Heads Up

Welcome to Heads Up, a blogging experiment that aims to: 

  • connect the people, parts, and principles of Durham Academy;
  • share ideas about learning and human development;
  • spotlight a few of the many wondrous things I get to see every day at Durham Academy. 

Thanks for reading the posts below — and sending news, links and ideas worth sharing. 

Michael Ulku-SteinerHead of School 


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Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You

Despite the temptation to focus only on our students and our school, most Durham Academy teachers find public purpose in our private school work.

This purpose manifests in political activity (see yesterday’s post about Dennis Cullen) and all kinds of school-based partnerships (Student U, The Hill Center, Durham Nativity School, The Augustine Project, SOCK camp, SEEDS, Durham County Special Olympics, and dozens of community projects).

Today I read a compelling editorial from John Chubb. An excerpt:

In this, the very week that the nation remembered President Kennedy, I met with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The secretary was joined by Deputy Secretary Jim Shelton, whom I had worked with in the private sector a decade ago. As the meeting began, Jim asked, "What can we do for you?" I knew my reply, "We're here to ask what we can do for you."

The secretary and his deputy were quick with ideas. They want help with education technology. They are interested in blended learning models that provide documented academic benefits, and perhaps economic savings. They want to leverage online and other technology businesses. They are looking for a group of schools that might agree on the specifications of a comprehensive platform for the full range of school technologies and lure firms to develop to that platform—increasing quality and reducing price. . .

The secretary asked about authentic public-private partnerships: tutoring is valuable community service, but what about examples of independent schools and public schools learning from one another? We shared examples from the National Network of Schools in Partnership. The Secretary also asked about the Common Core. As independent schools consider the new standards and their possible implications for the SAT or other measures relevant to our students, do we have examples of the Common Core being constructively incorporated into 21st century curriculums? Our schools are free to use whatever standards we find useful; do our schools find them useful and if so, how?

Independent schools have a public purpose that extends beyond preparing our students to become productive citizens. Our schools have long embraced this purpose, serving more than their immediate school communities in various ways. Today the need for public engagement could not be higher. Schools of all kinds are grappling with a rapidly changing future, uncertain what it means for the way school has always been done. The nation needs schools to innovate, to experiment, to research, and to collaborate. As the secretary made clear, the answers for the future are not going to come from Washington, or likely any government for that matter. The answers will come from educators, social entrepreneurs, and ultimately, from schools that have pilot-tested new approaches.

Click here to read the full editorial. JFK image from Wikimedia commons.

Posted by in Other on Friday December, 6, 2013


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