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Avoiding worst-case technology scenarios through mindfulness

Mike Crowley said:

There can be no question but that technology can provide the potential for isolation, for synthetic relationships, for a sedentary lifestyle, an anxiety-ridden social existence, a failure to focus, concentrate, and engage. But surely this is a worst-case scenario conception of technology without balance, without thoughtful schools, informed, engaged parents? An education system that emphasises the need to be cultured as well as educated, well-read as well as literate, articulate as well as able to skim, physically healthy as well as mentally engaged … surely an individual in this context will only benefit from the interactive tools of contemporary technology to allow them to create, design, persuade and engage? Yes, perhaps our brains will be rewired in the process, but isn’t that what the brain has always done throughout history? 

via http://crowleym.com/2014/11/03/rewired-brains-unbalanced-lives

Reclaiming the language of educational reform

Have your say and make your voice heard

Arthur Camins said: 

The words accountability, no-excuses and choice have already been claimed and defined by currently powerful policy makers and associated with their values. Their accountability language evokes the authority of the powerful to direct others to improve education, but not shared responsibility. Their no excuses language evokes blaming teachers, administrators, students and their parents for disappointing outcomes, while deflecting attention from the need to address systemic issues, such as the burden of poverty on children’s lives and inequitable school funding. Their choice language evokes the individualism of “I am my brother’s competitor” rather than the shared responsibility of “I am my brother’s keeper.”

via http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/11/19/how-to-reframe-the-educational-reform-debate

Image credit: Speak up, make your voice heard, Howard Lake

Delivering mass media is the least of the Net’s powers

Doc Searls and David Weinberger said:

We need to remember that delivering mass media is the least of the Net’s powers.

The Net’s super-power is connection without permission. Its almighty power is that we can make of it whatever we want.

via http://cluetrain.com/newclues

It would be hard to imagine an institutional structure less suited for the future

Public School 6, New York City

Richard Elmore said:

While learning has largely escaped the boundaries of institutionalized schooling, educational reformers have for the past thirty years or so deliberately and systematically engaged in public policy choices that make schools less and less capable of responding to the movement of learning into society at large.

Standards and expectations have become more and more literal and highly prescriptive in an age where human beings will be exercising more and more choice over what and how they will learn.

Testing and assessment practices have become more and more conventional and narrow as the range of competencies  required to negotiate digital culture has become more complex and highly variegated.

Teacher preparation, hiring, induction, and evaluation practices have become more and more rigid and hierarchical in an age where the teaching function is migrating out into a more individualized and tailored set of learning environments.

We are continuing to invest massively in hard-boundary physical structures in an age where learning is moving into mobile, flexible, and networked relationships. In other words, it would be hard to imagine an institutional structure for learning that is less suited for the future than the heavily institutionalized, hierarchical world that education reformers have constructed.

via https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/higher-ed-beta/future-learning-what-about-schooling

Image credit: New York: Public School 6, Matt_Weibo

I liked this post so much I split it into two quotes. Here is the other one. Oh, and Will Richardson liked it too.

Schooling for compliance and conformity v. preparing students for a life of learning

Richard Elmore said:

I was trained, as a student, to value schooling primarily as a vehicle for gaining adult approval and control. I learned that lesson well. I also learned it in an environment that prepared me not at all for a life of learning.

I see these patterns reproducing themselves in many of the hundreds of classrooms I have observed over the past fifteen years in my professional work. Students are schooled for adult approval and conformity to highly standardized, institutionalized expectations, created by people in positions of public authority who have no knowledge whatsoever of how learning works as an individual and social activity.

via https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/higher-ed-beta/future-learning-what-about-schooling

Image credits: Personality set for life, wackystuff, and PS 98 First Grade Report Card, Herbert Maruska

Social development report card

First grade report card, 1951

Cool, but misunderstood and unappreciated

Ken Royal said:

when you do discover those talented enough to teach with technology seamlessly, they may be the most misunderstood educators in a school, and the coolest with students and parents, but many times the least appreciated by their administrators

via http://connectlearningtoday.com/education-technology-role-models

Even more important than interpreting text

Marion Brady said:

Common sense says we educate to help learners make better sense of experience – themselves, others, the world. Those Common Core Standards above say something very different, that we educate to help learners make more sense of text – words on a page. There’s no acknowledgement of the myriad other ways humans learn, no apparent recognition of the inadequacies of text in preparing the young for an unknown future, no apparent appreciation of the superior power of firsthand knowledge compared to secondhand knowledge, no provision for adopting ways of learning yet to be discovered.

Yes, it’s important for learners to know what others have to say, but facing a complex and unknown future, it’s far more important that the young learn how to figure things out for themselves, more important that they know how to create new knowledge as it’s needed, more important that they be able to imagine the as-yet-unimagined.

via http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/11/07/the-biggest-weakness-of-the-common-core-standards

The idea of the superior power of firsthand knowledge compared to secondhand knowledge particularly resonates with me. Problem-based learning approaches combined with digital technologies can be a powerful mechanism for fostering students’ firsthand acquisition of knowledge, skills, and experiences…

Romanticizing the blackboard

Lewis Buzbee said:

It’s true that in the pods-and-pinwheel design students can more easily work in smaller groups, but such pods, of course, also offer more opportunity for subterfuge and mutiny.

The blackboard-centered classroom offers more than pedagogical efficiency; it also offers an effective set of teaching possibilities. In such a classroom students are focused on the teacher (on a good day), but most importantly, they are focused. The teacher is not the focus of the class but rather a lens through which the lesson is created and clarified. The teacher draws the class toward her, but she projects the lessons onto the blackboard behind her, a blank surface upon which smaller ideas may be gathered into larger ones. The blackboard is the surface of thought.

The physical dramatics of the classroom – all those bodies and brains ritually focused – can create a new and singular mind, and foster in the individual student an urgent hunger to learn. A good teacher … can, with a nod or a wink, or by simply repeating a key phrase slowly and with certain emphasis, maybe leaning toward her student body, deliver a chapter’s worth of information instantly and unforgettably. Otherwise, we might as well stay home and read to ourselves. The teacher commands her audience, conducts them.

via http://www.slate.com/articles/life/education/2014/10/a_history_of_the_blackboard_how_the_blackboard_became_an_effective_and_ubiquitous.single.html

So, basically, the blackboard is desirable because it’s an instrument for teacher control over mutinous students…

The results of educational inequity

Michael Roth said:

America has some of the best schools on the planet and one of the worst systems of education in the developed world.

via http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/book-review-building-a-better-teacher-on-secrets-of-good-teaching-by-elizabeth-green/2014/09/05/7a993056-2307-11e4-8593-da634b334390_story.html

Grading and assessment as an opportunity

Greg Jouriles said:

We have the grade problem at my high school. In the same course or department, a B in one classroom might be an A, or even a C, in another. It’s a problem for us, and, likely, a problem in most schools.

But it has also been an opportunity. Recognizing our grading differences, we opted to create a common conception of achievement, our graduate profile, and department learning outcomes with rubrics. Our standards now align closely with the Common Core State Standards. Second, we created common performance tasks that measure these standards and formative assessments that scaffold to them. Third, we look together at student work. Fourth, we have begun to grade each other’s students on these common tasks.

We could publish the results of these performance tasks, and the public would have a good idea of what we’re good at and what we’re not. For example, our students effectively employ reading strategies to comprehend a text, but are often stymied by a lack of vocabulary or complex syntax. We’ve also learned most of our students can coherently develop a claim, citing the appropriate evidence to support it when choosing from a restricted universe of data. They aren’t as good when the universe of data is broadened. They are mediocre at analysis, counter-arguments, rebuttals, and evaluation of sources, though they have recently gotten better at evaluating sources as we have improved our instruction and formative assessments. A small percentage of our students do not show even basic competency in reading and writing.

That’s better information than we’ve ever received from standardized testing. What’s also started to happen is that teachers who use the same standards and rubrics, assign the same performance tasks, and grade each other’s work are finding their letter grades starting to align.

And, this approach has led to a lot of frank discussions. For example, why are grades different? Where we have looked, different conceptions of achievement and rigor seem most important. So we have to talk about it. The more we do, the more aligned we will become, and the more honest picture of achievement we can create. It has been fantastic professional development – done without external mandates. We have a long way to go, but we can understand the value of our efforts and see improvement in student work.

via http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/07/09/36jouriles.h33.html

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