The Educator's Notebook

A weekly collection of education-related news from around the web.

Educator’s Notebook #353 (February 21, 2021)

    • New York Times
    • 01/31/21

    “When someone seems closed-minded, my instinct is to argue the polar opposite of their position. But when I go on the attack, my opponents either shut down or fight back harder. On more than one occasion, I’ve been called a “logic bully.” When we try to change a person’s mind, our first impulse is to preach about why we’re right and prosecute them for being wrong. Yet experiments show that preaching and prosecuting typically backfire — and what doesn’t sway people may strengthen their beliefs.”

    • New York Times
    • 11/19/20

    “Deeper conversations help people become explicable to each other and themselves. You can’t really know yourself until you know how you express yourself and find yourself in another’s eyes. Deeper conversation builds trust, the oxygen of society, exactly what we’re missing right now.”





    • Hechinger Report
    • 02/04/21

    “A deluge of data released late last year confirmed what has long been suspected: The coronavirus pandemic caused widespread learning loss while also amplifying gaps across racial and socioeconomic lines.”

    • EdWeek
    • 02/02/21

    “One of my students said it best when she said, “Adults’ intentions might be good, but their solutions are really lacking.” From listening to my students, three themes emerged that I have not yet heard discussed in depth in the policy conversations around post-pandemic schooling:”


    • New York Times
    • 02/09/21

    “Prominent intellectuals have banded together against what they regard as contamination by the out-of-control woke leftism of American campuses and its attendant cancel culture. Pitted against them is a younger, more diverse guard that considers these theories as tools to understanding the willful blind spots of an increasingly diverse nation that still recoils at the mention of race, has yet to come to terms with its colonial past and often waves away the concerns of minorities as identity politics.”

    • Atlantic
    • 01/31/21

    “Valdary is unusual because she shares many critiques of the multibillion-dollar “DEI industrial complex,” as sardonic observers call it, even as she argues that her framework avoids the flaws of her competitors’… Having interviewed her by phone and email, and having delved into her course material and the thinking behind it, I can confirm that her approach to anti-racism and inclusion really is substantively different from that of her better-known competitors. Theory of Enchantment elicits unusual openness, trust, and engagement from ideologically diverse observers, including many critics of more conventional DEI-training approaches.”





    • New York Times
    • 02/15/21
    • EdWeek
    • 02/08/21

    “There is a final step in the process of teaching students to change their minds: We—not just educators, but also school leaders, politicians, parents, and citizens—need to abandon our own desires to present certainty in our opinions and start revealing just how often we, too, change.”

    • Hechinger Report
    • 02/02/21
    • Edutopia
    • 01/28/21
    • Wake Forest University
    • 01/22/21

    “Hypothesis 4: Many students could do well with less effort in the past. The most interesting of all six hypotheses, and the one I’ve thought the most about, is that our experience this semester has revealed an unfortunate truth about how teaching and learning took place prior to the pandemic. This theory, explained by Jody Greene in the widely-shared Twitter thread below, suggests that students are experiencing more work because of a fundamental difference between online courses and the typical in-person course. While there may be no difference in how much work is expected of students in these courses, there is often a difference in how much work is required.”

    • Global Online Academy
    • 01/21/21

    “During the 2019-2020 school year, a group of teachers at Phillips Academy had the opportunity to design an immersive, term-long program called the Workshop. The basic parameters were: The Workshop would be a student’s sole academic commitment; they would stop all other classes. It would be ten weeks long. It would be made up of 17 students and six teachers (who would teach part-time in the Workshop and continue to teach other courses). It would be ungraded. We developed three mastery credits and used the Mastery Transcript. The theme would be Community, Class, and Carbon.”“

    • Kappan
    • 01/07/21
    • Hechinger Report
    • 02/03/20

    “Students didn’t always learn more from interacting with each other than working alone in the 71 underlying studies. The ones that produced the strongest learning gains for peer interaction were those where adults gave children clear instructions for what do during their conversations. Explicit instructions to “arrive at a consensus” or “make sure you understand your partner’s perspective” helped children learn more.”





    • New York Times
    • 02/19/21

    “Japan isn’t the only country in the region, however, to police hair color in young women. Last year, two women’s soccer teams at Chinese universities were barred from participating in a match because players had dyed hair, which was against the rules. When one player was judged not to have “black enough” hair, she was ordered to leave the game, forcing her team to forfeit the match.



Every week I send out articles I encounter from around the web. Subject matter ranges from hard knowledge about teaching to research about creativity and cognitive science to stories from other industries that, by analogy, inform what we do as educators. This breadth helps us see our work in new ways.

Readers include teachers, school leaders, university overseers, conference organizers, think tank workers, startup founders, nonprofit leaders, and people who are simply interested in what’s happening in education. They say it helps them keep tabs on what matters most in the conversation surrounding schools, teaching, learning, and more.

Peter Nilsson


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