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My Year-End Reflection

My reflection is fuzzy, but what's up ahead is clearly promising.

It is customary for us bloggers to write a year-end article, announcing our top ten “whatevers” for the year just ending. I’ve read some good ones written by smarter and more aware people than me. I would point you particularly to the series at Hack Education, written by Audry Waters – who is a true ears to the ground educator/journalist.

Me? Well I just haven’t been paying that much attention, applying myself more to specific production projects, including, but not limited to the 2nd edition of Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network (print | Kindle | iPad). Teaching myself to create an interactive iBook has been one of the most authentically enlightening educational experiences I’ve had in a very long time.

At any rate, at this point in my so-called career, I’m not apologizing for spending my time doing what I feel like doing. So, being less than qualified to list the top ten of anything for 2012, (did I mention this, or this, or this?), I’m going to come at it from a different angle.

Here are my hopes and wishes for 2013!

  1. I hope that we come up with a better target phrase than, “preparing our children for the 21st century.” It’s so 20th century, and we have, after all, got more than a tenth of the new century behind us.
  2. I hope that we can articulate a clearer distinction between personalized learning and differentiated (individualized) instruction. To often, when I hear people discussing personalized learning, they are actually talking about instruction. One is about becoming and the other is about being done to.
  3. I wish that we would really start using our hands more, that this whole maker subculture, some how, starts to become an integral and defining part of the culture of schools. Let’s replace our 30 pounds of textbooks with a tablet computer and a kit of personal hand tools.  
  4. I hope that we learn to bring fun back into learning, by recognizing the learning that happens when we’re having fun.
  5. I wish that the institution of education would stop taking itself so seriously. Our efforts to make ourselves more important by introducing complexity into the process just makes teaching less enjoyable — and it irritates the customers.
  6. I hope that teachers and administrators find ways to purposefully learn more and learn more in front of their students. ..to become “public learners.”
  7. I hope that we get digital content right and not simply convert it to digital. I wish that we could stop using the term “textbook” and find something less suggestive of a teaching object. What would you call a learning object?
  8. I fervently hope that we find a way to redefine and assess mastery, not by counting right answers, but by observing what students can accomplish by using good answers.
  9. I wish that schools of education could stop preparing prospective teachers for a 30-year career by simply readying them for a typical classroom of today. We need teachers who are ready to adapt and adopt almost any opportunity that arises, willing and able to retool their classrooms every day. The best we can do is to prepare prospective educators for the first five years of their career (at best) and assure that they are skilled in persistent and self-directed professional development.
  10. I wish that we might begin to see that the mission of education should not be our assurance that every student successfully learns the same things. It should be our assistance in helping every student discover and become the best person that he or she can be.

Here’s to an enlightened new year!



  • Dan


    I hope that in the new year more people take to heart what you write in your blog. I do enjoy reading your posts because you articulate what I am thinking. Thanks for putting it out there. As long as you do, I’l keep pointing others to your calls for change.

  • paul

    thanks for keeping the conversation going and the ideas flowing

  • Pingback: My Year-End Reflection : 2¢ Worth | Teachers TechTeachers Tech

  • http://educationalaspirations.wordpress.com/ Matt


    Thank you for the insightful post. Your # 8 particularly interests me. I hope that someday in the near future stakeholders will be able to work together to measure mastery based on more than a percentage correct.

    All the best,

  • http://www.teq.com/blog Diane Quirk

    David – thanks for an insightful list. I especially like #9 but I think it goes hand in hand with #6. Those who are preparing teachers for classrooms of today need to be constantly learning and ready to learn right along with their students.

  • http://www.attachmate.com Attachmate

    Thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful blog post. I hope all your wishes and hopes come true for the New Year. I agree with number 4, that we should bring the fun back into learning.This would be a great advantage for children.

    I wish you a happy new year!

  • Wynn Smith

    Very nice job, David. I couldn’t agree with you more.

  • Philip Caccamo

    I believe we should be continuing to learn the new technology that is being put in our classrooms. I share a classroom with a daytime school teacher that blocks off his smart board. Meanwhile I would kill for the ability to use one at my school. I think we are forced to learned about these programs too much by ourselves teachers should receive professional development from experts on this technology. Instead we are often visited by ancient technology guys that can barely tell you how to turn it on.

Photo taken by Ewan McIntosh in a Taxi in Shanghai

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Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network
2nd Edition (2012)

Redefining Literacy 2.0 (2008)
Classroom Blogging
(2007) • Lulu
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Raw Materials for the Mind

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