Against a Backdrop of Darkness

On Saturday evening, less than an hour after sunset, I stood on my family’s porch and looked skyward. Stepping away from the glow of the kitchen, my body shivered against the cold and my eyes strained towards the darkness. Then, near the crescent moon in the west-southwest, it appeared: slower than a meteor, faster than a satellite, the International Space Station arced towards the eastern horizon. Read more.

What if We Asked Them?

Not long ago, I shared a video about “How Youth Learn,” a clever treatise on the teenage brain and the environments in which youth learn best. If you haven’t seen it, have a peek, then come back. I’ll wait.

Cool, right? Read more.


A while back I posted about a documentary project happening at Burlington High School in collaboration with local television station RETN. The project, being led and guided by a small group of excited and dedicated students will eventually serve as a much needed platform for students to tell their stories.   Read more.

Planting a Seed

With so many Big Questions before us, it’s natural to look for answers that are equally grand in scale. Sometimes, however, the universal can be found in the particular. I recently discovered this kind of unassuming wisdom at Montpelier High School. Read more.

How Youth Learn

I bumped into an amazing resource today that’s too cool not to share. It’s a video called “An Insider’s Guide to the Teenage Brain.” If you’ve ever wondered about the ways that teenagers learn best, look no further.

The resource was offered by Students at the Center, who provided the following desription of its intent and creation: “Fictional high schooler, Ned Cephalus, presents a “NED Talk” about the teenage brain and the eight powerful conditions of learning that can change everything for students whether they are from rural Vermont or New York City. Read more.

Not So Fast

Last week, I bumped into an eye-opening, thought provoking, and generally upsetting article (read it here) in the New York Times about Chinese education and a culture of bribery that’s emerged, stacking the odds against disadvantaged families. For students to be admitted to the best schools, parents are often forced to fork over massive chunks of their savings and salaries and to grease the wheels to ensure their children receive a quality education. Read more.

Reservations about the Common Core

A recent conversation of Partnership fellows, staff, and school leaders raised the question: Is the Common Core what learning is about, or is there a greater context to consider?

Most of what’s available about the Common Core (CC) are put out by its creators or by folks who feel its domination of the learning agenda is inevitable, so it’s challenging to find any vigorous debate about it.   Read more.

The Water We Swim In

Every aspect of life carries with it certain unspoken assumptions. (A business meeting, for instance, requires a tucked-in shirt; a movie theater assumes viewers will refrain from talking; a waiting room means cordiality–but rarely conversations–with strangers; and schools require classrooms with walls.) If we are successfully assimilated, we move through our lives without giving these things a second thought. Read more.

Student Voice in School Reform

Last night I read the first half of a book called Student Voice in School Reform by Dana L. Mitra and wanted to do a reflection in the form of some quotes from her book, which I’m finding illuminating and speaks nicely to our desires (and the challenges) of including student voice at the heart of our reform efforts. Read more.

Permission to Dream

One of the most inspiring aspects of being a Partnership for Change Fellow is the opportunity (license, permission, demand?) to dream of new ways for schools to function and best serve students, teachers, and the community. In my research recently, I came across the Sudbury Valley School, an alternative school in Framingham, MA with an uber-student-centered mission. Read more.