I cannot remember a time when the teaching profession has been subjected to such a withering attack. It is hard to open to the editorial section of the newspaper without seeing some sort of commentary on the need for immediate and far reaching reform in the public school education system. Opinions abound regarding new state regulations, common standards and outside assessment of anything and everything happening in our schools. As I wrote in last week’s blog; the eyes of the nation are upon us, and they are not happy with what they see.
So who won? That seems to be the question on everyone’s mind in the days following the Chicago teacher strike. As far as I can tell it’s probably a toss-up. In the end compromise was reached and kids (who were the real losers) finally went back to class. One would be naïve to believe that [...]
It’s hard to remember Chicago being the center of such significant national attention since the convention days of ’68. And, as was the case then, the confrontation between the establishment (Mayor Emanuel) and protesters (Teacher Unions) may have ramifications well beyond state lines. As of this writing, 350,000 students remain at home, while 25,000 teachers [...]
Earlier this month the National Research Council released a study, Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century. The paper poses a new definition for deeper learning, “The process through which a person becomes capable of taking what was learned in one situation and applying it to new situations – in other words, learning for ‘transfer.’”
There are times when we finally see the light. When years of old thinking is suddenly and instantly swept away and the truth is there right in front of us. Many of us call this an “Aha” moment.
Usually we just turn over and go back to sleep. The truth seems too inconvenient, it might demand too much change and too much effort. And, hell, I’m on summer vacation! But, deep down inside we know we’ve been exposed to a new way of thinking, a shift in perspective that will simply never let us go back to ‘the good old days’.
In the broad resegregation of the nation’s schools that has transpired over recent decades, New York’s public-school system looms as one of the most segregated. While the city’s public-school population looks diverse — 40.3 percent Hispanic, 32 percent black, 14.9 percent white and 13.7 percent Asian — many of its schools are nothing of the sort. About 650 of the nearly 1,700 schools in the system have populations that are 70 percent a single race, a New York Times analysis of schools data for the 2009-10 school year found; more than half the city’s schools are at least 90 percent black and Hispanic.
Psychologists tell us that children today have the ability to process information at incredible speeds. Obviously being constantly bombarded with information has created the need for such processing ability. In many cases, the newfound ability has in itself created a craving to be bombarded. The vicious cycle is well known.
How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, the joke goes, but it has to want to change! Effecting change in a school environment is a daunting task. This is due to the fact that, as the above quip illustrates, the environment has to want to change. This is rarely [...]
Well, now the secret – if something millions of people already know could be called a secret – is out. And many in the education community are getting nervous, very nervous. Yes, Virginia, the Khan Academy really does exist. Yes, forget about pencils, forget about books, and certainly forget about teachers’ dirty looks. Sol Khan will teach you all you need to know.
Why the reasons for such high principal burnout, leading to such high principal turnover rates?
Experience has taught us that knowledge or intelligence do not guarantee wisdom. Yet it is possible to go about actually teaching wisdom outright.
Stating any opinion on the subject of special education is going to get someone upset. The subject is rarely discussed without passionate debate. This is particularly true when participants in the discussion have a personal stake in the subject, either due to the fact that they have children who have been diagnosed with learning differences or due to the fact that they themselves may have struggled in the classroom.
What is the secret to the great teacher? What is it that defines the master educator? Mastery of the subject being taught is essential, as is a passion for the subject as well as for transferring knowledge or skill to students. Additionally, one would require some training or natural talent in order to employ the most effective methodologies available. Mastery, passion, training and talent; impressive, but something is missing.
We have previously argued that educators must play the role of both facilitating the learning process and filtering the acquired knowledge so that students not only learn but also know what they must remember. The expiration date of unfiltered knowledge will be determined by the date of the final test. The point made was that if students are asked to remember almost everything they learn, (an impossible task) they will respond by forgetting almost everything they learn. Clearly communicating to students which knowledge is of enduring value is the key to solving the ‘why our students know so little’ syndrome.
Renowned humorist Dave Barry reflects on his college experience and writes:
College is basically a bunch of rooms where you sit for roughly two thousand hours and try to memorize things… Basically, you learn two kinds of things in college:
Things you will need to know in later life (two hours). These include how to make collect telephone calls and get beer and crepe-paper stains out of your pajamas.
Things you will not need to know in later life (1,998 hours). These are the things you learn in classes whose names end in -ology, – - -osophy, -istry, -ics, and so on. The idea is, you memorize these things, then write them down in little exam books, then forget them…
After you’ve been in college for a year or so, you’re supposed to choose a major, which is the subject you intend to memorize and forget the most things about.
While Barry may be somewhat diminishing the value of a college education, he has hit upon an important issue that effects schooling at almost every level. Put simply we may ask: Why do our children learn so much and yet know so little?