirected  student-centered  discovery  criticalthinking  realworld  schoolofone  missionstatements  clarity  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  experientiallearning  ellioteisner 
february 2011 by robertogreco
"No Common Thread": Identity Crisis at an Alternative School (JUAL)
"This study uses the phenomenon, or case, of the White Pine School as the basis for developing an understanding of how schools make their identities clear, distinct, and attractive to participants. This twenty six year old parent cooperative "alternative" private school seems to be experiencing an identity crisis in which there is little consistency of vision and practices with which to enact that vision. The causes, manifestations, and possible solutions to this identity crisis are herein examined."
alternative  alternativeeducation  schools  progressive  education  tcsnmy  toshare  lcproject  identity  organizations  leadership  missionstatements  vision  dysfunction  management  administration 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Tuttle SVC: The Goal of a Charter School
"If the charter movement as a whole is going to change these aggregate stats, they're going to have to purge the schools that lack a singular focus on achievement as measured by test scores, graduation rates and other placement stats. In fact, I'm getting the feeling that process is already starting. Whether that reflects the spirit of community initiative and innovation that launched the charter idea is another question."
sinister  tomhoffman  progressive  achievement  accountability  co-optingamovement  education  publicschools  purpose  mission  missionstatements  history  localcontrol  community  forprofit  charterschools 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Beyond Test Prep
"…creativity in all disciplines…critical thinking, & joy of learning, strength of character…importance of beauty & grace…respect & concern for others…our cultural differences & common humanity…stewards of natural world…realize their power for good as citizens…critical, creative, & independent habits of thought…random walk through mission statements of independent schools shows an admirable determination to educate students for an unknowable future, for creativity & problem solving, for responsible citizenship, for resiliency. Nevertheless, many of these same schools are constrained to work towards their mission-central goals in time stolen from the classroom...

The pressure on schools to stay focused on test prep is real. But if independent schools are not to go the way of many independent bookstores, they will have to resist this pressure & focus their academic programs on the real educational outcomes their students will need — & then actually design their teaching around them."
tcsnmy  nais  schools  teaching  education  learning  lcproject  21stcenturyskills  creativity  curriculum  missionstatements  standardizedtesting  testing 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Doors of Perception weblog: Aalto University
"The University has stated that it will will "make a positive contribution to Finnish society, technology, economy, art, art and design, and support the welfare of both humans and the environment".
aaltouniversity  education  helsinki  finland  missionstatements  mission  highereducation  universities  sustainability  design  resilience  colleges  problemsolving  tcsnmy  technology  art  society  greatergood  life  well-being  noblesseoblige 
june 2009 by robertogreco
The Mission and Guiding Principles of The Earth School
"To recognize the wonder and importance of the world and its inhabitants, to enrich our lives, to make wise decisions, we are guided by the following questions:

**For Knowing and Learning:
How do I find out about this? Come to know this?
What did I discover?
Why is this important?
Where does this fit in?
Is there another way of looking at this?
Do I have enough information?

**For Being with Others:
How can I help?
How do my actions affect others, myself, the environment?
Who is here? Who is not here?
Am I being respectful to myself and others?
How is this like me? …different from me?

**For Living on the Planet:
Am I being respectful toward the planet and its resources?
Do I really need this?
Where does this come from? Where will it go?
Am I leaving this (place, situation) better than I found it?"
missionstatements  schools  nyc  environment  green  teaching  learning  guidingquestions  children  tcsnmy  progressive 
may 2009 by robertogreco
The Brand Gap
"1. A brand is not a logo. 2. A brand is not an identity. 3. A brand is not a product. So what exactly is a brand? It's a persons gut feeling about a product, service or organization, because brands are defined by individuals, not companies, markets, or publics. It's a gut feeling because people are emotional intuitive beings. In other words, it's not what you say it is. It is what **they** say it is... We tend to base out buying choices on trust. Trust comes from meeting and beating customer expectations...A charismatic brand is a product, service, or organization for which people believe there's no substitute... Any brand can be charismatic...[just follow] five disciplines of brand building: Differentiate. Marketing today is about creating tribes. Who are you? What do you do? Why does it matter?...Collaborate...Innovate...Validate...Cultivate."

[In many ways the message boils down to knowing who you are as an organization (your mission) and staying to true to that core definition.]

[via: http://learnonline.wordpress.com/2008/11/15/marketing-branding-education-ing/ ]
mission  missionstatements  branding  marketing  focus  authenticity  administration  management  leadership  trust  innovation  confidence  substance  perception  tcsnmy 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Marketing, branding, education-ing « Learn Online
"Cathy Sierra planted that seed in my head back in Feb 2007 with her post Marketing should be education, education should be marketing. Ever since then I’ve been on the look out for a good marketeer who is ready or willing to talk about education. Next week I’m meeting with a marketing researcher which I hope will lead me to something interesting in terms of what marketing and education speak could do for one another."
marketing  branding  education  schools  kathysierra  tcsnmy  authenticity  focus  management  administration  leadership  mission  missionstatements  trust  substance  perception 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Where Does It Live? - Practical Theory
"So I have an idea -- whenever we hear or read schools or districts or teachers or administrators make a claim that their school / district / PD session / whatever is about "21st Century Learning" or "Life-Long Learning" or "Project-Based Learning" or whatever claim we may see or read, our first question should be -- "Where Does it Live?""
chrislehmann  substance  schools  leadership  tcsnmy  administration  management  truth  missionstatements  authenticity 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Daring Fireball: There's Nothing There
"“A logo is less important than the product it signifies; what it represents is more important than what it looks like.” This holds true not just for logo marks specifically, but also in the broader, more abstract sense of brands in general. No brand is better or stronger than the products and experiences it represents. A good brand is strong because it is true, not because it is clever." Led to this: http://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/50802877/branding-and-authenticity-and-schools
daringfireball  branding  logos  façades  missionstatements  schools  administration  management  authenticity  product  leadership  business  organizations  marketing 
september 2008 by robertogreco
Show Me What You Believe - Practical Theory
"mission statements are meaningless unless people can point to where the pieces of their mission statement live in their school...key places to look to see what schools really value: schedule, curriculum planning/professional development, assessment"
administration  management  schools  missionstatements  professionaldevelopment  schedule  chrislehmann  sla  curriculum  assessment  learning  leadership 
february 2008 by robertogreco

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