At about 2:45 in the morning of Sunday the 25th of January, our family welcomed Lucille Marie Bathon into the world. We will call her Lucy most of the time ... and, yes, I Love Lucy (we know, and we sort of like it). Lucy is big and strong at 7 lbs. 15 ounces and 20.5 inches. She has a strong voice and her own personality already in that she is not afraid to tell you when she doesn't like something. So far, everything with this pregnancy and delivery has been smooth. After our time in the NICU with Matthew and the twins, it is lovely having a bit of a smoother ride this time. We would appreciate any hopes or prayers to have it last. 

We will post pictures in sort of an ongoing manner here over the next couple days if you want to check back. You can also keep up with some of the photos at my flickr feed



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AuthorJustin Bathon

Today, in my citizenship lab course at STEAM, we took a deep dive in student voice. So much so that two sophomore students used their voice to help teach the class.

We examined the work of the Prichard Committee Student Voice team through their recent interview with Renee Shaw on KET

We talked about how students can contribute more at STEAM. We talked about what is and is not working well at STEAM. We talked about how to build better systems of including student voice into our work. It was a wonderful conversation. 

Students from my first block of Citizenship Lab.

Students from my first block of Citizenship Lab.

Then, students wrote a letter to the editor (of STEAM). We want real, honest feedback from them. Not all of it is positive. In fact most of the feedback is likely to be negative. One student said, "I can't get it all into less than 2 pages." That's fine. It is all data. It is all user feedback. As Elon Musk has said, the negative feedback is the most valuable because it helps you understand how to make your product or experience better. It take courage to listen, but it is core to getting better. 

The point is, students have a lot to say. They absolutely do and they are substantially more serious than most adults are willing to give them credit for. I've always loved this video from top education reporter Amanda Ripley where she had the insight that the humans that know the most about the education system at any given moment are the students in it. We need to leverage that knowledge not only because it can make our schools better, but because it is the right way to treat our children. 

Posted
AuthorJustin Bathon
CategoriesCASTLE

I was seriously blown away by this work by students from Kansas State University. It strikes me as the perfect example of student work that translates and stands on its own as Art. This is the gold standard of what our project based learning and media projects should be approaching in schools. 

Enjoy. I know I did. 

Posted
AuthorJustin Bathon

Now a days it is popular to question technology in schools as potentially counter-productive or an unnecessary expenditure if classrooms do not change along with the new tools. I've made this argument myself and I'm actively counseling superintendents to consider the best use of funds if their intention is to only drop devices in the building, not reform the classrooms. 

But, make no mistake, it is better a kid have access to the Internet than not, including (and especially) in the classroom. There is a great deal of value simply in access as there was a great deal of value maintaining school libraries even though most kids didn't bother with it in a serious way. 

This, I think, makes my point well: 


Posted
AuthorJustin Bathon

This image has been passed around a lot w/ a desired effect of saying we don't trust teachers anymore.

Click to see original Facebook post from 95.7 KJR

Click to see original Facebook post from 95.7 KJR

There is perhaps some truth in that, but honestly, if all a teacher/school sent home to me was a single letter grade with little additional data, I would be angry too. Know how we turn the tables back around? Give parents all the data on why their kid is not meeting expectations. Instead of just a "D" show them the exact standards where they are not proficient, show them measures and examples of poor work habits, link to student work product in portfolios. Undoubtedly, some parents will still fault the school or teacher, but many, many fewer and it would go a very, very long way to restoring whatever trust has been lost in our teachers and schools (and hopefully pull back on some of these ridiculous tests). Thus, I don't think the problem in this image is what you think ... I think it is more the paper than the parents.

Posted
AuthorJustin Bathon

My Aunt Elsie Campbell was a master quilter. During her life she quilted easily hundreds of unique quilts, each a creative artistic expression (my guess is probably around 500 - she said she had lost count). She made a quilt to celebrate most large events in life such as weddings or the birth of a new child. She was also an extremely efficient quilter and during a large part of her life she maintained a goal of completing a quilt every two weeks. Many, many people in Southern Illinois paid Elsie to add to their lives and her artwork is still on display all over beds in this part of the world. It is an impressive legacy. 

These are 40 quilts that were auctioned off this past weekend. They brought between $100-$300 each, depending on the quality, condition, and design, and many buyers came to the auction just to bid on the quilts. Of course, she also quilted pillows, wall hangings, baby quilts, and other cloth crafts. 

Elsie's quilting legacy is representative of a generation of folk-art crafts people who made art a regular part of not only their life, but of those around them as well. They brought happiness to generations, as Elsie did for us, and it is an honor for me to display Elsie's work here on this blog as a small tribute to a lifetime of work and joy for a remarkable lady. 


Posted
AuthorJustin Bathon

Was challenged by my good friend and cousin Pedro Torres to the "10 books that have stayed with me" challenge (if it is such a thing). So, here are 10 somewhat randomly that come to mind, although as you get to the bottom of the list those are some the "best" books I've read. I'm sure I have missed a couple of important ones, but just to get 10 out there. 

 

10. Killer Angels - This was my first real "book" of substance read when I was a teenager out touring around civil war sites with my challenger, one Mr. Torres. I think it mostly sticks with me because it was first but also because it does bring back great memories on several fronts including reading in front of the fire in my parents house (although the subject matter of the book was not so great). 

 

9. Ignore Everybody - I love this little book of thoughts and sketches on the back of business cards. My buddy Scott McLeod gave me my first copy and, like him, I've made a habit of giving this book out to others whom I deem worthy. There are some others in this space, like the small books by Seth Godin

 

8. The Third Teacher - This is not really a book you read as much as consume. It will change the way you think about books and learning and spaces and design. Groundbreaking in execution moreso than content. 

 

7. Illustrated Brief History of Time - Like Pedro and so many others I'm sure, this book opened my eyes to a love of both physics and space. I've not randomly read a physics book lately, but I've read several others since this one and while I enjoy them, this is the one that sticks with me (plus, not really sold on the whole string theory concept yet). Interestingly, I listened to The Elegant Universe on the way home from Pedro's wedding in Minnesota. 

 

6. The Kite Runner - In my adult life, I am not really big on novels but this one stands out. It was just a beautifully told story and I appreciate the talent. 

 

5. The Bottom Billion - There was a phase when I was reading a lot about other parts of the world but this one stands out as memorable for me because it put concepts like poverty globally into the proper perspectives (which is probably different than you are imagining). 

 

4. The Castle by Kafka - This book with haunt me forever. It was so truthfully artistic about our societal structures and my mind finds the winding streets of the village frequently as a struggle in my government job. K? 

 

3. What Technology Wants - This book changed my relationship to the concept of "technology" and since I run a technology center ... that was sort of important. Since "technology" can sort of broadly be defined as anything that is not natural invented by humans ... it really covers a LOT of territory. 

 

2. Code is Law (and V2). This book has done more to shape my philosophy of government than any other. Once I had a great handle on all the different ways that society regulates, it really let me put the law in its proper place within society, particularly our in our quite techy world. However, the conceptual structures in this book extend far beyond. 

 

1. Long Walk to Freedom - The best book I've read in my life. Was life changing for me. It was such an honor to visit S.A. this past summer. 

Posted
AuthorJustin Bathon
CategoriesPersonal

One thing I have learned working or studying in various aspects of the education and legal system now for decades is that what people seem to think of as "rules" are rarely that. We self-govern on the basis of these "rules" more restrictively than any actual set of statutes, regulations, policies, or procedures would ever have us comply. This self inflicted straight jacket of rules is suffocating the American education system from preschool to graduate school. It is a straight-jacket based almost entirely on norms, not laws. Tightly adhering to laws is the implementation of democracy; tightly adhering to norms is the implementation of culture. While these two obviously mix together, they have extremely different implications. Both laws and norms can be changed, usually without that much difficultly, but through different approaches. While law is typically changed from the top down, culture is typically changed from the bottom up. There is a lack of understanding, though, that the "rules" that bind the education system are mostly cultural, not legal. Thus, most people labeled as "education reformers" like to spend their time trying to change policy (without much effect) when spending time trying to change norms can be much more effective. As a result of failing to understand this distinction, we are seriously limited in our potential for actual reform across the entire education system. 

On this Leadership Day #2014, it is worth sharing this insight because it is central to what I have seen as a distinguishing variable while watching both leaders that are successful in implementing reform and those are have not been successful. When leaders that have not been successful have found themselves bound by what they perceive to be some "rule," they nearly subconsciously assume it must be a form of law and, thus, out of their hands. When leaders that have been successful face that same "rule," they assume it is only cultural unless it is proven that it is legal. Even then, they are questioning of the true nature of the legal basis (because it does matter, and there is a sliding scale of how seriously one needs to take education laws, but that is for a different post). Assuming the "rule" is cultural, though, immediately changes the reformers approach. They think bottom up, not top down. Instead of what policymakers must be involved in reform, they think what teachers or students must be involved in reform? The understanding is not "it's out of our hands" but rather "this is our decision to make together." From this initial assumption, different approaches to reform follow and there is a different likelihood of changing the actual situation for students (which is the goal, changing a law is not an end in itself as some policy-types seem to believe). This understanding between the real power behind the "rules of education" seems to be an absolutely critical component of effective transformational leadership. 

Thus, next time you find yourself stymied by a "rule" ask either yourself or your superiors to show you the law (statute, regulation, policy) that limits your ability to change in that instance. If you are asking others, do it in a friendly way, but also in a way that clearly shows your assumption is that no such law governs the situation. Once no law is found (or your superior gives up), as is likely, ask a follow up question to either yourself or your superiors of "who would we need to get on board to change this? or "what would it take to get this done?" If an answer emerges to either of those two questions, now you have a path to real reform. Make it happen and the world will be, perhaps ever so slightly, a better place for it. 

Posted
AuthorJustin Bathon