If a certain kind of teaching failed to produce learning the first time, why will it suddenly produce it the second time? In many cases the children, now ashamed and angry as well as bored and confused, will do even worse than before… (Holt, How Children Fail, p. 3)
Let’s double down on math and reading block! Let’s extend the school day or calendar! Let’s require kids to attend summer school! Let’s force children to repeat a grade!
But whatever we do, let’s don’t change students’ learning experience. Just more of the same… (and if we are changing the learning experience during those times, perhaps – just perhaps – we should have been doing that in the first place?).
Books I finished reading (or rereading) in August 2023…
Hope you’re reading something fun too!
[Students] fail because they are afraid, bored, and confused. They are afraid, above all else, of failing, of disappointing or displeasing the many anxious adults around them, whose limitless hopes and expectations for them hang over their heads like a cloud. They are bored because the things they are given and told to do in school are so trivial, so dull, and make such limited and narrow demands on the wide spectrum of their intelligence, capabilities, and talents. They are confused because most of the torrent of words that pours over them in school makes little or no sense. (Holt, How Children Fail, pp. 5-6)
I’m going to start posting some quotes here from John Holt’s How Children Fail, which is a classic education text about student learning (that most educators have never read?)…
The bad things we assume about other people tend to become true, become “self-fulfilling prophecies.” Many people seem to think that the way to take care of children is to ask in any situation what is the most stupid and dangerous thing the children could possibly do, and then act as if they were sure to do it. (p. 81)
About ten years ago when I was in Iowa, a middle school principal decided that her students weren’t trying hard enough on the state tests. So she set up a fun end-of-year field trip to the amusement park and told the students that whomever didn’t do their best during assessment season couldn’t go. I asked her how many students didn’t get to go, and she said less than a dozen. I asked her how she decided who didn’t do their best, and she said, “We can tell when we walk around during testing sessions.” I asked her how she thought those extremely few students felt as they were singled out and left behind at school while everyone else in the school was having fun. She didn’t care about those students’ well-being. All she cared about was the message that she thought she was sending those few students about taking their academics seriously. I invited her to consider that perhaps that wasn’t the message that they were receiving. She didn’t hear me. As you can imagine, it was a pretty depressing discussion.
Fast forward to 2023 and here we go again, also in Iowa. The Maple Valley – Anthon Oto Community Schools have decided that their high school students aren’t taking the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) seriously enough. So they are now tying ‘proficiency’ on the 11th grade ISASP to high school graduation. Students who aren’t ‘proficient’ in all four ISASP areas (yes, all four!) must either then show ‘proficiency’ on NWEA’s MAP assessments (which isn’t really measured by MAP; it has to be imputed) or write a letter to the school board explaining why they should be allowed to graduate anyway. See the images below for the letter to families.
So if you’re a student in this community who is a poor test taker, you can’t graduate – even if you’ve passed all of your required courses – unless you somehow show ‘proficiency’ on all four of the standardized tests anyway or grovel to the school board and hope that it is merciful. This is terrible and has absolutely no place in education.
It’s the 17th birthday of Dangerously Irrelevant. That’s a LONG time! And while my blogging has much more uneven in recent years, I’m not not down for the count yet. Thanks for staying with me all these years. Stay tuned!
Books I finished reading (or rereading) in July 2023…
- Assessment of Higher Order Thinking Skills, Gregory Schraw and Daniel Robinson (Eds.) (psychology)
- The Future of Smart, Ulcca Joshi Hansen (education)
- Critical Thinking, Jonathan Haber (education)
- The Song of Significance, Seth Godin (leadership)
- Recalibrate the Culture, Jimmy Casas (education)
- The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch (fantasy)
- Red Seas Under Red Skies, Scott Lynch (fantasy)
- The Republic of Thieves, Scott Lynch (fantasy)
- The Burning God, R. F. Kuang (fantasy)
- Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, Elizabeth Moon (fantasy)
- The Book of Magic, Gardner Dozois (fantasy)
- Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman (mythology)
Hope you’re reading something fun too!
Doubling down on dehumanizing practices won’t help you reclaim student (or educator) ‘misbehavior.’
Download this file. See also my other slides.