Monday, October 20, 2008


I have long been fascinated by experts, expertise and the commonalities between them. I have learned much about learning by being in the presence of people who are great at what they do. In fact, I believe that reality TV is a manifestation for our basic human desire to engage in apprenticeship experiences.

The Sundance Channel just started broadcasting its fourth season of Iconoclasts. In the series, extraordinary people are paired to interact informally and we get to eavesdrop on the result for an hour. Clips from all four seasons may be watching online at

This season pairs people like Archbishop Demond Tutu and Sir Richard Branson; Clive Davis and Bill Maher; Tony Hawk and Jon Favreau.

iTunes offers Season 2 of Iconoclasts , including six pairings like Dave Chapelle and Maya Angelou; Dean Kamen and Isabella Rosellini, etc... for $9.99 or as individual episodes for $1.99 each.

I hope other seasons will be available on iTunes or DVD sooner rather than later.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

My New Favorist Essayist Speaks the Truth About School

Over the past six months I've discovered the BBC television phenomena, Top Gear. I first heard about it when Jay Leno publicly criticized NBC's desire to produce an American version. Top Gear is hosted by three blokes who love cars, build insane contraptions, challenge one another to drive across the English Channel and tease one another mercilessly.

Top Gear is an enormous international hit with its own magazine, children's books, DVDs and international editions, such as Top Gear Australia.

I've watched a couple of dozen episodes of Top Gear and have my DVR programmed to record new ones, not because I love cars or am even interested in them. I hate cars and would be pleased to never drive again. I watch the show for the hijinks, witty repartee between the hosts and because it is fantastic observing expertise.

The primary host of Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson, is also a columnist for England's The Sunday Times and The Sun. Clarkson's co-hosts, Richard Hammon and James May also write entertaining columns for British newspapers.

During a recent trip to Australia, I thumbed through Clarkson's most recent anthology of columns and found a stunning piece of writing about education, Schools are Trying to Break Children.
All of us wrap up our children when it’s cold. We put them on booster seats in the car and make them wear helmets when they’re on a bicycle. We strive constantly to keep them out of harm’s way, and then we send them off to school so they can be tortured and killed.

Apparently, schools the world over are a lot more similar than the international comparison wielding politicians would like us to believe.

Read Jay Leno's review of and affection for Top Gear.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Can Reality TV Get Basic Facts Right?

A kid just sang "Jailhouse Rock" on American Idol. This week's theme is music of the 60s.

Jailhouse Rock was recorded by Elvis in 1957.

A few weeks ago, "Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann," had a motown theme. Most of the songs performed were not recorded by Motown artists.

How hard is it to get such basic facts correct?

If a kid sings a 50s song during 60s week of American Idol, shouldn't they be disqualified? Surely the musical director for the show knows that Jailhouse Rock is not a 60s tune.

OK, maybe I watch too much television.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

My New Reality Show

Riding on the coattails of CBS’ new program, Kid Nation, I’ve been mulling about ideas for my very own “reality” show about education.

Read the complete article here from The Pulse: Education's Place for Debate.

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