Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Presidential Medal of Freedom

I enjoy sports. I enjoy them a lot. The competitive nature, the mathematics, the essence of humanity sometimes coming out in the field of play (not mentioned here: greed, pompousness, vacuum of money). As a fan, I watch some sports chat shows (notably Around the Horn and PTI on ESPN over dinner). They've mentioned lately two recent Presidential Medal of Freedom winners: Bill Russell and Stan Musial. Bill Russell is certainly deserving for what he accomplished as an athlete and coach, and especially for what he has done for civil rights. If I was in charge, I don't know if I would have awarded anything like this honor to Stan Musial, but I'm sure there could be far worse honorees.

But I digress from my main point. I went to check on who had won the Presidential Medal of Freedom (pretty much the greatest award a non-military U.S. citizen can be given), particularly in the field of education. 15 people have been honored for their work in education since the award's resurrection by JFK in 1963. Of these, best on some quick research, one -- ONE -- has done most of his/her work in K-12 education: Margaret McNamara, the founder of Reading is Fundamental (which, by the way, is in severe danger of losing all federal funding). That means no curriculum designers, no K-12 teachers, no K-12 administrators, nobody who is in the schools day in and day out. I think this is ridiculous. I also think this is likely to change in the coming years, because of the ubiquitous nature of blogs, Twitter, et al. So, who is going to be the one to break through? We all have a wealth of information, and a wealth of talent. This all adds up to the ability to make a lot of positive changes. For my money, I'd nominate Dan Meyer for his "What Can You Do With This?" idea. Bottom line: it's time that we, as teachers, make the impact we truly can. Social media has made this more possible than ever. Let's go grab the horns.

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