Tag Archives: John Spencer

Technology will not fix education [VIDEO]

I meant to post this video from John Spencer a while ago. As he notes, technology alone will not fix education. But we also can’t fix education without technology…

Happy viewing!

Homework, authoritarianism, and student choice

Homework is often justified with the “real world” argument. When I point out that kids should have the freedom to learn independently, play around with friends and socialize in their free time, I hear the rationale that in the real world they will have to work hard whether they want to or not.

In the real world, extra hours will get overtime and people get to choose their jobs. Only in the most authoritarian of nations do we expect people to work additional hours in jobs that are forced upon them by law.

Homework is often justified with the excuse that “the homework is intense in college.” True, but so is the free time. And in college, students have freedom of space, freedom of choice and additional responsibilities that come with adulthood.

So, if you want to make homework like the real world, it needs to be extra credit and it needs to be based upon student choice. If you care deeply about mirroring school and the real world, you need less coercion, more freedom, more choice and more self-directed responsibility.

John Spencer via http://www.educationrethink.com/2012/09/homework-and-real-world.html

Is focus on the few poor teachers driving away even more of the good ones?

People see bad teaching and they become convinced that the real issue is planning. Eventually, they decide that it would work best to have all teachers on “the same page” (my God, what would life be like if we all approached reading that way — laboriously moving page by page in the same book as everyone else?) with a lesson plan format.


teachers are often asked to focus on  the minutia. They are judged on their compliance regarding the physical space of their classrooms, the rigid format of their lesson and their ability to follow clerical procedures. In the process, teachers, indeed entire schools, become focused with things that have little to do with what it means to teach and to learn.

Often the focus is on strategies that are really helpful to teachers who are struggling. However, standardizing prescriptive formulas can be a bad idea. Oxygen tanks are great when they save lives. However, if someone is breathing just fine on his or her own, it might not be necessary to force to use it in the name of being “on the same page.” Similarly, medicine can save a life. However, if it is given to someone who doesn’t need it, I would consider it malpractice.

… we are so obsessed with teacher “support” and so convinced that teachers need more training and more skills that we are missing some of the greatest areas of need among teachers who are not among the bottom ten percent: affirmation, time, autonomy and creative control.

The very rope tossed out to help some teachers has become a leash that is holding back those are already doing great things. So maybe the real solution to teacher quality isn’t additional ropes. Maybe the solution is to cut the rope and see what happens. Otherwise, it might just become the noose that strangles the best of teachers.

John Spencer via http://coopcatalyst.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/teachers-need-less-support

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