Posts Tagged education
On a lark, I recently participated in a Huffington Post online interview on the state of American education as compared to a global perspective. I got some good ideas into the conversation and rambled a bit (what do you expect for midnight conversations?).
But, more important to note that I felt bad about some of my comments after re-watching this. I’m afraid I lost a bit of my optimism in this piece. I was a bit critical in places and may have overestimated the number of international teachers that “escape” their domestic systems. It’s possible I’m fairly accurate, as confirmed by my esteemed colleague in Japan. But, nonetheless, troubling is the way I suggested it as a reflection on these domestic systems that are trying to understand education and come up with a plan for refreshing and retooling them. As noted by each of us, there are pockets of excellence. The challenge is still about finding a methodology that is transferable and sustainable while at the same time not becoming more factory assembly line than it already is. What do you think?
The students in charge of this did a fabulous job!!
I remember a similar video from Microsoft that takes a look at the future – not too distant – to conjecture on the state of the world associated with products already in the pipeline. I like to think of it as the nexus between StarTrek and reality. We’ve seen many crossover and successful products emerge this way. On the backs of Roddenberry style imagination, the future is crafted. Science fiction brought us cell phones and iPads. This video suggests what is next in interactive environments.
So the question that emerges is what do we do about preparing students for a future like this? If they only used today’s computers, will they be ready to demonstrate proficiency in a world of this level of interactive demand?
Leadership requires that we move education closer to the leading edge of this kind of development. I have to prepare students for this in school, so that they can go on to dream the next level of accomplishment. The people that are crafting these new ideas were enabled at some point in their education to see beyond the limitations. Can we create another generation of unimagined innovation?
Coming on the heels of my post this morning is a new release from TED.com – Aditi Shankardass — who shares her work on brain research that has uncovered the misdiagnosis of 50% of autistic children due to using behavioral observations alone. Sounds like examining the boulder from the outside again and coming to inaccurate conclusions.
Seems, despite the associated costs, that we should address this issue by examining our decision-making paradigms. Should we assess the American Educational System on the basis of high-stakes tests alone? Should we use carrot/stick methodologies to increase competition and offer rewards for excellence when we want a comprehensive and viable education for all?
Richard Elmore, in this video clip and with the associated graphic, defines the best measure of how we should judge innovation and change in an organization. The data that we collect must come from the core if we are to determine with any degree of certainty that these changes have been implemented and whether or not they are sustainable.
High stakes testing does not accomplish this. Many have now written about test scores and continue to miss the point. The scores do not inform instruction and lack the “granularity” needed to affect real change. Teachers do not change based on either initiative nor incentive based reward. They change, in Daniel Pink’s words, because they want to master their craft, because they have always been an autonomous lot, and because they have a special purpose that stands them apart from other professions – nurturing the progeny of others. The talents that will change schools are those with unyielding drive that infects these other dimensions powerfully and without hesitation, as in Geoffrey Canada’s work in Harlem. These efforts will often come from the teachers themselves when they are effectively empowered to be leaders in their own organizations.
But, ultimately, systemic change will only happen when we keep our “eye on the ball” and that means the instructional core.
This week I had an opportunity to read scholarship submissions at Wilson High School for the vocational education program. On the table was two years full tuition and books for a vocational path of your choice (primarily encouraging state colleges and vocational schools). Of interest was the fact that I had the honor of sitting across the table from past Washington Senator Joe Stortini, currently restaurateur of some notoriety from Joeseppi’s Italian Ristorante on North Pearl in Tacoma. Our cordial discussion and history walk was enthusiastic and energizing. Joe was key to early educational legislation including the many tweaks to collective bargaining and implementation of constitutional mandates to fund basic education. Between 1969 and 1977 he sponsored or co-sponsored many bills during a complicated time that included the emergence of many of the foundations that are being debated today during less comfortable economic times.
But, our discussion turned to the programs in Tacoma to encourage the options for kids beyond the typical college bound mentality that often dominates the conversation in many circles. This is understandable in an environment focused on test scores, standards and a desire to assure that 100% of our children are prepared for post-secondary education. What Joe and I talked about was the reality that many kids need another path – whether in the arts, or metalworking, or the culinary arts – they need a path for success that doesn’t label them a failure if they can’t get into a “acceptable” college. The video below confirms this notion, although you will need patience to get through the dialog to reach the conclusions at the end. But, the anagnorisis of this is clear when you consider Mike Rowe’s insight into “Dirty Jobs.”
I like that he points out we are “at war” with the notion of work. It is clearly true that we are in the process of creating ever new generations of complacency where we have been taught that work is bad and following your passion means finding the “get rich quick scheme” that will fuel an early retirement.
Mike has introduced me to my peripeteia. How about you?
A debate continued to brew regarding the general focus of education and how to reconcile the differences between schools in three distinct cultures and two significantly different dichotomies. It’s western vs. eastern philosophy about eduction and the case is being used to both deride American education and highlight the realities behind the 21st century brain drain that is emerging in the United states. Robert Compton says we should fear India and China. Michigan State Professor Yong Zhao says “Wait one minute.” So what now? Where do we begin to reconcile this and what next in the debate? These two points of view will generate the next decade of debate while schools languish in static complacency with teachers feeling more confused and disheartened than at any time in history. Where do we turn for leadership in an environment where we are still debating Nation At Risk 25 years later?
Robert Compton Makes His Pitch
Yong Zhao’s Response
I stand corrected. It looks like Smart Tech (www.smarttech.com) has got one in the works. Would love to know how implementation is going. Anyone?
Click here – The SMART Table
So, it’s been out for a year or so and the educational implications are just starting to take shape.
Here’s one in a UK Primary School
Here’s the link on educational development of this device:
Microsoft Surface details: http://www.microsoft.com/surface
Tech-savvy educational leaders will be watching this development with interest because it constitutes the first viable initiative that can effectively address the dynamic early learning environment. If we can put these in ECE classrooms with all of the collaborative tools that are demonstrated here, we are on the road to a true revolution of the educational pathway.
Pay close attention to the details here. Students login by placing a nametag on the table. Content is tailored to their needs and level – even within the context of collaborative play. In general, this resolves our discomfort with having young students in front of computers. Let’s take it one step further and imagine walls that literally open to a child’s fingertips and allows them to interact with inexhaustible content. Consider the live collaboration and then think of the virtual collaboration that is also possible. This whole concept just screams for creativity and innovation.
I’ve been impressed with my re-introduction to educational reform in Washington through my Superintendent Leadership Seminar (first in a year long series). The concept here is personalizing student learning and this is far beyond earlier concepts of differentiation or individualization. Personalizing has more to do with the involvement of the student in understanding the process of their learning through learning targets and meaningful, relevant learning episodes.
In this professional development series, there are 6 elements of positive impact on student learning:
- Student learning is structured for understanding
- Student learning experiences are designed to engage and support all students in learning
- Student assessment is used to direct learning
- Students participate in maintaining effective environments for learning
- Students prepare to live and work in a multi-cultural world
- Teachers develop the art and science of a professional educator and are active in the profession to positively impact student learning.
No rocket science here. Just foundational look at the continued development of best practice.
A revamped draft of proposed common academic standards for states offers more detailed expectations than an earlier version, though the document also says that some decisions about specific curricula and lessons should be left to individual states and schools.
Direct link to standards: http://www.corestandards.org/
Everyone should become familiar with this and its ramifications.
This is a piece from Dr. Marilyn Simpson’s work on learning targets and students articulating their learning.
After discussing the Harlem Children’s Zone…
What would you rather have, a blanket of mediocrity, or a quilt of excellence?
Baby College – where it really starts.
Bringing the best of understanding childhood to the parents of Harlem.