I blog on Brain-Based Learning, Metacognition, EdTech, and Social-Emotional Learning. I am the author of the Crush School Series of Books, which help students understand how their brains process information and learn. I also wrote The Power of Three: How to Simplify Your Life to Amplify Your Personal and Professional Success, but be warned that it's meant for adults who want to thrive and are comfortable with four letter words.

Let's Keep It Real In Education

Keeping Ed Real: Real talk on education
I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.
— Marie Curie

Translation: If you want things to change, get your ass off the couch and do the work.

That's what Marie did. In a world full of men unwilling to accept a woman, an atheist, and a person who followed her heart, she had to work her ass off to overcome the sexism and xenophobia of her times.

In 1911, just before receiving her Nobel Prize, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences asked Marie not to come to Stockholm, so King Gustav V would not be subjected to shaking hands with an adulteress.

Of course, she went to accept the award in person. That was her second Nobel. She was the first ever woman to receive one, and the first ever person to receive two. She discovered radium and polonium and coined the term radioactivity. She earned many prestigious awards, honors, and posts for her work.

Ultimately, her work killed her. But before she died of cancer at 66, she changed the world. For women, for men, for all of us. And the way she did it inspires.

You see, Marie didn't just write a bunch of papers. She worked to apply what she learned to help humanity. She did not seek patents and recognition. Rather, she used her discoveries and knowledge to invent the first ever portable X-Ray machines. The Little Curies were used to diagnose over a million soldiers during World War I. Later, she raised money to build hospitals to use her discoveries to provide advanced treatments to patients. Today, we cure cancer and other illnesses thanks to Marie's work.

So What Does Marie Curie Have To Do With Keeping It Real In Education?

To me, everything. Marie understood that her work was greater than herself and she always saw it as more important than any personal achievement. She faced criticism and prejudice. She persevered. The work was too important not to and it did not matter what anyone else said.

I think the work educators do is just as important. We can't keep shying away from the difficult conversations, hard feelings, and tough decisions. I really believe it is the only real way toward meaningful and sustainable progress.

Beautiful words and flipping the script every time negative feelings surface is inspiring, but not always helpful. It is the kind of an approach that invalidates tough feelings our kids and we ourselves experience because we're human. Our humanness requires we process them, not simply shove them aside and immediately replace with growth-mindset. That's not real. Not always.

And while Marie Curie is my hero and compatriot, I would never presume to fill her shoes. I am not the champion for humanity she was, just a teacher pushing aside anxiety and introversion to muster courage to speak up and fight for what I believe.

That involves doing things I'm not always comfortable doing. Public speaking? Check. So, I started a podcast. Writing is one thing. This... the podcast... I feel naked. Here it is: 

All teachers and administrators want their students to succeed in school and beyond. Many of us are noticing that our schools are becoming less effective at providing the right education to help our kids accomplish that. We see the need for change; a paradigm shift. 

The few authentic voices and change agents we encounter get drowned out by the constant barrage of Band Aid approaches and empty words on social media. Hundreds if not thousands of educational technology blogs, which provide great tools, but nevertheless approaches that can easily be replaced with the next new thing. Would be leaders quoting themselves on slides encouraging, but not showing how. Noise.

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.
— Benjamin Franklin

At this point, I wish I had the answer to help cut through the noise and make education better, but all I have is ideas. And, I have passion and beliefs. And, I have you. And, you have passion, beliefs, and ideas too. 

Let's take this passion and spread it. Let's use our beliefs to help make education better for our students. Let's combine our ideas and create new ways and tools to help teach and guide our students. Let's learn, but let's apply too. Let's talk, but let's show as well. 

I want to use my new podcast as a platform for meaningful change in education. I want to take a closer look at the things we often don't talk about, shy away from, or passively aggressively ignore. I want to explore solutions we fear to help make education better. I want to always find the courage to seek the right, not straight, often rough full-of-jagged-rocks road.

I promise you not to shy away from the ugly and the happy conversations. 

I hope you feel a little uncomfortable when you listen because I believe the greatest progress happens outside of the confines of our safe places.

I hope you are inspired to seek your own answers, ones that benefit those you serve.

I hope the conversations will help you think and reflect and act.

And while I don't hope for it, I know and accept that I will piss some people off in the process.

Because on Keeping Ed Real, taboos don't exist. From now on nothing is off the table. In fact, let's just kick the table down and make our own rules. We must.

Because, while there will never be another Marie Curie, maybe there's a Manya Sklodowska out there; a girl full of curiosity, passion, and drive. Maybe Manya is a student who needs to be given direction by her teacher, or the teacher who needs to be shown the way by her administrator. We owe her that. She's tired of empty words and promises. She's ready for real talk.

So, let's keep it real for her, others, and ourselves. Let's Keep Ed Real.


P.S. Click here for the first episode of Keeping Ed Real. I promise you it's as boring as unicorns flying over rainbows as fireworks are going off everywhere :)