I’ve been online since 1983 and my own web site dates back to the first term of the Clinton presidency. Along the way, I may have ruffled a few feathers.
Let me tell you about one of my all-time favorite social media brouhahas.
On December 17, 2008, The Huffington Post published an article I wrote entitled, “Obama Practices Social Promotion.”
I began the article…
“A curious cartel of billionaire bullies, power hungry politicians and tough-talking school superintendents wage an eternal battle against social promotion — for the good of our children of course. Social promotion, a divisive political term with no basis in reality, like partial-birth abortion, is one of the most popular talking points among the the most vocal critics of public education. The “end of social promotion” has caused tens of thousands of kids as young as 3rd grade to be left-back, despite overwhelming evidence that this practice harms children and increases the drop-out rate.
However, social promotion is a godsend to urban school superintendents in this age of privatization. It is truly bizarre that the public education system, which at least in-part is dedicated to preparing people for careers and life, would devalue expertise.”
…and went on to say…
“Arne Duncan Fails Upward
Today’s nomination of Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan to be the Barack Obama’s Secretary Education is a spectacular example of social promotion. Duncan, who as been the CEO or Chief of Staff of the Chicago Public Schools for the past ten years has done such a swell job of “reform” that his best friend and basketball buddy, Barack Obama, would not send his own children to the public schools. President-elect Obama is like Eli Broad, Bill Gates and the members of the Business Roundtable who kill public schools with their kindness while turning them into the sort of joyless test-prep sweatshops unworthy of children they love.
Arne Duncan is a darling of the charter school movement, Eli Broad, the right-wing Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, anti-union “Democrats” and I kid you not — Hooked-on-Phonics. President-elect Obama eagerly awaits recommendations on nuclear proliferation from Billy Mays, Ron Popeil and the ShamWow guy.”
All of my assertions (especially the inflammatory ones), contained links to supporting evidence.
Then it happened
A few days later, right around Christmas, my Google Alert started sounding. Soon it was like a bell warning of four-alarm fire and the alarm sounded for several straight days. What could possibly have caused such sudden popularity for Little ‘ol me?
It seems that the CEO of Hooked-on-Phonics® was so offended by my joke comparing their qualifications to endorse a federal Secreatary of Education to the ShamWow guy that the company paid a public relations firm to issue a global press release condemning me. “Hooked on Phonics(R) CEO Responds to Gary Stager’s Criticism of President-elect Obama’s Choice of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education,” was released in dozens of countries around the world. Every time one of those press releases went public, my Google alert rang again.
What is so golden about that misguided attempt to make me famous is the lengths to which the CEO of Hooked-on-Phonics® went to avoid offending the ShamWow guy (probably a wise idea since he apparently beat up a cannibal hooker).
“Gary Stager is entitled to his opinions regarding President-elect Obama’s selection of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education and education policy generally. However, it is unfortunate he has tried to trivialize my views by likening my company and its product — Hooked on Phonics, a product that has helped millions of children learn to read — to a sponge (with all due respect to the folks at ShamWow).”
Read the entire condemnation of me here. I could not be prouder!
My only regret is that the predictions I made about President-Elect Obama’s education policies and his nominee for Secretary of Education turned out to be even worse than I had feared. Read the five and a half year-old article for yourself here.
I certainly sized the opportunity to pull no punches. I left no myth behind. Perhaps a few school business administrators will think differently about some of their decisions in the future.
A PDF of the article is linked below. I hope you enjoy the interview and share it widely!
“Some people think outside of the box. Gary is unaware of the box’s existence.” – Futurist, Dr. David Thornburg
Gary Stager, an internationally recognized educator, speaker and consultant, is the Executive Director of The Constructivist Consortium. Since 1982, Gary has helped learners of all ages on six continents embrace the power of computers as intellectual laboratories and vehicles for self-expression. He led professional development in the world’s first laptop schools (1990), has designed online graduate school programs since the mid-90s, was a collaborator in the MIT Media Lab’s Future of Learning Group and a member of the One Laptop Per Child Foundation’s Learning Team.
When Jean Piaget wanted to better understand how children learn mathematics, he hired Seymour Papert. When Dr. Papert wanted to create a high-tech alternative learning environment for incarcerated at-risk teens, he hired Gary Stager. This work was the basis for Gary’s doctoral dissertation and documented Papert’s most-recent institutional research project.
Gary’s recent work has included teaching and mentoring some of Australia’s “most troubled” public schools, launching 1:1 computing in a Korean International School beginning in the first grade, media appearances in Peru and serving as a school S.T.E.M. Director. He was a Visiting Professor at Pepperdine University and Senior Editor of District Administration Magazine. His advocacy on behalf of creativity, computing and children led to the creation of the Constructivist Consortium and the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute.
In 1999, Converge Magazine named Gary a “shaper of our future and inventor of our destiny.” The National School Boards Association recognized Dr. Stager with the distinction of “20 Leaders to Watch” in 2007. The June 2010 issue of Tech & Learning Magazine named Gary Stager as “one of today’s leaders who are changing the landscape of edtech through innovation and leadership.” CUE presented Gary with its 2012 Technology in Learning Leadership Award. A popular speaker, Dr. Stager was a keynote speaker at the 2009 National Educational Computing Conference and at major conferences around the world. He has been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Melbourne’s Trinity College on several occasions.
Gary was the new media producer for The Brian Lynch/Eddie Palmieri Project – Simpatíco, 2007 Grammy Award Winner for Best Latin Jazz Album of the Year. Dr. Stager is also a contributor to The Huffington Post and a Senior S.T.E.M. and Education Consultant to leading school architecture firm, Fielding Nair International. Gary also works with teachers and students as S.T.E.M. Director at The Oaks School in Hollywood, California.
“Gary Stager My Hope for School”
Clip from the imagine it!² The Power of Imagination documentary
This is What Learning Looks Like – Strategiest for Hands-on Learning, a conversation with Steve Hargadon
2012 San Mateo Maker Faire.
Ten Things to Do with a Laptop – Learning and Powerful Ideas
Keynote Address – ITEC Conference – Des Moines, Iowa – October 2011
Children, Computing and Creativity
Address to KERIS – Seoul, South Korea – October 2011
Gary Stager’s 2011 TEDxNYED Talk
NY, NY – March 2011
Gary Stager Discusses 1:1 Computing with the Omar Dengo Foundation
University of Costa Rica – San José, Costa Rica – June 2011
Gary Stager’s Plenary Address at the Constructionism 2010 Conference
Paris, France – August 2010
Gary Stager Excerpts from NECC ’09 Keynote Debate
June 2009 – Washington D.C.
For more information, go to: http://stager.tv/blog/?p=493
Dr. Stager interviewed by ICT Qatar
Doha, Qatar – Spring 2010
Learning Adventures: Transforming Real and Virtual Learning Environments
NECC 2009 Spotlight Session – Washington, D.C. – June 2009
More information may be found at http://stager.tv/blog/?p=531
- The Daily Papert
- Constructing Modern Knowledge
- Gary Stager’s Blog
- Gary Stager in The Huffington Post
- Gary Stager’s magazine articles
Selected Scholarly Papers
2012 Constructism 2012 Conference (Athens, Greece)
Friends of Papertian Constructionism
2008 Australian Conference on Educational Computing (Canberra, Australia)
- A New Paradigm for Evaluating the Learning Potential of an EdTech Activity
- Learning Adventures: A new approach for transforming real and virtual classroom environments
2007 EuroLogo XI (Bratislava, Slovak Republic)
Towards the Construction of a Language for Describing the Potential of Educational Computing Activities
Australian Conference on Educational Computing (Cairns, Australia)
Has Educational Computing Jumped the Shark?
2005 National Educational Computing Conference (Philadelphia)
Constructive Technology as the Key to Entering the Community of Learners
2005 World Conference on Computers in Education (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
- Towards a Pedagogy of Online Constructionist Learning
- The High Cost of Incrementalism in Educational Computing Implementation
2005 EuroLogo X Conference (Warsaw, Poland)
Papertian Constructionism & the Design of Productive Contexts for Learning
2004 International Conference on Learning Sciences (Santa Monica, California)
Climbing to Understanding: Lessons from an Experimental Learning Environment for Adjudicated Youth co-authored with Seymour Papert and David Cavallo
2003 Proceedings of the 3.1 and 3.3 working groups conference on International federation for information processing: ICT and the teacher of the future – Volume 23 (Melbourne, Australia)
Online Constructionism and the Future of Teacher Education co-authored with Terrence Cannings
1998 NECC ’98: Proceedings of the National Educating Computing Conference (19th, San Diego, CA, June 22-24, 1998)
Online Communities as a Vehicle for Developing Secondary Mathematics Educators co-authored with Terrence Cannings
1996 Independent Association of Registered Teachers of Victoria Monograph (Melbourne, Australia)
Computing and the Internet in Schools: An International Perspective on Developments and Directions
GOOD Magazine Cover Story Fall 2008
Come see Gary Stager speak at the forthcoming events!
November 5, 2012
16th Annual Innovative Learning Institute
November 6, 2012
Workshop Leader – Digital Reggio
NAEYC Annual Conference
November 7, 2012
ISACS Annual Conference
November 14, 2012
Three Rivers Educational Technology Conference
November 28, 2012
Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference
Manchester, New Hampshire
November 29, 2012
Illinois Educational Technology Conference
December 6, 2012
RCAC 2012 Conference
January 9, 2013
New keynote = The Creative Technology Revolution You Can’t Afford to Miss
Technology Leadership Institute
Briarcliff Manor, NY
January 27-28, 2013
Late May – Early June 2013
Constructing Modern Knowledge
July 9-12, 2013
If you wish to have Gary Stager lead PD at your school or speak at your event, contact him here
A list of workshop and keynote address topic may be found here.
Holly Jobe: President of the International Society for Technology in Education
“Gary is a well informed educational reform thinker. He brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to his speaking engagements and challenges people to think about the best possible learning environments we can create for students to be successful in their lives. Gary has been well received by audiences around the world.”
Peter Reynolds: Bestselling Author and Founder of FableVision
“Any conference seeking a keynote speaker to provoke its attendees to think deeply about authentic learning and inspired teaching should get in line to request Dr. Gary Stager. He sees through the No Child Left Behind fog with laser vision with eye-opening suggestions on how to truly engage and challenge learners. Having seen Gary work with children around the world, I can atest that Gary is a true champion of children.”
Michael Furdyk: Director of Technology & Founder of TakingITGlobal
“Gary is a thought-provoking visionary for educators and school leaders looking for help navigating the challenges of engaging students in this ever-changing information age. I’ve had the pleasure of listening to several of Gary’s keynotes, and they’ve always provided audiences with a challenge: whatever the fad or buzzword of the day happens to be, never stop questioning whether you’re doing the best you can to support students in constructing powerful learning outcomes.”
Roger Wagner: Designer of HyperStudio
“Gary Stager is one of the most energetic, engaging, and most importantly, provocative, speakers on the issues of the effective use of educational technology. He challenges, in fact, demands, audiences to examine their own beliefs about the use of technology, and to look closely at whether something is just the fad of the year, or something that makes (or can make) a meaningful difference in education. Because he is such a popular speaker, it is not easy for him to share his insights with as many groups as would like to have him present, but those that are able to have him appear will be very much rewarded for their effort.”
Gordon Dahlby, Ph.D.: Educational Technology Consultant: Leadership in Policy, Planning and Practice. Former member of the ISTE Board of Directors
“I highly recommend Dr. Stager as a keynote and featured speaker for the wide variety of education conferences and events that span our education landscape. His wide ranging experiences and research network sharpen and add credibility to his message for thoughtful change and reform in education and enhances conversations surrounding this cornerstone of every great society. I know him best for his writings and speaking events in the realm of best practice for effectively using technology to enhance education; removing barriers and encouraging problem solving. Dr. Stager’s wit and delivery will ignite a fire of curiosity into the status quo and into the what is possible. Since education is fundamentally about investing in a country’s future, it is prudent that your best thinkers be challenged by another great thinker, writer and speaker. Your institution and conference will grow deeply by Dr. Stager’s challenge to do strive to do better and be better as educators. It is, after all, for our kids and the foundations you lay for their future.”
Dr. Jorge Nelson: Founding Head of School at AMADEUS International School of Music, Vienna
“Dr. Gary Stager is, by far, one of the most innovative and charismatic leaders in educational technology and constructivist pedagogy in the world. He has decades of experience and brings his passion, commitment and expertise into the classrooms of international schools for the sake of the children. He can talk to kindergartners as well as superintendents with equal ease and effectiveness. I would hire Gary in a heartbeat. If you want the best practices in philosophy, pedagogy as well as instructional and communications technology there is no one better than Gary. Therefore, I give Dr. Gary Stager my highest recommendation without reserve.”
Larry Kahn: Director of Technology, The Kincaid School
“In 2010 I served on the committee that hired Gary Stager to serve as the Keynote speaker for the ISAST conference. Gary did a terrific job and conference attendees reported learning a great deal from him. This month Gary worked with my school’s department chair’s and administrative leaders. Many have reported to me how Gary got them thinking deeply about their practice and about how they need to change to meet the needs of today’s learners. I recommend Gary Stager highly to you.”
Margaret Riel, Ph.D.: Professor & Researcher at Pepperdine University and SRI
“Gary is one of the most creative instructors that I have worked with. I have learned a great deal from watching him revise his courses every time he teaches. He takes students on learning adventures with technology that they never forget. He is one of the most valued faculty members of our Pepperdine Masters online program.”
David Loader: Previously Principal of MLC in the 1990’s and later Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education, Melbourne Author of three books: The Inner Principal, Jousting for a New Generation and Our School Our Future
“I can only comment on Gary’s contribution in Australia and in this country his contribution to education has been outstanding. Gary has played a pivotal role in the introduction of technology in schools in Australia since 1990 when he was a consultant to MLC*, the first school to require all 2000 students above Grade 5 to own and use a laptop as part of the student’s schooling program. Without Gary’s knowledge, skills and enthusiasm this major initiative in change in schooling could not have been achieved as successfully as it was. While Gary did not lead the program, he was the very wise and supportive consultant at a time when such advisors and collaborators were extremely rare.
Since 1990 Gary has been a regular visitor to Australia speaking at conferences and supporting individual schools to understand the wise use of technology, how it might be introduced and supported, and very importantly, in the training and support of teachers working with new technology. He is always welcomed here in Australia and his insights and knowledge keenly sought.
Gary has provided a fresh voice in schooling, not just in technology. He is without doubt an educational visionary. He is focused on students, their welfare and particularly their learning. His insights and often unorthodox methods have contributed to healthy debate and to the development of more student friendly student learning settings and curriculum.
Gary has contributed to the educational literature, not only with his research that led to his Doctorate at the prestigious Melbourne University in Australia, but through his writing and speaking at seminars and conferences. His knowledge is fed by his significant reading and through his partnership with other outstanding leaders.
Gary is a supportive friend to many and maintains a vast network of people with whom he collaborates on a regular basis. He is tireless in working for a better future for all students and for his support for teachers and leaders as they address current problems and an uncertain future.
I believe Gary to be among the educational greats and would be nominated by many as the most influential person in their educational thinking.”
Victor Rivero: Writer & Former Editor of Converge Magazine
“Gary is both a pioneer and a leading-edge visionary in the education and technology world who is an effective articulator of everything and anything that might just be a fleeting but strongly ingrained thought in the collective unconscious of the educated masses. That’s why he’s so fun to listen to as a speaker, and why he is also so effective on a one-on-one level. And though he may very well be a laser-like education provocateur, he’s also a very big-hearted guy that communicates because he cares so much.”