The [editor of Phi Delta Kappan] concludes by asserting that “every classroom should have excellent teaching every hour of every day.” I would add that every child should also have an excellent parent who serves them excellent food and provides them with an excellent home in an excellent neighborhood. Let’s also add excellent healthcare and excellent supervision every hour of every day as well. If we could accomplish all of that, we would have the highest achieving students on earth. But the rhetoric itself accomplishes little. What we need are research-based policies supported by lawmakers willing to provide the necessary resources.
In the meantime, while we wait for those wise lawmakers to emerge, perhaps we all could back off and allow teachers to enjoy the same humanity we seem to graciously grant to others.
effective implementation cannot be done by making microadjustments to the current system. We cannot, for instance, install project-based learning as a new layer on top of the standard instructional approaches we have. We cannot squeeze real teacher development into three annual inservice days and a monthly faculty meeting. Each of the strategies requires us to rethink and redesign the whole system from the ground up and build it collaboratively.
And all of this has to take place while we continue to teach kids and continue to feel the relentless pressure from outside our walls for unfaltering and ever-increasing improvement. The risk associated with those foundational changes increases every year, and most schools have not been able (or willing) to risk the possibility of the unknown. When given the choice between something that has been at least moderately successful (the status quo) and something with no guarantees for improvement, we choose the safe route.
Gerald Aungst via http://connectedprincipals.com/archives/6648
It’s said that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. But is it possible that school, by its very nature, is so focused on the past that it’s condemned to ignore the present and the future? Is “backwards planning” a stunningly apropos description?
Karl Fisch via http://thefischbowl.blogspot.com/2012/10/backwards.html
An alternative, recently arrived in the political arena, is not more teachers but better ones, the “teacher quality” solution. If we set aside the condescension of the phrase, the fact that it has all been heard before … there is an important underlying truth: highly effective teachers can move students along at two or three times the typical rate. But there is another truth, usually ignored by those pushing the “quality” barrow: highly effective teaching is hard to do, hard to learn, and hard to find. It is exceptional. The proposition that we can make classroom maestros the rule rather than the exception by tinkering with pay structures, teacher education, bonus schemes and the like is implausible. It is also misdirected. Surely there is something fundamentally wrong with a unit that functions well only in the hands of a maestro? And therefore something wrong with reforms that leave unchanged the “organisational facts of life” to which teachers adapt?
Dean Ashenden via http://inside.org.au/frank-gagliados-schooling-a-one-hundred-year-view
Something is very wrong when nine-year-olds sit for tests that are longer than the SAT and the Graduate Record Examination combined.
Why are we educators having so much trouble mobilizing our voice in ways that are effective?
Are we afraid to speak up?
Are we ineffective when we do speak up?
Do we need to do a better job of marketing?
Are we not taking these educational and policy changes seriously enough yet?
Do we not have a viable and compelling counternarrative?
Are we so downtrodden that we feel that any efforts we make to speak up are pointless?
Are we simply getting outspent by those with deeper pockets?
Why can’t we tell our story in ways that resonate with others? And why are most of us unwilling to even try in the first place?
Image credit: Silence, Bigstock
the definition of ideology is doing the same thing over and over again without regard to evidence or experience.
When your method fails, and fails, and fails, and fails, don’t blame the kids. Blame the method.
Diane Ravitch via http://dianeravitch.net/2012/09/20/some-people-never-learn
The following table represents the responses in 2005 of representative samples of American adults, state legislators, school board members, and school superintendents. They were asked to rate the relative importance of 8 broad public school goals. Note the emphasis on things other than just basic knowledge and skills.
I’m guessing that we would get similar results today, across geographic locations, educational levels, and income strata. How have we allowed the conversation on education to become hijacked? And, more importantly, how do we reclaim it?
Source: Economic Policy Institute, The goals of education
I believe that guiding questions are important. As our world changes radically and rapidly, we may not have answers (yet) but we can at least try to ask the right questions. Here are some guiding questions that I’ve been bouncing around for my own work with educators, schools, communities, and policymakers [note that they're often very different from the questions that most educational reformers, legislators, and the public are asking right now]:
- What can we do to increase the cognitive complexity of students’ day-to-day work so that they are more often doing deeper thinking and learning work?
- What can we do to better incorporate digital technologies into students’ deeper thinking and learning work in ways that are authentic, relevant, meaningful, and powerful?
- What can we do to give students more agency and ownership of what they learn, when they learn, how they learn, and how they show what they’ve learned?
- What can we do to build the internal capacity of both individual educators and school systems to be better learners and faster change agents?
- As we move toward more cognitively-complex, technology-suffused learning environments, how do we bring educators, board members, parents, communities, policymakers, and higher education along with us?
- As we move toward more cognitively-complex, technology-suffused learning environments, how do we ensure that traditionally-underserved student and family populations aren’t further disadvantaged?
- As we move toward more cognitively-complex, technology-suffused learning environments, what individual and societal mindsets – and local, state, and federal policy supports and/or barriers – need reconsideration?
UPDATE: Lynne Schrum has persuaded me that I need an additional question (which would go right after C): What can we do to better recognize and assess when students’ deeper thinking and learning work is (or isn’t) occurring?
What do you think? Am I (are we) asking the right questions? What questions should be changed/added?
Got answers to any of these?! :)
Image credit: sensitive noise / obvious 2