World-Wide Classroom

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Haiti 2010: "Come See My People"

Music By Danielle Rose

There is so much to tell you, but I can't. The video is my best attempt to describe how awesome it was to be in Haiti. The people are beautiful, the land is beautiful, and the trip was awesome.

We visited a few schools. When asked what is the biggest challenge that a school faces, the answer was always the same: feeding the children and paying the teachers.

There are miracle workers at some of these schools. I saw a teacher with nothing but chairs in her room (and hungry children sitting in the chairs), but the students were more disciplined and more learning was occurring than in any of my best days as a teacher.

The people love soccer. It is in their blood. Soccer truly is the universal sport. The clip at the beginning of the video is from a "senior vs. sophomore" soccer game, and the little kids are cheering for the sophomores after they just scored a goal. Let's just say that I went crazier than I ever had for a touchdown at Notre Dame stadium. It was bananas.

They need help to feed their kids and pay their teachers. If you want to help out, you can send money to our fund that we started. Our goal is to raise $50,000. The money goes straight to the kids and families you see in this video, and many are refugees of the recent earthquake. There is no middle man. This is not the Red Cross. The money gets wired directly to the school to help the kids and to support their learning. Shoot me an email if you want more information at tony@tonysclassroom.com

The head of the school told us: "You can't develop a country without education."

The world is my classroom, and I learned so much from the people of Haiti.

My next adventure

IF YOU WANT A BETTER SCHOOL, TALK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS

Some people reject the idea that a school should be thought of as a business. Thinking of schools as a business apparently conjures up haunting images of greased-back hair, “market share”, and Enron. However, where there is the exchange of money for resources, there exists an institution that is influenced by the properties of a business, and any viable business knows that it should listen to its customers. In the business of school, the customers are the students (not the parents), but we usually do a pretty poor job of serving them. We spend a lot of time making the parents happy, the school boards happy, and the teachers happy, but the students who should be receiving the education often get put to the side as a secondary concern. This is problematic for (hopefully) obvious reasons.

There is one customer that is a product of American education to whom I think teachers should pay special attention. Her name is Jessica Mah. Her website states “Jessica started her first internet company at the age of 13, finished high school at the age of 15, and studied computer science at Berkeley. She is a member of the TED conference and has been featured in TechCrunch and Inc. Magazine for her work on internshipIN.com. She's now the founder and product architect of Indinero.com (a company that helps businesses manage finances).” So in case you missed it, she graduated from high school early and she continues to dominate college while ALSO running a successful business that she started. Is it just me or does anybody else think that this independence, entrepreneurial savvy, and desire to learn is something we should be striving to cultivate in our students?

When I run my own school (if I ever get around to it), I’m going to talk to people like Jessica. People like her are going to be the fundamental rudders that help steer the ship to uncharted lands. Instead of waiting for the day when I run my own school, I figured I would ask her some questions now, and she had some profound insights. Read more »

MEMOIR OF A SOUTH AMERICAN SOCCER GAME

It is amazing what you learn when you are by yourself.

A few summers ago, I went to Santiago, Chile to improve my Spanish and to visit a foreign country. There were many things that I wanted to do in Chile, but I was most excited about the opportunity to go to a big-time soccer game.

I had been told by other Chileans that soccer in Chile is "just not as exciting" compared to soccer in other South American countries, but after attending this game, I realized that South Americans have a radically different understanding of the word "excitement".

Allow me to set the scene. I am about 2 miles from the stadium, and my first sign of "crowd enthusiasm" was a group of 30 Colo-Colo fans. At first, I just thought they were loud and excited and simply thought that throwing toilet paper and paper confetti EVERYWHERE was a good idea, 2 miles away from the stadium. Then, when one of the buses refuses to pick them up and tried to drive right by, they started spitting at the bus, kicking it, and throwing their whole wads of toilet paper at the windshield. Luckily the light turned green before they could do too much damage, and it sped off.

I knew it was only going to get more interesting from there. Read more »

A BRIEF INTERVIEW WITH MAYA FROST

Maya Frost, author of “The New Global Student”, has spent a significant amount of time encouraging those who might be interested to explore alternative pathways to education, such as going on a global romp. While this may not be an attractive option for some students, there are some key insights in her book about how this sort of experience can have huge benefits for those who are willing to go on the adventure. As more and more schools talk about creating “21st Century Learners”, her insights and her experiences have more and more relevance. It turns out that traveling to Buenos Aires for a semester (even while you are in high school) isn’t as complicated as you think as long as you have a little moxy.

While Maya’s book is written mainly to parents, it has consequences for everyone involved in education. As a teacher, I was curious about how some of her experiences related to my fellow teachers. I asked her a few questions via email and she was generous enough to respond with the following: Read more »

THE FUNDAMENTAL FLAW OF SCHOOL

Schools play an odd role in society. They fulfill many different functions for many different people, but perhaps their most important function is to provide an environment of learning. However, there is a fundamental (and irreversible) flaw to schools that inhibit the level of learning that can occur within their walls. What is this flaw?

School is not real.

School is only a simulation. Read more »

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