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  • Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor's TGIF "Are you with me?" 10.22.21

I dialed back the Wayback Machine about 12 years and came across Campbell’s Law. Here’s what I wrote then. “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.” Campbell’s Law Outcomes of Campbell’s Law then, • Administrator and teacher cheating • Student cheating • Exclusion of Low-Performance Students From Tests • Misrepresentation of Student Dropouts • Teaching to the Test • Conflicting Accountability ratings • Questions about the Meaning of Competency • Declining Teacher Morale • Score Reporting Errors Add to this in COVID era: • Exposure of long-standing practices of Legacy admissions to college · Inflated GPA’s to gain an advantage in college admissions · You can add your own….. And, all of this is under the auspices of a system that is using equity as a justification to make policy around standardized testing and teacher accountability. This is the problem of using data that is easy to collect and manage instead of using more qualitative data that is not just driven by numbers and algorithms. Go figure.

Dennis was visiting our old friend Deb Meier and called when Andrew and I were meeting. Last time I saw Deb was at a celebration of her life’s work at Fannie Lou Hamer about 7 years ago. At that time, Jeff Palladino & Co. produced quite a program. She is now 92 and still fighting the fight. On the call, we discussed how some of the schools she started are no longer around, not because they weren’t good schools but for other reasons. Here’s two: A lack of a successful succession plan for the principal even when there was a succession plan, as Deb stated, “the murder” of schools by districts.

“I think it’s legitimately possible for us to create an algorithm that builds a personalized catalogue that leads you to become the best person you can be.” Mark Williamson, MasterClass chief operating officer, As most of you know, I’m not a fan about how the word master is thrown around by so many where it means so little and, I’m not a fan of classes unless you really WANT to take one but the MasterClass series combines these words and comes up with something that is making me do a double take. If Ted Talks are produced for an audience who want something that holds their attention for a short time then, the production of MasterClass is for the audience with a mid-range attention span. The producers know the series is an attempt at a commodification of mastery and they know that this is impossible yet, they are after something else in doing these programs. Admittedly, it is edutainment but it is more. The producers say they are trying to understand how we learn but I don’t believe that is what is really going on here. They talk about getting people to connect to their passions and to learn practical skills through people they respect and want to meet. They also talk in terms of producing programming that makes you think, feel and believe. All of this sounds very familiar. Confidentially, I don’t think they know what is going to happen with MasterClass and that’s part of the reason I’m so interested in this series. There’s so much here for us to discuss. Does MasterClass have implications for B-U? What are those implications? For example, once, someone watches a MasterClass and really wants to get to the next step, where do they go? B-U? Can youth, students and Fellows watch a Master Class to develop their interests? Or, Can MasterClass give our students, Fellows and Navigators scholarships if, they don’t have the money to pay? These classes are 2-4 hours long. What if they then come back to B-U and make connections to adults out there who are really good at what they do?


On Wednesday, October 27th, BPLiving at Odyssey School will be doing its second webinar ( of the year. This webinar is produced and driven by student students around their personal use of ACLM’s measure. The last webinar was terrific. We have a new student participating this time but new is a funny word here. Emma has been working with us on these Healthy Lifestyle issues since she was in kindergarten and is now 15. Her work around Healthy Lifestyles is just phenomenal. Emma has agreed to be part of B-U’s Navigator Community as well. Hoping we get a big turnout this week.


Charlie was with Doug Thomas in Minnesota this week going all over the state developing new work with industry and community foundations. Kurt and Anthonette did a ton of work in San Diego and South Carolina with the marine and water system people here. The work they are doing is breaking barriers at sea for women of color. I met with Dale Marsden around work developing Fellows in cyber security and wood flooring.

Here’s Gary and me at the grand opening of the Living and Learning Center at UCSD. There is now a dedicated room to Big Picture Learning that Gary was instrumental in getting for us. While there, I met with Chris Halter, Dean of Education and also a Coast Guard Vet. I’m introducing Kurt and Anthonette to Chris. Then, I reconnected with an old friend Alec Baron. We are meeting this Saturday and finally, Kapua told me she will be doing her postdoc at UCSD with Sam Museus in the same space we were in, so now she has a place to work. Next week, Charlie, Lorna, Maddie, and I present HFF at the Aurora Conference.


Supply chain - Blockchain This week at a meeting with David, Pam, and Anthonette we discussed the present shortage of engineers. It seems like there is a shortage of just about everything right now and these shortages are impacting education. The wait time for engineers is just one example. Kurt has many more, being that he was out at sea looking at safety issues of boats that have been sitting off the California coast because of supply chain issues caused by COVID.

These real issues lead me back to an economist I spoke with years ago named Harry Mosher. At that time, he was railing to bring manufacturing back to the US for a number of reasons including what we are all presently experiencing. He called this Reshoring. This week, there was an article about Harry’s reshoring notions bringing millions of high-wage jobs into the economy. Because of the present supply chain problems, Harry is now chanting, “I told you I was right.” Purportedly, a similar rant appears on well-known hypochondriac Oscar Levant’s tombstone - “I told you I was sick.” Be well!


Elliot Washor

Co-Founder of Big Picture Learning

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