For those of you who know me, you know I am an extremely mission driven human being. I’m deeply committed to education, to my belief that it is the key to a great life. And I’m cynical, I become very disturbed by anything that I feel gets in the way of education (like massive testing, textbook and curriculum companies who place profit before kids). I seek to help change education so it does a much better job of meeting the real needs of ALL children, including outside-the-box thinkers.
I spend countless hours immersed in my mission and I’m constantly striving to refine my ideas, to share them through blogging and speaking, and to work with complex students to help them transform their educational experience from one of frustration to one of confidence.
I follow A LOT of ed bloggers and read A LOT about unconventional approaches to education. I perpetually research anything and everything I can in order to learn more and become better at what I do.
Over the years there have been a good handful of people who have greatly inspired my work. They are people who are movers and shakers, renegades, disruptors, instigators, people who have dedicated part of their lives to helping children, regardless of how unpopular their views might be. Today I want to share some of these people with you because I think their work may help you on your journey. Without further ado…
1. Seth Godin
Seth is not an educator in the traditional sense, he’s a well-known “marketer.” However, I see him as a great teacher and as someone who is making a significant dent. He gives generously of his ideas to help the world, and his ideas about education are first-rate. I read his blog daily and I want to encourage you to sign up for it. Each day he sends out a quick and pithy article that makes me think.
Stop Stealing Dreams is a big picture manifesto that examines the purpose of education. I’ve read it a couple times and it’s a must-read for parents and educators.
Here’s the Stop Stealing Dreams TED talk.
2. Diane Ravitch
Diane is an intense and passionate personality who completely shifted her views on education. I’ve been following her blog since early 2013 and I’m blown away by her knowledge and dedication. She blogs like mad and writes deep, heavy articles clearly articulating her views of education reform. She dives into immense detail about any issue you can think of relating to education. She is relentless and cares about what’s right for kids. I suggest you sign up for her blog and check out one of her books, like Reign of Error (I’m well into it right now. Awesome.)
3. Alfie Kohn
Alfie does a phenomenal job dissecting the problems with our grading systems and standardized testing. He also looks at how many of the approaches parents take are counter productive and what to do about it. He is passionate and his writing is easily digestible.
4. John Taylor Gatto
John taught for 30 years, resigned and did a great deal of work to change education through looking at the history of education and the consequences that our system has on our children. I have read his book, “Dumbing Us Down: the Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling” a few times and recommend it highly. I have also watched and read just about everything I could get my hands on from him… I love his work. It’s important and he doesn’t hold back.
What about you?
I could name many others who have inspired me, like Joseph Renzulli, Howard Gardner and Benjamin Bloom. But what about you? Who are your favorites? Who has influenced your thinking about how we can best educate our children? Share with us below in the comments. We’d love to hear your thoughts.