Story of Change

William Tobin, Ph.D./ January 8, 2022/ Blog, Uncategorized/ 0 comments

  For the Fall, 2021-22 Semester, Duke students in the Lab were asked to draw on materials/experiences we looked at together over the course of semester and their own experiences to respond to the following prompt:  “What is your theory or story about how change happens and what role–if any–do personal relationships play in your story or theory?”  Here is

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Relationship Based Change

William Tobin, Ph.D./ October 9, 2020/ Uncategorized/ 0 comments

Introduction The COVID-19 crisis forced us to reconfigure the Lab in a cluster of ways. The number of Duke students who could register for our Tuesday night, socially distanced, in person class meetings was about half of the usual number.   The decreased number of Duke students and the absence of a graduate fellow prompted me to place lab projects (focused

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Everyday Nonsense

William Tobin, Ph.D./ September 14, 2020/ Blog, Uncategorized/ 0 comments

My daughters have a great guidance counsellor at their high school. She is kind and has enormous integrity—she really wants to do a good job.  She acknowledges mistakes and then fixes them. She genuinely cares for her students. But most importantly from the perspective of a parent, she is responsive and does what she says she will do. When I

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Beyond and Below Doing for and Being with

William Tobin, Ph.D./ August 17, 2020/ Blog, Uncategorized/ 0 comments

Sam Wells who used to be the Dean of the Chapel here at Duke (and now leads a large prestigious Church of England congregation in central London) contrasted two kinds of service– doing forand being with—in a sermon some years ago. Doing for is about helpingpeople who “need” it. Someone or some cause requires time, money, or food/clothing and we

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Learning a new humble style

William Tobin, Ph.D./ June 16, 2020/ Blog, Uncategorized/ 0 comments

  Durham Public-School’s five-year plan begins with the conviction that “fulfilling every child’s potential” depends on the people of Durham “work[ing] collectively and intentionally to embody “the highest aspirations for our children.” So, I and the members of the lab took seriously the idea that the wellbeing of the children of Durham is the responsibility of all of residents of

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The Educational Needs of our Students

William Tobin, Ph.D./ May 11, 2020/ Blog, Uncategorized/ 0 comments

School leaders never get tired of telling anyone who will listen about their single-minded commitment to the educational needs of their students. Here is what I think this generally means: Given the culture and organization of my District and its priorities and self-image, we are committed to meeting the educational needs of our students. Here is what a single-minded focus

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The Best and Brightest

William Tobin, Ph.D./ January 15, 2020/ Blog/ 0 comments

Samantha Power’s new book, The Education of an Idealist, has me thinking about the difference between what might be called “deserving to be successful” and actually being successful. By any conventional measure, Power deserved to be successful in her role as UN Ambassador. She had the best humanitarian intentions—indeed, her commitment to human rights is relentless and without pause. She

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Being Selectively Helpful

John Benhart/ October 28, 2019/ Blog/ 0 comments

It’s tempting to try to do too much when you 1. Care and 2. Think you have something to offer. Last year, I worked with a community college student named Mohammed. Mohammed was tackling various challenges, from planning for his move to a university to doing homework for Chemistry class. As a Duke student and Chemistry enthusiast, I thought I

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On Co-Production

William Tobin, Ph.D./ October 25, 2019/ Blog/ 0 comments

For the past year or two several project teams here in the Lab have been thinking about a puzzle related to outcomes:  How to describe their part in bringing about important policies or initiatives when they have played a significant role in collaboration with government? The Lab isn’t the only organization that is outcome driven. I recently had a conversation

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John Benhart/ October 21, 2019/ Blog/ 0 comments

The Citizenship Lab investigates the viability of a neighborhood of high school and college newcomers and American college students working together to form relationships and improve outcomes for both groups. In doing so, we identify and combat the larger educational and cultural challenges confronting newcomers in the U.S. In this blog, we will bring you insights from the challenges we

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