Thursday, February 14, 2013

Elliot Washor and Charles Mojkowski describe the new normal in Leaving to Learn (review) -- This book is a report from 2040.

Perhaps someone will read this review 27 years from now and smile:  "Yes, Leaving to Learn is normal in 2040."

Here's the link to the book.

This book has vital material for teachers and principals in the fight for resources to deliver good programs to kids:  The key is to make school personal for students.  Build the programs around each student's interests.

From the "inside look" on Amazon

Yes, this is copyrighted material...  and the publisher will be glad that I shared it with you.


"Researchers have calculated the cost to society of dropouts but have missed the significantly larger cost of disengaged students who graduate from high school but are nonetheless unprepared for lifelong learning and whose talents and potential have been sadly ignored, often because those talents lie outside the traditional subject matter focus of a cognitive/abstract curriculum."
P. 120

Dennis Littky said the following in an interview in 2005 with National Public Radio

 I think my frustration with the world is that in many suburban districts where parents move to send their kids and the students come home with their As and Bs, the parents are satisfied, but they never look deeper, so they think those are good schools. They have the highest SAT scores, they have the most kids going to Ivy League colleges. 

Those kids are losing too. They are not dropping out because they are playing the game. When you ask them, "Have you made any decisions in school? Do you care about anything, are you passionate about anything that goes on during the day besides drama club or football after school?" They're getting the short end. They aren't allowed to get engaged with their work and go deeper. 

"My kid did well at that school." Yeah, but where could your kid really go if your kid got to work with a doctor in 9th grade, following her around, and really going in depth?

Elliot Washor and Charles Mojkowski have written the book that could aid those principals who are waiting for the right vocabulary to hit their desks.  This book is the sledgehammer that principals need to tear down walls separating the workplace from classrooms.  This book is the scissors needed to cut through red tape.

Parents can use this book to get the personalized school that will serve their children.

SUMMARY:  Leaving to Learn...
Great title.  

Excellent procedures (pages 108-116 plus policies 123-124)
Vocabulary for teachers and principals... just the right amount of documentation to persuade a superintendent to allow a change in procedures....

Hey, parents and students, 
School can be fun again -- and worth your time.  Find out how:  step one:  Photocopy pages 108-116 and pages 123-124.
step two:  deliver those copies to your principal.
step three:  get a petition started to support these programs.
step four:  deliver the signed petition to your principal's bosses.

The morning after flipping through Leaving to Learn, I saw this piece of good news:

Students at University of Miami are making ads in classes to help non-profit organizations.

but wait...  why is there an article about that?  What is so special about this program?  From the perspective of a person living in 2040, this is what all schools offer...

Here's the comment I left on the newspaper's website:

Thanks to (Dennis Yuzenas website)

Thanks to Frida Kahlo, the New Learning Institute and the work that Enrique Gonzalez showed me

… this type of active student work is normal.  

McCrea at 7:38 AM February 14, 2013
I applaud the editor of the newspaper for running this article...    let's also be aware that there is something amiss in our educational system and our low expectations for schools where this article is "news."  
why is this situation such a big deal?
Why is this situation not as common place as a classroom equipped with a whiteboard with dry erase markers?
Shouldn't "students making ads" be as normal as "students use powerpoint to present information in class."?
why is this worth an article in a newspaper?
Aren't students doing this kind of thing anyway?
I feel like we're stuck in the 1980s, that nobody has heard of computers for personal use.  why is this article in the newspaper?
it should not be news, it should be normal.
   well, here's a toast to innovation in universities and here's a hope that high school and middle school teachers and principals are watching.  Dennis Yuzenas has been doing this sort of thing since 1990   see 


In short, Washor and Mojkowski have compiled a 150-page book that describes problems with schools and offers easy-to-follow procedures for allowing kids to learn outside the classroom.

The book will help parents talk to principals, who might have heard of projects and digital portfolios and personal learning plans, but lacked an easy-to-read way of showing their teachers "Hey, let's do this."   

As a convert to the BigPicture mindset, I thank the authors for this book.  Elliot and Charles are expanding my vocabulary and making me more perplexed -- Isn't this what we should be doing now?  It's been nine years since Littky's book came out... Why does it take so long for the obvious to get into practice?

If you have read The Big Picture, you will know the "personalized" mindset (and imperative to "build the school around the student") and you can jump directly to the "Supporting Leaving to Learn" pages 108-116:   There's no need to reinvent the wheel or reverse engineer the procedures (teasing procedures out of the stories that are told in The Big Picture).  It's clear what we teachers, principals and parents should be doing.  

So I end this review with a wink to 2040:  About 5% of us are already living in the future.    We're with you, 2040.  We're ready to work with others to join us in the future.   

Leaving to Learn
Working outside the class is the new normal and anything less is just boring, lazy or uninformed.   Elliot Washor and Charles Mojkowski have shown us that we can make school fun again.

If you haven't read The Big Picture, you can read Leaving to Learn and find out what to do.   

The procedures in LEAVING TO LEARN will open doors in ways that prepping for a standardized test will not.
"Hey, students!  Bored with high school?  Here's the hack --  take pages 108 to 116 to your principal and ask how you can leave to learn."

 Thank you, Elliot Washor and Charles Mojkowski, for the fast read:  Let's work on translations (Spanish first, then Turkish, Italian, Arabic and Romanian).

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