02/25/2011

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The Power behind Envisioning A coach says to an athlete, “Envision crossing the finish line. . .alone. . . far ahead of any other contender. . . victory is yours. . . feel it. . . taste it. . . claim it.” Through visualization, this athlete grows more focused, motivated, and confident, thereby increasing the likelihood of his or her success. If you’re thinking, “That is one powerful technique,” you’re right. So, if I’m feeling altruistic, can I just envision an end to poverty or hunger? What about education? Can envisioning work there? The state of Georgia thinks it can . . . sort of. A Vision for Public Education in Georgia is an initiative developed by the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) and Georgia School Superintendents Association (GSSA) “to provide all children in Georgia with an equitable and excellent education that prepares them for college, career, and life." Officially sanctioned in the spring of 2009, the effort aims to make a difference for Georgia school children. Those involved in it—local school boards, superintendents, educators, parents, families, and students—envision success, and just as an athlete knows that high performance or mental preparation alone will not win the victory, so do the people engaged in this project. GSBA and GSSA got down to work by establishing a planning team that further divided its expertise into five key components. One of their first tasks was to squarely call out the challenges facing Georgia’s students, families, and educators, and then identify the processes and procedures that needed...
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Move over Technology, Make Room for Liberal Arts Americans always have been obsessed with time. In his book, Faster: The Acceleration of Just about Everything, James Gleick wrote over a decade ago that American society was moving ever-faster forward toward a pace that is so accelerated, we can’t slow down enough to realize it isn’t working. We are not saving time, using time more wisely, or creating more leisure time (although we like to think we are); we are just doing everything faster. And as author Nicolas Carr asserts in The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, technology and other advancements are now crowding out time we might otherwise spend in prolonged, focused concentration. Carr writes that our increased dexterity with technology comes at the loss of our ability to spend time in reflective thinking, thus producing a country of shallow thinkers, which is a very scary thought, when you really think about it. And that is why this recent headline in The Denver Post was so striking: “It’s old school—and it’s the future.” The article profiles Thomas MacLaren School in Colorado Springs, where single-sex classes, Latin classes, and reading the classics are the norm. All of the school’s 110 students follow the same liberal arts curriculum, including learning how to play a stringed instrument. This is not an elite school, curriculum, or group of students. One-third of students are on free or reduced lunch, and one-third belongs to a minority group. School leaders say they simply aim to attract and keep students for whom...

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