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The first line test

robo-writer.jpgA new meme going around: the first line(s) of each month's first blog post. (Encountered first at Stephen's Lighthouse.)

I have a buddy who always gives novels a "first line test." If the first line doesn't grab ya, put the book back. Maybe I should start all my blog entries "It was the best of times" or "Call me Ishmael."

Jan: The meme of 5 or too much information
I was tagged by Christian Long and Kathy Schrock to play the Meme of 5  - the "list things about yourself that others probably don't know" game. OK, I'll play, but there is a reason one doesn't reveal everything to others.

Feb: 21st Century Information Fluency Project
This note from friend and colleague, Dennis O'Connor over in Illinois. (Published here with permission.) 

Mar: Don't defend any book
The discussion over the Newbery Award winning book The Power of Lucky continues on LM_Net, the AASL blog and, I am sure, in meetings, phone conversations and e-mails throughout the country. I find it upsetting that so many professional librarians seem to have lost the basic understandings of selection, reconsideration, in loco parentis, and intellectual freedom.

Apr: Odds and Ends - Vacation edition
Back from two weeks away from the desk. Worked the EARCOS conference and took a week's actual vacation with the LWW, touring Bangkok and doing a little pool side R&R in Phuket. Some random thoughts...

May: A little ray of sunshine
This came in my email yesterday (slightly edited and anonymized). After the bleak news of other library program cuts recently, this was just a little ray of sunshine!

June: 2006-2007 columns online
To the joy of insomniacs around the English speaking world, my school year 2006-07 columns are now online. These include my LMC Head for the Edge columns...

July: How - the importance of conduct
In Thomas Friedman's recent column, "The Whole World is Watching," he reports on Dov Seidman's book How. Both writers talk about the transparency with which we are living our lives. Friedman writes that with blogs, video cameras and YouTube, "everyone else is a public figure...and each of us is so much more transparent." 

Aug: So why are we so uptight about Internet gaming?
Being busy at work and busy at home preparing for workshops has left little time for blogging. Thank goodness, Adam Janowski, Library Media Specialst at Naples (FL) High School, has taken me up on a standing invitation to guest blog. Check it out below.

Sep: End of summer Start of school
Labor Day is always a wistful time for me. The long weekend of family and friends at "our" resort in northern Minnesota, The Cry of the Loon, signals that summer is indeed gone and that fall and school have officially begun. Even grandson Miles (pictured above) seems to be in a reflective mood. 

Oct: Give me a reason
"Most English teachers will tell you, "Kids just don't read like they used to." I disagree. Recently my high school treated students who passed all classes with a trip to Stonebriar Centre. Upon arrival, a large group flocked straight to Barnes & Noble, where they stayed until the bus ride home." (quote from student)

Nov: The original read/write internet - LM_Net

You Know You're a Librarian in 2005 when... 5. You know more librarians in Texas than you do in your home state because of LM_Net.

Peter Milbury and Mike Eisenberg, the moderators par excellence of LM_Net for the past 15 years, announced this morning that they are passing the torch. 

Dec: Boys Adrift - audio cast on MPR
Family physician and psychologist Leonard Sax, author of Boys Adrift, was interviewed on a recent Mid-Morning show on Minnesota Public radio. The audio is worth a listen.


254 blog entries in 2007 (so far), 19 columns, 5 articles, 3 book chapters, 1 published interview. And a partridge in a pear tree. No books written or revised. Again. Yikes!

Last weekend my new son-in-law, after a couple glasses of wine, asked me, "How much of what you write is bullshit?" 

I didn't know how to answer. I've been mulling it over. 


RCE 1 and 2: And not Or and Look for Value

“The answer to most multiple-choice questions is Yes.” Walt Crawford

If you can't stand someone because they can't tolerate others, does that make you hypocritical? If so, should you tolerate their intolerance? AnswerBag 

In a recent blog post, I visited the Radical Center of Education and suggested some principles for achieving this enlightened state of mind and how it will result in a change philosophy that may result in change actually occurring.

  1. Adopt an "and" not "or" mindset.
  2. Look for truth and value in all beliefs and practices.
  3. Respect the perspective of the individual.
  4. One size does not fit all (kids or teachers).
  5. If you think it will work, it probably will.
  6. The elephant can only be eaten one bite at a time. Or is it that you can't leap the chasm in two bounds?
  7. To travel fast, travel alone. To travel far, travel with others.
  8. Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know."
  9. Measurement is good, but not everything can be measured.
  10. Know and keep your core values.

 Adopt an "and" not "or" mindset.

notor.jpgI've already written about this first principle and I'll not beat it to death. It does seem that education is increasingly polarized and we ought to all be thinking a lot more "and" rather than always "or." The scarcity mentality most of us live with in public education contributes to a lot of "or" thinking since it seems we often can't afford the "and."

Look for truth and value in all beliefs and practices.

Just so you know, I am not going for canonization or anything, I find following my own advice here is tough - really tough. My first reaction to most people who are idiots with whom I disagree is to dope slap them now and listen later.

What is difficult to reconcile, however, is that people I often think need to be dope slapped aren't dopes at all. In fact, more than a few are a heck of a lot smarter than I am.  So how does one account for a situation in which two intelligent people disagree? Well..

  1. One or both could be uninformed about the topic at hand.
  2. One or both could be misinformed about the topic at hand.
  3. But most likely, those in disagreement bring different values or perspectives to the topic, thus giving specific facts, experiences or arguments more or less weight. Looking at it this way, all evidence ought to be seen as having value.

It is dangerous to mistake disagreement with stupidity - or even ignorance. We must listen, learn, and even, gasp, moderate our own views if we are to retain the Radical Center of Education. In order to find areas of mutual agreement, one needs to keep climbing the abstraction ladder until both parties find a common goal, even if there never is a consensus on the steps needed to reach the goal.

A corollary to this that I find difficult is assuming a hidden agenda or unstated ulterior motive on another's part. Yes, I certainly do think that those who advocate for vouchers are actually advocating for the demise of public education, but one can only effectively argue with stated goals, not those we devise for others.

Two "side," each stubbornly and blindly adhering to a single tenet will not result in change. When both sides move to the Radical Center, based on finding value in each other's views, change will happen. 



Managing the OLPC project

My G1G1 XO came a week ago. This came in yesterday's e-mail.



Your XO laptop is on its way.
We're happy to inform you that your XO laptop has shipped.  In order to  help you get the most out of your experience with the XO and One Laptop per Child (OLPC),  here are some important links.  Please save this email for reference. 

To find out everything you need to know to get started with your XO laptop, please click here <>  or visit <> ......

We hope you enjoy your XO laptop!
OLPC Foundation
P.O. Box 425087
Cambridge, MA  02142

I hope this mission and genius of this project does not get defeated by a lack of management. It happens.

Oh, this e-mail DID include the information needed to get the T-Mobile complimentary HotSpot service for a year. Look for it.