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From the Editor

Teaching/Learning Legacy of Piaget

Active learning is essential to education success.

A great privilege early in my career was editing the original words of the Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher, Jean Piaget, for one of his few articles directed to teachers. As a doctoral student, I had been captivated by Piaget’s theories that children pass through four major intellectual development stages, which influenced the federallyfunded “lab-centered” curriculum programs of the era—particularly in science and mat —and I later wrote chapters on Piagetian psychology for three texts.

Piaget studied countless numbers of young people to arrive at his theories, including his own three children (I always pictured Mrs. Piaget saying “Hey Jean, would you mind watching the kids?!”). A fundamental conclusion of his work was that intellectual development happens through direct interaction with materials, so the active firsthand involvement of learners is essential to education. This, of course, explains the effectiveness of online programs and “bring your own devices” to schools, as we explore in this month’s CIO feature on the “consumerization” of IT. Logistically, Piaget was interviewed over a three-day period in French—which I hardly speak beyond mais non and mais oui—and an English translation was forwarded to me for extracting and organizing content pertinent to K12 educators. The result was “Piaget Takes a Teacher’s Look,” which is still referenced online. 

Here’s May…

This issue addresses a number of content themes where direct involvement should be central, including managing editor Angela Pascopella’s interview on “cage-busting leadership,” staff writer Alison DeNisco’s feature on staff development for teaching online, and contributing writer Ron Schachter’s article on removing stumbling blocks in the algebra curriculum. We also debut a new department titled “The Business of…” where we explore specialized industry topics important for school buyers, such as this month’s look at school furniture by special projects editor Kylie Lacey. In addition, a panel of district superintendents who are members of the District Administration Leadership Institute ( takes a “no-holds-barred” look at reinventing public education, and how each would begin. 

Send Me a Letter! 

Note, too, that our occasional “letters” page is back in this issue, so if you find yourself reacting to the content this month, we invite you to send your thoughts to me at the email address below. And if there is a burning issue you want to address at length, you can also consider writing a professional opinion column, such as the anti-bullying article written by lawyer Nancy Willard.