I cannot wait to see Bad Teacher, starring Cameron Diaz, Jason Segal and Justin Tinberlake. I will see it as soon as possible.

I fully predict fake outrage from educators across the land because it is never permissible to use the words, bad and teacher in the same sentence. Education is a criticism free zone and dissent is often equated with defect.

I will only be offended if Bad Teacher fails to be 1) funny and 2) fearless. There is plenty to satirize, mock and criticize in education. I have not seen anything in the advertising for the film that is worse than the abuse I witnessed in middle school.

I am optimistic that the public will be made to question some destructive education policies, like merit pay and standardized testing, since the trailer suggests that the film’s “Bad Teacher” wants to raise test scores in order to use her merit pay to purchase breast implants.

If the film does stink or is offensive to teachers, too bad!

Sticks and stones… It’s a comedy! Lighten up! Grow up! You’ll live.

Just in case the fake outrage machine is turned up to 11, might I suggest that educators learn from the example of the Church of Latter Day Saints who have made a concerted effort to not be outraged by the Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon. There are worse things than being made fun of. Appearing humorless is one of them.

Bad Teacher opens June 24th!

Want to see a fantastic film savagely mocking education? Check out the classic 1984 film, Teachers, starring Nick Nolte, JoBeth Williams, Judd Hirsch, Ralph Macchio and Richard Mulligan.

My parents both worked in sales for much of my life. I remember deciding as a young child that sales was not for me. I studied to be a jazz musician and then became an educator, speaker and journalist.

There will be lots of talk at next week’s ISTE Conference about “those of us in the industry.”

You can keep your industry! I’m an educator!

Better yet, keep your industry away from my professional community.

I’ll be in Philadelphia from June 26-30th for the annual ISTE (formerly NECC) Conference. I have presented at all but one of these conferences since 1987 (also in Philadelphia). Over those 24 conferences, I’ve presented somewhere between 50 and 75 presentations and workshops. Being part of the keynote event at the 2009 NECC remains one of the highlights of my career.

Many of you know that I have been critical of the ISTE Conference program over the years and find the exhibit hall to be a vulgar distraction, but I would not miss it for anything. Why? Because I have dedicated 29 years of my life to using computers in ways that amplify the human potential of each child and this conference is the largest event in the field I love

ISTE is always an exhausting whirlwind. Please stop by one of the following sessions and say, “hi!”

The 5th Annual Constructivist Celebration

June 26, 2011 – 8:30 – 3:30 PM

Maggiano’s Little Italy
For the fifth consecutive year, this day-long workshop combines fun, creativity and computing. For a very reasonable $60, you will receive free creativity software worth hundreds of dollars from the world’s best school software companies, breakfast, snacks and lunch, and a full-day workshop led by Gary Stager and other members of the Constructivist Consortium. It’s always a sell-out, but right now there are still a few spaces left to join in the fun, so register today – you won’t regret it!

At the end of the day, Sylvia Martinez of Generation YES moderate a conversation between Will Richardson (author and king of  the edubloggers) and Gary Stager on “Digging Deeper” which is sure to be fun and thought-provoking.

SPOTLIGHT:  The Best Educational Ideas in the World: High-Tech Learning Adventures

Tuesday, 6/28/2011, 2:00pm–3:00pm     PACC 103BC
Gary Stager, The Constructivist Consortium
Join us on a tour of the best education ideas in the world! Lessons learned en route create the productive knowledge construction contexts required for a rewarding life. This presentation is a sneak peek at a forthcoming book from Jossey-Bass/Wiley.

The Fix Is In: Social Mobilization and School Reform (Model lesson)

Wednesday, 6/29/2011, 10:15am–11:15am       PACC 119B
Carl Anderson, East Metro Integration District 6067 with Scott Schwister and Gary Stager
Citizen journalism is a growing phenomena empowered by Web 2.0 technologies. Learn how to use it in your classroom to empower students.

SPOTLIGHT:  LOL@ISTE: Unlocking Your Potential to Laugh

Wednesday, 6/29/2011, 11:45am–12:45pm   PACC 201BC
Saul Rockman, Michael Jay, Roger Wagner and Gary Stager
The usual collection of punsters, jokesters, storytellers, and really terrible singers strives to explain why technology is so important in education and life.  Recommended by ISTE’s SIGGS

SIGTC Forum: So You Want an iPad? K-20 Implications and Integration

Tuesday, 6/28/2011, 10:30am–12:30pm PACC 103A

Camilla Gagliolo, Arlington Public Schools, and Craig Nansen, Minot Public Schools and Gary Stager will speak. Recommended by ISTE’s SIGTC

This PDF contains a schedule of sessions addressing creativity and computing by friends of The Constructivist Consortium.

Write a five-paragraph essay beginning with…

Paul Revere and Sarah Palin go horseback riding…

Teachers, you’re welcome!

This weekend, my nephew could not fully attend to visiting his grandmother in the hospital because he had very important homework to finish. That’s right, this fourteen year-old high-achieving student needed to color a worksheet of an Aztec God for Social Studies class. Grandma would just have to wait! Coloring is apparently one of those “21st Century Skills” you hear so much about.

Although the positive effects of homework are largely mythical, there is plenty of evidence that is detrimental in countless ways. One under-discussed issue surrounding homework policies is just how much homework is time-wasting crap designed, as John Taylor-Gatto reminds us, to extend the surveillance powers of the school into the personal time and space of children.

Teenagers being asked to spend their non-school hours coloring know that the assignment is ridiculous and may feel the same way about you.

So teachers, why do you do it?

Is the moronic consumption of kids’ time based on a lack of imagination and slavish adherence to someone else’s curriculum or because “the devil made me do it?” The “Flip Wilson defense” is as inexcusable and unconscionable as the “Nuremberg Defense.”

If children cannot count on you to insulate them from the madness of the world, who can they trust?


Read more:

I also wrote about coloring in high school in the 2003 article, “A Whole Lotta Coloring Going On.

  1. The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn
  2. The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning by Etta Kralovek and John Buell
  3. The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Children and What Parents Can Do About It by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish

Homework articles by Alfie Kohn:

Several years ago I helped design a fantastic project-based peer-teaching program, TechYes!, for my friends at Generation YES! TechYes!, was in an anticipation of the terrible standardized tests that were likely to dominate the quest for “measuring” student “tech skills” or “tech literacy.”

Where is the List of Tech Skills?
By Gary S. Stager, Ph.D.
© 2004 Generation YES!

Some educators looking at TechYes! may be wondering where the publisher hid the list of technology skills every eighth grader should master. Look no further. There is no such checklist.

Politicians and textbook publishers impose lists of curricular objectives on teachers and they in turn burden kids with a mountain of requirements that must be satisfied. Assumptions are made about teacher competence and their ability to assess student needs and accomplishments. Such checklists diminish classroom creativity and undermine teacher professionalism.

TechYes! believes that professional teachers are best suited to make decisions regarding the educational needs of their students. No rubric can replace a teacher with an intimate knowledge of his/her students. Peer editing and collaboration contributes to a productive learning context for students and frees teachers from extra marking. TechYes! models and embraces peer editing in an authentic context.

Curriculum, by its very nature attempts to design a sequence of activities and objectives broad enough to address a wide audience. The individual needs, experience and fluency of students are often lost in the anonymity of textbooks. All of Generation Yes’ programs celebrate the talents and potential of each child.

There remains much incongruity between our rhetoric and our teaching practice. Adults boast routinely of how “children are so competent with technology,” how “they know so much more than us – are more confident, fluent, knowledgeable.” Then we treat them as, well, children incapable of finding the return key or saving a file without our intervention.

Tech skills are like a camel, a horse designed by committee. Traditional approaches to computer literacy instruction diminish the intellectual and creative potential of this most powerful knowledge machine. When faced with the challenge of preparing students to be technologically literate by the end of eighth grade teams of well-meaning adults embarked on a process of determining what an eighth grader should know. This inevitably leads to the construction of a bottomless pit of arcane tech skills in checklist form.

Schools have the option of purchasing curriculum that turns using scrollbars into a four-year scope and sequence. Proclamations that all children will use a mouse leads to the inevitable questions, “one or two button?” “With or without a scrollbar?” Worst of all, such curricular approaches are needlessly technocentric. The focus is on the learning of isolated tech skills rather than on the application of tech skills to learn everything else.

Put away your number two pencils. TechYes! offers an important alternative.

Rubrics offer students a minimum standard they must transcend to satisfy someone else’s assignment. TechYes! students demonstrate technological fluency by constructing personally meaningful projects. These projects value audience and purpose, a quality lacking in more traditional forms of assessment.

I fully anticipate that TechYes! projects will exceed the modest expectations of No Child Left Behind and the ISTE NETs. Many will be creative, complex and inspirational. Most of all, I hope the projects will be useful. When concerned with educational excellence, I always bet on kids.