Why The World Needs Nimble Thinkers

During an open house event March 3, I listened to stories offered by graduates of the Critical and Creative Thinking program at University of Massachusetts Boston. Their stories revealed several common themes among the program’s alumni.

While virtually seated in Boston from Colorado Springs, via an online Google+ Hangout, I heard the first graduate explain how the curriculum had caused some restlessness. She started reopening texts, revisiting ideas. Her thinking had evolved. Her view of the world had changed.

After completing the program, “I figured out just how much I had learned,” she said. Continue reading

How a School United to Tell a Student’s Secret

PEYTON, Colo. (Nov. 15, 2013) — Eleven-year old Katarina Lucardie had a secret she couldn’t hide any longer. She wanted to tell it. She wrote a note.

“I have this cell thing that makes me lose my hair,” wrote the sixth grader last month to her counselor at Skyview Middle School in Falcon School District 49, located in northeast Colorado Springs. “I’m bald, but a I wear a wig.”

Lucardie was born with Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune skin disease that causes hair loss. When she started fourth grade at Springs Ranch Elementary School, the symptoms progressed. By Christmas, she was bald. Her mother ordered a wig. Continue reading

Reflection on Critical Thinking, 21st Century Intellect

“Critical thinking” recently topped a Forbes list covering important job skills for the 21st century, suggesting employers are looking for candidates who “use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems” (Casserly, 2012).

As Socrates opined, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” We must constantly re-examine our beliefs, and identify when remaining intellectually honest requires us to accept contrary opinions. We must represent a genuine curiosity for other’s belief systems.

We’re already highly collaborative today. Every day, more than 500 terabytes of data is sent to Facebook, with the processing of text, photos and videos (Facebook, 2012). Twitter’s microblogging platform receives 12 terabytes daily (Naone, 2010). Actively and passively, we’re creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day – 90 percent of the world’s data was created within the last couple of years. (IBM, 2013). Continue reading

Colorado Students Give Voice to Domestic Violence Victims

PEYTON, Colo. (Sept. 24, 2013) – Amanda Hanson was 15 years old and more than three months pregnant Aug. 19, 2002, when she was strangled, beaten and stabbed.

An explanation of her boyfriend’s continued carnage was presented Sept 24 at Patriot Learning Center. The horrific mutilation on a trail in Manitou Springs, involving “sticks and a boulder,” sparked a somber embrace for several students. Some cried.

“She was the age of some our freshmen here, so it’s really relatable,” said 12th grader Celine Inge, 17, standing near a life-size cutout of a female figure, constructed of plywood and painted red. Hanson’s story was hung over the figure’s shoulders with a ribbon. Continue reading

Colorado Springs Students Strengthen City’s Cultural Ties with Japan

PEYTON, Colo. – Displaying nametags and smiles Aug. 7, a group of students in Colorado Springs greeted teens arriving from almost 6,000 miles away.

As 17 students representing five junior high schools in Fujiyoshida, Japan, entered Skyview Middle School in Falcon School District 49, nearly 20 eighth graders welcomed them. Many attempted cordial Japanese greetings, as several of their guests snapped photos.

“We wanted our students to have an international experience,” said social studies teacher Gary Heaston, who coordinated the event for the eighth graders at Skyview Middle School. Continue reading

Voltaire Philosophy

Voltaire: To Online Dialogue Leaders

Online communities lacking leadership often get trapped within the realms of talking nice or tough. Debate is healthy, as it creates a container for reflective and generative dialogue. But within all conversational settings, dialogue leaders must ensure harmony, protecting a culture of inquiry and a commitment to emergence and creativity. They synchronize the actions people take during a conversation. Movers initiate ideas and transition conversations, while opposers challenge their direction – both act as advocates. To inspire, followers complete ideas and support the conversation, as bystanders provide perspective. Leaders keep everyone transitioning through the fields of conversation, ensuring debate leads to breakthroughs not breakdowns. What might Voltaire, an 18th century writer and philosopher, a fighter of free thinking and human dignity, an influencer of the French and American revolutions, offer today’s online dialogue leaders? Continue reading


Voltaire: To Digital Citizen

Ferney, February 20, 1759

Once again, sir, this orange has been squeezed, and now we must save the peel. Perhaps, my peculiar birth was hundreds of years premature. Did I materialize too early, or just in time? For I’ve survived a generation, weak in the body, strong in the mind, paving your rue for truth. Nearly 300 years later, I trust you’re reasoning in novel ways, exposing and uprooting tyrants, sowing innovative utopias, benefitting from a sweeping brilliance.

Monsieur, do you demand skepticism of truth and reasoning? Do you cherish an inalienable right to make use of your pen as of your tongue?

“Respect my master’s absurdities!” says tradition’s slave. “Nay,” yells the enlightened. “Shut your mouth. For your master’s lies shouldn’t earn five minutes from a shelled mollusk.” Continue reading