Sunday, July 8, 2012
For C4T #4, I was assigned to Read. Write. Connect. Learn. It is a blog produced by Will Richardson, a parent of two middle-school aged children, a former public school educator for 22 years, and co-founder of Powerful Learning Practice, a unique professional development program that has mentored over 5,000 teachers worldwide in the last five years. He's written three books that I think I am going to read: Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms (Corwin Press, 3rd Edition 2010), Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education(Solution Tree), and Learning on the Blog, was published in August of 2011 by Corwin Press and is a collection of blogs.
On June 30th, 2012, Mr. Richardson posted a blog entitle Co-operation vs. Competition (vs. Collaboration). In his blog he discusses the problems with "cooperation" and "competition" in classrooms throughout the United States, and that we should be focusing more on "cooperation" and "collaborating" together to have better learning environments for all. His blog touched close to home being that I am a former ball player and coach. I understand competition. I understand collaboration. I do not understand cooperation with "other teams" as well, and it is something I can grow from as an educator. We all can. Often times we are concerned with "I", and "I" can be us as a individual teacher, the students we have in our classroom, or simply the school we teach at as a whole. We are all familiar with there being no "I" in Team. That's why we all our in the field of Education, but there is too much emphasis on who has the best test scores, who's students get the most scholarships, and who's students are going to the best colleges. We should focus more on "collaborating" and learning together throughout our country - our students would thrive more, and it would make our education system better overall. It does make me think about the perfect Utopia though, and we all know it works best on paper and not in real life. How can we make this really happen?
How Radical are You?
Think about this:
- We don’t need better assessments; we need different assessments that help us understand students as learners and constructors of their own ongoing education instead of knowers of information and narrow skills.
- We don’t need better teachers; we need different teachers who see their roles as master learners first and content guides or experts second.
- We don’t need better schools; we need different schools that function as communities of inquiry and learning instead of delivery systems for a highly proscribed, traditional curriculum.
In Redefine "Better", a blog posted by Will Richardson this week, he reflected on one of Umair Haque’s essays that appeared in the Harvard Business Review. He often reads the review and the comments. He says there are always comments that jump out at him. In this essay there was a comment involving education:
“…We can’t merely call for a set of broken institutions to work slightly better, to restore the present to the state of the past. We’ve got to redefine better; to redesign the future.”
I would like to pose two questions:
1. Do you think we need to improve or become better at education as a whole?
2. Or do you agree with what I post earlier, do we need something different?
Is there a need to redefine education? That's what Richardson and Haque are attempting to create.
I am more of an advocate of the latter. I believe that we need different assessments. Maybe it's because I taught History for so long, and I understand objective-based tests can really limit the student. I began giving essay tests my second year of teaching. Sure, I still used some of the tests that came with the book, but only because my students would see these types of questions on their CRT's, graduation exams, and ACT's. It's more work on the teacher, but there are so many kids out their that can explain an answer to me and still not have the ability to pick "A", "B", "C", or "D".
I don't think we need "new" teachers as a whole. I think there are teachers out there that do a wonderful job with what they know. There are teachers out there that are in it to be off at three, summers off, Spring Breaks off, and a longer Christmas break. These are your same teachers that don't understand the concept of their roles as "master learners first and content guides or experts second". We have to be continuous learners to be Masters at anything in this world. You can't stop the day you walk across the stage. We also have to prepare our students for changes to come.
Here's where it hits home for me...
"We don’t need better schools; we need different schools that function as communities of inquiry and learning instead of delivery systems for a highly proscribed, traditional curriculum". This is so true. Our school systems are "messed up". I would like to preface this with saying that I was never an advocate of "Now Child Left Behind". I think it was a concept put into play to fix a irreversible decaying problem.
1. Schools for kids - Schools are not places of learning. It's more social than anything. Students often don't even know what they should be learning.
2. School for a majority of teachers - It's a job that doesn't require a huge amount of time. Very few teachers understand that they are key to establishing a learning community, and those that do feel shunned for thinking this way. Thus, making their job meaningless, unfulfillable, and squashes a process that is in the beginning stages.
3. School for parents - It's become a babysitter, and they usually end up only blaming the teachers. They don't ever take into account that they have a role in preparing our students for the best education out there.
Why did I mention "No Child Left Behind"? It's fundamentally the same thing. They were trying to create a equal learning environment that was supposed to be better and all could benefit from. Guess what? We aren't all equal. We all learn differently. We all learn at a different speed. It's part of being human. While I am for inclusion, I am not for full inclusion. We have I.B. and Magnet schools? Why can't all schools have a primary focus. It eliminates the issues with inequality. It's something I have toyed with for a long time. This would also eliminate for students that need help in specific ares, the more advanced students wouldn't become bored (and allow grades and ambition to slip), and help teachers with classroom management. I guess I am radical, but I really don't care. Equal learning environment? Why not a learning environment that knows how to specify specific needs.
There is a need for redefining education with the changes that are happening.
How radical are you?