Blogger Challenge: The Things We Pretend
The Education Land of Make Believe
We are deep inside another blogging challenge. And I have one from last week to make up. In fact, I’m way behind on my blogging. I’ll try to do some catching up the next few days. For now, Blue Cereal Education’s 1200 word challenge will have to wait. In the meantime, if you’ve ever thought of starting a blog, I suggest jumping in on one of these challenges. This is a great way to crowdsource our ideas – and we need more of them.
This time, the prompt comes from Iowa’s Scott McLeod. Somehow, I’ve never read his blog, Dangerously ! Irrelevant. That stops now. Sign me up.
Seriously, I wish I could go back three years and come up with a catchier blog title. Okeducationtruths? What was I thinking?
Here’s my short list:
We must stop pretending…
- …that homework tells us what students know and what they’ve learned. In reality, it tells us how compliant they are, and sure, there’s value in that. We don’t know how much help they had or if it turned into a group project. Likewise, an assignment that is not turned in tells us even less. I could cheat and say this exact same thing about grades.
- …that seat time equals learning. I saw a headline yesterday about parents of a straight A student being pulled into truancy court. What does it say if a student has 20 absences and still has an A in every class? School isn’t a must be present to win scenario, is it? Sure, I think that attendance increases the likelihood that learning will occur. And yes, the students who have a lot of absences and high grades are the exception. Then why punish the exception?
- …that we can buy curriculum better than we can make it. Find out how much your school district spends on textbooks. Then ask teachers if they could browse the Internet for free content and collaborate on lessons, units, and assessments that would be cheaper and better than what the publishers are selling us. Think about shifting that funding to the pockets of our teachers. Think about the professional growth that would come from such collaboration. Think of the technology that we could put directly into students’ hands. And by the way, I feel the same way about all the computer programs we buy for reading and math interventions. Sure, some are good, but they’re pricy as heck. Teachers are always a better bargain.
- …that poverty has a binary impact on student learning. Some students are poor and have tremendous home support for education. Some students are wealthy and don’t. Also, there’s a difference between poor and destitute. Some situations are harder to address at school than others. As researchers, defenders of public education, and even reformers, we all fall into the trap of talking about poverty as a singular problem. While schools serving populations with a high concentration of deep, generational poverty are harder places to teach, there are some that have been successful.
- …that we should create public policy based on the outliers. Some schools defy trends when it comes to poverty and student achievement. A lot of what the teachers do there is replicable in other situations. Some isn’t. We can learn lessons from these schools about hard work and seizing on opportunities – such as smart use of grant money when it becomes available.
It took restraint to stop at five. Here are some other entries from Oklahoma bloggers:
And here’s a video from the Pretenders: