Human Restoration Project
HRP Update March 2023
Welcome to a brief HRP update with me, Nick Covington, Creative Director here at Human Restoration Project!
As you may have hear, Chris & I are coming off a whirlwind of a week in Columbus, Ohio, where we hosted a team from our Poland-based partners at Holistic Think Tank, Polish teacher representatives from the Polish-American Freedom Foundation, and a rockstar group of American teachers that included a team from our friends in Muskegon, Michigan (be on the lookout for more involvement from them in the future), as well as Trevor Aleo, and Jen Lucas; on the campus of The Ohio State University. The keynote of the conference was from none other than former Finnish minister of education & the author of Finnish lessons, Pasi Sahlberg, speaking not only to the need for systemic change, but the right kind of systemic change: rooted in cooperation, customized curriculum, holistic teaching and learning, trust-based professionalism, and where every school is a good school.
133. 133: Catalyzing Systems-Based Change w/ Dave Runge (Future Schools Australia)36:32On today's podcast, we're joined by Dave Runge, co-founder and director of Future Schools. Future Schools is an Australian-based innovative schools organization, centered on exploring what's possible in schools by connecting together like-minds across over 100 school partners. Both in and outside of Australia, Future Schools helps educator teams explore what's possible, evolve their practices, and transform their spaces.Dave focuses his work on change leadership, recognizing that we need to focus on systemic change to achieve lasting results. And in today's conversation, we'll talk about that change-making process -- why so many spaces feel "stuck" and what we can do to help them branch out.GuestsDave Runge, co-founder and director of Future Schools who works with over a hundred schools across Australia and internationally to build new systems and reimagine education.ResourcesFuture Schools' WebsitePressure from Above, Pressure from Below research studyConference to Restore Humanity! 2023
132. 132: From Colonial to Solarpunk Education w/ Andrewism44:40In the late 2000s, the concept of “solarpunk” emerged. In 2022, YouTube channel Our Changing Climate with, my guest today, Andrewism published a video titled “How We Can Build a Solarpunk Future Right Now”, in which they make that the case that "Ultimately Solarpunk envisions a world that might be slower, but more intentional. One that ties humanity closely to the natural world.” Or as Andrewism put in a reply to the video: "A future with a human face and dirt behind its ears."But if solarpunk is the future with humanity put back in, achieving it means taking control of that future from economic, social, & political forces that seem to be on autopilot to self-destruction, utterly divorced from human desires & human intervention. One path we've imagined already, and its grimy survivalist individualism was the defining feature of Reagan-era science fiction classics. However, in its radical reimagination of economic & social structures, solarpunk resists the nihilism & doomerism of the grim dehumanized technological dystopias that dominate the worlds of, say, Blade Runner, Robocop, & William Gibson's Neuromancer. Do we have the willingness to challenge the predominant social, economic, & political structures & systems that need to be challenged? To change the very nature of humanity's relationship to the planet? What role does education play in all of this? GuestsAndrew goes by Andrewism on his YouTube channel. His 66 videos, covering topics from education, liberation, and history, to family, parenting, and of course, solarpunk - have nearly 3 million combined views. Young people from around the world are watching & learning from him and participating in the community he has cultivated around his channel.ResourcesAndrewism's YouTube channelFighting Back Against the Future: Imagining a Solarpunk EducationConference to Restore Humanity! 2023
131. 131: You've Been Played: The Pros & Pitfalls of Gamification w/ Adrian Hon59:41Gamification is a long-standing practice across lesson planning and educational technology, but it doesn’t always work out the way we expect. At the end of the day, if the nature of the task is not interesting, then what we’re creating is more about compliance than engagement. In this session, we will host a conversation on what it means to gamify content, learning, and pedagogy: recognizing potential success while advising for potential pitfalls.This episode is a panel discussion we had with game designer & author, Adrian Hon, on the pros and pitfalls of “gamification” as part of our EduFuturism Learning Series. You can find all of the previous events including Innovative AI Tools for the Classroom…and their Dilemmas and Learning From Video Game Tutorials, as well as register for upcoming events in the series @ humanrestorationproject.org/learning. You can also find this video and others on our YouTube channel by searching for Human Restoration Project. GuestsAdrian Hon is an award-winning video game designer and is the CEO and founder of Six to Start, co-creator of the world’s most successful smartphone fitness game, Zombies, Run! He previously was the director of play, creating alternative reality games, at Mind Candy.ResourcesWatch on YouTubeYou've Been Played: How Corporations, Governments, and Schools Use Games to Control Us AllAdrian Hon on TwitterConference to Restore Humanity! 2023
130. 130: How Advanced Placement Cheats Students w/ Annie Abrams43:14This conversation is nearly a year in the making, from the first messages with my guest back in 2022 - which also happened to be the last of my 9 years teaching AP European History. That year there were over 4.7 million AP Exams taken by 2.6 million students from 23,000 secondary schools. At about $100 per exam…well, you don’t need to get a 5 on the AP Calc exam to finish that equation. And…here we are again, another high-stakes time of the academic year for yet millions more high schoolers seeking college credit from the College Board. From AP to SAT, the College Board is a billion dollar educational gatekeeper that plays an outsized role in American education in policy and practice, K12 and beyond. In fact, as my guest today outlines in her book, many states have passed laws requiring the College Board play exactly that role: mandating that schools offer a minimum number of AP courses (that require AP trained teachers), offering cash incentives for student test scores, & dictating to universities what scores they will be required to accept for which credits.Even more recent partisan challenges to curriculum, like the rejection of AP African-American History by the Florida Dept of Education, should also cause us to reflect on the homogenizing and controlling influence of what has become a de facto national curriculum, AND the metrics we use to evaluate success, AND the ways we assess & award credit, AND the philosophies & pedagogies we use in classrooms with students. Somewhere in the recent past, figure & ground inverted, and we not only lost track of what was important - the best intentions of what courses like these could represent - but along the way we ceded a lot of power to a single company and a single brand - Advanced Placement - to determine our educational goals, values, & practices from the top down.GuestsAnnie Abrams holds a doctorate in American literature from NYU and is currently on childcare leave from her job as a public high school English teacher. She writes in the introduction to her brand new book Shortchanged: How Advanced Placement Cheats Students..ResourcesShortchanged: How Advanced Placement Cheats Students from Johns Hopkins University PressAnnie Abrams Twitter
129. 129: Education Revolution: Media Literacy For Political Awareness w/ Sam Shain43:30“I learned so much about viewing the world, especially mass media, through a critical eye this year. I learned about what traps we fall into while viewing media and how we can prevent that. I also learned about good vs. questionable journalism tactics and how this can affect how accurate a news source is.”My guest today, Sam Shain, is a musician, artist, writer, former journalist and current English teacher in Maine. That opening quote was just one student review of Sam’s journalism class from his book Education Revolution: Media Literacy for Political Awareness, available from Zer0 Books. Teaching in the United States has never been more fraught, as teachers across the country are implicitly or explicitly forced to avoid certain topics, texts, and questions that have been labeled divisive, controversial, or - worse yet - political. Of course, these topics also tend to be the most immediate & important, and are accompanied by intense mis- & disinformation - the reality of climate change, systemic racism, COVID-19, and the outcomes of our electoral system, to take some examples from just the last couple of years - all of this seems particularly heightened with the new ability of AI to generate audio, video, and images to spread politically motivated narratives easier than ever before via social media, and a receptive population willing not only to accept them but to participate in spreading mis- & disinformation. As the student testimonial I read earlier testifies to, the gap has never been wider between our vital need to teach critical media literacy and our ability. To do. Just that. GuestsSam Shain is a former journalist and English teacher. He believes education is the way out of our country's current predicament and teachers and students can lead the revolution in turning this country around. Sam wrote for the Capital Weekly for several years and occasionally contributes to the Kennebec Journal.In addition to teaching and writing, Sam sings and plays guitar in the band the Scolded Dogs, who play frequently throughout Maine and have released several original albums. Sam lives in Hallowell, Maine.Resources"Not Rehired for Teaching Politics": One Teacher's StoryEducation Revolution from Zer0 Books
128. 128: Love, Joy, & Learning w/ Miss Elmi45:58It only takes a few seconds on Hanaa Elmi’s Twitter timeline for even the most oblivious observer like myself to know that what she is doing is magical. One post from February details several images of student contributions from reflections on Stone Soup and other related readings - child’s handwriting draws your eye to the center of each poster - We take care of each other by…We take care of water by…We take care of the Earth by… - student drawings and reflections surrounding those prompts create the shared understanding - Hanaa also captures “Our Ideas” in the margins - have a spirit of ubuntu (I am because we are), she writes, Be like the Water Walkers, Love water!Another series of images shows her young students exploring questions like “What’s the heart of the story? What do you think the author wants us to know in our minds & hearts as a reader?”, one student reply reads “Ms. I think the heart of the story is that anger is okay and normal. We just have to breathe.” Hanaa prompts students to explore the differences & similarities between justice & charity. She quotes from one of the dozens of books her students use, “What are words really? Are they just random letters arranged in different ways? Or do they have magical powers that can inspire and amaze?” A student uses a number string to double 40. Students with clipboards find and sort animals on a number line by their height. They write, draw, & reflect in dream journals. I could go on and on and on… In every post, it’s so obvious that students are deeply engaged & invested in the world & with each other. Community, love, joy, and learning are self-evident in the work she does with kids.GuestsHanaa Elmi is an elementary teacher in Windsor-Essex County. She is a graduate of the University of Windsor who roots her work in community: creating thriving spaces that humanize students. She is passionate about creating spaces where students deeply connect with the world around them in just, restorative, and conscientious ways.ResourcesMiss Elmi's Twitter
MINDFOOD IV: Top 3 Interdisciplinary Learning Ideas01:29:53Reimagining education is no small feat, but there is hope on the horizon. MINDFOOD, easily digestible content for education. In this series, we'll do the random fun stuff: top 10 lists, current events, things we're thinking about. This is a casual format with limited editing and not as many intense conversations that occur in our mainline HRP interviews. Let us know what you think.Learn more about our free resources, podcast, writings, and more at https://www.humanrestorationproject.org/Human Restoration Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit centered on enabling human-centered schools through progressive pedagogy.Learn more about Holistic Think Tank at https://www.holisticthinktank.com & sign up for the HTT Summit in Columbus, OH on March 4th at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/htt-summit-2023-interdisciplinary-school-subject-ids-tickets-533961311657See you there!
127. 127: The Segrenomics of American Education w/ Dr. Noliwe Rooks01:02:27Because it is so well researched and presented, Cutting School: The Segrenomics of American Education, is a frustrating read. To tell the story of privatization, segregation, & the end of public education requires a massive cast. In her book Dr. Noliwe Rooks, my guest today, runs a precise thread from Reconstruction, Nelson Rockefeller, & Brown v Board through to Milton Friedman, every president in my lifetime, Teach for America, KIPP charter schools, Mark Zuckerberg, & more. Segrenomics has the kind of power that will be viewed with suspicion in states most impacted by it which are cracking down on theoretical frameworks that attempt to provide structural, systemic explanations. An interdisciplinary scholar, Noliwe Rooks’ is the chair of and a professor in Africana Studies at Brown University and the founding director of the Segrenomics Lab at the school. Her work explores how race and gender both impact and are impacted by popular culture, social history and political life in the United States. She works on the cultural and racial implications of beauty, fashion and adornment; race, capitalism and education, and the urban politics of food and cannabis production.GuestsDr. Noliwe Rooks is a professor and chair of Africana Studies at Brown University and the founding director of the Segrenomics Lab. Her research focuses on the interplay between race, gender, popular culture, social history and political life in the US. She is the author of four books and numerous articles, essays and op-eds. Her most recent book is Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education.ResourcesCutting School: The Segrenomics of American Education by Dr. Noliwe RooksDr. Noliwe Rooks @ Brown UniversityDr. Noliwe Rooks' website