On View of Education: Vol. 5 – Curriculum

As a member of a teaching staff, I marched to my own beat as a believer in need for reform across many aspects of education. In discussions, I was often the contrarian in the group. One person described me as, the best devil’s advocate she had ever been around. Of course, I countered her comment that I wasn’t being the devil’s advocate, thus being myself.

In the world of educational conformity, I was often the voice in the wilderness. I spoke my mind, and a few of my past colleagues who read these pages will think – Yep, he said that.

Packing to move provides an opportunity to sort, discard, and organize. I kept some of my writings from my teaching days, thus recently gathered some of the quotes, most of which were written between 1987-2001.

Some will cheer while others jeer. Some will detect a passion, others will think Oh no, he’s one of those. You may disagree with some, all, or possibly none … and that’s OK – after all, I’ve handled dialogue on sensitive subjects before. But keep in mind, because we may disagree, it doesn’t mean I’m wrong – thus it just means we disagree.

Below is a collection of quotes with each standing on its own so I’ve numbered them only for reference.

Today’s Topic: Curriculum
1) Educational curriculum is trapped in the dogma of traditional segregation and academic topics based on times past. Conceptualized applied learning seeks to prepare students for the workplace and life in a global society. Education must selectively abandon topics for the sake of conceptual, applicable knowledge.

2) Educators hiding behind the “they need it for college” banner is nothing more than an excuse to not change, thus continuing to promote the status quo.

3) Only in education do disciplines remain in isolation of one another, whereas in life whereas subjects are integrated. This isolation is like an hour walk in the woods divided into 15 minutes of plants, 15 minutes of animals, 15 minutes of earth materials, and 15 minutes of atmosphere. No wonder students define math (or any given subject) as 3rd Period.

4) Our school’s curriculum needs to be integrated to promote useful information in the world of life; not academia. The educational institution fails to realize that people trained in applicable conceptual frameworks of subject matter and higher order thinking skills will be able to learn the necessary content of the future.

5) Integrated curriculum is an important vehicle for problem-solving, life-based application of content. Life is not divided into specialized time slots as no subject in life is limited to third period. Integration increases student effectiveness and leads to increased use of quality performance-based assessments involving practical situations. Continual use of individual department curricular development support the status quo and the industrial-based educational setting that we proclaim to change.

6) We biology teachers stress the stages of a cell’s live, especially those of cell division (prophase, metaphase, anaphase, telophase). On the other hand, I haven’t heard any of those terms on the evening news or anywhere outside of my classroom other than a conference of biology teachers. Therefore, which is more important: to teach the details of cell division, its phases, and all the parts and activities or to teach the basic essentials of cell division, then followed by focusing on cancer? If given a choice, what would students select?

7) Innovative textbooks/programs exist – the ones that incorporate content standards, teaching standards, assessment standards, and research about teaching and learning. So, why do teachers and school districts avoid them like the plague?

Previous posts in the series

Reform

Change

Administrators

Teaching and Learning

On Views of Education: Vol. 4 – Teaching and Learning

As a member of a teaching staff, I marched to my own beat as a believer in need for reform across many aspects of education. In discussions, I was often the contrarian in the group. One person described me as, the best devil’s advocate she had ever been around. Of course, I countered her comment that I wasn’t being the devil’s advocate, thus being myself.

In the world of educational conformity, I was often the voice in the wilderness as I spoke my mind, and a few of my past colleagues who read these pages will think – Yep, he said that.

Packing to move provides an opportunity to sort, discard, and organize. I kept some of my writings from my teaching days, thus recently gathered some of the quotes, most of which were written between 1987-2001.

Some will cheer while others jeer. Some will detect a passion, others will think Oh no, he’s one of those. You may disagree with some, all, or possibly none … and that’s OK – after all, I’ve handled dialogue on sensitive subjects before. But keep in mind, because we may disagree, it doesn’t mean I’m wrong – thus it just means we disagree.

Below is a collection of quotes with each standing on its own so I’ve numbered them only for reference.

Today’s Topic: Teaching and Learning
1) If we teach chemistry as if all students are going to be chemists, if we teach mathematics if all students are going to be mathematicians, and if we teach writing if all students are going to be novelists, how many chemists, mathematicians, and novelists have we produced?

2) Assessment practices are locked into measuring low-level knowledge through methods ingrained from our past.

3) Teaching quality is important, yet Dr. Glasser is correct – teaching quality isn’t emphasized today and it should be – and many educators today will deny this.

4) Whereas elementary teachers can learn content and get equipment support from high school teachers, the high school teachers can learn teaching techniques from elementary teachers.

5) All teachers have different skills, strengths, and weaknesses. We hear about the need for lessons being student-centered activities based on research and standards with embedded assessment. Developing those activities is a skill in itself – and how many teachers have those skills – let alone the time?

6) Learning enables people to successfully participate in life, work, and in groups no matter where and when.

7) Learning is more about connections, community, and context than content to meet an academic standard for a test.

8) Learning is an active, social, intellectual, focused, and emotional process.

9) The miracle I would like is restructuring of the school routine to accomplish restructured outcomes for students who want to learn and competently achieve high expectations.

10) Students should be responsible for their own learning, and the information must be understood, applied, and internalized.

11) Few educators at any level think beyond competence. We educators are the ones who have trained the students to do less, do it more poorly, and expect good results. We’ve trained them well at expecting to give little and earn a reward.

12) The grading system has too many carrots and sticks: A, B, C, D, F …. that’s not enough, so add plusses and minuses to each. At best, this is questionable. However, a distinction between competency and competency with highest quality has a place, but, the highest level needs to be for those working at the highest quality and additional competencies beyond the minimum – not the highest level/grade at the minimums – nor a faster/quicker minimum achievement.

13) A student asks, Why do we have to learn this? – I say at least someone in the room has contemplates that question.

Previous posts in the series

On View of Education: Vol. 3 – Leadership

As a member of a teaching staff, I marched to my own beat as a believer in need for reform across many aspects of education. In discussions, I was often the contrarian in the group. One person described me as, the best devil’s advocate she had ever been around. Of course, I countered her comment that I wasn’t being the devil’s advocate because I was just being myself.

In the world of educational conformity, I was often the voice in the wilderness. I spoke my mind, and a few of my past colleagues who read these pages will think – Yep, he said that.

Packing to move provides an opportunity to sort, discard, and organize. I kept some of my writings from my teaching days, thus recently gathered some of the quotes, most of which were written between 1987-2001.

Some will cheer while others jeer. Some will detect a passion, others will think, Oh no, he’s one of those. You may disagree with some, all, or possibly none … and that’s OK – after all, I’ve handled dialogue on sensitive subjects before. But keep in mind, because we may disagree, it doesn’t mean I’m wrong – thus it just means we disagree.

Below is a collection of quotes with each standing on its own so I’ve numbered them only for reference.

Today’s Topic: Leadership
1) Listening to the administrators and school boards across this state promote to their public how well their schools are doing causes me to ask this question: If schools are doing so well, why do we need to change?

2) Statements as look how far we’ve come are excuses for the status quo, grand illusions of change, and lack any vision of where to go. When examining where we’ve been, the point of comparison should be where we need to go – not the past.

3) Even if a mindset of reform or even progress toward reform took place in a department, a grade level, or a building staff, would central office let it continue? I’m not so sure because our district’s leaders understand reform, but they don’t believe it. Their beliefs are demonstrated by their actions, and those action don’t demonstrate a restructuring attitude. Too much time whitewashing creates an illusion. They will take credit for success, then painfully point the figure to others when something falls down. Sugar coating numbers only dulls the pain, but cures nothing.

4) Is the educational system too much of a dinosaur to move? (Too much inertia fits.) Probably so. The system is very political, so leaders cannot take risks, and change is way too risky of a proposition. Then again, the lack of leadership coupled with a lack of vision will keep education wollering in the mud of mediocrity while continuing to promote the false illusions of success and change.

5) Central Office leadership tells us that some kids need more time to achieve, and should get it without penalty. On the other hand, building leadership tells us grades need to be completed by a certain time on a certain day. This is an example of what one says doesn’t match with what one does. Therefore, no matter what Central Office says, entering “Incomplete” to give a student more time is not really an alternative.

6) Because I use Crisco oil, I’m just as qualified to lead Crisco production as the public is to run education.

7) Teachers and all level of administrators say students are their top concern. I disagree because students should be the top concern of teachers, while teachers are top concern of building administrators, and building administrators are the top concern of district administrators – thus calling this “semantics” is BS.

8) The public runs education and government. What does the public complain about the most? Education and government.

9) Isn’t good administrator an oxymoron?

Previous posts in the series

On Views of Education: Vol. 2 – Change

As a member of a teaching staff, I marched to my own beat as a believer in need for reform across many aspects of education. In discussions, I was often the contrarian in the group. A person described me as, the best devil’s advocate she had ever been around. I countered her comment that I wasn’t being the devil’s advocate, just being myself.

In the world of educational conformity, I was the voice in the wilderness. I spoke my mind, and a few of my past colleagues who read these pages will think – Yep, he said that.

Packing to move provides an opportunity to sort, discard, and organize. I kept some of my writings from my teaching days, thus recently gathered some of the quotes, most of which were written between 1987-2001.

Some will cheer while others jeer. Some will detect a passion, others will think Oh no, he’s one of those. You may disagree with some, all, or possibly none … and that’s OK – after all, I’ve handled dialogue on sensitive subjects before. But keep in mind, because we may disagree, it doesn’t mean I’m wrong – thus it just means we disagree.

Below is a collection of quotes with each standing on its own so I’ve numbered them only for reference.

Today’s Topic: Educational Change
1) Change is a journey, not a blueprint. Change is loaded with uncertainty, difficulties, and excitement. Change is hard and it takes a lot of time and energy. In the difficult times of change, three keys are necessary to keep the process moving toward the vision: the presence of a vision, support, and encouragement. Because education reacts to immediate needs, it has a long tradition of short sidedness, education lacks the long-term commitment that is necessary to implement change. So let’s embrace following further behind society.

2) I’m not pro-teacher, not pro-student, not pro-community, and for God’s sake not pro-administrator … but I am pro-outcomes and pro-processes that leads to benefits for the students and society. Thus the mismatch: producing an early 20th century product for a 21st century world.

3) Change is difficult. Some will refuse to travel the journey, yet others will reverse course along the way, which also means some will not survive – yet the strongest, the committed will arrive to establish a new way.

4) The body of knowledge continues to grow, but school processes remain relatively unchanged.

5) Society’s It-Was-Good-Enough-For-Me Club will prevent change from occurring, so pseudo-reform will occur to create an illusion of change rather than change itself.

6) At best, reform has simply been a “tinkering” of the old system; whereas restructuring involves overhauling the existing system to establish a new operating structure.

7) Given the amount of change needed, the educational system would be best served by shutting down for a year to reorganize and retool.

8) Change is more than a determining if we are going to have a Homeroom period or not. After all, the best reason for not having one is to put it back in place down the road.

Previous posts in the series

Reform

On Views of Education: Vol 1 – Reform

As a member of a teaching staff, I marched to my own beat as a believer in need for reform across many aspects of education. In discussions, I was often the contrarian in the group. One person once described me as the best devil’s advocate she had ever been around. I countered her comment that I wasn’t being the devil’s advocate, just being myself.

In the world of educational conformity, I was often the voice in the wilderness. I often spoke my mind, and a few of my past colleagues who read these pages will think – Yep, he said that.

Packing to move provides an opportunity to sort, discard, and organize. I kept some of my writings from my teaching days, thus recently gathered some of the quotes, most of which were written between 1987-2001.

Some will cheer while others jeer. Some will detect a passion, others will think Oh no, he’s one of those. Readers may disagree with some, all, or possibly none … and that’s OK – after all, I’ve handled dialogue on sensitive subjects before. But keep in mind, because we may disagree, it doesn’t mean I’m wrong – thus it just means we disagree.

Below is a collection of quotes with each standing on its own, so I numbered them only for reference.

Today’s Topic: Reform
1) Schools are still using an industrial age model in an attempt to prepare students for a rapidly changing future. By keeping this model, schools are racing against each other to see who has the most souped-up Model T. Yet, some districts have been successful at placing a Corvette body on the outside to give it a better appearance … but it’s still a Model T.

2) Teaching 21st Century skills in an early 20th Century model is simply impossible. How can the educational system change when it spend so much time and effort promoting how well it’s doing? Understanding change is one thing, but showing a belief through actions is another. My prediction? Education will continue on the path of illusion because too much inertia exists.

3) The need for educational change is well documented. Ways to change are well documented. Forward-thinking approaches challenging the status quo are well documented. Reason why change doesn’t occur are well documented? Now is the time for significant change to begin …. so, why don’t we? Oh, resistance to change is also well documented.

4) At best, reform has simply been a “tinkering” of the old system; whereas restructuring involves overhauling the existing system to establish a new operating structure.

5) A simple five-part plan: 1) Develop the desired outcomes based on societal needs, not established curriculum 2) developed a competency-based mastery-approach to evaluation, 3) focus the curriculum to meet those outcomes, 4) restructure the school day and the school calendar, and 5) make the student and their parents responsible for their actions and choices.

6) A mission statement is 1) a guiding principle for all decision-making in an effective organization, and 2) a requirement for accreditation. Which is worse? a) lack of a mission statement or b) failure to implement the existing mission statement.

On Cursive: To Be or Not To Be

This past fall, our local-weekly newspaper posed this question: Should school continue to teach cursive writing? Why or why not? Fortunately, they published many responses, to which I found a certain amount of amusement. Here you go, but the comments in italics are my responses.

Yes! Because it is necessary! (… and examples for necessary are?)

The teaching of cursive handwriting and reading has been in school since Abraham Lincoln wrote on a coal shovel in a one-room log cabin school. It not only teaches young students how to write, but how to read handwriting. (Yes … and using slide rules and an abacus have a chance of returning to schools. At least we don’t have to bring back the Algebra problem of determining what time do you have to be at the train station to pick up two friends arriving on different trains that left at different times and traveled at different speeds over different distances … oops …  that problem probably still exists!)

They should continue to teach it for the sole fact that someone will have to interpret old documents in the future. (Alright, interpreting hieroglyphics and ancient Hebrew still have a place, thus should be required for high school graduation.)

Yes because cursive writing is beneficial to learning and integrating communication between the two hemisphere. (Thank you Mr. Learning Theory & Cognitive Learning Expert because we now know that printing, typing, or keyboarding notes does not influence learning because of a lack of communication between cerebral hemispheres.)

Bare minimum, teach them how to sign their name for forms requiring signatures. My sixth-grader is clueless on that. (Although you are open to the idea, are you saying that printing is not acceptable signature on a formal document?)

Time spent on teaching cursive could be used to educate children on other matters, such as grammar. (Say that it ain’t so!)

They (the students) will need to know it someday, and they will be smarter for it. (I don’t know when, but when it comes, the light bulb will serve as a reminder to thank schools for it.)

No, dumb them down some more. Then we will have total government and corporate control. (Thank you Sean Hannity enthusiast, and please, never attend a public forum on education …. now turn on the radio because it’s time Rush Limbaugh.)

Cursive is not yet obsolete, so we should keep teaching it. Perhaps we could eliminate Roman numerals instead. (How then will future generations understand the Super Bowl?)

A personal finance class should be mandatory for all high schoolers to graduate. (Thank you for your direct and insightful response to the question.)

Flashbacks: On Education

I spent many years as a teacher, and I pride myself on being reformed minded and a contrarian . Enjoy these perspectives from my Flashbacks … and I hope you comment on the post you visited.