Author Archives: John H. Morton

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What Schools Need and What They Don’t

Recently, it seems like educational systems face increased scrutiny. Global testing reveals the strengths and weaknesses of departments of education, schools, administrators, teachers, and students around the globe. For the last 50 years the world has focused on building “schools” and increasing enrollment in developing countries. But have we actually improved learning? Do students leave school prepared to make a productive contribution to the community, to society?

According to Lant Pritchett, “schooling ain’t learning.” In his book, The Rebirth of Education:  Schooling Ain’t Learning, Mr. Pritchett proposes that we have done a good job of building school buildings and the infrastructures of departments of education but have not actually improved achievement. He makes many compelling points.

In well-intentioned efforts organizations have focused on building schools and infrastructure. We have assumed that if there’s a school, then there’s learning. Unfortunately, that assumption has not been culturally informed. We have brought our own culture of a love of education and forced it into the word “school” thinking it would just happen. But it hasn’t.

In many developing countries (if not most), education sits low on the priority list for national funding. As a result, a mentality has developed that “We don’t have enough resources, therefore our schools are ineffective.” Until we have more inputs (desks, chalk, books) we can’t have successful schools.

In one sense that rings true. I would have to agree that when three students share one very old, poorly written textbook, the likelihood of learning wanes. But, if those same three students had high quality textbooks but a teacher who taught only by rote methods, they would still not achieve at acceptable levels.

The “inputs” represent the “low hanging fruit,” a quick, tangible fix with some money and very little dirtying of the hands. However, international organizations have thrown money at developing countries for decades with little to show for it in terms of measurable achievement.

This brings us to the heart of EduCAN. We believe that communities want their children to learn, to achieve, and to produce for the community. We also believe that teachers exist in nearly every school who want their students to advance in real ways.

Every workshop I’ve done in a developing country, the teachers devour whatever information we present. Their hunger for new ideas, strategies, and methods of teaching drives them to engage, come early, and stay late!

We at EduCAN want to be a catalyst for those who want to get past the “throw money at it” approach and actually get their hands dirty. We want to serve alongside passionate local educators who dream of making a difference in their school.

We want to see training and a culture of professional development in every school. We want to see educators connecting to share best practices, challenge each other, and strategize for the good of their students and communities. We want to see the existing resources of communities brought together for the good of educating their children.

Let’s dream of a time where “schooling IS learning!”

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Meet the Board Members

The five EduCAN board members bring a wealth of practical education experience to the organization. Out of their professional teaching experience both domestically and abroad, each has a heart for investing in the success and development of educators. They have more than 100 years of combined experience in education.

John H. Morton, M.Ed. serves as the president of the board. He taught for 10 years at the college level and worked as the academic dean at an international school in Khartoum. He and Pam, his wife, have lead professional development workshops in Sudan, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Comoros. He holds a Master of Education in Curriculum Development and is currently working on a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Instruction, and the Science of Learning at the University at Buffalo.

Bud Greve, Ph.D., EduCAN’s vice president, lead the Springfield Public Schools as superintendent for many years.

Pam Morton serves as the treasurer and secretary of the board. She brings experience as an author, speaker, and teacher.

Rosemary Owens, Ph.D. retired from Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri as a professor and the assistant chair of the Music Department.

Sarah Tattershall-Tillinghast teaches at Eldon South Elementary in Eldon, Missouri. She has also taught internationally.

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Reading Foundation

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“We need an ABCs class!” The director of our local partner organization, Community Development Ministry, came to me asking if we could help with an “ABCs class.” A local village wanted to know the best way to teach the ABCs. As I thought about that request, I realized, there’s so much more to it than just the ABCs. I suggested we title the series of workshops, “Building a Foundation for Reading…It’s more than just the ABCs.” She agreed and we set out putting the workshop together.

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Zanzibar Educators

Zanzibar: What Great Teachers Do Differently

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In cooperation with Zanzibar’s Department of Education and local company Aslan Associates, EduCAN Development Corporation conducted a week-long series of international professional development workshops for 25 local educators. Todd Whitaker’s insightful book, “What Great Teachers Do Differently: 17 Things That Matter Most” (2011) served as the starting point for the course.

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