Derek Black said:
[C]harters, vouchers, and other choice-like reforms are insulting substitutes for equal access to learning opportunities. They espouse the premise that all students are entitled to equal learning opportunities and reason that since students are not getting those equal opportunities in public school, they should be allowed to go elsewhere. The irony is that the people promoting these policies are so often unwilling to do much of anything to ensure students get equal access to learning in regular public schools. Likewise, they are unwilling to place oversight on vouchers and charters to determine whether opportunities are equal there either. In other words, they are pursuing choice for choice’s sake…
Seth Godin said:
most of the stuff that goes wrong, much of the organizational breakdown, the unfixed problems and the help not given, ends up happening because the system lets it happen. It happens because a boss isn’t focusing, or priorities are confused, or people in a meeting somewhere couldn’t find the guts to challenge the status quo.
What we choose not to do matters.
A. O. Scott said:
The incentives not to think – to be one of the many available varieties of stupid – are powerful. But there is also genius around us, and within us.
Are we unlocking genius in our classrooms?
Michael Petrilli said:
Last year, [Ohio] State Superintendent Dick Ross published a report on the testing load in the state’s schools that showed strikingly similar results as the new Council for Great City Schools study. It found that about one-quarter of the testing in the Buckeye State was linked solely to the need for data for teacher evaluations in subjects other than math and reading. To his credit, Ross proposed that districts simply dump those tests. He made a choice, in other words.
Regrettably, the Ohio General Assembly did not go along with his recommendation – but for an understandable reason. Because of Ohio’s federal waiver, Buckeye State districts couldn’t just move to evaluations based on teacher observations and the like. If they had gotten rid of excess tests, they would have had to use reading and math scores to evaluate all teachers – gym teachers, art teachers, the whole crew. This is quite obviously inane, and it demands a change in federal policy.
The Obama administration is trying to have it both ways. It wants fewer tests but isn’t willing to give up on test-based teacher evaluations. Meaning that, alas, it has failed this test.
Cory Doctorow said:
In the educational domain we see a lot of normalisation of designing computers so that their users can’t override them. For example, school-supplied laptops can be designed so that educators can monitor what their users are doing. . . . [Students] are completely helpless because their machines are designed to prevent them from doing anything.
We have this path of surveillance that starts with prisoners, then mental patients, refugees, students, benefits claimants, blue collar workers and then white collar workers. That’s the migration path for surveillance and students are really low in the curve. People who work in education are very close to the front lines of the legitimisation of surveillance and designing computers to control their users rather than being controlled by users.
Richard Elmore said:
The real argument is whether we want to develop a generation of people who have mastery of their own abilities to learn, or whether we want to perpetuate our obsession with training people to reproduce from memory what the current generation of adults thinks they should know
Jen LaMaster said:
I’ve been reading this post … from EdTech Magazine about how millennials use technology. Not the usual “how to make a millennial happy” stuff… but data on their use of mobile technology to create, consume, and collect information. The article claims that cellphones are the most popular device but that “computers” are a close second for productivity. The intersection of two being in cloud tools linking the quick access/communication device with the productivity of a full operating system. True multi-channel users in a mobile world.
What does this mean for the average educational administrator? This is our hiring pool. The article cites a corporate-sponsored study where they claim that millennials make up 37% of the current workforce with a projection of 75% of the workforce by 2025.
Our position as education administrator challenges us to hire, promote, and retain employees who use technology in innovative and productive ways (ISTE Admin Standard 4C). How are our classroom policies stifling these mobile, multi-channel young educators? Could some of our reported teacher shortage be related to a lack of willingness to embrace a generation who uses technology outside our control boundaries? As I evaluate and hire young faculty, I’ll admit I have to check some of my 46-year-old parameters at the door. But are we really ready to welcome this next generation of teachers for their strengths and talents?
Greg Whitby said:
more businesses are moving away from improving old models to responding to the changing needs of consumers (and employees) within the context of a rapidly changing world. In addition, real time data has helped to create a whole new paradigm for doing things differently, thinking creatively and responding immediately.
On the flip side, education is still wedded to the improvement model; looking for enhanced solutions to old problems. We operate on the assumption that we can control the variables, link performance to accountability measures and tighten up processes. Where are the innovative solutions?
Improvement is no longer the challenge so let’s use educational conferences and colloquiums to focus on how we change the system not how we fix it. As Sir Ken Robinson says the challenge is not to reform but to transform.
Paul Sinanis, middle school student, said:
I don’t understand the point of school. What’s the point? Everything that I am interested in and connects to my world doesn’t ever come up in school, so what’s the point?
Will Richardson said:
Sure, the CCSS wants to promote and measure critical thinking skills. But the CCSS wants that to happen in the context of contrived situations within an increasingly irrelevant curriculum that most kids don’t care about and will forget as soon as the test is over. Applying those “skills” to the complexities of real life situations doesn’t much transfer if you don’t care about what you’re thinking critically about in the first place.
Give kids the freedom to make “informed decisions” about things they care about, real things in the real world, things that probably aren’t in the standards or on the test, and we’ll get a lot farther down the road to preserving what’s left of this experiment in democracy.
Image credit: the bubble, Eleni Preza