Betsy DeVos has invested millions in this ‘brain training’ company. So I checked it out.

A technician snapped a stretchy electrode cap onto my head, and I felt a cold pinch as she affixed each sensor to my scalp with a dose of icy gel. Perched on an office chair, with a rainbow of wires spiraling from my head, I followed the tech’s instructions to stare at a small orange object while an EEG recording device measured the electrical activity in various regions of my brain. I was checking out the Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., branch of Neurocore, a “brain performance” company owned by the family of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. DeVos resigned her Neurocore board … Read More

Eulogy for My Father, Otmar Boser

My father, Otmar Boser, passed away a few weeks ago. I said a few words at the funeral along with my brother and sister, and I am sharing my eulogy here.  A few nights ago, my father, Otmar Boser, had a decision to make. At the time, it seemed pretty clear that a car accident had paralyzed my father from the chest down. His feet? He couldn’t use them. His legs? Also gone. At best, my father might have use of his arms. But my father could take a risk. On that evening, he could decide to get a surgery that might … Read More

Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect

Slate featured this excerpt from Learn Better about how, in order to get better at something, you need to know what you’re doing wrong. Smart, focused criticism helps us figure out how to improve. Feedback makes us realize what we’re doing wrong and how we can do it right. As researcher John Hattie writes in his book Visible Learning, “the most powerful single influence enhancing achievement is feedback. ”I’ll admit that I had long ignored this fact in my basketball life. Before pick-up games, I’d often go to the local gym to try and improve but I wouldn’t really monitor my outcomes. I didn’t … Read More

Education debates don’t focus enough on teaching and learning

I wrote this piece for ThinkProgress about the need to focus education debates around improving everyday classroom practice. Here’s the gist of the piece:   Most school reform headlines focus on a pretty narrow area of policy. The latest voucher study will spark fierce debates, while pundits write heated op-eds on the benefits of non-elected school boards. In Denver, discussions of charter schools funding dominate the education debate. In Los Angeles, the conversation is all about school choice. These issues are important. Private school vouchers could decimate the nation’s public school system. But just about all of these policy debates revolve around … Read More