Nifty Discussion guides for Teachers

I happened to run into Michigan’s Head of Public Deliberation last night, and she introduced me to the National Issues Forums publications:

National Issues Forums (NIF) is a nonpartisan, nationwide network of locally sponsored public forums for the consideration of public policy issues. It is rooted in the simple notion that people need to come together to reason and talk — to deliberate about common problems. Indeed, democracy requires an ongoing deliberative public dialogue….

Forums are led by trained, neutral moderators, and use an issue discussion guide that frames the issue by presenting the overall problem and then three or four broad approaches to the problem. Forum participants work through the issue by considering each approach; examining what appeals to them or concerns them, and also what the costs, consequences, and trade offs may be that would be incurred in following that approach.

You can download a ton of PDFs (or order paper copies) for use  in discussing different controversial issues.  There are also leader guides, teacher guides, and teacher forums!


No Child Left Inside Legislative Action

An update on this bill’s passage:  Get Outside 2U.S. House of Representatives approved the No Child Left Inside Act of 2008 September 19th.

The bill received bi-partisan support and was approved by a vote of 294 to 108.
In case you are curious, here’s how your legislator voted.

Passage of this act would implement a variety of new educational standards on environmental literacy, detailed here.  Basically, it stuffs some outdoor education into the No Child Left Behind requirements. Since the net effect of NCLB seems to have been to make rote learning more common, this could be a great way to make learning more hands-on and natural.

What’s next?

If you visit the “Take Action” page of the NCLI, you can find info on a variety of ways you can encourage the passage of this bill.