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February 25, 2006

Alternatives in India

India Taj Mahal.jpg
John Loflin worked with India educators to succeed with greater numbers of studentsLoflin in India.jpg using the results of research on learning, experiences with alternatives and the promise of democratic schools. This report contains valuable references about brain based learning, individualized learning and other aspects of school reform. The discussions created a powerful rationale for providing alternatives to serve all students in an area of schools serving 9,000 students.


“The need of the hour is not a regimented educational system,
but a responsive one. Thus the need for alternatives.” Dr. K.B. Kushal


“The need of the hour is not a regimented educational system,
but a responsive one. Thus the need for alternatives.”
Dr. K.B. Kushal


Conversations on Alternative Education and School Democracy

New Panvel, Airoli, and Thane D.A.V. Schools

Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra
India

February 8-12, 2006

John Loflin
Representing:
The International Association for Learning Alternatives
The Black and Latino Policy Institute
The Democratic Education Consortium
johnharrisloflin@yahoo.com

If we are to meet the challenge of leaving no child behind,
we must provide diverse learners with diverging pathways that lead to their success.
Mel Levine


Table of Contents
• Introduction
• The D.A.V. movement: In the service of education since 1886
• Alternate Education: Educational Alternatives in India
• Regarding the education of individuals: Learning alternatives p. 2
Using the 5 senses
Teaching through a common experience p. 3
Getting to know students: Teaching to their brain
The idea of cooperative learning: To teach is to learn twice
Expanding what it means to be smart: Democratizing our concept
of intelligence p. 4
Getting around the politics of assessment: not either/or, but both
• The International Association for Learning Alternatives p. 5
• Are alternative education and democracy the same things?
The last thing democracy needs is a one-size-fits-all academic
paradigm p. 6
Essential tips for teaching students the skills of democracy
Students complain: “That’s not fair!” Now there’s a response:
“Let’s all decide!” p. 7
• The Centre for Alternative Education
USA proliferation of so-called “At-risk” alternatives
• A Learner’s Bill of Rights: The cross-cultural research project
between the Center for Inquiry of the Indianapolis Public Schools
and the New Panvel DAV Public School in Navi Mumbai p. 8
• Conclusions: DAV New Mumbai schools are advancing
• Recommendations p. 9
• References


Introduction
In December of 2004, after the 12th International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC)--held that year in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, India, I was asked by Dayanand Anglo-Vedic (DAV) Regional Directorate, Dr. K. B. Kushal, to visit the New Panvel area school in Navi Mumbai.

Last July, while attending IDEC 2005 in Berlin, Germany, I was asked to re-visit New Panvel and also consult and advise other particular DAV schools. These included schools in Airoli and Thane areas. All 3 schools are pre-K to 11 (going to 12th grade) programs with around 3000-3500 students each.

Dialogues with DAV administration, teaching staff, and students concerned alternative teaching strategies, and alternative education--its development and rationale. Alternative education concepts and results of brain-research were compared. My notion of Homo curaos and my Learner’s Bill of Rights research were introduced. The ideas of educational alternatives and democracy, both of which center on diversity--individual differences--were shown to reinforce one another. Suggestions were made concerning how the possible limitations of large school and classroom size can me overcome, and how the DAV organization can model the democratic initiatives presently being implemented in their schools.

The D.A.V. movement: In the service of education since 1886
In 1885, to fulfill the goal of Maharshi Swami Dayanand Saraswati to educate the India’ s masses, a group of socially progressive people formed the DAV College Trust and Management Society. Today, the DAV schools group represents the largest non-governmental public school organization in India with over 600 schools including one hospital, along with technical, management, vocational, medical, education, pharmacy, and. dentistry colleges. This number includes more than 400 elementary, middle and high schools.

Alternate Education: Educational Alternatives in India
Dr. Kushal also is director of the Dayanand Institute of Education Management and Research (DIEMR). See www.diemr.org. Grounded in the values of innovation and transformation, the DIEMR mission is to continually reflect on the trends and tendencies of education in the global contexts; focus on effective curriculum development and management; review and develop multiple learning and teaching strategies, influence the relationship between education/schools and spirituality; shine the light of knowledge on the politics of language; and, promote processes and integration of progressive national educational initiatives, which are based on global best practices, in the private and public education domain.

DIEMR has so far organized over 6 national-level seminars and conferences on
themes of holistic and integrated education, quality concerns in K-12 and higher education, and education for social transformation. These represent the efforts of
DIEMR and DAV to promote an extensive sharing of innovative practices and strategies that take education’s role and objectives beyond memorization and rote-learning.


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“This theme (Alternate Education) was chosen to explore together the available alternatives in the areas of teaching, learning and evaluation. This is extremely relevant to the current educational scenario since the volatility of change taking place around us requires change in mind-sets. We need transitions from the agrarian conditioning to the logical orientations and to the emerging knowledge society.

Alternative learning will enable the learners to imbibe qualities like responsiveness, learning of multiple skills and multiple competencies” (Kushal & Sharma, 2002).

What is particularly relevant is the November 30, 2002 Alternate Education Conference in Pune, India. See www.diemr.org for full conference report.

Under the leadership of Dr. Kushal, western region schools are in the process reviewing United States best practices (Loflin, 2004) so as to continuously improve educational outcomes for DAV students, families, and India.

Regarding the education of individuals: Learning alternatives
The basis of the conversations on learning alternatives and teaching strategies began with the question: Are humans by nature born curious and motivated to learn? All the participants said, yes. This led to the introduction of Homo curaos and a picture of a little boy curious about an object—epitomizing our innate need and drive to know.
Alternative education is a variety of equal paths
Dr. Robert Fizzell

The essence of alternative education is that there is no one best way to learn. This implies there is no one best way to teach and/or to assess. The groups of teachers
discussed recent brain-based learning/teaching research (Scherer, 1997)—concepts that reinforce classical alternative education ideas:

• The brain is essentially curious; it must be to survive.
• The brain does not have to be taught how to learn.
• The brain connects/associates new information to what it already knows.
• The search for meaning is innate. The search for meaning occurs through “patterning” simultaneously perceiving and creating parts and wholes.
• Each brain is uniquely organized. We are intelligent in many ways. We learn through many different styles.
• The brain is a social brain—we learn from each other.
• Emotions are involved in learning—we are involved in and remember more when we learn about things that matter to us.
• The understanding of learning will become the key issue of our time for educators.

Using the 5 senses
Rosemary Dolinsky’s book, Cutting Edge Connections in Today's Classroom: Teaching Above and Beyond Tradition (2003) was used to show various ways to learn. Introduced was the idea that we have only 5 senses with which to take in information
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and understand the world. And schools, along with its narrow definition of what it means to be smart (verbal-analytical) emphasize talking and listening—leaving out touch (hands-on), taste, and smell. Ideas concerning how to involve all five senses in teaching/learning and memory were reviewed. Staff were involved in showing how vocabulary could be introduced, defined and memorized through bodily pantomime movements.

Teaching through a common experience
The idea used by those in the Algebra Project in the United States is another example that was discussed concerning how educators can make classroom-learning work for students. At the beginning of each project everyone, including teachers, shares a bus ride. Later, as Algebra Project staff and students discuss ideas and go about understanding new information they use this common experience as a shared reference point—basing new information on what the brain already knows due to the shared bus ride. This makes a lot of sense and can be very simple to implement.

Getting to know students: Teaching to their brain
One way of looking at teaching is a matter of good communication skills. When one can add the idea that one is teaching to the brain—the brain connects new information to what it already knows—this implies teachers must know students well in order to communicate optimally with their brain. Ways to get to know students better were discussed. An interest survey on the kinds of games students play, the popular dances they do, the TV shows they watch, the artists and music the enjoy, hobby and sports interests, or the food they prefer was given out.

Many faltering students have specialized minds—
brains exquisitely wired to perform certain kinds of tasks masterfully.
Mel Levine

Relationships with students were encouraged to promote trust. Also, so that teachers could get to know students better and consequently be better able to relate academic information to what the student (and his/her brain) already knows, getting to know students via the interest survey was discussed. This information could also be used to relate course outcomes to the interests and career goals of students.

The idea of cooperative learning: To teach is to learn twice
The strategy of cooperative learning was reviewed. Concerns covering individual achievement and competition were discussed. The balance among high standards (excellence), a commitment to individuality (equity), and the value of helping others (community) was critiqued.

Yet, since the brain is a social brain, the value of (minds) learning together and helping each other was seriously considered. Also, the benefits to everyone by the adage, “To teach is to learn twice,” was taken into account as the groups discussed
the advantages for older students of “tutoring” younger ones and/or providing knowledge through actual lesson presentations or school/class projects.


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Creating learning communities, where students and teachers that support each other was considered (Miller, 2000).

Expanding what it means to be smart: Democratizing Intelligence
With DAV’s interest in different ways to teach, learn, and assess, their traditional emphasis on academics and strong test scores became opened to supplementary and complementary points of view. The ideas of Robert Sternberg and Arnold B. Skromme were introduced.

The concept of successful intelligence (Sternberg, 1996) or how practical and creative intelligences determine success in life differs from IQ (which involves academic achievement) or emotional intelligence (which involves thinking most relevant to personal relationships). Successfully intelligent people know that no one is good at everything. The idea that there is a general factor of intelligence that can be measured by IQ and similar tests is a myth that is supported only because of the range of abilities they measure is narrow. Once we expand the range of abilities we test for, the general IQ factor disappears--and suddenly we find thousand of students who are smarter than they think.

Successful intelligence is a kind of intelligence used to achieve important goals. Here people have been able to acquire, develop, and apply a full range of intellectual skills—not just the narrow attributes schools value. These persons may not do well on tests, but have something more important:

They know their strengths and their weaknesses. They take advantage of their strengths and compensate for, correct, or find ways around their weaknesses.

Skromme’s Seven Ability Plan (1998), 7 Bell curves for each student, was discussed. Having reviewed the characteristics of accomplished people, he argues that memorization is not enough to insure success in life. He sees what he calls “Memory IQ” as just one of 7 important abilities. The others are: creativity, dexterity, empathy, judgment, motivation and personality. He believes that if a person is a C- student academically, but is creative and gets along well with others, they can be just a successful (professionally and financially) as the academic A+ student.

From Rita Dunn and Kenneth Dunn’s initial Learning Style Inventory (1978) to Gardener’s Multiple Intelligences concept (1993) on to Robert Sternberg’s article, “What does it mean to be smart?” (1997) then to Wendy Williams piece, “Democratizing Intelligence” (1998), next to Melvin Levine’s book, A mind at a time (2002) and finally culminating in Educational alternatives for everyone by Don Glines (2002), diversity in education and schooling concepts has been the essence of alternative education.

Getting around the politics of assessment: not either/or, but both
The issues involved with assessment, particularly traditional vs. non-traditional assessment alternatives were brought to light. Authentic assessments strategies, such as The Performance Assessment Chart created by Bobby W. Prewitt (1997),
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were displayed. The complementary dimensions to working with Dr. Kathleen Bulter’s (1999) Viewpoints approach to learning styles and its application through the Strategy Chart for Learning Styles, Levels of Thinking, and Performance were reviewed.

The outcomes of both traditional exams and performance assessments were discussed. Providing both would allow student get a fairer review--from potential employers, schools, colleges or universities after graduation--of what/how much they know and can do then they would if only one type of assessment were valued by DAV.

The International Association of Learning Alternatives (IALA)
The IALA was introduced and participants were encouraged to open their window to the world of alternatives news via the monthly IALA newsletter by joining on at www.learningalternatives.net. The global varieties of alternative schools were discussed. Small schools, schools within schools, the Sudbury model, free schools, Montessori schools, Waldorf schools, magnets, democratic schools, charters, schools without walls, residential schools, virtual schools, military schools, traditional schools, distance learning, un-schooling, alternative schools of choice and for the at-risk, and homeschooling were some of the types mentioned.

Educational alternatives for everyone all the time
Dr. Donald Glines

The Minnesota charter school, No Bells, No Books, No Teachers, and Moscow’s public, School of Self-determination, were used as examples of child-centered education to promote discussion about to what extent children/students can be left alone to learn (since we all agreed children are born curious and motivated to learn) and how much should be managed/lead by adults.

Are alternative education and democracy the same things?
Alternative education can be defined as: A variety of equal paths. With the emphasis on variety (including traditional paths)--teaching (styles), learning (styles), and what it means to be smart (kinds of minds/intelligences/abilities), diversity is the theme.

Democracy can be defined as: How individuals who are different/groups who are different share the same space. Democracy answers the questions: What is fair for everyone? What is justice? In other words, if we were all the same or we all agreed with each other, we would not need democracy. Thus, diversity needs democracy. And, India especially needs democracy. As well as a variety of religions, sects, nationalities, social classes, and ethnic groups, the nation has 22 different states, each with its own language and its own cuisine!

The ideas of Yaacov Hecht, Director of the Institute of Democratic Education (www.democratic-edu.org) were discussed. Hecht asserts that the 1920s were the progressive era in education, and the 1960s were the times of free schools and alternative education. He concludes that the 1990s represent the introduction of the progressive democratic education movement.

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He notes that traditional schools place emphasis on just 2 abilities: memorizing information and analyzing information. This narrowness counters the reality and the value democracy places on diversity.

Hecht proposes what he calls Pluralistic Learning: Schools must be places that discovers, emphasizes, and develops strengths of each student (Hecht, 2002).

Dr. Mel Levine’s concept of neural developmental pluralism--the celebration of all kind of minds--epitomizes alternative education’s core values: diversity and variety. He suggests schools develop study projects in areas of an individual student’s personal affinity and ability (Levine, 2003).

I look forward to the day when our schools offer every
student the opportunity to become a leading expert on a chosen topic.
Mel Levine

Students must leave school being an expert in an area. They suggest schools list topics over 6th, 7th, and 8th standards/grades and encourage students to pursue an interest across time and disciplines. Providing students a chance to be a leading expert on a chosen topic and eventually share it with others via presentations, websites, community-based projects, and systemic research can do this.

The last thing democracy needs is a one-size-fits-all academic paradigm
Pluralistic Learning emphasizes the individual and how they are different: all kinds of minds, cultures, interests, needs, learning styles, abilities, and intelligences—both traditional and non-traditional. The result of Pluralistic Learning is a democratic culture—striking a balance with the emphasis on common standards.

E pluribus unum---alongside the many, the one
Walter C. Parker

With their mutual respect for the individual (and individual groups) and the implied emphasis on diversity (and the common good), alternative education and democracy are the same things. This is profound!

Teaching students the skills of democracy (Woods, 1998; Parker, 2003)
a. Find as many ways as possible for students to take responsibility for the daily life of the school. They can be involved in decision-making about schedules, budgets, activities, curriculum, clubs, staffing, fixing school computers, counseling, etc.

b. Create critical thinkers. Find ways for students to apply critical thinking skills essential to citizenship. Students need to be able to gather information from many sources, reflect on it, and then make decisions. This is what voting is all about.

c. Practice the democratic habits of mind. Listening, deliberating, empathizing, reasoning, and compromising are skills necessary for living in a democracy

d. Practice the rights and responsibilities of the nation’s constitution within the school. Administrators and teachers alike should ask whether students have a free press in school, can express dissent, and elect their own leaders.
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Students: “That’s not fair!” Now there’s a response: “Let’s all decide!”
One very important characteristic about democracy discussed was the value of justice. Any parent or anyone who works with children and youth know being fair is up there with love and respect as a necessary part of relationships. In fact, being fair is almost a demand!

We see, daily in the news, discourses about government programs; social, economic, education, and labor issues; and, criminal and civil trials. In all cases, the question is: What is fair? Particularly helpful here is that adults no longer have to avoid this sticky issue.

Now children and youth have an opportunity to be involved with a historically important discussion about the nature of justice. In Western culture, the legacy streams from the Egyptians, on through to the Greeks and Romans, through the European Renaissance and Enlightenment to discussions by philosophers John Rawles (1971) and Jurgen Habermas (1983).

Involving students in classroom and school decisions will help everyone. This is good and will pay off in better staff/student and student/student relationships. It will improve school climate, academic performance, and lower suspension/expulsion rates (Hannam, 2005) while increasing the possibilities of civic participation by students after graduation (Loflin, 2003).

The Centre for Alternative Education
Realizing India was moving into the 21st century using traditional educational ideas, DAV school personnel looked into alternative education as a means of reaching students underserved by the singularity of this schooling approach. Theories, issues and ideas centering around ways of reaching all students, respecting individuality and culture, expanding teaching styles and strategies, exploring testing strategies that would bring equity to assessment, and reviewing types of schools and non-schooling approaches were discussed.

This naturally led to the November 30, 2002 Alternate Education Conference in Pune, India. See www.diemr.org for full conference report.

All of this peaked on February 10, 2006 when Navi Mumbai DAV schools dedicated a room of the New Panvel area school to house their growing collection of alternative education/schooling information, ideas, and research from around the world. This underscored their commitment to each student and to a viable future for the DAV movement and India.

USA proliferation of so-called “At-risk” alternatives
Alternative education is now viewed globally as a proactive innovate way of reaching all students—a genuine alternative to the traditional. Or as Dr Kushal notes above, it is that which: “…enable(s) the learners to imbibe qualities like responsiveness, learning of multiple skills and multiple competencies.”

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This begs the questions: Why do U.S. alternative schools continue to be seen as programs for bad kids? Why are they called warehouses, or “soft jails”? Why do these reactive “at-risk” alternatives of the traditional system continue to be places where students are sent to be “fixed” and prepared for re-assimilated—re-assimilation into a national mainstream that graduates only 43% of its Black males (Orfield, Losen, Wald, & Swason, 2001)? Created to uphold the authority and standards of the public schools, these programs aimed at keeping students in school and graduating. With national graduation rates tragically low, it is obvious these discipline-oriented programs do not work.

Do current U.S. alternatives have the cart before the horse? Jose Evans, chairman of the Black & Latino Policy Institute notes, “Why wait until students become disruptive? Learning alternatives should be available to everyone all the time” (Evans, 2005).

Learn more about international alternative programs from these websites: AERO’s international conferences (www.educationrevilution.org) and the International Democratic Education Conference (www.idec2006.org). Neither conference has so-called “at-risk” alternative philosophy programs represented.

A Learner’s Bill of Rights (LBR): The cross-cultural research project between The Center for Inquiry (CFI) of the Indianapolis Public Schools and the New Panvel School of the DAV Public Schools in Navi Mumbai
With various school exchanges hoped for in the future, brochures, magazines, articles, and videos are being shared between CFI and New Panvel staff/students. New Panvel 5th standard students involved in the study viewed the CFI student-produced video. They read and answered letters CFI students wrote to them. Also, Thane DAV School sent materials about their program to CFI.

Once participants discussed our natural curiosity and motivation to learn, A Learner’s Bill of Rights concept was introduced as a means to maintain these innate characteristics. An explanation and intent of the cross-cultural study was introduced.

Conclusions: DAV New Mumbai schools are advancing:
• From 20th century concepts to also include 21st century concepts of intelligence
• From a narrow definition of school success to a broader view
• From teacher centered to also include child/student centered education
• From uniformity to also include variety, diversity, and plurality
• From common standards (one common bell curve) to also include a variety of bell curves.
• From traditional hierarchical decision-making to also include democratic shared decision-making
• From traditional assessment to also include non-traditional/authentic assessments

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• From alternative education for none or some to educational alternative for everyone all the time
• From teaching about democracy to also include modeling/practicing democracy in the classrooms, schools, and community
• From teaching to the group to also include customizing learning and curriculum and individual learning plans
• From teaching to the group to also include teaching to the brain
• From being gender neutral to being aware of gender: how boys and girls learn differently
• From few teaching styles to also include a variety of teaching styles
• From competition between students (excellence) to also include emphasizing “personal best”—competing with oneself.
• From one best way to learn to there is no one best way to learn
• From what students know to also include what students can do
• From testing as the end of learning to also include learning must have a product
• a single kind of mind to also include all kinds of minds
• From dressing up as past and present characters to also include costumes representing all the different kinds of minds students have


Recommendations
a. Continue to take advantage of the trust students and their families have for DAV schools and staff to continue to pursue and use new and progressive ideas—ideas that a lower level of trust could inhibit. The schools I visited were beautiful, clean, and safe. The menu was healthy. The school climate reflected Indian culture and a healthy Indian nationalism. I was especially impressed with infusion of the written, visual and performing arts in the curriculum. Student test scores reflected a match between student performance and high academic expectations. Congratulations DAV!

b. Review the potential limitations of large class and school size on student/school success. Since there is a good possibility that students will attend a particular DAV school from K-12, over time staff can get to know each student as though school/classroom size were smaller.

Follow suggestions of Levine and Hecht: At 6th standard begin a process of individualization/customizing i.e. individualized education plans (IEPs), “folders” containing information on a student’s strengths, interests, hobbies/pastimes, needs, abilities, learning styles, intelligences. This will give school/classroom teachers a way of getting to know students so as to optimize brain-based education, building on strengths to create expertise as well and trusting relationships between students and teachers/school staff. Thus, possibly, by the time a student is in 10th standard, most of the education is self-directed/independent learning and study.


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c. Continue to carry out the October 2005 collaborative school/classroom (DAV/AERO’s Jerry Mintz) democratization initiative. Remember Mr. Mintz planted the seeds of shared-decision making in students of each standard. Realize that many classroom teachers have not experienced complete democratic shared decision-making and may feel somewhat powerless in DAV organization—making them less motivated to share power with students.

Remember, according to pluralized learning, customization is democratization. Perhaps one per week or 2-3 times per month have a day where students study what they want, where they want, when they want, and at what “speed”/rate with which they feel comfortable; propose (have an expert come in) or (themselves) give presentations (plays, displays, movies) workshops or mini-courses of interest to them and/or others in and outside the school; or, do independent study, internships, job shadowing or apprenticeships, service learning/civic activities and projects.

d. Begin to discuss how current Western Region DAV administrative hierarchy can model, for DAV students and staff, a democratic shared decision-making approach concerning decisions that affect/relate to them. From what to buy for classrooms to hiring teachers, from lunch menus to curriculum options, high to low Western Region DAV administration, as well as school principals, must begin to involve parents, teachers, and students in the school and classroom decision that affect and relate to them. Otherwise, current DAV school democracy initiatives will ring hollow with hypocrisy.

_________________
Special recognition goes to Dr. K.B. Kushal, Western Regional Director, DAV Institutions; Principal Mrs. Bhaswati Bhattacharjee of New Panvel and LBR project assistants and New Panvel teachers Mrs. Smita Mandlik and Mrs. Suja Panicker; Principal Mr. Rajeev Kumar of Airoli; Principal Mrs.Vidya Jyote of Thane; and, Dr. H. L. Kaila, Head (Psychology), Dept. of PG Studies & Research, S.N.D.T. Women's University, Churchgate, Mumbai.

Also, special thanks to the Dr. Wayne Jennings, chairman of the board of the IALA; Dr. Jose Rosario, professor of education, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI); Jose Evans, chairman of the Black & Latino Policy Institute in Indianapolis; and, staff and students at The Center for Inquiry, Indianapolis Public Schools No. 2.
References
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performance. Columbia, CT: The Learner’s Dimension.
Dolinsky, D. (2003). Cutting Edge Connections in Today's Classroom: Teaching Above
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Dunn, R. and Dunn, K. (1978) Teaching students through their individual learning
styles. Reston, VA: Reston Publications Company.
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The Indianapolis Star. p. A 13.
Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New
York,NY: Basic Books.
Glines, D. (2002). Educational alternatives for everyone. Minneapolis, MN: The
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Habermas, J. (1983). Theory and communicative action. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
Hannam, D. (Spring 2005). Education for democracy and education through
democracy. Teaching Citizenship Magazine. United Kingdom: Association for
Teaching Citizenship (ACT). www.teachingcitizenship.org.uk
Hecht, Y. (2002). Pluralistic Learning. Tel Aviv, Israel: The Institute for Democratic
Education. www.democratic-edu.org
Hoppe, D. (2005). Democratic schools: IPS needs to try them. Indianapolis, IN: NUVO.
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Loflin, J. (2003). Common Sense--Explaining low voter turnout: More key reforms to
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NUVO. Part 1 www.nuvo.net/archive/2004/09/01/follow_best_practices.html,
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Loflin, J. (2005). The Power of democratic public schools to bring peace and justice
to society. The Journal. Vol. XXII Nos. 7-9. Indianapolis, IN: Indianapolis Peace and
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Miller, R. (2002). Creating learning communities. Brandon, VT: Foundation for
Educational Renewal.
Orfield, G., Losen, D., Wald, J.and Swanson, C. (2001). Losing our future: How
minority youth are being left behind by the graduation rate crisis. Cambridge, MA:
The Civil Rights Project and Harvard University, The Urban Institute, Advocates for
Children of New York, and The Civil Society Institute.
Parker, W. (Ed.) (2003). Teaching democracy: Unity and diversity in public life. New
York, NY: Teachers College Press
Prewitt, B. (1997). The performance assessment chart. Columbia, CT: The Learner’s
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54, 6: 20-24. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:33 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2006

Personalized Education

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Personalized Education Now advocates student managed learning, a shift from dependency to independence, use of an educational landscape of opportunities, and other advanced concepts. Their 2 newsletters and 2 journals provide lively paradigm shifting items to advocate for learner-centered, learner-directed and democratic programs. A related organization Education Heretics Press offers well-received but radical books including Natural Learning and the Natural Curriculum, Comparing Learning Systems and items on home schooling. Probably no one does a better job of documenting the harsh reality of traditional practices on the human spirit and learning.

They provide descriptions of new approaches to learning, vision statements, principles, alternatives to schools, critiques on testing, book reviews, upcoming conferences and more. Janet and Roland Meighan of Bramcote Hills, Nottingham, England and the board of trustees provide an excellent international resource and are highly recommended sources for serious critics of traditional practices.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 08:39 AM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2006

Search for Topics of Interest

You can search for a topic to find all previous information and links. Searchlight.jpgFor example, you can find information on subjects like virtual schools, unschooling, middle colleges or other alternatives by either typing in the term in the "Search this site" box or by clicking on the term under "Blog Categories." Immediately, the computer will find all previous blogs with their links to websites. Try it! You will love this feature. It gives you access to much material for research on a topic.

Also note that this website under "Site Navigation" has a wealth of information about us, our national conference, background articles, research, membership, our Board, minutes, a great book on alternatives you can order, a video about one of the most famous and innovative schools, state laws, criteria for alternatives, related conferences, keynote speech by Don Glines and much more including how to contact us.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 03:06 PM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2006

Leadership for Educational Entrepreneurs

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This master’s degree program at Arizona State University, Phoenix, blends education and business courses to prepare leaders for charter schools or other alternatives. Leadership for Educational Entrepreneurs (LEE) is an innovative, interdisciplinary Master's program designed for working professionals in the charter school movement. The program is delivered via online courses, summer institutes and through regional sites. Program participants, or protégés, take 12 courses focused on subjects like educational leadership, assessment, marketing, accountability, and facilities. They are paired with a mentor, participate in a 140-hour internship, dialogue with school administrators and businesspeople, and design an independent research project within the 18-month program. The program receives federal funding as a model for future training. Besides the web site for information, Education Week did a piece on the program.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)