“Writing is easy,” Gene Fowler was purported to have said several decades ago. “All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper, until the drops of blood form on your forehead.”
I wouldn’t say that I “enjoy” writing something, so much as that I “enjoy” having written it. I can’t account for what makes a post either adequately appealing or sufficiently appalling to draw a lot of readers. Similarly, there’s no real relationship between whether I “like” a post I’ve written and whether anybody else seems to give a hoot about it. In the end, I don’t really write posts to appeal to readers, so much as to clarify – or, sometimes, to discover or to confess — my own thinking about a subject.
That said, I appreciate everyone who’s taken time to consider material on this site — and very grateful to folks who’ve provided their critical and constructive feedback to help make my thinking, my work, and my priorities clearer still.…
“There was a better way of handling it
than putting 25 bullets in my baby.”
- Gwen Woods
A year ago, the day before the start of the 2014 NAIS People of Color Conference in Indianapolis, a Staten Island grand jury announced that it refused to seek the criminal indictment of Officer Daniel Pantaleo for killing Mr. Eric Garner. By that point we had all seen, with our own eyes, the video footage documenting Mr. Garner’s death in Officer Pantaleo’s protracted chokehold; we had all heard, with our own ears, Mr. Garner’s haunting incantation of three simple words forever etched in our nation’s memory: I can’t breathe…
Last week, the day before the start of the 2015 People of Color Conference in Tampa, three videos were released documenting the hideous execution of Mr.…
I was honored to collaborate with Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr., Founder and Program Director of the White Privilege Conference, on this shared reflection on the example of NAIS President Dr. John Chubb. We join NAIS and its member school communities in mourning Dr. Chubb’s untimely death on November 12, 2015.
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As I was gearing up for the NAIS People of Color Conference in Tampa this week, I landed on a series of posts I wrote as a conference blogger for PoCC in 2012. I remember, at the time, that I was absolutely ecstatic that Baratunde Thurston gave me a shout-out for this series over Twitter, if only because I titled the series in tribute to his recently released How To Be Black:
The series, it may come as no surprise, was called “How To Be White (at #PoCC12).”
Although I’d say some things differently, and probably push things further still, I think some of these posts hold up to the test of time. So, as I said at the time, “Think of these as a partial draft of a covenant — a ‘Code of Conduct for White Folks at PoCC,’ if you will.”
Here’s a taste, so you can see if you want to read any further:
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You can follow Chris Thinnes on Twitter at @ChrisThinnes…
1 | Initial Reflections on #NYPEN2015
For progressive education to have a significant impact on schools or education policy in the United States, we will have to acknowledge, unseat, and transcend a century’s vexing racial tensions in our field. A progressive pedagogy that fails to be responsive to the voices of students, educators, families, or communities of color is not a pedagogy that should, or will, influence the trajectory of American education policy or practice in these times. This series will explore this challenge.
There is no such thing as a neutral educational process.
Surveying the pantheon of White progressive educational pioneers of the early 20th century — Dewey, Froebel, Montessori, Parker, and more — Thomas D. Fallace notes that, in 1913, Maria Montessori “argued that the anthropological study of the history of humankind had much to teach the educator about the development of the White child” (Fallace, 2015, p.…
A High School “Back to School Night” Speech
Presented to Parents at Louisville High School
by Rachel Thinnes on August 26, 2015
Guest Post by Rachel Thinnes
I must admit, as a parent, I hate back to school nights. I find them extremely anxiety-inducing: finding my way from class to class, keeping track of new paperwork and schedules, and the scariest part of all, listening to 7 different teachers, summarize in a nutshell everything that my less-than–stellar-student-of-a-son is expected to accomplish in the next 9 months.
Usually before I even leave the campus, I find myself texting my son with a barrage of reprimands, disguised as questions. “Where is that form I’m supposed to sign?” “Why didn’t you tell me you needed a 2 pocket folder, a 3 ring binder, a 4 color pen, a 5subject notebook?” “Have you even started that research project that’s due in 3 months?”
Once home, the nagging continues about how important this year is going to be because next year is coming and college is coming right after that, and did he do anything besides eat Top Ramen and browse the internet all night?…
Reflections & Resources from #EquityExchangeSTL
St. Louis, Missouri | July 26-31, 2015
At the end of “The Equity Exchange” in Saint Louis, participants in this week-long forum for experienced diversity practitioners and school leaders from public and private schools across the country gathered in a circle, to affirm the solidarity they’d created across their differences before heading their separate ways. Andy Abbott, Head of School at John Burroughs School, affirmed Daniel Harris’s vision for this brave space, some two years beforehand, with the wry irony and emotional transparency he’d bravely brought to his participation all week. He explained that Daniel had come to him to run this idea by him long ago — that Daniel was going to get a design team together from public and private schools across the country; that he was going to invite seasoned diversity practitioners from independent schools, and veteran public school and district leaders into dialogue about systemic educational equity; that we would recruit officials from the U.S.…
A process post and provocation
The core of what we do is create community, because
without community nothing else has any meaning.
Last week, I enjoyed a full week of dialogue and design thinking sessions with teachers in a new school leadership position, during which we had the rare opportunity, as someone once described it, “to take the time it takes to take the time” to ask deep, purposeful, and collaborative questions about the explicit commitments to deeper learning AND social justice we want to express in our middle school’s mission and vision, educational program, and learning community. I capitalize ‘AND’ because it so often seems, as I’ve frequently opined before, that many schools have frequent and important conversations about transformative curriculum, teaching practice, and assessment — and many schools engage in purposeful dialogue about diversity, inclusion, cultural competence, and public purpose – but in those schools where both conversations take place, they tend to be convened in separate rooms, scheduled at different times, and to involve different people.…
How much closer to home do these issues have to hit
before people engage as they must?
Last week I reflected on my transformative experience of the NPE conference in Chicago, and shared some vexing questions about “the racialized dynamics not only of reform, but of our growing resistance.” I drew inspiration from Jesse Hagopian and Rita Greene’s vital provocation to understand the intersections and catalyze the solidarity of the #BlackLivesMatter and #OptOut movements. As Jesse Hagopian put it bluntly and brilliantly, “we have to fight to completely redefine what the purpose of education is.” And, as he asked, “Could you imagine the power we’d have if these two movements found common cause?”
[Please read Jesse Hagopian’s post about the #BlackStudentLivesMatter session at the NPE conference, watch the video of his presentation with Rita Greene, and listen to the brilliant questions, comments, and dialogue featuring Jose Vilson, Monty Neill, Diane Ravitch, and a series of brilliant and courageous teachers of color during the Q&A that followed the session.]
Last week Jose Vilson also represented his experience of the racialized dynamics of resistance to reform in a post reflecting on the NPE conference and its impact — “Raisins Exploding in the Sun” — that you should be sure to read and to consider if you missed it.…
Reflections on the second national conference of the Network for Public Education in Chicago [NOTE: This post was followed by “NPE Engages As It Must: The Statement on #BaltimoreUprising“]
Sisters and brothers,
Don’t settle for the okey-doke.
- Karen Lewis
An unanticipated houseguest — my wife and I have named him ‘Flula’ [see inset] — will inevitably keep these reflections from being as thorough as I might like. And with that brevity will inevitably come a lack of subtlety, nuance, and detail these thoughts might well deserve.
Nevertheless: I’ve just returned from a most extraordinary gathering: the second national conference of the Network for Public Education. This year’s meeting was situated in Chicago — ironically, and no doubt purposefully, the ‘scene of the crime’ for so many dimensions of neoliberal education reform as the site of the Chicago School of Economics; a laboratory for the privatization of the public sector; the testing grounds for punitive student, teacher, and school accountability policies; and the launching pad for the careers of such influential education ‘reformers’ as our current Secretary of Education.…
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: APRIL 1, 2015
Center for 22nd Century Education
to Transform Education as We Knew It
LOS ANGELES, CA., April 1, 2015 — A group of education thought leaders and venture philanthropists today launched the Center for 22nd Century Education (C22E) with a mission “to transform education as we know it into education as we knew it.” Recognizing the trajectory of prevailing neoliberal education reform in the United States — schools without buildings, students without teachers, learning without questioning, graduates without jobs, and capitalism without democracy — C22E seeks more effectively and aggressively “to reconcile the state of our nation’s school system with the theoretical prospects of our grandchildren’s children’s futures.”
A prominent education thought leader who declined to be identified, but plans to participate in C22E’s projected initial stock offering, said that “C22E is absolutely brilliant.…
Resources from #NAISAC workshop
As I wrote in a recent post, I was excited to join Gene Batiste (former NAIS VP for Equity & Justice, current E.D. of Independent Education in Washington, DC) and Rosetta Lee (teacher and professional outreach specialist from Seattle Girls’ School) to foster dialogue about “Cultural Competence as Educational-Relational Thinking: Bridging Learning and Community” at the NAIS Annual Conference. The three of us provided a brief account of the work we’ve been doing with Alison Park and Steven Jones to connect conversations about diversity, inclusion, and social justice in our learning communities to the core commitments of deeper learning in our educational programs, then shared the feedback we harvested from participants at the recent NAIS People of Color Conference on the intersections between cultural competence and “the four Cs” of deeper learning.…
Reposted from PubPriBridge.net
#PubPriBridge cofounders Peter Gow, Laura Robertson, and Chris Thinnes were grateful to be joined by SCDS Head of School Dr. Brad Weaver to facilitate a #PubPriBridge-inspired session at the Private Schools with Public Purpose conference in San Francisco.
More information about the #PSPP15 session is available here; slides outlining the framework of our presentation, and our provocations for dialogue with participants, are embedded below (or at http://bit.ly/PSPP-Pres).
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You can follow Chris Thinnes on Twitter at @ChrisThinnes…
If education changed like this, learning would be
something we would not just need, but want —
and curiosity would have no limits…
– Riley W.
In a recent post, I shared how Deborah Meier’s work and a variety of recent experiences have led me to ask, “What if K-12 Education Were More Like Preschool?” and to pose a variety of related questions:
What do we know about children that we have neglected to honor in our commitments to traditional notions of academic excellence? What parts of this collective knowledge must we recapture and reintegrate? How might we draw on early learning practices to enrich students’ social, academic, and ethical development in K-12 schools in the years to come?
Shortly after that post, I was excited to learn from Dave Ostroff that he’d invited 9th grade students in the Tad Bird Honors College at All Saints Episcopal School to consider that post as a provocation for further inquiry, dialogue, and discovery about their learning — in conjunction with learning walks through the school’s early childhood learning center.…
I am excited to collaborate with two great teams in workshops at the upcoming NAIS Annual Conference in Boston. In each case, we are hoping to provoke dialogue and catalyze action in areas that matter dearly to each of us — but to learn as much from the experience and insight of participants, as we may hope to share from our own points of view.
On Friday, February 27th at 11:30 a.m. in Room 312, I will join Gene Batiste (former NAIS VP for Equity & Justice, current E.D. of Independent Education in Washington, DC) and Rosetta Lee (teacher and professional outreach specialist from Seattle Girls’ School) to foster dialogue about “Cultural Competence as Educational-Relational Thinking: Bridging Learning and Community.” The three of us will briefly represent the work we’ve been doing with Alison Park and Steven Jones to connect conversations about diversity, inclusion, and social justice in our learning communities to the core commitments of deeper learning in our educational programs, then harvest feedback from participants at the recent NAIS People of Color Conference to catalyze further dialogue among NAIS Annual Conference participants in small and highly interactive groups.…
It was an honor and a privilege to spend most of the last week at the NAIS People of Color Conference in Indianapolis — convening with members of “Call to Action” for dialogue with NAIS senior leadership, co-facilitating White affinity group sessions, co-hosting a workshop on “Cultural Competence as Educational-Relational Thinking,” co-presenting at PoCCSpeaks on “Educational-Relational Thinking and the Future of Public-Private Partnerships,” collaborating with teammates on each of these projects, and connecting with past colleagues, supportive mentors, and dear friends from across the country.
Lots of ‘co-‘ words in that last line, right? I think I learned more about the urgency, complexity, and benefit of collaboration across difference — and practiced more, and struggled more, and discovered more about it — than I have in quite some time. The conceptual framework of two of these workshops featured Rinaldi’s notion of educational-relational thinking, which rests in part on the conviction that “the interaction between cultures is not only a political issue, but above all a cultural and cognitive issue.” Recent, grim reminders in recent weeks of abject injustice entrenched in our legal system, and a national outpouring of outrage and repudiation of that injustice, confirm that the interaction between cultures extends to legal, ethical, and profoundly moral issues as well — arguably the most pressing issues of our time in history.…
Wouldn’t it be wonderful, after all, if high school
students were as deeply absorbed in their ‘work’
as five-year-olds are in their play?
– Deborah Meier
The other day, a colleague and I preparing for a conference workshop gave ourselves some time to ask ourselves a number of the 30,000-foot questions we rarely take the time to ask. I found myself fascinated by how rarely in our national dialogue about K-12 school reform – dominated by a myopic, nostalgic, and restrictive construct of “college readiness” entrenched by federal education policy and public education debate — we ever dare to pose critical questions about learning theory or teaching practice in college settings; just what K-12 schools are preparing children to accomplish in college; just what colleges are doing to attend to the demonstrated learning needs of their students; or exactly what relevance much of college learning brings to bear either on the developmental needs of young adults enrolled in college, their discovery of joy and purpose, or their fitness for engagement in a democratic society.…
I am grateful to Michael Brosnan for his invitation to contribute to the Fall 2014 issue of Independent School magazine. The following is a repost of my article as it recently appeared in print, with fantastic illustrations by Kelly Schykulski. You can find a print-friendly .pdf version here.
Citation: Thinnes, C. (2014). Educational-relational thinking and the future of public-private partnerships. Independent School, 74 (1), pp. 96-102.
and the Future of Public-Private Partnerships
We must not forget how closely the school is connected
to the society in which it is situated.
— Carla Rinaldi
For several years, our independent schools have been exploring their “public purpose” through a variety of initiatives, many of which focus on what independent schools can provide to underfunded public schools.…
Living in Dialogue | Hosted by Anthony Cody
Reimagining Education ‘Accountability':
Asking the Right Questions
Anthony Cody asserted in a recent essay that “for far too long educators have accepted the flagellations of one accountability system after another, and time has come to say ‘enough’,” and framed much of the prevailing debate about high-stakes testing and accountability policy as “a monumental distraction” and “a shell game.” The urgency of his driving question — “Do we need a new accountability system for our schools?” — got me thinking. Anthony generously invited and posted my response on Living in Dialogue:
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You can follow Chris Thinnes on Twitter at @ChrisThinnes…
NOTE: Some folks may be familiar with #PubPriBridge, a twitter chat on alternating Mondays (5:30pm PT/8:30pm ET) that helps to build bridges across difference between educators in both public and independent/private schools. Further information and resources about #PubPriBridge are available at PubPriBridge.net, including archives of past chats.
Earlier this week, #PubPriBridge set aside a planned discussion on school change in order to create space for urgent conversation about social justice and our schools, following the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson – and Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, John Crawford, and Eric Garner in other cities. Beforehand, #PubPriBridge co-founders Peter Gow and Laura Robertson, our colleague Theresa Collins, and I brainstormed a series of questions to invite reflection and dialogue on the topic “After #Ferguson: Fostering Honest Conversations about Justice and Injustice in Our Schools.”
After the chat, we received some feedback from folks suggesting that some of these questions might be helpful to fostering ‘live’ conversations back at school – to encourage individual reflection, to inspire discussions with colleagues, to anchor semi-structured faculty/staff meetings, or to facilitate conversations with students in class — especially for folks who may not have returned to school just yet, and who may be searching for basic ideas to foster such conversation and reflection.…
Chris.Thinnes.me is the personal blog of an independent school educator and public school parent. My opinions should not be associated with any institution or organization with which I am affiliated.
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Popular Posts This Month
- A White Man Swinging an Axe
- “How to Be White” at #NAISPoCC (Flashback from #PoCC12)
- White Male Leadership for Equity & Diversity: The Example of Dr. John Chubb (via @IndyCurriculum)
- Progressive Education Has a Race Problem (Part I)
- An Open Letter to the NAIS Board re: John Chubb’s Appointment
- How To Be White (at #PoCC12) – Part 1
- “The Root, Stem, Leaves, & Fruit of American Education” [Part 3]
- How To Be White (at #PoCC12) – Part 2
- How to Be White (after #PoCC12) – Part 8
- How to Be White (at #PoCC12) – Part 6
- How to Be White (after #PoCC12) – Part 7
- How to Be White (at #PoCC12) – Part 3
- What Always Seems Missing in ’21st Century Learning’ Frameworks
- 13 Years of Dress Rehearsal?
- “The Root, Stem, Leaves, & Fruit of American Education” [Part 1]
COMPLETE INDEX OF POSTS
RECENT TWEETS FROM @ChrisThinnes
RT @TheJLV: People are still going in on #SuccessAcademy, which is well deserved. Yet, I always question why it took a video for y'all to believe us?
RT @therealbakari: @TefPoe speaks on "Message to Macklemore" response 2 "White Privilege II" @jasiri_x @macklemore @jsmooth995 @RahielT https://t.co/hs9So7U98R
RT @inclusionleader: @BigIndianGyasi Schools Mackelmore w/ WP3: White Privilege, White Guilt, and the Role of White Allies via https://t.co/HVtBSGkqpB #NAISPoCC
RT @plthomasEdD: Let Us Not in Righteous Indignation Fail to See https://t.co/oX5pmYjqDd https://t.co/8vy4plNrH5
@edifiedlistener Such great work... Hope you have a great w/e too! :)
@JennBinis No doubt! :)
@JennBinis Of course! I just read it a 3rd & 4th time. So great. Thank YOU.
- RT @TheJLV: People are still going in on #SuccessAcademy, which is well deserved. Yet, I always question why it took a video for y'all to believe us?
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