A blog about Learning, about Education, about transformation, about change, about youth voice, about democratic human centered education. I am trying to ask the question "Why we educate" and what my answer means to me as a teacher and how my role shapes society and the whole.
What book should every Teacher read?
A “vivid, unpredictable, fair, balanced and … very entertaining” look at how education reforms have changed one typical American elementary school over the course of a year (Jay Mathews, The Washington Post)
The pressure is on at schools across America. In recent years, reforms such as No Child Left Behind have created a new vision of education that emphasizes provable results, uniformity, and greater attention for floundering students. Schools are expected to behave more like businesses and are judged almost solely on the bottom line: test scores.
To see if this world is producing better students, Linda Perlstein immersed herself in a suburban Maryland elementary school, once deemed a failure, that is now held up as an example of reform done right. Perlstein explores the rewards and costs of that transformation, and the resulting portrait—detailed, human, and truly thought-provoking—provides the first detailed view of how new education policies are modified by human realities.
Have not read this one, but adding it to my summer reading list. Love books that showcase a year in the life of schools.
-Adventures in Learning
Can anyone point to any place (school, community, state) where testing has had a long term effect on the deepening of learning? Where is the study that states testing has positively effected the community around the schools where they are used?
I would love to see data not driven by raises in test scores, but instead by practical signs of real system change. Did testing help to increase the student engagement, the community involvement, Teacher satisfaction with their professional lives? How about positively effecting the local economy, or the rate of hope among students that they had access to good jobs and future learning opportunities?
Why don’t we ask for this data? Why is it only math scores and reading scores? I think we don’t have these types of conversations because the testing industry has made us believe that testing will create the change we seek. We fight against the testing companies and testing, but instead we should be asking them to prove their worth.
We don’t create change by testing. We create change by supporting teachers, by providing funding to education, by solving poverty, by empowering students to have a voice in how learning happens, by encouraging and providing the freedom for teachers to develop learning that is relevant, place based, real world, connective and that can only happen if others learn together.
It is not even that testing sucks, it is just bad science and a waste of money, time and effort. It had a role to play at first, but it now being used to punish teachers, students and communities instead of shining a light on the injustices and racism of our economic and educational system. The idea that testings is in any way helping learning is outdated at best and pure propaganda at worst.
Testing is a distraction, it is like trying to heal a dying tree by cutting off one of the branches. The roots of our current system are rotten. We need to let it die, and plant a new tree. Tree seed organically and so too will schools where learning is happening
-Adventures in Learning
In response to this thread on Facebook
This great article written by Peter Grey provides the argument for more freedom in our classrooms and for less tests with finite answers.
“Creativity is nurtured by freedom and stifled by the continuous monitoring, evaluation, adult-direction, and pressure to conform that restrict children’s lives today. In the real world few questions have one right answer, few problems have one right solution; that’s why creativity is crucial to success in the real world. But more and more we are subjecting children to an educational system that assumes one right answer to every question and one correct solution to every problem, a system that punishes children (and their teachers too) for daring to try different routes. “
Are we providing students with the chance to be creative and expand they ability to imagine, rethink, and improve our society and themselves. It also highlights the argument that testing creativity standardized testing or multiple choice short answers will not work. Classrooms that support creatively and purposeful freedom are not only good for our students, but also for a success democratic society.
One of my dearest teaching friends actually dreams workable solutions to the instructional and relationship-based problems she brings home from class. We are all very jealous of her superpower.
Dreaming is at once easy and difficult. It’s so easy to see what we should be doing in providing kids with authentic, personally meaningful learning; it’s so hard to be told over and over again that we shouldn’t do that.
I was talking about this issue with a friend earlier this week. Lately, most conversations at our school have been about the testing and its consequences. It’s hard for me to know how to participate in such conversations while I’m trying to effect a completely different enterprise in my classroom. I feel like I lose some sight of myself and my calling at this time of year, and, frankly, I feel guilty for asserting the vision of education I believe in when we talk about the ways scores can have a direct impact on our school. It’s a coercive, coercive, coercive system.
It’s a weird time, but I hope the dreams keep coming.