Books I read in November 2023

Books I read in November 2023

Books I finished reading (or rereading) in November 2023…

Hope you’re reading something fun too!

Real problems versus test problems

Real problems versus test problems

Robert Sternberg said:

The characteristics of real-world problems are entirely different from the characteristics of problems on standardized tests. Standardized test problems are mostly multiple choice or short answer and have a right or wrong answer. Real problems require extended answers; there is no perfect answer, and sometimes, not even a very good one. Standardized test problems are decontextualized, emotionally bland and have no real-life stakes. Real-world problems are highly contextualized, emotionally arousing and may have high stakes. Standardized test problems are solved quickly and then you are done; real-life ones often take a long time and, after you think you have solved them, often come back.

 

Most important, real-world problems require you actively to deploy your intelligence — to decide seriously to use it. Standardized tests measure an inert form of intelligence — one that may exist in your head somewhere but is rarely actually put into real-world use. Intelligence is not just about an inert ability to take tests; it is about the active deployment of that ability to solve problems of life.

 

 

Is adaptive intelligence really important? Well, you be the judge. Which skill is more important for the great majority of students in college once they have graduated: the ability to solve artificial verbal and math problems or, alternatively, to address and try to solve problems of global climate change, air and water pollution, global pandemics, bacterial resistance to antibiotics, gun violence against schoolchildren (other than the usual pathetic “our thoughts and prayers are with them”), and the return of would-be autocrats to declining democracies?

There’s usually a difference between academic work and authentic work, and that difference is important when schools talk about the ‘critical thinking’ and ‘problem solving’ opportunities that they offer students. Looking at you, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, “advanced classes,” “honors courses,” etc…

Your thoughts?

Books I read in October 2023

Books I read in October 2023

Books I finished reading (or rereading) in October 2023…

Fix Injustice, Not Kids is one of the very best books on educational equity that I’ve ever read. It’s immensely readable, very practical, and absolutely fantastic.

Hope you’re reading something fun too!

A feeling that they must please the grownups at all costs

A feeling that they must please the grownups at all costs

What hampers their thinking, what drives them into these narrow and defensive strategies, is a feeling that they must please the grownups at all costs. The really able thinkers in our class turn out to be, without exception, children who don’t feel so strongly the need to please grownups. Some of them are good students, some not so good; but good or not, they don’t work to please us, but to please themselves. (Holt, How Children Fail, p. 29)

How about a Social Impact elective? (part 2)

How about a Social Impact elective? (part 2)

Back in August I proposed the idea of a Social Impact elective course, a student-driven learning experience that leaned heavily into the Contribution item in Section B of the 4 Shifts Protocol. Since then I’ve heard from a couple of schools that are doing this…

Junipero Serra High School

Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, California has a Creative Solutions for the Global Good class. Students become acquainted with a variety of creative solutions to global issues and then engage in their own self-designed projects to make an impact in their community. In the first video below, Rushton Hurley explains why the class was created and what happens in the class, including its emphasis on the design thinking process. The second video also describes the partnership between Junipero Serra and Parklands College, a PK-12th grade school in Cape Town, South Africa, and includes project examples from both schools.

Hillbrook School

Hillbrook School has two campuses in Los Gatos and San Jose, California. I had a phenomenal chat with Bill Selak, the Director of Technology there. Hillbrook launched its Scott Center for Social Entrepreneurship in 2017. Students engage in a variety of social entrepreneurship activities in grades K through 8, with culminating student-driven projects in 8th grade. You can visit the Social Impact + Leadership website to see example student projects, and below is a video from the Class of 2027’s Social Impact and Leadership Summit. Hillbrook is adding a high school campus and is beginning to engage in this work with the new 9th graders this year.

Students in both of these independent schools are doing amazing and impactful work! It feels like there is an easy but powerful opportunity here for others too, including public schools. Is anyone ready to try this?

For children, the central business of school is not learning

For children, the central business of school is not learning

The valiant and resolute band of travelers I thought I was leading toward a much-hoped-for destination turned out instead to be more like convicts in a chain gang, forced under threat of punishment to move along a rough path leading nobody knew where and down which they could see hardly more than a few steps ahead. School feels like this to children: it is a place where they make you go and where they tell you to do things and where they try to make your life unpleasant if you don’t do them or don’t do them right. For children, the central business of school is not learning, whatever this vague word means; it is getting these daily tasks done, or at least out of the way, with a minimum of effort and unpleasantness. Each task is an end in itself. The children don’t care how they dispose of it. (Holt, How Children Fail, p. 38)