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Posted by on Oct 30, 2017 in Education | 0 comments

“Waiting for Superman”: Tenure, Unions and a Real Superhero

“Waiting for Superman”: Tenure, Unions and a Real Superhero

  Anybody with even a cursory interest in the 57 million children in America’s public school system should see the 2011 documentary Waiting for Superman.  Davis Guggenheim’s documentary on failing American public schools succeeds on many levels. First, it’s a helpful overview to how the school system works.  The complexities of federal, state and local power in public schools are made clear, and quirks like the tenure system in K-12 education are brought to light.  Second, it succeeds emotionally.  Following the stories of five families from low income areas, and their struggles to provide a decent education for their aspiring children, had my wife and I at the edge of our seats at the conclusion of the movie. Third, it succeeds as polemic.  The film is obviously biased against teacher’s unions and in favor of charter schools and other public school alternatives.  But it is biased with good reason.  And this is the point of this posting: introducing competition, even mild competition, to the school system will reap great benefits...

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Posted by on Oct 23, 2017 in Education | 0 comments

Developing Grit…and Character

Developing Grit…and Character

  A 2011 article in the New York Times Magazine highlighted Riverdale Country School in New York City, and their eccentric headmaster Dominic Randolph. Riverdale is a “TT” (Top-tier) private school, whose tuition begins at $38,000 for prekindergarten, and commonly sends graduates to Harvard, Princeton and Yale. Yet when Randolph came to Riverdale, he immediately did away with AP classes, encouraged teachers to limit the amount of homework they assign, and cut many standardized tests for admissions. According to Randolph, the missing piece to the Riverdale curriculum was character. His curiosity in character development led him to meet with Martin Seligman, one of the founders of the Positive Psychology movement and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and David Levin, founder of the KIPP network of charter schools, primarily for students in low-income urban areas. Levin had stressed character for years in the KIPP movement: walls are decorated with slogans like “Work hard,” “Be nice,” and “There are no shortcuts.” Seligman, on the other hand, had written an 800-page...

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Posted by on Jun 14, 2017 in Education | 0 comments

Notes: Learning for Moral Formation

Notes: Learning for Moral Formation

  I find that becoming good is difficult, painfully difficult. As I’ve been on my own moral journey, I’ve become more interested in the question, “How are people morally formed, especially in contexts of work, for the sake of leadership?”  In other words, what tend to be the social, spiritual and psychological elements present in a person’s life when they experience significant moral transformation? Might it be possible to even design such learning experiences that lead to moral formation? Below are some rough notes I’ve written on what I think tends to be the process of moral formation, especially for adults. I’ve posted them on this blog hoping you’ll help me to refine my idea. I’d be grateful if you’d reply on elements I’ve left out, overemphasized, or should not have included. I look forward to getting your feedback. Notes: Learning for Moral Formation  1. Learning begins when an individual with a self-identified Problem/Need/Point of Suffering joins a high commitment Community. The Community is first formed by an Emotional/Relational...

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Posted by on Mar 22, 2017 in Economy, Education, Work | 4 comments

How Do We Change? Formation in the 5280 Fellowship

How Do We Change? Formation in the 5280 Fellowship

  How do we change? I’m 34 years old, have four kids, and have been in the workforce for 9 years. And for me, there is no more pressing question in my life today than How do I change? In the past three years, the stress of leading a growing organization, trying to be a good father, and accomplishing my professional goals has exposed, well, cracks in the foundation of my character.  My precious wife has been so patient with me as I stumble, fall, and get up again – only to find myself back where I started. As I’ve spoken with peers about their lives, careers, and relationships – especially young professionals in Denver and Boulder – I’ve seen common traits among many of us: We’re around people and “social networks” all the time, but we feel lonely, and not deeply known by others. It’s the great irony of a social media age. More noise, but less deep relationships. In our careers we’ve gotten good at a technical...

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Posted by on Jan 4, 2016 in Art, Craftsmanship & Manual Labor, Culture, Economy, Education, Finance, Media, Nonprofit, Politics, Science, Technology, Theology, Work, World | 0 comments

Announcement: Launch of the 5280 Fellowship

Announcement: Launch of the 5280 Fellowship

Today is a big day. Today my colleagues and I at Denver Institute for Faith & Work, in partnership with Gordon College, announce the launch of the 5280 Fellowship, a 9 month experience for emerging leaders beginning in the fall of 2016. After years of planning, design and forging partnerships, each element of the program has fallen into place. And now what we are now offering is, I believe, one of the best faith-based fellowship programs in the US, and perhaps Denver’s premiere leadership experience for young professionals. I know those are big claims. But I believe the 5280 Fellowship has the potential to deeply impact Denver for generations to come. And I’m not alone. Some of Denver’s finest pastors – like Robert Gelinas (Colorado Community Church), Brad Strait (Cherry Creek Presbyterian), Rob Brendle (Denver United), Brian Brown (Park Church) and Hunter Beaumont (Fellowship Denver) – believe the Fellowship can be a life-changing experience for young professionals who want to deeply engage themes of calling, work, and culture. Young...

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Posted by on Jul 24, 2015 in Education | 0 comments

What Mary Poplin Taught Us About Being a Christian Teacher in Public Education (2 of 2)

What Mary Poplin Taught Us About Being a Christian Teacher in Public Education (2 of 2)

The Soul of Education Q&A – Dr. Mary Poplin from Denver Institute on Vimeo. [In a previous post, I summarized an interview I did with Dr. Mary Poplin, Professor of Education at Claremont Graduate University. In the previous post, Poplin challenged constructivism, shared her findings on highly effective teachers, and encouraged teachers to teach about religion in public schools in a way that is fair and truthful to each set of beliefs. In this post, she discusses how to redeem history, teach virtue, influence the moral climate of a school through prayer, and be both courageous and compassionate as a Christian teacher in public education.] 4. Don’t romanticize history – either Christian or secular. Encourage students to seek out sources. “We have to redeem history. History has been rewritten…I was astounded the other day. I was in LA and I saw an Asian woman with a t-shirt that exalted Ho Chi Minh. The people who I thought were villains—who really are if you read history—are now being exalted as...

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