Old dog….

old-dog

Okay, kids…this is the first time in about, oh, six years or more I haven’t dug into any new technology over an extended break. Learning to do Deadmines on Heroic mode doesn’t count. (Yes…yes…yes…I play WoW with my family..sorry I brought it up.) My ambitions for the winter break were larger than my motivation; when we get back on Monday, I’ll be interested to see what I actually did accomplish. I’m going to surprise or disappoint myself. My mood swings have swung: I feel like just writing, creating, and cooking right now. But I know that’s not what the New Year holds: it’s gonna be black, white, and red all over. Data are the new royalty; schematics and blueprints of pathways to goals determine all routes. See? I’m doing it again..writing on my blog when I should be developing more curriculum maps and calendars. Now the song “Dear Prudence” by the Beatles is stuck in my head. Trying to weave these random threads into something cohesive and warm may be a challenge. My random/abstract side is sitting on my concrete/abstract self. I have nothing against data, mind you. Good, interpretative analysis is a healthy, cathartic process; but let’s keep in mind, too, even the exalted Chinese reflect on their educational practices: see the NPR article.

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One quote that especially hit a nerve was: “Developed countries like the U.S. shouldn’t be too surprised by these results. They’re just one index, one measure that shows off the good points of Shanghai’s and China’s education system. But the results can’t cover up our problems,” he says.

Why don’t we consider this question, too, but in a slightly different context? Instead of asking why kids succeed in doing well or doing poorly on the standardized test, why aren’t we better at assessment? Why aren’t we better able at asking the essential questions? Why aren’t kids learning the fundamentals, practicing, and then developing their higher-level thinking skills naturally, and developmentally appropriate for them? Why are we insisting on boxing them up, shipping them and their hopes, dreams, and futures overseas when we have some good stuff here? And why, when they don’t “answer it right” aren’t we better able to fix it?!

Oh no. Now I’m riled up again.

Many believe it’s parents. There is a case for this. I have received emails from parents that read as if they’re written at a third grade level. It breaks my heart. I witness the breakdown of our educational system a few generational beats back, and I know we’re forever out of tune.

Many believe it’s the economic policies since the 1980s (yes, pointing a finger at you, trickle-down meanie). There is a case for this. The gap is growing wider between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots,’ and the adults, all of the adults, in our children’s world, are being stretched to breaking. Meanwhile, others eat cake and wonder why we don’t, too.

Many believe it’s teachers’ unions, teachers, and still others believe it’s a stranglehold of administration systems where the money stays at the top. There’s a case for this, too. Like all public functions, I just wish the public would get more involved and not let corporations have a human vote. This is true for many of our US institutions, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, shame on you. But I fear it may be too late.

The “results” for better or worse, do not cover up or unmask problems. They are just results. Perhaps we just need to be asking better questions. Watch The Simpsons’ “How the Test Was Won” episode. Laughed and cried.

Dear Prudence…

won’t you come out to play -ah-hey….hey….

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2 thoughts on “Old dog….

  1. Sadly “How the Test Was Won” is essentially China’s approach.

    Our system isn’t broken. It’s flawed, but just as flawed as it always was. It’s getting worse (in terms of insane test prep) but the people advocating back-to-basics reform are the culprits rather than the reformers we should be hailing as geniuses.

    1. When reading yours and this one again, I was worried about being misunderstood over my use of “basics.” I don’t mean that in a co-opted or trendy use – I use the word basics to mean this: kindergartners should finger paint. A first grader should not have hours of homework neither he or his parents understand. Little ones should hold hands and play. Just play. Every child should know what it’s like to have a story read to them by someone who loves them. If I thought anyone believed I was advocating that brand of genius I’d bust into tears…and then burst out the finger paint!

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