Jared
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Cambridge, MA
Founder of this site.

Casual Recommendations
This short podcast provides a beautiful description of a school from the 1960's called Harlem Prep.
Some very insightful observations about architecture and education. Saving this one for hopeful future use with The Puzzle School.
These are some great observations about aspects of school that differ from many traditional models. Worth thinking through these, what might be missing, etc.
I've recommended this article to a number of people who are trying to create effective competency-based programs. I like the way this professor has student accumulating points through a variety of activities. I wonder if you could even have students develop their own activities for points toward the demonstration of their competency in a subject area.
A beautiful video about learning, unlearning, and the biases that affect our lives in subtle but powerful ways.
Critical Consciousness gives a name to an idea I've been thinking about and that will be at the core of The Puzzle School. Essentially it describes being conscious of the systems that are all around us and explicitly thinking about how to effectively navigate and change them. I believe this would be an incredibly valuable exercise within any school, helping students prepare for their futures, helping them to practice their critical thinking skills on authentic challenges, and helping them to recognize the complexity of the world around us and how it affects each of us in different ways (which is crucial if you want to create a healthy environment within the school).
Pam Moran is doing great work as the superintendent of Albemarle County Public Schools in Virginia. This interview talks about the foundations of her work and how she does everything she can to encourage teachers in her district to continue to grow.
This is a very thoughtful essay that, while focused on the process of learning to code and providing a critique of existing "learn to code" resources, is very applicable to learning anything. The ideas around reducing confusion and facilitating feedback around fundamental to the learning process and are not nearly well-represented enough in existing resources.
A beautiful description of the challenges a teacher faces trying to introduce students to a new way of working together, how close it comes to failing, and how, with perseverance success is found.
Jo Boaler is doing great work to help students overcome anxiety about math. This website is full of resources directed toward that goal.
It's a horrible recording, but includes many specific ideas for effective lessons from Eric Mazur.
Eric Mazur's work offers many interesting techniques for enhancing learning. This particular presentation digs in to assessment, the purposes, and emotional responses to various assessment techniques.
We need to be engaging with students more and give them more ownership of their education. This is a good place to start and seems like honest feedback.
Interview with an adult who went to Summerhill and, by his own admission, graduated without knowing how to read and write barely at all. It's fascinating to see how confident and successful so many of these graduates are despite not having even these basic skills.
Very solid advice on designing a course. It's specific to an online course, but I think the ideas apply to off-line courses as well.
This is a simulation of a full ecosystem that requires people to work together, make laws, constrain resource usage, etc. in order to survive and grow. As simulations like this become increasingly accurate and dynamic they offer a fantastic, iterative, educational environment. Excited to try this out.
Simple, straightforward example of Jo Boaler's work, transforming math education in to a pattern-matching puzzle-like exercise where there goal is to explore how many different perspectives a problem may have vs. what the right answer is.
I agree with Dan. There is great pedagogy here. Setting up a casual interaction that both scaffolds the problem (you think about it based on your intuitions) and creates a mystery that must be solved is a great way to approach learning. I'll have to keep it in mind as we develop interactions for The Puzzle School.
Love the emphasis on getting away from screens. Great ideas around collaborative learning and an environment designed to encourage collaboration and generate ideas.
Education

I've been exploring education for many years now, with a focus on self-directed learning. These are some of the most interesting and inspiring things I've discovered along the way.

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Written in 1897 by John Dewey it provides a concise and dense philosophy that presents education with respect to the individual and society. Amazing how pertinent it remains today, over a century later.
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Big Picture Learning started with one school in Providence, RI and has grown to support over 100 schools around the world. They are one of the few examples I was able to find of a public school system that is truly based around the interests of each individual student. They're key tool is to find internships for the students to engage with two days per week. They've had significant success with graduation rates generally over 95% at their schools.
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This is a beautiful and realized vision of education. The description of Agora overlaps with The Puzzle School so much. It's great to see a practical realization of the vision out there.
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A great piece of observational writing from a 5th grade teacher in the 50's. I don't agree with all of his conclusions, but his observations are very keen and informative. Amazing how much the observations remain true today, 60 years later.
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A great school that works with students who are at risk of dropping out or have already dropped out (bringing them back in to the system). They are fully competency-based with a flexible schedule and four graduation cycles per year. Students love the respect, flexibility and control over their own learning that the school offers.
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One of the most inspiring examples of a creative solution to education that is open to all, multi-dimensional, community supported, and very effective.
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I'm dumbfounded that Eric Mazur's work in peer instruction and active learning as well as his observations about the "Curse of the Expert" haven't had a larger impact on how we approach teaching. He provides some of the best ideas/strategies/techniques for teaching within a classroom setting. If it's interesting to you, there are many videos with varying levels of nuance on his work on YouTube: https://www.google.com/search?q=eric+mazur&source=lnms&tbm=vid&sa=X&ei=nldwVeiHA-bIsASWpoagBQ&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ
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Great dissertation from Veritasium regarding the role conflict can play in learning and how straightforward, efficient explanations can have little effect on misconceptions.
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Dan Myer's dissertation provides some great strategies for creating a sense of honest purpose and community through online learning. It focuses on mathematical language, but I think it could be applied elsewhere as well.
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Dr. Montessori was an Italian educator largely known for the Montessori theory of schooling. Her ideas and observations (multi-age groups, puzzle-based activities students can engage with at their own pace, a safe environment that makes it possible for students to do what they want (within a limited range of options), etc) were enormously influential in my thinking of The Puzzle School. I don't agree with 100% of her observations and ideas, but 100 years later it's amazing how much of her philosophy continues to be valuable.
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It's difficult to tell how accurate or bad the stressful situation is for students these days, but this is a powerful anecdote of one parent's experiences. Setting up elite colleges/universities as a primary goal of childhood is increasingly becoming a lottery situation akin to playing professional sports. You can be very very good and still not make it. We need more dynamic and flexible goals that aren't so artificially constrained.
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Sugata Mitra's "Hole In The Wall" experiment may go down as the most important single experiment in education. It truly helps to push the boundaries of what we expect from children. His efforts with SOLE's provide a very solid technique to create engaging learning environments that are highly scalable.
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