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Science teacher: CCSS: Creative, Competent, Social Students
"You do not need to know anything about mitosis to know how to live.
You do not need to know anything about how to live to learn mitosis.

Too many of us strive to do whatever it is we must do without a thought to why we do anything the way we do it.

It's not learning that matters, it's living. Learning is an evolutionary tool shared by a lot of species better at this living thing than the current version of H. sapiens. Animals who choose to ignore the world around them do not last very long. Humans are no exception.

We have fetishized education as some sort of independent structure, institutionalizing what we think matters without thinking about what actually does matter. Why else care who graduated from where, or class ranks, or SAT scores?

Why do we let a few strangers dictate a "common core" defining what should be learned?

Here's my CCSS--we need to foster competent, creative, and social students. It's not my place (or anyone else's) to dictate a child's life path, but if we must have common standards, here are a few I think are worth sharing:

• Students should know what's edible in their area, and how to prepare it. Around here it could be wild cherries, dandelions, squirrel, deer, clams, or hundreds of other fine food sources. Not saying they need to forage like Wildman Steve Brill, but using primary sources for food ought to be at least as important as using primary sources for some term paper no one will read besides a teacher.

• Students should know the basics of their dwellings, and be able to use truly digital tools like hammers, screwdrivers, and saws to make and repair the things we need within our dwellings. Knowing how to approach a simple plumbing problem (or any mechanical problem) matters more than knowing how to "apply the Binomial Theorem."

• Students should know what they need to stay alive, what goes into them (and where it came from) and what goes out of them (and where it goes). If they don't know this, they literally don't know shit.

Our economy depends on sustaining learned helplessness; our current way of schooling does just that.

Our children need to learn to read, to write, to develop reasonable number sense, and to solve problems. They need a reasonable sense of what's real (and what's not), and a reasonable chance to live a happy and productive life.

They also need to live as the animals that they are."
michaeldoyle  2015  education  standards  living  life  helplessness  economics  commoncore  howwelive  howwelearn  schools  arneduncan  problemsolving  context  local  experientiallearning  animals  humans  bighere 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Science teacher: "We've always done it this way..."
"
You should share my reliance on those old, old truths which shallow, drawing-room talk contemptuously dismisses as "commonplaces", though they have more marrow in them, and are quite as seldom wrought into the mental habits as any of the subtleties that pretend to novelty. —Marian Evans (George Eliot) via Zadie Smith, Changing My Mind

We love the new, the shiny, the splashy, next big thing.

When we focus on the newest tech tool, we can let go of the harder questions. We can bask in the light of the new while quietly ignoring the mess we've left behind. We focus on the bright green foliage at the edge of the cesspool.

When we focus on the newest tech tool, we confuse the surges of adrenaline and dopamine we get from novelty with the warm satisfaction of working our way towards wisdom. The tool becomes the truth.

I love tools--I've used a drill, a mallet, a cross-cut saw, a measuring tape, a socket wrench, and a wheel barrow all within the last few hours to build a raised garden bed to grow vegetables that we plan to harvest with our hands.

The point is, literally, the fruit of our labors.

***

That anyone uses the "we've always done it this way" as a defense for a particular practice strikes the technophile crowd as galling, and on the face of it, I agree. The more interesting question would be why has it "always" been done this way? Does it work?

I am trying a raised bed for the first time this year, but I will not know if it is an improvement until I see the results in late summer. I've invested some time and money in the effort for something that I know works for many, but has never been tried on this particular patch of land here in my backyard.

I will still bury my beans one knuckle deep, as I have always done. I will still use jute twine to hold up the vines, as I have always done. I will still mix some compost and aged manure into the earth, as I have always done.

My goals have not changed--I want to eat fresh basil and sun-warmed tomatoes within an hour of harvest--and I use tried-and-true ways for obvious reasons.

The art of educating human larvae may have lost its way--these things happen when crowds wander around aimlessly without a consensus on the destination. The high tech crowd keep selling us marvelous GPS devices that do everything they promise to do, and we keep mindlessly buying them, hoping to reach our destination quicker.

Unless you know where you want to go, you're never going to get there."
michaeldoyle  education  teaching  technology  newness  shininess  squishynotslick  maps  compasses  wandering  dérive  derive  mindlessness  mindfulness  unschooling  deschooling  curriculum  2014  process 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Science teacher: Anomie
"One in 6 children "experience a mental disorder in a given year." We know something is wrong.

The brain we have, the one that got us through untold generations of the folks before us, does not change because a few of us now worship the global economy. What has kept us alive for millions of years has been paying attention, close attention, to the earth we (literally) walk upon.

The hormones that surge through us now and the thousands of generations before us responded to real threats, real people that shared the air we breathed. Now we seek our lusts through flat screens, manipulated by strangers, and we respond with symphonic surges, weaving dopamine and oxytocin, cortisol and adrenaline as we wile away our time, emptying our wallets and our souls.

Arne Duncan wants us to train our children for the global economy, an oxymoron. I want to teach our children how to live happy lives right here in Bloomfield, or wherever else they lay down their roots.

I do not teach 21st century learners, I teach human children.
I do not teach biology as a discipline per se, I share with young humans our connections to the earth, the air, the water, and the organisms around us.

Until a child knows the life in her neighborhood, under her feet, in her very gut, teaching biology as just another mandated high school course is a waste of her time and mine.

We plant a lot in our classroom--most of the plants do not do well, not at first. Still, the seeds and the pots are available every day, and a few students persist. Right now there's some lettuce, one carrot, about a dozen basil plants, and several pea plants wending their way up makeshift wooden stakes.

And in our specialized, detached world, even something as simple as planting a seed has become "professionalized"--another sign that we have lost our way."
small  local  humans  humanism  michaeldoyle  2013  wendellberry  globalism  global  stress  mentalhealth  health  2014  children  learning  teaching  howweteach  place 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Science teacher: "Scientists" never said that, experts did
"All the scientists say that the quahogs don't move, they don't go up and down [in the winter when the water is colder]. We claim they do… You have a rake with longer teeth, you catch 'em. With shorter teeth, you don't." —Howard Drew, Bayman

"We confuse experts with scientists.
We confuse the process of science with its results.

A child with a decent grasp of science knows less of a bigger world, and that's the point.
No expert ever made a living by claiming ignorance, but pleading ignorance is what scientists do.

It's hard to test ignorance when "knowledge" is the point, and it's hard to teach science when standardized tests focus on this-thing-we-do-in school-we-call-science."

"Every field has charlatans, and right now the charlatans are winning.

Me? I'm teaching science while I can, and clamming when I can.

The flats feed me, literally and metaphorically.
Experts do neither."
michaeldoyle  quahogs  clamming  clams  knowledge  ignorance  standardizedtesting  standardization  commoncore  resutls  process  howarddrew  charlatans  learning  teaching  science  2012  robertmarzano  howardgardner 
december 2012 by robertogreco
Science teacher: Star struck
"Tonight the Milky Way stretches across a sky lit up by at least a thousand stars. A hundred and fifty miles north of here, in Bloomfield, the Milky Way is a paragraph in a textbook, and nothing more than that.

I live in both universes, the one with stars, and the one without. One with tidal flats, one with concrete. One with surreal moments under the sea, the other chasing the #34 bus.

Something as simple as that, the presence of stars, affects how I see the world, which means it profoundly affects who I am.

I forget this every day. Every day.

Words remind me, of course, but they ultimately fail.

If you trust words more than the sky, you may be human, but you will not be alive. If I have to choose between them, give me the night sky. Howling at the moon is wisdom enough."
wisdom  startstruck  stars  textbooks  living  life  humanity  nightsky  perspective  words  2012  michaeldoyle  milkyway  astronomy 
october 2012 by robertogreco
Science teacher: Doyle's School of Educharlantry
"If you want to be professional, act like one. Silence is unacceptable.

I don't need your support after the meeting. Telling me I said what everyone else is thinking after I get my ass handed to me on a platter does no good.

Join the fray, that's how democracy works. And shame the charlatans back to the ooze they came from.

Snake oil poster from Oregon state--I need to find the website..."
beenthere  education  democracy  sheeple  selfpromotion  outsiders  professionaldevelopment  experts  charlatans  speakingout  cv  teaching  comments  professionalism  michaeldoyle  outsider 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Science teacher: Tossing the bathwater, keeping the baby
"Lumping various studies, some of dubious quality, under the umbrella of meta-analysis, and then applying a further manipulation to amplify already questionable methods leads to the graph above.<br />
<br />
And now teachers around the country are getting the graph above shoved under our puppy-dog noses like a soiled newspaper, while some high paid folks intone "Do this and our state scores will rise 45 percentile points."<br />
<br />
Marzano is either stupid or disingenuous, and I doubt he's stupid. Making a case that a particular strategy will raise student scores 45 percentile points is like saying that a particular diet will add 45 years to your life. A lot of people will try the diet, and most will even be better for it. But very few are going to add many years to their lives.<br />
<br />
So, yeah, "identifying differences and similarities" can improve student learning outcomes. But anyone who teaches kids already knows this. Really."
robertmarzano  michaeldoyle  2011  education  teaching  learning  slickness  slick  salesmanship  snakeoilsalesmen 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Science teacher: Pediatrics vs. teaching
"I can't beat death--took me awhile to get to that realization, but I got there. And it's liberating.<br />
Turns out living isn't the goal--living well is what matters.<br />
I was pretty good at helping people live longer. Now I'm getting good at helping people live well.<br />
I thought my job mattered before, but had my doubts in the pitiful wail of a dying toddler, bruised and bleeding as we laid our hands, our technology, and finally our fists in futile CPR on her tiny body as it cooled its way back to entropy.<br />
A life worth living is our only compensation against the greedy hand of death.<br />
So I help children carve out a life worth living.<br />
I'm a teacher."
michaeldoyle  teaching  life  meaning  meaningmaking  death  wisdom  living  purpose  2011  pediatrics  medicine  compensation 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Science teacher: No Khan Do
"Sal Khan helps kids learn how to regurgitate what we already have in textbooks…allows the worst parts of education to be efficiently streamlined for ingestion…It works, but it's over-rated.

In the end, I think it's a student's ability to pause, rewind, and rehash what Khan says that makes him so valuable, and which makes his brand so sad--really, really sad. I'm a teacher, and a pretty good one. We need to pay attention to what our kids don't know.

If 21st century learning boils down to a hyped up version of what we did back in the 1930's, we're screwed. If Bill Gates is the valued judge of what education means (go learn his history), we're screwed. If we cannot do better in the classroom than Mr. Khan can do with his SmoothDraw and Camtasia (or what any of us can do on the back of a cocktail napkin), we're screwed.

Relax, we're not screwed (yet). Be better than the videos, not a hard task, unless regurgitation floats your boat."
salkhan  khanacademy  michaeldoyle  2011  education  learning  whatmatters  teaching  schools  schooling  rotelearning  billgates  regurgitation  meaning  policy  purpose  tcsnmy  salmankhan  rote 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Science teacher: Zeitgeber matters
"We keep time in class, as we do pretty much everywhere. We pretend days are exactly 24hrs long…each hour is as well proscribed & linear as next…hour in December lasts exactly as long as hour in June.

Kids know otherwise…until we train them.

We start school here in Bloomfield next week…daylight hours shrink dramatically this time of year…

Science teachers will make a big deal about this, explaining the seasons using globes & lamps, but if we've taught our children that sunlight does not matter, that the clock matters more than your hypothalamus, that we eat at noon, not when you're hungry, well, then, we should stop feigning shock when children really don't pay much attention to sunlight.

None of the adults around them do, either.

If college grads do not know why seasons happen, how trees accumulate mass, what forces act on a basketball in flight, maybe it's not because our children refuse to learn.

Maybe it's because they internalized what we've been teaching them all along…"
michaeldoyle  time  teaching  training  psychology  seasons  circadianrhythms  biorhythms  schooldesign  schooliness  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  whatmatters  zeitgeber  2011  education  learning  conditioning  hunger  food  eating  sundial  science  culture  society 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Science teacher: Put the shoe on the other foot
"I'm not saying a child should go barefoot in your classroom. I am saying that before you bind her feet into shoes, you'd better have a better reason than because that's the way it's always been done (a silly reason), or for health (a false reason), or because you said so (abuse of power), or because it's a school rule (an arbitrary reason).

School starts this week for many of us here in New Jersey. Teachers will spend hours droning on about rules. Most high school kids will have less than 5 hours sleep the night before the first day of school and they know all the rules anyway.It's an easy day to waste.

Shake them up a bit. Tell the kids they're required to take off their shoes. Or that they must put their right shoe on their left foot. Or that they must put their socks over their shoes.

Let them tell you why they'd rather not."
michaeldoyle  teaching  science  freedom  student-centered  rules  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  schools  arbitrary  shoes  barefoot  authoritarianism  2011 
september 2011 by robertogreco

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