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In a recent (January 30th, 2012) New Yorker article on “Groupthink,” author Jonah Lehrer observes the following: The most creative spaces are those which hurl us together. It is the human friction that makes the sparks. Lehrer's statement, grounded in decades of research in social psychology, is that the most constructive form of collaboration is one in which a diverse group of people, i.e., those from different discipline areas and backgrounds, engage in “the vigorous exchange of clashing perspectives.” Educators who have participated in effective PLCs have learned that some degree of conflict between group members is not only healthy but, in many cases, necessary to move the group forward. However, when strongly-opinionated individuals are unwilling to even consider differing perspectives, progress is unlikely. Perhaps ...

Making Diplomas Meaningful: Standardization and Customization
Making diplomas meaningful: Standardization and customization

Standards are nothing new; for centuries people have debated what students should learn. In the opening lines of Charles Dickens's Hard Times, Superintendent Gradgrind delivers a rousing message about his standards to a teacher and his class.

NOW, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them.

In Gradgrind's mind, students either learned facts or what he terms “fancy”—fiction, poetry, the arts, and even “What if” reasoning. Students need to be taught, for example, that carpeting ...

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