Goodbye Dumbledore


Posted on 3rd July 2010 by Judy Breck in General | Next | Obamaschool | Schools we now have

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Education at Hogwarts was shaken to the core by the murder of Albus P. W. B. Dumbledore the greatest Headmaster Hogwarts had ever seen. He was killed at the age of 116 years by Severus Snape, his friend. On the above video you can watch his scheduled death, memories and mourners.

Among the mourners seen in the video is Dumbledore’s phoenix bird Fawkes. Tears come to his eyes. He then catches fire and burns down — a mystical capacity of the phoenix species.

In education of our time, there are forces both old and new that are killing old time educational institutions and practices. These forces include friendly changes in the digital area and destructive influences of welfare statism, unionists, and prodigal spending that is running governments out of money that could be used for schools.

The happy (real or imagined) days of our Dumbledore Hogwarts schools are over. We cannot go back.

Fawkes reminds us that the future can be new, fresh, and exciting. We can move on from Hogwarts to something completely reborn.  To get that done, we need to focus not on rebuilding Hogwarts — but on the concept of a new Fawkes. Is this a negative and frightening path? Quite the contrary. The bright new pheonix of 21st century learning — already stirring and peeping — will provide young wizards of the future with a global commons of knowledge and learning — plus a new generation of teaching Dumbledores who do not have to watch their back for bureaucrats casting negative spells.

Handschooling blog is about 5 ways to help the new education arise


Posted on 18th February 2010 by Judy Breck in General | Schools we now have

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UPDATE: This has been revised: Findability and Commons are combined and the new section Next is added. The heading beneath the logo is slightly revised. is a work in progress. Thanks for your patience. Judy

The heading beneath the logo is:

Meet the new phoenix arising from the ashes of failed education, and help it take off

There are pages being developed to replace the roughly sketched ones now online for these 5 areas of action:
1 Mobiles
2 Findability
3 Nurture
4 Next
5 Politics

The purpose of is to explain and illustrate the 5 areas and to make practical suggestions for action by readers in each of them. This blog is about how to use our talents, resources, and influence as educators, parents, and citizens during the transition from analog schooling to the new schooling arising around the global knowledge commons.

Hopefully, I am not overdoing the bird! Several readers have sent positive comments since my last post about the metaphor of the phoenix for what is happening to education. The phoenix myth has persisted in several cultures for many centuries, as reflected in the manuscripts and images collected in The Medieval Bestiary, the source of the images in this post. The idea is a powerful one that rings true. The phoenix reminds us that sometimes it is better to let an old institution go up in flames, and then to enjoy a creative rebirth. focuses on the new young fledgling of 21st century learning — which is now like the little fellow spreading his wings here: A phoenix rising from the still-glowing ashes of the fire that consumed its previous incarnation.

Although we still await the full conflagration of schooling’s aging analog-cored incarnation, here we turn our attention and support to the exciting new fledgling.

Schooling will rise anew around the global knowledge commons


Posted on 16th February 2010 by Judy Breck in Nurture | Schools we now have

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The phoenix metaphor is helpful in visualizing the future of schooling. We need not be alarmed, as Harry Potter is here, as the old schooling disintegrates. It is a waste of time and money to attempt to resuscitate it — and doing that just keeps the old bird whimpering along at high cost to students and budgets enduring its long, slow death.

Here, as Ovid wrote long ago, is what will happen to the phoenix of education if we quit trying to fix failing schools and look toward the bird that will be rising: Most beings spring from other individuals; but there is a certain kind which reproduces itself. . . . dying, [it] breathes out its last breath amidst odors. From the body of the parent bird, a young Phoenix issues forth, destined to live as long a life as its predecessor.

In Medieval times it was said that: When it is old, it builds a pyre of wood and spices and climbs on to it. There it faces the sun and the fire ignites; it fans the fire with its wings until it is completely consumed. Some say it is the sun that ignites the fire; others say that the phoenix starts it by striking its beak against a stone, or that stones gathered with spices in the pyre rub together to create a spark. A new phoenix rises from the ash of the old.

I suggest sunlight or a stone strike are long overdue in finishing off education as we have tried for so long to breath life into it. It is foolhardy in the digital age to keep trying to keep alive the dying analog school methodology. When the analog education sprung to life its driving realities were printed books and delivery of knowledge to geographical locations where students could gather.

The new education creature will be formed around digital versions of knowledge that can be comprehensively carried in each student’s pocket wherever he or she may be. The new education phoenix of the digital, connected age will, or course still be education — still be a phoenix, just one more more beautiful and appropriate to our times.

Since I have started writing at several people have written to me or placed comments here that are, in truth, about the new education phoenix. These suggestions have included:

So I will be advocating a “open learning center”: approach to schools and a ‘networked common school’ approach to metropolitan inter-district cooperation.

I believe that many can in the rich world of content and real world experiences collaborative learn with others and self-direct that learning.

The reason I included a major section on “nurture” in is because there are many local, individual aspects of education that can be re-envisioned in the era of the new education phoenix.