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Mαtt Thomαs on Twitter: "Gonna try to live-tweet @Jessifer’s talk at @uiowa today: “Designing Assignments: Redesigning Assessment.”"
"Gonna try to live-tweet @Jessifer’s talk at @uiowa today: “Designing Assignments: Redesigning Assessment.”

.@Jessifer begins by talking about some personal stufff, as a deliberate tactic to situate himself as a human being amongst other human beings. Something to also do on the first day of class, etc.

.@Jessifer says he doesn’t use the LMS at his school because he doesn’t want students to encounter and interface with it before him, a person.

.@Jessifer points out that today syllabuses are often generated from required, stock, auto-generated templates. This sort of “scaffolding,” however, presumes a lot of things about how learning happens that might not be useful.

For instance, many of us (read: teachers) are designing courses and assignments for students we don’t even know yet. To bring in the work of @saragoldrickrab, we need to design for the students we have, not the students we wish we had.

What happens, for instance, when you learn that 1 in 2 students face food insecurity issues? How might that change how you design courses/assignments?

.@Jessifer moves on to talk about grades. They’re not some universal constant, but rather a technology that we have to learn to use, or perhaps not use.

Grading reduces learning to a transaction instead of a set of human relationships.

College teachers have often internalized ways of grading that they can perhaps free themselves from. @Jessifer says we need to “raise a critical eyebrow” at our own grading practices — e.g., our rubrics. He argues against scale, for a return to subjectivity!

In the gradebook students are reduced to rows, in the rubric reduced to columns.

Especially important things to think about, @Jessifer points out, now that almost all colleges have adopted Learning Management Systems, course “shells,” and standardized syllabuses.

.@Jessifer has recently moved to shorter-worded assignments that ask for non-traditional products. Reconceptualize the internet using analog tools, re-order the words of a poem — then document your process!"
jessestommel  mattthomas  2019  rubrics  grading  teaching  syllabus  assessment  howweteach  howwelearn  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  humanism  lms  templates  standardization  writing  howwewrite  form  alternative  syllabi 
7 days ago by robertogreco
Yong Zhao "What Works May Hurt: Side Effects in Education" - YouTube
"Proponents of standardized testing and privatization in education have sought to prove their effectiveness in improving education with an abundance of evidence. These efforts, however, can have dangerous side effects, causing long-lasting damage to children, teachers, and schools. Yong Zhao, Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas, will argue that education interventions are like medical products: They can have serious, sometimes detrimental, side effects while also providing cures. Using standardized testing and privatization as examples, Zhao, author of the internationally bestselling Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World, will talk about his new book on why and how pursuing a narrow set of short-term outcomes causes irreparable harm in education."
yongzhao  2018  schools  schooling  pisa  education  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  china  us  history  testscores  children  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  sideeffects  privatization  tims  math  reading  confidence  assessment  economics  depression  diversity  entrepreneurship  japan  creativity  korea  vietnam  homogenization  intolerance  prosperity  tolerance  filtering  sorting  humans  meritocracy  effort  inheritance  numeracy  literacy  achievementgap  kindergarten  nclb  rttt  policy  data  homogeneity  selectivity  charterschools  centralization  decentralization  local  control  inequity  curriculum  autonomy  learning  memorization  directinstruction  instruction  poverty  outcomes  tfa  teachforamerica  finland  singapore  miltonfriedman  vouchers  resilience  growthmindset  motivation  psychology  research  positivepsychology  caroldweck  intrinsicmotivation  choice  neoliberalism  high-stakestesting 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
We’re Having the Wrong Conversation About the Future Of Schools
"Despite the rhetoric, modern movements to reform schools have had a devastating effect on education"

"As a full-time teacher, I don’t have a lot of time to look up from the dailiness of the job to consider something as nebulous as the “future” of education. When I do, I feel a vague unease that too many non-teachers seem to have a lot of time to do this kind of thinking.

One thing in my favor is that education reform seems to take the same basic forms, year after year. There’s the standards and accountability movement and the ongoing attempts to give it “teeth.” Then there are the tech giants peddling autonomy and self-direction in lieu of soul-crushing activities like reading The Outsiders and using protractors. And though the latter reformers are often critics of the former, the two have a lot in common.

Both represent billion-dollar industries. Both frequently co-opt a rhetoric of liberation, autonomy, and empowerment. Both can barely disguise a deep disdain for teachers and schools, especially of the “sage on the stage” variety. And both are almost exclusively headed up by white men.

These are the kind of people setting a bold agenda for the future of education.

Admittedly, us unruly American educators would have a hard time coming up with anything coherent enough to compete with the brave visions set forth by the leaders of these two industries. The very fact that such an all-encompassing solution is needed testifies to their dominance in framing the narrative around American schools. Mired in the day-to-day challenges and complexities of actually caring for and educating children, many teachers exhibit a complete failure of imagination when it comes to sweeping monolithic initiatives with pithy acronyms, eye-catching logos, and font pairings that are straight fire.

But we do need to change. Beyond the usual Alice Cooper-type critiques, we teachers have been especially complicit in the widespread marginalizing, neuroticizing, and criminalizing of our most vulnerable students. Yes, we need to stop boring future white rockstars and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. This is already well known. But, more importantly, we also need to stop harming children of color with our whitewashed curriculum, inequitable funding systems, and disparate use of punitive disciplinary measures.

Can today’s reformers help us make progress toward these goals? Or do they exacerbate, perpetuate, and contribute to the very problems we face?

Trying to pin deception, manipulation, and violence on this rag-tag bunch leaves me feeling petty and mean-spirited. After all, they’re often so upbeat and sincere, their rhetoric so humanistic and progressive. Ted Dintersmith, former venture capitalist and billionaire author of the book What School Could Be, recently teamed up with Prince Ea, who has made not one but two viral videos echoing the same message: schools must change. And on the standards and accountability side, David Coleman, “architect” of the Common Core and now CEO of the College Board, has boldly laid out a “beautiful vision” for American schools. In a field plagued by widespread mediocrity and entrenched inequities, shouldn’t we applaud any moves toward a more inspiring, inclusive future?

The problem is that, despite all the rhetoric and good intentions, both these movements have had a devastating effect on education, all while continually escaping blame for their outsized impact. Any negative outcomes are used to justify further expansion and dominance. Poor test scores and persistent achievement gaps aren’t seen as issues with the tests, but as misalignment and implicit bias on the part of teachers. Student attention deficit and boredom aren’t seen as a function of technology addiction, but rather an occasion to blast schools for their inability to fully capitalize on the promise of the digital age.

Not surprisingly, this seeming unassailable innocence reveals close links to the logics of white supremacy culture, especially the values of individualism, objectivity, and so-called meritocracy. They additionally amplify neoliberal beliefs in the absolute goods of privacy and consumer choice, thus shifting the blame away from dominant elites under the guise of “empowerment.” To borrow the central metaphor from Todd Rose’s The End of Average, they ultimately seek to style us as fighter pilots in the “cockpits of our economy,” where we must summon limitless initiative, grit, and resourcefulness just to survive.

Ultimately, their ideas are rooted in America’s original “solutions” to the problems of pluralism, wherein subtle self-effacement and silencing became stratagems for consolidating power. All of this is part of a long tradition in the United States, one that dates back to colonial times, guiding both the “Strange Compromise” of 1789 and the founding of the Common School. Although these roots may be less obvious in our day, they are arguably more powerful and moneyed than ever before."

"Ultimately, the several silences of education reform have proven a powerful gambit for privatization and profit. These industries implicitly offer themselves as neutral alternatives to our fraught political climate, much as Horace Mann’s enjoinder to “read without comment” secularized schools in a sectarian age. They also shift the onus of agency and ownership from themselves onto the student, who assumes full responsibility for finding and following their own educational path.

Whereas Mann, perhaps unconsciously, hoped to indoctrinate students into his supposedly doctrineless Unitarianism, these reformers peddle the so-called empty doctrines of individualism, personalization, objectivity, entrepreneurialism, and meritocracy—all while exacerbating inequities and deprofessionalizing teachers.

Resisting these trends starts by seeing them as two sides of the same coin. Anything that counsels and valorizes silence—before the text, the test, or even the individual student—may partake in this phenomenon. The primary effect is always to atomize: content into itemized bits, classrooms into individualized projects and timelines, and each of us into solitary individuals pursuing personalized pathways.

Among the many omissions implicit in this vision is the notion that each student has equal access to a pathway of choice. Once that false premise is established, you are truly on your own. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps, find your own personal road less traveled, dive headfirst into the entrepreneurial shark tank. Unfortunately, far too many smaller-scale reform movements espouse a similar ethos, often flooding Twitter with a toxic positivity that ignores intransigent inequities and injustices."

"None of this is intended to romanticize the educational mainstays of the past: lectures, textbooks, worksheets. But we should note how these more modern trends themselves often devolve into regressive, behaviorist, sit-and-get pedagogy.

Confronted by daunting challenges like widespread budget shortfalls, inequitable funding, increasing school segregation, whitewashed curriculum, and racial injustice, it’s no wonder we would reach for solutions that appear easy, inexpensive, and ideologically empty. At a time when we most need to engage in serious deliberations about the purposes and future of schools, we instead equivocate and efface ourselves before tests and technology, leaving students to suffer or succeed within their own educational echo chamber.

As appealing as these options may seem, they are not without content or consequences. Ironically, today’s progressive educators find themselves in the strange position of having to fight reform, resisting those who would render everything—including their own intentions and impact—invisible."
arthurchiaravalli  education  edreform  reform  history  invisibility  progressive  siliconvalley  infividualism  horacemann  2018  collegeboard  individualism  personalization  commonschool  us  inequality  justice  socialjustice  injustice  race  racism  whitesupremacy  reading  hilarymoss  thomasjefferson  commoncore  davidcoleman  politics  policy  closereading  howweread  ela  johnstuartmill  louiserosenblatt  sat  standardizedtesting  standardization  tedtalks  teddintersmith  democracy  kenrobinson  willrichardson  entrepreneurship  toddrose  mikecrowley  summitschools  religion  secularism  silence  privatization  objectivity  meritocracy  capitalism  teaching  howweteach  schools  publicschools  learning  children  ideology  behaviorism  edtech  technology  society  neoliberalism 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Objectivity as standardization in data-scientific education policy, technology and governance: Learning, Media and Technology: Vol 0, No 0
"New data-driven technologies appear to promise a new era of accuracy and objectivity in scientifically-informed educational policy and governance. The data-scientific objectivity sought by education policy, however, is the result of practices of standardization and quantification deployed to settle controversies about the definition and measurement of human qualities by rendering them as categories and numbers. Focusing on the emerging policy agenda of ‘social and emotional learning and skills,’ this paper examines the practices of ‘objectivity-making’ underpinning this new field. Objectivity-making depends on three translations of (1) scientific expertise into standardized and enumerable definitions, (2) standardization into measurement technologies, and (3) the data produced through measurement technologies into objective policy-relevant knowledge, which consolidates a market in SEL technologies. The paper sheds light on knowledge-making practices in the era of big data and policy science, and their enduring reliance on the precarious construction of objectivity as a key legitimator of policy-relevant scientific knowledge and ‘evidence-based’ education governance."
data  education  policy  objectivity  evidence  schools  schooling  scientism  benwilliamson  nellipiattoeva  technology  quantification  measurement  bigdata  edtech  standardization  standards 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Educator: In Finland, I realized how 'mean-spirited’ the U.S. education system really is - The Washington Post
"The public school system is free to all, for as long as they live. Compulsory education extends from age 6 to 16. After that, students can choose schools, tracks and interests. Students can track academically or vocationally, change their minds midstream, or meld the two together. Remember the goal: competency.

Though students are required to go to school only until age 16, those who leave before secondary school are considered dropouts. Programs designed to entice these youngsters — typically those who struggle academically for a variety of reasons — back into education address the national 5 percent dropout rate. We visited one of these classrooms where teachers rotated three weeks of instruction with three weeks of internships in area businesses.

We toured a secondary school with both a technical and academic wing. The teachers were experimenting with melding the two programs. In the technical wing, we visited a classroom where adults were receiving training to make a career switch. Free.

The fact that students can fail and return, or work and return, or retire and return had a palpable effect on the mood and the tone of the buildings. Surprisingly, considering their achievements, Finnish students spend less time in the classroom, have more breaks throughout the day, and benefit from receiving medical, dental, psychiatric care and healthful meals while in school. It was ... nice.

In comparison, the United States public school system (an idea we invented, by the way) seems decidedly mean-spirited.

Our students enter at around age 5 and have some 13 years to attain a high school diploma. Failure to earn a diploma is a dead end for most. In the United States, when students fail at school — or leave due to many other factors, sometimes just as resistant teenagers — we are done with you. Sure, there are outliers who are successful through luck, sweat, connections or all three, but for most, the lack of a diploma is a serious obstacle toward advancement.

Without a high school diploma, educational aspirations can be severely truncated. Students need a high school diploma to attend community colleges and many technical schools which provide access to advanced skills that impact the living standard.

With or without the needed diploma, any additional education is at the student’s expense in time or money — a further blow to financial standing.

The 13-year window of opportunity does not factor in the developmental level of students at the time of entry. Any educator knows that children do not arrive with the same readiness to learn.

There are many other differences. Unlike the Finnish competency system, ours is based on meeting a prescribed set of standards by passing tests of discrete knowledge. Our students face a gauntlet of tests, even though any standards can be woefully outdated by the time a graduate enters a quickly evolving job market. The Finns take matriculation tests (there is choice in these as well) at the end of secondary but all interviewed said the scores did not have much bearing on what students could do next.""
finland  schools  us  education  policy  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  competition  competitiveness  marytedro  valeriestrauss  politics  economics  assessment  testing  standardizedtesting  competency  vocational  schooling  2018  readiness  standardization  standards  work  labor  opportunity  dropouts  care  caring 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Carol Black: Alternatives to Schooling on Vimeo
"Carol Black is an education analyst, television producer, and director of the film Schooling the World. This is her plenary talk at the Economics of Happiness conference, held in Portland, Oregon, in February 2015. The conference was organized by Local Futures, a non-profit organization that has been promoting a shift from global to local for nearly 40 years."
carolblack  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  howelearn  schools  schooling  happiness  alternative  work  play  experimentation  development  children  age  segregation  experience  experientialeducation  readiness  compulsion  control  authoritarianism  authority  power  standardization  centralization  publicschools  corporations  corporatism  compulsory  agesegregaton  sfsh  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  conviviality  ivanillich  community  howwelearn  2015  institutions  institutionalizations  diversity 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Carol Black: Reclaiming Our Children, Reclaiming Our World - YouTube
"Carol Black directed the documentary film Schooling the World, which describes how western-style schools help destroy indigenous cultures worldwide. This talk was given at ISEC's Economics of Happiness conference in Berkeley, California, in March 2012."
carolblack  unschooling  deschooling  economics  humans  learning  howwelearn  schools  schooling  brains  development  children  education  agesegregation  us  history  literacy  standardization  centralization  publicschools  corporations  corporatism  compulsory  control  power  agesegregaton  sfsh  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  2012 
october 2018 by robertogreco
How Much Do Rising Test Scores Tell Us About A School?
"Reading and math scores have long been the currency of American schooling, and never more so than in the past two decades since the No Child Left Behind Act. Today, advocates will describe a teacher as “effective” when what they really mean is that the teacher’s students had big increases in reading and math scores. Politicians say a school is “good” when they mean that its reading and math scores are high.

So, how much do test scores really tell us, anyway? It turns out: A lot less than we’d like.

For all the attention to testing, there’s been a remarkable lack of curiosity about how much tests tell us. Last spring, for instance, researcher Collin Hitt, of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, and two coauthors examined the research on school choice and found a striking disconnect between test score gains and longer-term outcomes. They reported, “Programs that produced no measurable positive impacts on achievement have frequently produced positive impacts on attainment” even as “programs that produced substantial test score gains” have shown no impact on high school graduation or college attendance. More generally, they observe:

The growing literature on early childhood education has found that short-term impacts on test scores are inconsistent predictors of later-life impacts . . . Studies of teacher impacts on student outcomes show a similar pattern of results . . . It turns out that teacher impacts on test scores are almost entirely uncorrelated with teacher impacts on student classroom behavior, attendance, truancy, and grades . . . The teachers who produce improvements in student behavior and noncognitive skills are not particularly likely to be the same teachers who improve test scores.

You would think this disconnect would prompt plenty of furrowed brows and set off lots of alarm bells. It hasn’t. And yet the phenomenon that Hitt et al. note isn’t all that surprising if we think about it. After all, test scores may go up for many reasons. Here are a few of them:

• Students may be learning more reading and math and the tests are simply picking that up. All good.

• Teachers may be shifting time and energy from untested subjects and activities (like history or Spanish) to the tested ones (like reading and math). If this is happening, scores can go up without students actually learning any more.

• Teachers may be learning what gets tested and focusing on that. In this case, they’re just teaching students more of what shows up on the test—again, this means that scores can go up without students learning any more.

• Schools may be focusing on test preparation, so that students do better on the test even as they spend less time learning content—meaning scores may go up while actual learning goes down.

• Scores may be manipulated in various ways, via techniques as problematic as cheating or as mundane as starting the school year earlier. Such strategies can yield higher test scores without telling us anything about whether students actually learned more than they used to.

It matters which of these forces are driving rising scores. To say this is not to deny the value of testing. Indeed, this observation is 100% consistent with a healthy emphasis on the “bottom line” of school improvement. After all, results are what matters.

But that presumes that the results mean what we think they do. Consider: If it turned out that an admired pediatrician was seeing more patients because she’d stopped running certain tests and was shortchanging preventive care, you might have second thoughts about her performance. That’s because it matters how she improved her stats. If it turned out that an automaker was boosting its profitability by using dirt-cheap, unsafe components, savvy investors would run for the hills—because those short-term gains will be turning into long-term headaches. In both cases, observers should note that the “improvements” were phantasms, ploys to look good without actually moving the bottom line.

That’s the point. Test scores can convey valuable information. Some tests, such as the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), are more trustworthy than others. The NAEP, for instance, is less problematic because it’s administered with more safeguards and isn’t used to judge schools or teachers (which means they have less cause to try to teach to it). But the NAEP isn’t administered every year and doesn’t produce results for individual schools. Meanwhile, the annual state tests that we rely on when it comes to judging schools are susceptible to all the problems flagged above.

This makes the question of why reading and math scores change one that deserves careful, critical scrutiny. Absent that kind of audit, parents and communities can’t really know whether higher test scores mean that schools are getting better—or whether they’re just pretending to do so."
frederickhess  standardizedtesting  2018  education  reform  nclb  rttt  standardization  policy  measurement  assessment  attainment  naep  learning  howelearn  howweteach  teaching  publicschools  schools  schooling 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Is The Big Standardized Test A Big Standardized Flop
"Since No Child Left Behind first rumbled onto the scene, the use of a Big Standardized Test to drive accountability and measure success has been a fundamental piece of education reform. But recently, some education reform stalwarts are beginning to express doubts.

There are plenty of reasons to doubt the validity of the Big Standardized Test, be it PARCC or SBA or whatever your state is using these days. After almost two decades of its use, we've raised an entire generation of students around the notion of test-based accountability, and yet the fruits of that seem.... well, elusive. Where are the waves of students now arriving on college campuses super-prepared? Where are the businesses proclaiming that today's grads are the most awesome in history? Where is the increase in citizens with great-paying jobs? Where are any visible signs that the test-based accountability system has worked?

Two years ago Jay Greene (no relation), head of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, was writing about the disconnect in test scores-- if test scores were going up, wasn't that supposed to improve "life outcomes." Wasn't the whole argument that getting students to raise test scores would be indicative of better prospects in life? After all, part of the argument behind education reform has been that a better education was the key to a better economic future, both for individuals and for the country. Greene looked at the research and concluded that there was no evidence of a link between a better test score and a better life.

Here on this week, contributor Frederick Hess (director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-tilted thinky tank) expressed some doubts as well. AEI has always supported the ed reform cause, but Hess has often shown a willingness to follow where the evidence leads, even if that means challenging reform orthodoxy. He cites yet another study that shows a disconnect between a student's test scores and her future. In fact, the research shows that programs that improve "attainment" don't raise test scores, and programs that raise test scores don't affect "attainment."

Test scores can be raised with several techniques, and most of those techniques have nothing to do with providing students with a better education. Drill the test prep. Take at-risk students out of electives and make them take test-related courses instead. And have teachers learn, over the years, how to teach more directly to the test. But do you want higher test scores or better education? Because those are two unrelated things.

The end result is that the test scores do not tell you what they claim they tell you. They are less like actionable data and more like really expensive noise.

Hess and Greene represent a small but growing portion of the reform community; for most, the Big Standardized Test data is God. For others, the revenue stream generated by the tests, the pre-tests, the test prep materials, and the huge mountains of data being mined-- those will be nearly impossible to walk away from.

But there is one critical lesson that ed reform testing apostates should keep in mind. The idea that the Big Standardized Test does not measure what it claims to measure, the idea that it actually does damage to schools, the idea that it simply isn't what it claims to be-- while these ideas are presented as new notions for ed reformers, classroom teachers have been raising these concerns for about twenty years.

Teachers have said, repeatedly, that the tests don't measure what they claim to measure, and that the educational process in schools is being narrowed and weakened in order to focus on testing. Teachers have said, repeatedly, that the Big Standardized Tests are a waste of time and money and not helping students get an education. Teachers have been saying it over and over and over again. In return teachers have been told, "You are just afraid of accountability" and "These tests will finally keep you honest."

After twenty years, folks are starting to figure out that teachers were actually correct. The Big Standardized Test is not helping, not working, and not measuring what it claims to measure. Teachers should probably not hold their collective breath waiting for an apology, though it is the generation of students subjected to test-centered schooling that deserve an apology. In the meantime, if ed reform thought leader policy wonk mavens learn one thing, let it be this-- the next time you propose an Awesome idea for fixing schools and a whole bunch of professional educators tell you why your idea is not great, listen to them."
petergreene  standardizedtesting  testing  standardization  2018  schools  reform  education  measurement  nclb  rttt  parcc  sba  frederickhess  jaygreene  teaching  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  policy  schooling  publicschools 
september 2018 by robertogreco
lalitha vasudevan on Twitter: "Overhearing tutoring session between adult tutor & suburban hs student. I despair at the extensive focus on relatability (between student & text) as strategy for responding to comprehension questions and essay writing, where
"Overhearing tutoring session between adult tutor & suburban hs student. I despair at the extensive focus on relatability (between student & text) as strategy for responding to comprehension questions and essay writing, wherein to relate to have personally experienced.


Being able to relate, in and of itself, isn't the cause of my despair. It's the over-reliance on experience to the exclusion of other ways of creating conditions for understanding that worries me. This bent away from the traps of "cultural literacy" began w/good intentions;


but this response -- understandably, in resistance to the hyper-testing mania that overtook and still dominates much of the schooling landscape -- may err too far in the direction of allowing some young people to never have to stray too far from their own thoughts.


I want to know what young people think, what they notice and see, how they navigate and experience the world. AND, I want their insights on what others notice, see, conclude, design, and decide; for that, too, concerns young people --


not only in their immediate, local, kinship networks, but about how they perceive others' perceptions of the they things they have noticed, or not. They are civic beings, active in their citizenry, and to deny this and allow otherwise is educational malpractice.


I want young people to be seen and engaged as real interlocutors, not discursive window dressing to be written into curricula and grant proposals as the "participatory" element. I don't just want to hear what they think; I want to think with them, toward new questions.


So, I return to a familiar, frustrating thought: My, how standardization, answer-driven teaching, & the greedy pursuit of efficiency-driven uniformity has royally screwed over kids & schools.
And (some) big data efforts want to help do more of the same.

lalithavasudevan  education  standardizedtesting  standardization  experience  relatability  teaching  learning  schools  schooliness  kinship  perception  culturalliteracy  howweteach  howwelearn  comprehension  essays  writing  howwewrite  teachingreading  teachingwriting  noticing  civics  citizenship  democracy  democratic  malpractice  participatory  participation  unschooling  deschooling  pedagogy  uniformity  efficiency  bigdata  testing 
august 2018 by robertogreco
standardized testing: the game
[via (via Allen ):

I made something.

Here's a prototype for my interactive zine:


i think you'll have a feeling (at least a short one)

i hope it starts conversations about ethnicity & culture

please share! ]
via:tealtan  education  highereducation  highered  bias  ethnicity  culture  standardizedtesting  standardization  testing  exclusion  inclusion  inclusivity  games  gaming  interactivefiction  twine 
july 2018 by robertogreco
How He's Using His Gifts | Akilah S. Richards [Episode 12]
"We explore…gifted students, twice exceptional students, educators who shift from traditional to self-directed education, civic connections, the truth about college, and giving black and brown children more access.

Anthony Galloway wasn’t willing to be another cog in the system.

He’s a smart, twenty-something year old African-American man who chose to go into the field of education. He came up through the system, and learned how to excel in it. He also knew that he wanted to be part of the change in public education that allowed children of color access to the same resources and opportunities as children in white schools or private ones.

Anthony co-founded an Agile Learning Center, now facilitated by both him and long-time educator, Julia Cordero. I think you’re gonna find this discussion interesting because Anthony’s an educator who saw the school system for what it was and is, and started his own school to create something better."
akilahrichards  anthonygalloway  schools  education  unschooling  deschooling  gifted  juliacordero  race  schooling  self-directed  self-directedlearning  lcproject  openstudioproject  children  howwelearn  learning  praise  comparison  alternative  grades  grading  curiosity  libraries  systemsthinking  progressive  reading  howweread  assessment  publicschools  elitism  accessibility  class  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  unpaidinternships  studentdebt  testing  standardization  standardizedtesting  agilelearning  community  collaboration  sfsh  tcsnmy  freeschools  scrum  cv  relationships  communities  process  planning  documentation  adulting  agilelearningcenters 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Science / Fiction — Carol Black
"‘Evidence-based’ education, scientific racism, & how learning styles became a myth."

"1. The Debunkers
2. The Map and the Territory
3. The Evidence
4. The Territory Beyond the Map
5. Here Be Dragons"

"A disturbing feature of this discourse in education is the frequency with which it takes the form of male researchers and pundits telling female educators that their views on learning are cognitively childish and irrational and should therefore be disregarded. Cognitive psychologist Daniel Willingham, a prominent debunker, has shared some rather patronizing speculations as to why the vast majority of (mostly female) teachers persist in thinking their students have different learning styles ("I think learning styles theory is widely accepted because the idea is so appealing. It would be so nice if it were true.") His paternal tone is especially disturbing since he makes his case by failing to mention the existence of legitimate competing views from respected scientists and education researchers."

"But despite the debunkers' undeniable passion on the topic, the fact is that there are extremely reputable scientists on both sides of this debate. In other words, as Grundmann and Stehr put it, "the basic rift in these debates is not between lay people and experts but between two alliances that advocate different courses of action based on divergent basic values and knowledge claims... we see representatives of science and the lay public on both sides."

So what are the two alliances in the case of learning styles? And what are their divergent basic values?

Luckily, you don't have to dig very deep to find out. If you review the writings of the most vocal learning styles 'debunkers,' you quickly find that they are almost always simply advocates for traditional, teacher-controlled direct instruction. They tend to favor a traditional "core knowledge" curriculum, traditional forms of discipline, and they adhere to a traditional IQ-based view of intelligence. In other words, they’re just educational conservatives. (In the UK they openly call themselves "trads" as opposed to "progs.") They trumpet any research that supports their preferences and ignore or attempt to discredit any research that leans the other way. They don't like progressive or self-directed or culturally relevant approaches to education. They don't tend to concern themselves overmuch with less tangible aspects of children's well-being like, say, "happiness" or "creativity" or "mental health." They define "what works" in education in terms of test scores.

But the reality is that you can’t say ‘what works” in education until you answer the question: works for what? As Yong Zhao explains in “What Works May Hurt: Side Effects in Education,” it’s reasonable to assume, in education as in medicine, that any given intervention may have negative as well as positive effects; if we want to claim to be evidence-based, we need to look at both. What raises test scores may lower creativity or intrinsic motivation, and vice versa; this study, for example, found that direct instruction hastened young children's mastery of a specific task, but lowered exploratory behavior. So “what the research supports” depends on what you value, what you care most about, what kind of life you want for your children."

"The first thing to understand about learning styles is that there is no agreed-on definition of the term. Multiple frameworks have been proposed, from the popular Visual-Auditory-Kinesthetic framework, to the Concrete-Abstract framework, to the Holistic-Analytical, Impulsive-Reflective, Convergent-Divergent, Field-Dependent-Field-Independent, Cognitive-Affective-Physiological –– one literature review identified 71 different models. As Kirschner and van Merriënboer grouse, if we consider each learning style as dichotomous (e.g. visual vs. verbal) that means there are 2 to the power of 71 possible combinations of learning styles – more than the number of people alive on earth.

They say that like it’s a bad thing. But as astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson remarked recently, “In science, when human behavior enters the equation, things go nonlinear. That's why physics is easy and sociology is hard.”

Zhang and her frequent collaborators Robert Sternberg and Stephen Rayner, co-editors of The Handbook of Intellectual Styles, are not fans of the 'debunkers.' They use the term intellectual style as an "umbrella term for all style constructs," (including learning styles, cognitive styles, perceptual styles, and thinking styles) which relate to "people's preferred ways of processing information and dealing with tasks." (Notice the word "preferred" here, since that will come up later.) As these authors see it, intellectual style differences are complex, involving cognitive, affective, physiological, psychological, and sociological dimensions. Researchers Maria Kozhevnikov, Carol Evans, and Stephen Kosslyn use the term cognitive style (which includes learning style constructs), to describe "patterns of adaptation to the external world that develop through interaction with the surrounding environment on the basis of innate predispositions, the interactions among which are shaped by changing environmental demands."

The most promising style constructs, in Kozhevnikov's view, are not the narrow visual-auditory-kinesthetic (V-A-K) perceptual categories, but the richer constructs of "context-dependency vs. independency, rule-based vs. intuitive processing, internal vs. external locus of control, and integration vs. compartmentalization." These cognitive tendencies are neither set in stone nor completely malleable; they intersect with cognition at multiple levels, from perception to concept formation to higher-order cognitive processing to meta-cognitive processing.

So it's complicated. And yet despite what researchers Elena Grigorenko and Samuel Mandelman call "the very fine texture" of the "intertwined threads of intelligence and personality" that make learning styles so devilishly hard to define, in practice these differences are not at all difficult to see.

Which is probably why somewhere between 75 and 90% of teachers believe they exist.

In self-directed learning situations where children are able to follow their curiosity in their own ways, differences that might be muted or masked in a controlled instruction setting become very clearly visible. Sensory preferences intersect with social, emotional, and cognitive differences in complex and individual ways that profoundly shape how each child enters and explores and takes hold of the world. One child will spend quiet hours poring over illustrated books about science or history; another child is quickly bored by those, but gets deeply engaged in active social projects like building or filmmaking or citizen science. One child listens in on adult conversations and remembers everything she hears, absorbing knowledge like a sponge; another child creates and constructs knowledge in her own hands-on ways, writing her first book before she reads one. One child is observant and cautious, always making sure of things before venturing into unfamiliar terrain; another child is bold and intuitive, diving in head first and filling in the gaps later in a "fake it till you make it" spirit. The river moves steadily toward the sea, but it follows many divergent pathways, and the shortest distance between two points may not be a straight line.

In other words, human learning differences are complex, multi-dimensional, and difficult to definitively pin down, but this much is clear: the kids have different styles of learning. So how does something so intuitively obvious and readily observed cease to exist in the eyes of the debunkers?"

"The debunkers admit that people have fairly stable learning preferences. They also admit that people have variable abilities in visual v. auditory memory, etc. When you combine preference with ability –– e.g. "I have a good visual memory, and I prefer information presented visually" –– that’s probably what many speakers of the English language understand by the term “learning style.”

So that thing? That exists.

But here’s where the crucial elision occurs, and the claim shifts to the matching hypothesis. In a literature review of learning styles research, Pashler et al. state it this way: the theory of learning styles is only confirmed if we can successfully sort individuals into groups “for which genuine group-by-treatment interactions can be demonstrated.”

What are “group-by-treatment” interactions? Well, in this scenario the teacher diagnoses and sorts the learners into groups, applies a randomized instructional “treatment” to each group, and then administers a test to determine which “treatment” worked better –– like a drug trial.

It's important to note that the debunkers' claim is thus based almost entirely on studies of teacher-controlled direct instruction; they don't involve scenarios where learners have agency. But the problem with studying learning in teacher-controlled settings is that it may be unclear whether you're measuring something about the learning or something about the teaching. In other words, you have to be sure that "Treatment A" isn't just a better or more interesting lesson than "Treatment B."

How can you solve that problem? Simple. By excluding from the list of methodologically acceptable studies anything that involves the kind of creative activities that good teachers might come up with to address the needs of diverse learners.

From the standpoint of strict scientific method, this is, of course, correct; your experimental protocol should control every variable except the one you're testing. How can you achieve this? By further simplification, of course: by creating a lesson so lacking in complexity that it can’t possibly be interesting to anyone. Like memorizing a random list of words.

Here’s where you run … [more]
carolblack  learningstyles  evidence  2018  paulkirschner  jeroenvanmerriënboer  li-fangzhang  mariakozhevnikov  carolevans  elenagrigorenko  stephenkosslyn  robertsternberg  learning  education  data  danielwillingham  daviddidau  joanneyatvin  power  yongzhao  research  unschooling  deschooling  directinstruction  children  happiness  creativity  well-being  iq  intelligence  traditional  testing  intrinsicmotivation  mastery  behavior  howwelearn  self-directed  self-directedlearning  ignorance  franksmith  race  racism  oppression  intersectionality  coreknowledge  schooling  schooliness  homeschool  multiliteracies  differences  hierarchy  participation  participatory  democracy  leannebetasamosakesimpson  andrealandry  pedagogy  teaching  howweteach  colonization  leisterman  ibramkendi  standardizedtesting  standardization  onesizefitsall  cornelpewewardy  cedarriener  yanaweinstein 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Article: Notes On An Anarchist Pedagogy – AnarchistStudies.Blog
"But, at this particularly dark moment in our nation’s history, I feel the need to act inside the classroom in a manner that more readily and visibly embodies the important and insightful critiques and guideposts of critical pedagogy,[2] perhaps in a manner, inspired by Graeber and Haworth, that rejects and abandons (education) policy, and more demonstratively and communally embraces the liberatory and transformative power of education itself, free from the bondage of neoliberalism.

Early on in Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology, Graeber offers us: “against policy (a tiny manifesto)”. Graeber tells us:

The notion of “policy” presumes a state or governing apparatus which imposes its will on others. “Policy” is the negation of politics; policy is by definition something concocted by some form of elite, which presumes it knows better than others how their affairs are to be conducted. By participating in policy debates the very best one can achieve is to limit the damage, since the very premise is inimical to the idea of people managing their own affairs.

(2004: 9)

And, as the people I have identified in these notes thus far all document, policy (education reform) is little more than a “governing apparatus which imposes its will” on teachers, students, administrators, and entire communities with high stakes testing, the deskilling of teachers, the cuts to and diversion of funding for public education, and the imposition of the corporate model to direct and control all “outcomes”. And, following Graeber’s pushback to “policy”, I want to enact, to whatever degree possible, “an anarchist pedagogy” to acknowledge, confront and overcome the very dominating and authoritarian dynamics at work in the classroom today from kindergarten right on through to graduate school.

I want to evoke and provoke the issue of anarchy as a counterforce and impulse to the “governing apparatus which imposes its will on others”. I want to engage education as the practice of freedom methodologically, and not just ideologically (of course, I would agree that a genuine embracing of education as the practice of freedom ideologically would axiomatically mean to embrace it methodologically as well – as I believe Paulo Freire and bell hooks demonstrate, and many others also successfully participate in such engaged pedagogy).

But for my musings here, I want to consider enacting freedom directly and in totality throughout the classroom. This is the case, in part, because I want to challenge myself, and to some degree many of my colleagues, to once again consider and reconsider how we “are” in the classroom, living and embodying education as the practice of freedom, and, in part, to accept the need to acknowledge, confront and address the reality that we “operate”, however critically, within the very “governing apparatus which imposes its will”. As a result, I am, for the sake of these notes, forcing myself to fully embrace freedom, and, to whatever degree possible, attempting to reimagine and recomport myself toward promoting education as the practice of freedom.

As good a “critical” pedagogue as I believe I am and have been, for me these notes are a call to identify my beliefs, habits and pedagogy, not unlike Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy were for him. These notes are a consideration of how I embrace and enact those beliefs, habits and pedagogy, and represent a challenge to improve upon my pedagogy. I have decided that rethinking my own pedagogy in light of an anarchist pedagogy might prove the most challenging, informative and constructive mediation on pedagogy I could contemplate and enact at this moment."

"As many of us directly involved in the “field of education” (working as teachers and administrators from kindergarten through twelfth-grade, or those working in schools of education and on various education initiatives and in policy think-tanks) have witnessed (and sometimes promote and/or confront), there is much emphasis on a “best practice” approach and on “evidence-based” support for said practices. As a result, so much of education research and teaching is “data-driven”, even when the data is suspect (or just wrong). And, still more harmful, there exists a prejudice against “theory” and against a theoretical approach to teaching within a social/political/cultural context that emphasizes other aspects and dimensions of teaching and learning (such as the history and legacy of racism, sexism, class elitism, homophobia and biases against those with abilities and disabilities that render them “problematic” or outside the mainstream of education concern). All of this leads to an obsession with “information”, to the detriment of teaching and learning (see Scapp 2016b: Chapters 5 and 6). We also wind up with no vision or mission – education becomes little more than a “jobs preparatory program” and a competition in the market place. This is what leads us to the litany of reform programs (from the Bush administration’s “No Child Left Behind” to Obama’s “Race to the Top”, never mind the practically innumerable local initiatives attempting to “fix” education). The results are proving disastrous for all.

At the same time, even though someone may employ a theoretical stance and perspective, this doesn’t guarantee a successful classroom dynamic. We need to remember that how we are (a concern of these notes from the very start) is just as important as what we are presenting, and even why. We need to establish trustworthiness and a sense that students have the freedom to explore, challenge, work together, and even be wrong. Of course, I recognize that the classroom dynamics will look different in elementary school than in a graduate seminar, but for the sake of this meditation on pedagogy, I would like to posit that while acknowledging the differences that exist at different levels of instruction, the essential character of “education as the practice of freedom” ought to be manifest at every level, and at every turn. The hard and important work of good teaching is helping to create and establish that freedom."

"There is a long tradition of attempting to create such an “other space”. Feminist pedagogy has argued for and provided such other spaces, at times at grave personal and professional cost (denial of tenure, promotion, as well as ridicule). So too have disciplines and perspectives as diverse as Ethnic Studies and Queer Studies, and Environmental Studies and Performance Studies offered challenges to the constrictive traditional learning environment (space) and also offered new possibilities of reconfiguring those spaces (in and outside the classroom). In his essay “Spaces of Learning: The Anarchist Free Skool”, Jeffery Shantz rightly notes that:

Social theorist Michel Foucault used the occasion of his 1967 lecture, “Of Other Spaces”, to introduce a term that would remain generally overlooked with his expansive body of work, the notion of “heterotopia”, by which he meant a countersite or alternative space, something of an actually existing utopia. In contrast to the nowhere lands of utopias, heterotopias are located in the here-and-now of present-day reality, though they challenge and subvert that reality. The heterotopias are spaces of difference. Among the examples Foucault noted were sacred and forbidden spaces which are sites of personal transition.

(in Haworth 2012: 124)

It is precisely this effort to help create another kind of space, a “heterotopia”, that leads me to disrupt the distribution of the syllabus as the first gesture of the semester, and to solicit and elicit contributions and participation from the class toward this end.

Part of the reason that complying with the “syllabus-edict” is problematic is that it fully initiates and substantiates “the banking system” of teaching that Paulo Freire so astutely identified and named, and so thoughtfully and thoroughly criticized (as oppressive). Participating in the automatic act of handing out the syllabus (hardcopy or electronic) constitutes the very first “deposit” within the banking system, and renders students passive from the very start: “This is what you will need to know!”. So, the very modest and simple gesture of not distributing the syllabus initiates instead the very first activity for the entire class, specifically, a discussion of what the class will be.

Of course, such a stance, such a gesture, doesn’t mean that I would not have thought through the course beforehand. Certainly, I envision a course that would be meaningful and connected to their program of study. But, what I do not do is “decide” everything in advance, and leave no room for input, suggestions and contributions to the syllabus that we create, to enhance the course we create. This offers students a (new?) way of interacting in the class, with each other and the teacher, a way of engaging in social and educative interactions that are mutual and dialogic from the very start. As Shantz claims:

Anarchist pedagogy aims toward developing and encouraging new forms of socialization, social interaction, and the sharing of ideas in ways that might initiate and sustain nonauthoritarian practices and ways of relating.

(in Haworth 2012: 126)

I am claiming that the simple and modest gesture of extending a welcome to participate goes a long way “toward developing and encouraging new forms” of teaching and learning, new forms of mutual and dialogic interaction that are both respectful of the subject matter and of the students, and, if successful, does create the very “heterotopia” Foucault and Shantz describe.

I also ask students about the ways we might be able to evaluate their work and the course itself, evaluate the success of the teaching and learning, and my ability to help facilitate successful teaching and learning. The results vary, but students always come up with interesting and innovative ways to evaluate and … [more]
pedagogy  anarchism  anarchy  deschooling  decolonization  unschooling  learning  teaching  bellhooks  ronscapp  paulofreire  freedom  liberation  neoliberalism  capitalism  lucynicholas  postmodernism  michaelapple  angeladavis  henrygiroux  roberthaworth  descartes  stanleyaronowitz  stephenball  pierrebourdieu  randallamster  abrahamdeleon  luisfernandez  anthonynocella  education  dericshannon  richarkahn  deleuze&guattari  gillesdeleuze  michelfoucault  foucault  davidgraeber  jürgenhabermas  justinmuller  alanantliff  kennethsaltman  davidgabbard  petermclaren  alexmolnar  irashor  joelspring  gayatrichakravortyspivak  colonialism  highereducation  highered  cademia  politics  2018  resistance  corporatization  betsydevos  policy  authority  authoritarianism  howweteach  government  governance  colonization  homeschool  power  control  coercion  félixguattari  conformity  uniformity  standardization  standards  syllabus  heterotopia  lcproject  openstudioproject  tcsnmy  sfsh  cv  utopia  collaboration  evaluation  feminism  inclusion  inclusivity  participation  participatory  mutu 
may 2018 by robertogreco
The Problem With “Measure” – Teachers Going Gradeless
"Measurement requires a standard unit, a recognized standard that can be objectively applied in a context. I can measure my bike ride to school in units of length. If I share that measurement with my colleague who also bikes to school, we can objectively determine who travels the greatest distance each day. What isn’t measurable is the peace that twenty minute ride brings to my day.

When it comes to measurement, learning fits into the same category as love, pain, anger, joy, and peace of mind. Learning can’t be objectively measured. There is no standard unit of measurement to apply to learning. A skill can be demonstrated, progress can be noted, understanding can be communicated and shared, but technically this evidence of learning isn’t measurable."
measurement  assessment  teaching  learning  unschooling  deschooling  grades  grading  scotthazeu  2017  objectivity  subjectivity  skills  standardization  standards  understanding  love  pain  anger  joy  peaceofmind  emotions 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Isis Lecture (Lecture given at the Oxford Literary festival in 2003 ) - Philip Pullman
[from this page:

"This was the first extended piece I wrote about education. I wanted to say what I thought had gone wrong with it, and suggest some better ways of doing things. The lecture was given during the Oxford Literary Festival in 2003."]

"I’m going to talk about culture this afternoon, in the widest sense; about education and the arts, especially literature. It’s my contention that something has gone bad, something has gone wrong in the state of education, and that we can see this very clearly in the way schools deal with books, and reading, and writing – with everything that has to do with literature, and the making of it. When more and more good teachers are leaving the profession in disillusion and disappointment; when the most able undergraduates are taking one look at a career in teaching, and deciding that it offers no scope for their talents, and turning away to do something else; when school headships are proving harder and harder to fill – then we’re doing something wrong.

I think it boils down to this: that education now is suffused with the wrong emotion. Somehow, over the past quarter of a century, ever since James Callaghan’s famous Great Debate speech, we have seen confidence leaking away, and something else slowly seeping in to take its place. What that something else is, I shall come to near the end. No doubt some of the confidence was misplaced; no doubt we needed a Great Debate. But I think the benefits that came from it have long since been exhausted. It’s time for another way of doing things.

So first of all, I’m going to look at what’s happening now, and I’m going right in to the glowing, radioactive core at the heart of the engine that drives the whole thing: the National Curriculum and the SATs. I won’t spend too long on these things, but we do need to look at the actual stuff to get a flavour of the thought behind it, and this is what the Qualifications Curriculum Authority says about the Reading part of the English tests at Key Stage 2 – that means, in human language, at age 11.

They think that reading consists of using a range of strategies to decode, selecting, retrieving, deducing, inferring, interpreting, identifying and commenting on the structure and organisation of texts, identifying and commenting on the writer’s purposes and viewpoints, relating texts to the social, cultural and historical contexts.

That’s it. That’s all. Nothing else. That’s what they want children of 11 to do when they read. They don’t seem to know that reading can also be enjoyed, because enjoyment just doesn’t feature in the list of things you have to do.

Mind you, it’s just as well that they don’t have to enjoy it, because they’re not likely to have a copy of the books anyway. In another unit of work – 46 pages, to get through in a fortnight – they are to study Narrative Structure. The work’s built around two short stories and part of a novel. It’s not expected – this is interesting – that the children will have their own copies of the complete texts, though some pages may be extracted and photocopied.

But the whole book doesn’t matter very much either, because books exist in order to be taken apart and laid out in pieces like Lego. One of the things the children have to do in this unit of work is to make a class list of “the features of a good story opening.” This is where it stops being merely tedious, and starts being mendacious as well. The teacher is asked to model the writing of an alternative first paragraph for one of the stories. The instructions say “Read through the finished writing together. Check this against the criteria for a good opening – does it fulfil all of these?”

I can’t say it clearly enough: this is not how it works. Writing doesn’t happen like this. What does happen like this is those Hollywood story-structure courses, where there are seven rules for this, and five principles of that, and eight bullet-points to check when constructing the second-act climax. You cannot write a good story by building up a list of effective openings. It is telling children a lie to say that this is the way you write stories. Apart from anything else, it’s profoundly vulgar.

Then there is the Reading Journal, which children have to keep. Among other things, they have to:

List the words and phrases used to create an atmosphere

Write a fifty word summary of a whole plot

Pick a descriptive word from the text and, using a thesaurus, write down five synonyms and antonyms for that word

And so on. What concerns me here is the relationship this sets up between child and book, between children and stories. Stories are written to beguile, to entertain, to amuse, to move, to enchant, to horrify, to delight, to anger, to make us wonder. They are not written so that we can make a fifty word summary of the whole plot, or find five synonyms for the descriptive words. That sort of thing would make you hate reading, and turn away from such a futile activity with disgust. In the words of Ruskin, it’s “slaves’ work, unredeemed.”

Those who design this sort of thing seem to have completely forgotten the true purpose of literature, the everyday, humble, generous intention that lies behind every book, every story, every poem: to delight or to console, to help us enjoy life or endure it. That’s the true reason we should be giving books to children. The false reason is to make them analyse, review, comment and so on.

But they have to do it – day in, day out, hour after hour, this wretched system nags and pesters and buzzes at them, like a great bluebottle laden with pestilence. And then all the children have to do a test; and that’s when things get worse."

"So said Ruskin in 1853. Again, we didn’t listen. Ruskin went on to point out that when you do trust people to act for themselves, they are free to make mistakes, to blunder and fail; but there is the possibility of majesty too. Do we want human beings teaching our children, with all their faults and follies and limitations, but with all their depth and grandeur as well? Or do we want managers, who are glib and fluent in the language of audits and targets and performance indicators and mission statements, but who are baffled by true originality, who flinch and draw back from it as if it were deadly poison?

The extraordinary thing is that they are the same people. They could all be free, if they chose. Some of the young people who come into teaching may be timid and narrow-minded, but don’t think for a moment that I think that they’re not capable of courage and curiosity. They’ve never had a chance to show it; their teachers are afraid themselves. Marilyn Mottram of the University of Central England in Birmingham, who has been studying the way the National Curriculum and the Literacy Strategy work in schools, wrote to me last month: “When I work with teachers on developing ways of using texts I’m frequently asked ‘… but are we allowed to do that?’ This sort of continuing anxiety about literacy teaching,” she goes on, “suggests that a culture of conformity has been quite securely established among our primary teachers and, like many others, I find this deeply disturbing.”

These young people are tigers born in cages, and kept caged until they think that being caged is a natural condition; and they look down at themselves, and they see their magnificent stripes, and the only way they can understand them is to think that they themselves must be made of bars: they are their own cage; they dare not move outside the little space they occupy. But they are tigers still, if only they knew."

"So here are five steps we should take, starting right now.

Do away with these incessant tests; they only tell you things you don’t need to know, and make the children do things they don’t need to do.

Abolish the league tables, which are an abomination.

Cut class sizes in every school in the country. No child should ever be in a class bigger than twenty.

Make teaching a profession that the most gifted, the most imaginative, the most well-informed people will clamour to join; and make the job so rewarding that none of them will
want to stop teaching until they drop.

Make this the golden rule, the equivalent of the Hippocratic oath: Everything we ask a child to do should be something intrinsically worth doing.

If we do those five things, we will not bring about a golden age, or an earthly paradise; there are more things wrong with the world than we can cure by changing a system of schooling. But if we get education right, it would show that we were being serious about living and thinking and understanding ourselves; it would show that we were paying our children the compliment of assuming that they were serious too; and it would acknowledge that the path to true learning begins nowhere else but in delight, and the words on the signpost say: “Once upon a time …”"
philippullman  education  canon  teaching  writing  howwelearn  howweread  howweteach  howwewrite  reading  literature  management  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  schooling  policy  curriculum  culture  society  meaning  johnruskin  learning  schools  pedagogy  literacy  purpose  life  living  pleasure  via:derek  storytelling  stories  fear  intrinsicmotivation  children  self-esteem  self-confidence  language  communication  time  slow  results  accountability  measurement  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  2003 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magical Cures Hide a Cold Truth - The Atlantic
"As a child I found these books fascinating, suggesting as they did a conspiracy of adults manipulating children’s every move. Now, as a mother of four, I find them even more fascinating, because it turns out that the conspiracy is real. Parents do constantly conspire with a bevy of licensed and unlicensed advisors—relatives, friends, doctors, teachers, social-media strangers, even representatives of the state. What all these people promise is what Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle provides: conformity. It’s something so unnatural that it can only happen through magic, and yet it’s what’s expected of children, then and now.

Much of this conformity is just common courtesy; no one wants to live in a world in which people don’t pick up their toys. But the conformity parents sometimes crave goes deeper than that, and the desperation of these books’ 1950s parents hasn’t gone away. My 21st-century children laugh at Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s picket-fenced planet, where Mrs. Brown does the mending while Mr. Brown smokes his pipe, and little Christopher Brown putting his elbows on the table incurs an intervention involving a trained pig (don’t ask). But the reality is that today, amid a middle-class panic about their families’ and their country’s future, there is intense demand for children’s conformity. It can be hard to see just how much conformity is required until you have a child—or two, or four—who simply won’t comply.

For large numbers of children, for instance, sitting in a cinderblock box for six hours a day is an awful way to learn. But it’s hard to appreciate just how awful it is until your child gets expelled from preschool for being unable to remain in the room. You don’t think about how many questions your children ask when you read together until they get kicked out of the library story hour; you don’t realize how eagerly they explore nature until the arboretum ejects them for failing to stay in line on the trail. When your children achieve good grades, you are delighted, until you sit through the presentations where every child recites an identical list of facts about the country they “researched” on Wikipedia, and you realize what success is. You wonder why their assignments are so uninspired, until your answer arrives in the form of paperwork about multiday standardized tests. You wonder why your child who reads five novels weekly has been flagged for poor reading skills, until you discover that said child spends all assessment time reading under the desk.

You appreciate the need for children to develop patience, mastery, tolerance for boredom. But demand piles upon demand until it becomes a kind of daily war, as if this structure were specifically designed to destroy the very things that it purports to nourish. Your children soon meet other repeat offenders who frequent the principals’ and psychologists’ offices, children who sit on exercise balls and wear weighted vests in class to better constrain them, like characters from Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” dystopia. You observe as your children uncover, like video-game Easter eggs, your state’s various statutes that trigger ejection from class; soon even your kindergartner discovers that all he needs to do to leave the room is announce an urge to kill himself, a fact he then exploits at will. You don’t blame the schools for these essential interventions, but you can hardly blame your child either for wanting out, because clearly something is wrong. Your children love learning, reading, exploring, creating; at home they write books, invent board games, make up languages, build gadgets out of old coffee makers. They appear to have the makings of successful adults—they’re resourceful, independent, and interested in contributing something to the world. But the markers of success in children are in many ways the opposite of these markers of success in adulthood, and in the meantime—a long, decade-plus meantime—children are trapped in a kind of juvenile detention where success is defined by how well adults can manage them, the chief adult being you, the parent.

Through all this, the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggles proliferate. Some are relatives or trusted friends; others are professionals, teachers, therapists, doctors, all offering their chests of cures. Some of these cures actually work. But even when they work, you begin to wonder what it means for them to work, to wonder what you are not seeing when all the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggles see is a tattletale or a truant or a child covered in dirt, an aberration to be evened out, fixed, cured. This harrowing question brings you to the farthest edge of your own limitations as a parent, which is also the nearest edge of your child’s freedom. And then you understand that control is a delusion—that all you can do is what Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle never does, which is to love the people your children actually are, instead of the people you want them to be."
conformity  children  parenting  books  culture  society  manners  2018  darahorn  unschooling  deschooling  difference  compliance  fear  punishment  discipline  openstudioproject  lcproject  tcsnnmy  sfsh  success  standardization  standardizedtesting  standards  assessment  creativity  acceptance  cures  curing  freedom 
march 2018 by robertogreco
How to Ungrade | Jesse Stommel
""I can't think of a more meaningless, superficial, cynical way to evaluate learning."
~ Cathy N. Davidson

The work of teaching shouldn't be reduced to the mechanical act of grading or marking. Our talk of grading shouldn't be reduced to our complaining about the continuing necessity of it.

If you're a teacher and you hate grading, stop doing it.

Across education, we've normalized absurd levels of grading, test-taking, and standardized assessment. And yet letter grades are a relatively recent phenomenon. They weren't widely used until the 1940s. In “Teaching More by Grading Less,” Jeffrey Schinske and Kimberly Tanner cite the first “official record” of a grading system from Yale in 1785. The A-F system appears to have emerged in 1898 (with the “E” not disappearing until the 1930s) and the 100-point or percentage scale became common in the early 1900s. According to Schinske and Tanner, even by 1971, only 67% of primary and secondary schools in the U.S. were using letter grades. The desire for uniformity across institutions was the primary motivator for the spread of these systems.

As I was preparing to write this piece, I looked through the sections on grading from a dozen or so U.S. teaching and learning centers. What I noticed across the lot of them is how their language around grading emphasizes “efficiency” (the word repeated incessantly) while reducing individual students to cogs in a machine that ultimately seems to have little to do with them. The work of grading is framed less in terms of giving feedback or encouraging learning and more as a way of ranking students against one another. Nods to “fairness” are too often made for the sake of defensibility rather than equity. What disturbs me is how effortlessly and casually this language rolls off Education's collective tongue. And I'm even more disturbed by how many otherwise productive pedagogical conversations get sidetracked by the too easily internalized ubiquity of grades.

The page from the Berkeley Graduate Division offering “Tips on Grading Efficiently” is pretty standard fare. The very first bit of advice on grading for new graduate student instructors raises more anxiety around grades than it alleviates. And at the same time, as is all too common, grading is something new teachers are encouraged to spend as little time on as possible: “Too often, time spent grading takes away from time spent doing your own coursework or research.”

Without much critical examination, teachers accept they have to grade, students accept they have to be graded, students are made to feel like they should care a great deal about grades, and teachers are told they shouldn't spend much time thinking about the why, when, and whether of grades. Obedience to a system of crude ranking is crafted to feel altruistic, because it's supposedly fair, saves time, and helps prepare students for the horrors of the “real world.” Conscientious objection is made to seem impossible.

I've been leading workshops on grading for years, and when I talk about why I don't grade, I often hear back some version of, “but I have to grade” ... because I'm an adjunct ... because my institution requires it ... because grading is necessary in my discipline ... because wouldn't you want your heart surgeon to have been graded? The need to navigate institutional (and disciplinary) pressures is real, but I would argue teachers grade in many more situations than grading is useful and/or actually required by institutions. And, as I've said before, I care less that my doctors are graded and more that they've read all the books of Virginia Woolf or Octavia Butler, because critical thinking is what will help them save my life when they encounter a situation they've never encountered before.

Peter Elbow writes in “Ranking, Evaluating, Liking: Sorting Out Three Forms of Judgement,” "Let's do as little ranking and grading as we can. They are never fair and they undermine learning and teaching." I believe pedagogy is personal and idiosyncratic. My approach won't necessarily work in each classroom, at every institution, for all teachers, with every group of students. My hope with this and my previous posts about grading is to challenge stock assumptions, describe what has worked for me, and explore alternatives that might just work for others."
jessestommel  grades  grading  education  schools  teaching  ranking  2018  standardization  efficiency  institutions  sorting  ungrading  assessment  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  excuses  process  rubrics  highered  highereducation 
march 2018 by robertogreco
How to Build Castles in the Air – Teachers Going Gradeless
"One of the more profound ironies of “going gradeless” is realizing just how fundamental grades are to the architecture of schools.

Grades undergird nearly everything we do in education. By threatening late penalties and administering one-shot assessments, we focus our famously distracted students on the task at hand. By regularly updating our online gradebooks, we provide an ongoing snapshot of student performance so precise it can be calculated to the hundredths place.

Grades inform our curriculum and instruction too. Because so much rides on them, it’s essential we build upon the rock of “objective” data, not the shifting sands of human judgment. Thus, we limit ourselves to those kinds of learning that can be easily measured and quantified. A multiple choice quiz testing students’ knowledge of literary devices can be reliably scored by your 10-year-old daughter (not saying I’ve ever done that). A stack of bubble sheets can be scanned on your way out of the building for the summer. Check your results online in the driveway, then go inside and make yourself a margarita.

If you want to evaluate something more complex, like writing, you had better develop an iron-clad rubric and engage in some serious range-finding sessions with your colleagues. Don’t put anything subjective like creativity or risk taking on that rubric — you’re already on shaky ground as it is. Make sure to provide an especially strict template so that the essay is fully prepared to “meet its maker.” Word choice, punctuation, sentence variety, quote incorporation — these are the nuts and bolts of writing. If the Hemingway Editor can’t see it, isn’t it just your opinion?

Hopefully, you see the irony here. Grades don’t communicate achievement; most contain a vast idiosyncratic array of weights, curves, point values, and penalties. Nor do they motivate students much beyond what it takes to maintain a respectable GPA. And by forcing us to focus on so-called objective measures, grades have us trade that which is most meaningful for that which is merely demonstrable: recall, algorithm use, anything that can be reified into a rubric. Grading reforms have sometimes succeeded in making these numbers, levels, and letters more meaningful, but more often than not it is the learning that suffers, as we continually herd our rich, interconnected disciplines into the gradebook’s endless succession of separate cells.

So, as I’ve said before, grades are not great. Nor are the ancillary tools, tests, structures, and strategies that support them. But as anyone who has gone gradeless can tell you, grades don’t just magically go away, leaving us free to fan the flames of intrinsic motivation and student passion. Grades remain the very foundation on which we build. Most gradeless teachers must enter a grade at the end of each marking period and, even if we didn’t, our whole educational enterprise is overshadowed by the specter of college admissions and scholarships. And since grades and tests rank so high in those determinations, we kid ourselves in thinking we’ve escaped their influence.

Even in a hypothetical environment without these extrinsic stresses, students are still subject to a myriad of influences, not the least of which being the tech industry with its constant bombardment of notifications and nudges. This industry, which spends billions engineering apps for maximum engagement, has already rendered the comparatively modest inducements of traditional schooling laughable. Still, the rhetoric of autonomy, passion, and engagement always seems to take this in stride, as if the Buddha — not billionaires — is behind this ever-expanding universe.

Let’s go one more step further, though, and imagine a world without the tech industry. Surely that would be a world in which the “inner mounting flame” of student passion could flourish.

But complete freedom, autonomy, and agency is not a neutral or even acceptable foundation for education. The notion of a blank slate on which to continuously project one’s passion, innovation, or genius is seriously flawed. Sherri Spelic, examining the related rhetoric of design thinking, points out how “neoliberal enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and start-up culture” does little to address “social dilemmas fueled by historic inequality and stratification.” In other words, blank spaces — including the supposed blank space of going gradeless — are usually little more than blind spots. And often these blind spots are where our more marginalized students fall through the cracks.

Even if we were able provide widespread, equitable access to springboards of self-expression, autonomy, and innovation, what then? To what extent are we all unwittingly falling into a larger neoliberal trap that, in the words of Byung-Chul Han, turns each of us into an “auto-exploiting labourer in his or her own enterprise”?
Today, we do not deem ourselves subjugated subjects, but rather projects: always refashioning and reinventing ourselves. A sense of freedom attends passing from the state of subject to that of project. All the same, this projection amounts to a form of compulsion and constraint — indeed, to a more efficient kind of subjectification and subjugation. As a project deeming itself free of external and alien limitations, the I is now subjugating itself to internal limitations and self-constraints, which are taking the form of compulsive achievement and optimization.

One doesn’t have to look too far to find the rhetoric of “harnessing student passion” and “self-regulated learners” to understand the paradoxical truth of this statement. This vision of education, in addition to constituting a new strategy of control, also undermines any sense of classrooms as communities of care and locations of resistance.

A5. Watch out for our tendency to lionize those who peddle extreme personalization, individual passion, entrepreneurial mindsets. So many of these undermine any sense of collective identity, responsibility, solidarity #tg2chat

Clearly, not all intrinsic or extrinsic motivation is created equal. Perhaps instead of framing the issue in these terms, we should see it as a question of commitment or capitulation.

Commitment entails a robust willingness to construct change around what Gert Biesta describes as fundamental questions of “content, purpose, and relationship.” It requires that we find ways to better communicate and support student learning, produce more equitable results, and, yes, sometimes shield students from outside influences. Contrary to the soaring rhetoric of intrinsic motivation, none of this will happen by itself.

Capitulation means shirking this responsibility, submerging it in the reductive comfort of numbers or in neoliberal notions of autonomy.

Framing going gradeless through the lens of extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation, then, is not only misleading and limited, it’s harmful. No teacher — gradeless or otherwise — can avoid the task of finding humane ways to leverage each of these in the service of greater goals. Even if we could, there are other interests, much more powerful, much more entrenched, and much better funded than us always ready to rush into that vacuum.

To resist these forces, we will need to use everything in our power to find and imagine new structures and strategies, building our castles in air on firm foundations."
grades  grading  equity  morivation  intrinsicmotivation  extrinsicmotivation  measurement  schools  schooling  learning  howwelearn  socialjustice  neoliberalism  arthurchiaravalli  subjectivity  objectivity  systemsthinking  education  unschooling  deschooling  assessment  accountability  subjectification  subjugation  achievement  optimization  efficiency  tests  testing  standardization  control  teaching  howweteach  2018  resistance  gertbiesta  capitulation  responsibility  structure  strategy  pedagogy  gpa  ranking  sherrispelic  byung-chulhan  compulsion  constraint  self-regulation  passion  identity  solidarity  personalization  collectivism  inequality 
february 2018 by robertogreco
The Misguided Drive to Measure ‘Learning Outcomes’ - The New York Times
"It seems that the pressure to assess student learning outcomes has grown most quickly at poorly funded regional universities that have absorbed a large proportion of financially disadvantaged students, where profound deficits in preparation and resources hamper achievement. Research indicates that the more selective a university, the less likely it is to embrace assessment. Learning outcomes assessment has become one way to answer the question, “If you get unprepared students in your class and they don’t do well, how does that get explained?” Mr. Eubanks at Furman University told me.

When Erik Gilbert, a professor of history at Arkansas State University, reached the end of his World Civilization course last fall, he dutifully imposed the required assessment: an extra question on the final exam that asked students to read a document about Samurai culture and answer questions using knowledge of Japanese history. Yet his course focused on “cross-cultural connections, trade, travel, empire, migration and bigger-scale questions, rather than area studies,” Mr. Gilbert told me. His students had not studied Japanese domestic history. “We do it this way because it satisfies what the assessment office wants, not because it addresses concerns that we as a department have.”

Mr. Gilbert became an outspoken assessment skeptic after years of watching the process fail to capture what happens in his classes — and seeing it miss the real reasons students struggle. “Maybe all your students have full-time jobs, but that’s something you can’t fix, even though that’s really the core problem,” he said. “Instead, you’re expected to find some small problem, like students don’t understand historical chronology, so you might add a reading to address that. You’re supposed to make something up every semester, then write up a narrative” explaining your solution to administrators.

Here is the second irony: Learning assessment has not spurred discussion of the deep structural problems that send so many students to college unprepared to succeed. Instead, it lets politicians and accreditors ignore these problems as long as bureaucratic mechanisms appear to be holding someone — usually a professor — accountable for student performance.

All professors could benefit from serious conversations about what is and is not working in their classes. But instead they end up preoccupied with feeding the bureaucratic beast. “It’s a bit like the old Soviet Union. You speak two languages,” said Frank Furedi, an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent in Britain, which has a booming assessment culture. “You do a performance for the sake of the auditors, but in reality, you carry on.”

Yet bureaucratic jargon subtly shapes the expectations of students and teachers alike. On the first day of class, my colleagues and I — especially in the humanities, where professors are perpetually anxious about falling enrollment — find ourselves rattling off the skills our courses offer (“Critical thinking! Clear writing!”), hyping our products like Apple Store clerks.

I teach intellectual history. Of course that includes skills: learning to read a historical source, interpret evidence and build an argument. But cultivating historical consciousness is more than that: It means helping students immerse themselves in a body of knowledge, question assumptions about memory and orient themselves toward current events in a new way.

If we describe college courses as mainly delivery mechanisms for skills to please a future employer, if we imply that history, literature and linguistics are more or less interchangeable “content” that convey the same mental tools, we oversimplify the intellectual complexity that makes a university education worthwhile in the first place. We end up using the language of the capitalist marketplace and speak to our students as customers rather than fellow thinkers. They deserve better.

“When kids come from backgrounds where they’re the first in their families to go to college, we have to take them seriously, and not flatter them and give them third-rate ideas,” Mr. Furedi told me. “They need to be challenged and inspired by the idea of our disciplines.” Assessment culture is dumbing down universities, he said: “One of the horrible things is that many universities think that giving access to nontraditional students means turning a university into a high school. That’s not giving them access to higher education.”

Here is the third irony: The value of universities to a capitalist society depends on their ability to resist capitalism, to carve out space for intellectual endeavors that don’t have obvious metrics or market value.

Consider that holy grail of learning outcomes, critical thinking — what the philosopher John Dewey called the ability “to maintain the state of doubt and to carry on systematic and protracted inquiry.” Teaching it is not a cheap or efficient process. It does not come from trying to educate the most students at the lowest possible cost or from emphasizing short, quantifiable, standardized assignments at the expense of meandering, creative and difficult investigation.

Producing thoughtful, talented graduates is not a matter of focusing on market-ready skills. It’s about giving students an opportunity that most of them will never have again in their lives: the chance for serious exploration of complicated intellectual problems, the gift of time in an institution where curiosity and discovery are the source of meaning.

That’s how we produce the critical thinkers American employers want to hire. And there’s just no app for that."
learning  learningoutcomes  outcomes  academia  assessment  evaluation  quantification  measurement  accountability  highered  highereducation  2018  mollywhorthen  criticalthinking  johndewey  metrics  inquiry  efficiency  standardization  standardizedtesting  capitalism  content  complexity  howwelearn  howwethink  knowledge  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  unschooling  deschooling  schools  pedagogy  teaching  skepticism  bureaucracy  corporatism  corporatization  inequality 
february 2018 by robertogreco
It’s Time We Hold Accountability Accountable – Teachers Going Gradeless
"Author and writing professor John Warner points out how this kind of accountability, standardization, and routinization short-circuits students’ pursuit of forms “defined by the rhetorical situation” and values “rooted in audience needs.”

What we are measuring when we are accountable, then, is something other than the core values of writing. Ironically, the very act of accounting for student progress in writing almost guarantees that we will receive only a poor counterfeit, one emptied of its essence.

Some might say that accountability only makes a modest claim on teaching, that nothing prevents teachers from going beyond its measurable minimum toward higher values of critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity. Many seem to think that scoring high on lower-order assessments still serves as a proxy for higher-order skills.

More often than not, however, the test becomes the target. And as Goodhart’s law (phrased here by Mary Strathern) asserts, “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” What we end up aiming at, in other words, is something other than the thing we wanted to improve or demonstrate. When push comes to shove in public schools — and push almost always comes to shove — it’s the test, the measure, the moment of reckoning we attend to.

For most of my career, I’ve seen how a culture of accountability has caused the focus of administrators, teachers, and students to solidify around the narrow prescriptions and algorithmic thinking found on most tests. When that happens, the measure no longer represents anything higher order. Instead, we demonstrate our ability to fill the template, follow the algorithm, jump through the hoop. And unfortunately, as many students find out too late, success on the test does not guarantee that one has developed the skills or dispositions needed in any real field. In fact, students who succeed in this arena may be even more oblivious to the absence of these."
writing  howwewrite  teaching  accountability  2017  arthurchiaravalli  johnwarner  testing  tests  standardization  routinization  audience  measurement  metrics  rubrics  grades  grading  quantification 
february 2018 by robertogreco
'The connection between education and democracy should be clear'
"Simon Creasey meets the academic calling for teachers to revolt against the ‘pedagogy of oppression’ and demand due payment for their overlooked role in underpinning democracy

Henry Giroux wants teachers to mobilise. He wants them to rise up and launch a revolutionary movement in order to eradicate what he calls a “pedagogy of oppression” that has permeated the education system, both in the UK and in his native US. Teachers and teachers’ unions should work with parents to pressure governments to focus education on creating “informed citizens”, he says, not learning-by-rote simply to get students to pass their exams and become workforce-ready.

This is a push for change that Giroux has been working on for some time. He currently holds the McMaster University chair for scholarship in the public interest, in Ontario, Canada. But he has been an education academic for decades and penned numerous books. He’s insistent on this course of action because “you cannot have a democracy without an informed citizenry”.

“We live in a culture that thrives on ignorance, refuses to invest in education, flees from the obligations of shared citizenship and ignores what it means to provide a decent life for everyone, especially children,” says Giroux.

“[In this environment,] politics degenerates into a pathology and education is reduced to a form of training.”

'We need to have a dialogue'
To emphasise his point, he cites the election of Donald Trump – a president who is on record claiming that he “loves the poorly educated”.

“[Trump’s election win] is not just about a crisis of politics; it’s about the crisis of education, it’s about the crisis of civic literacy,” he says. So, how do teachers contribute to putting this right?

As a starting point, he thinks a discussion needs to be had about the true purpose of education. “We need to have a dialogue about what teachers can do to, in a sense, ensure that education is viewed as a public good and that it is tied to a democratic project that would be used to prepare students to be engaged, critical and informed citizens,” Giroux says. “We’ve got to ditch this notion that the only purpose of education is basically to educate people for the workforce or that the most important aspect of education is learning 25 different ways to teach. That’s just silly, it’s reductionistic and it turns teachers into automatons.

“This type of educational reform is really about deskilling teachers and turning education into an adjunct of the corporate workplace. It kills any notion of the imagination, and what we usually end up with is people teaching for the test. We end up with people basically implementing what I call ‘pedagogies of oppression’.”

Giroux explains that a pedagogy of oppression is one that essentially “assaults” a student’s imagination. “It often emphasises memorisation; it places a strong emphasis on harsh forms of discipline; it can result in enormously unproductive and poisonous forms of racism; it usually teaches for the test,” he says. “It embraces standardisation as a measure of knowledge and it does everything it can to basically shut down any sense of curiosity and any sense of teaching students – and teachers for that matter – what it means to exercise a degree of civic courage, to take risks, to doubt, to in some way be critically conscious of the world, to explore the full capacity of their imagination, and to open the world and themselves in a way in which they can embrace and expand their capacity to be real social-political agents.”

Giroux believes that we should educate educators in a way that enables them to fulfil the “civic purpose” of education.

“I think that increasingly gets lost in the commercialisation, the corporatisation, the commodification and the standardisation of education,” he says. “These are forces that have been highly influenced by a corporate state that doesn’t really recognise the relationship – and doesn’t want to recognise the relationship – between education and democracy, and I think teachers need to seize upon and develop a new language for understanding the purpose of education.”

Giroux identifies another issue: the things that children are being taught in schools typically bear no relation to the world in which they live – a world that is heavily influenced by social media, popular culture and mainstream media.

“To me, this is tragic because when that happens, schools often translate into dead zones of education and spaces of abandonment,” he argues. “They become places that seem irrelevant to young people. They seem to have no meaning except for an elite who need the credentials to get into Oxford, Cambridge, Yale or Harvard.”

He is similarly depressed by what he perceives to be a “deskilling” of teachers that has been brought about by the “audit culture” that pervades the education system in the US and UK. Educators, he believes, should push against or ignore it.

“Teachers can’t just close their door and say ‘I’m going to do everything I can to avoid this’,” says Giroux. “They need to organise collectively. They need to bring the power of a collective teacher’s union, and the power of working with parents and young people, to begin to put pressure on governments because in the final analysis what is at stake here is changing policy. That is, changing policies that are oppressive and endlessly put into play.”

‘Great social movement’

What is important, he says, it that such a reaction is not politically aligned. Giroux explains that “the notion of creating informed and critical students cuts across ideological lines” and that it “should be attractive to anyone who believes that schooling is crucial to creating informed citizens”.

To do this, teachers need to have a clear idea of their larger role in society and this role needs to be self-defined. “Teachers have to become part of a great social movement in which they define themselves as a public resource,” says Giroux.

He argues that, as part of this movement, teachers should fight for policies that advocate more funding for education, more autonomy for teachers and higher pay.

“Teachers should be paid like doctors and they should be professionalised in ways that suggest they are a valued part of any society, which is what they are,” says Giroux. “Schools matter in a democracy and teachers should be one of the most valued groups of people that we have in our society, yet at the same time they are the most belittled, the most dehumanised and the most exploited among professionals – and I think that’s because we have no faith in democracy.

“We can’t seem to make the connection between teaching, education and democracy, and I think that teachers need to make that connection and they need to make it loud and clear. They need to talk about public schools and higher education as democratic public spheres and they need to make clear that what they do is absolutely vital to the nature of society itself – and they need to fight for it.”

Picking sides

Although he concedes that he is “utterly pessimistic” about the changes that have taken place to the education system in the US since the 1980s – the public schools sector in particular – he is quietly optimistic about the future. “I think we’ve reached a breaking point where many people are refusing to accept what we call the ‘school to prison’ pipeline,” says Giroux.

“They’re refusing to accept the racism that goes on in schools with kids being expelled and thrown out of schools, and we have also seen this huge revolt in the US against teaching for the test. More and more people are now realising that education is one of the few protected spaces and battlefronts left over which we can defend any notion of a liberal education. An education that is engaged in creating critical citizens and furthering the parameters of a democratic society.”

Regardless of whether this change is happening as quickly as Giroux feels it must, he is clear that we are at a point where teachers need to pick sides.

“Democracy is in crisis around the world and to address that crisis, education needs to be reclaimed as a moral and political project willing to address the future with a degree of civic courage and educated hope,” he says. “In this case, the struggle to reclaim the democratic function of education is not an option, it is a necessity.”"
simoncreasey  henrygiroux  children  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  teachers  teaching  democracy  oppression  pedagogy  civics  politics  pathology  education  standardization  racism  race  rote  rotelearning  learning  corporatism  memorization  resistance  socialmedia  popularculture  society  elitism  credentials  us  uk  policy  autonomy  unions  organization  2018  sfsh 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Michael Rosen: Recent squibs on education
"The thing is people didn’t know how to use emojis until the govt produced the Emoji Curriculum.

In the name of ‘raising standards’ but in reality bullying education into being a weapon in international competitiveness wars, the govt has unitised and monetised education. We shld reply with humanistic values to this onslaught.

Hey 4 year old, you are not a ‘4 year old’, you are a ‘stage’ , a developmental unit, a score on the way to being another score, a place on a graph, a monitored level, a number less than or more than another number...

“With his dark blue furry just-fitting, interesting hat on, which he had bought, he walked in.” = Good writing according to ‘Expected level’ National Curriculum.


Children whose names are not phonically regular must not try to read or write their names in Nursery, Reception or Year 1 in case it hinders their learning of how the alphabetic code works. [irony alert]

If Nursery, Reception or Yr1 children ask to see the writing in a non-phonically regular book, or try to read a cereal packet or a road sign, firmly grip the top of their head and turn it away from the words in question. See Bold Beginnings for more advice on this.

Why do you write poems, Michael?
So that children can be graded according to how well they ‘retrieve ‘ and ‘infer’ on a right/wrong grid devised by people who don’t like poetry."
michaelrosen  education  children  school  unschooling  deschooling  schooling  learning  poems  poetry  2018  inference  literature  emoji  standards  standardization  satire 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Children are tech addicts – and schools are the pushers | Eliane Glaser | Opinion | The Guardian
"As a culture, we are finally waking up to the dark side of new technology. “The internet is broken”, declares the current issue of Wired, the tech insiders’ bible. Last month Rick Webb, an early digital investor, posted a blog titled “My internet mea culpa”. “I was wrong,” he wrote. “We all were.” He called on the architects of the web to admit that new technology had brought more harm than good.

Yet while geeks, the public and politicians – including Theresa May – grow disenchanted, schools, and those responsible for the national curriculum, seem stuck in an earlier wide-eyed era. My instinct tells me that this innocence is perverse. As a friend memorably described it, when he gave his three-year-old his phone to play with, it was as if a worm had found its way into her head.

I flinch internally when my five-year-old tells me she plays computer games in what primary schools call “golden time” rather than enjoying some other more wholesome reward; and when my eight-year-old says that he’s learned to send an email when I sent my first email aged 20, and email has since taken over my life and that of every other adult I know.

Our kids don’t use computers at home. They watch a bit of television, but we don’t own a tablet. Their school is by no means evangelical about technology, but I nonetheless feel like it is playing the role of pusher, and I’m watching my children get hooked. When they went suspiciously quiet the other day, I found them under the kitchen table trying to explore my phone. Unfortunately for them, it’s a brick.

I’m wary of sounding sanctimonious, and corroding much-needed solidarity between busy parents with different views on screen use. But when I see an infant jabbing and swiping, I can’t help experiencing what the writer James Bridle calls in a disturbing recent essay a “Luddite twinge”; and the research suggests I should trust it.

Earlier this month the children’s commissioner for England warned that children starting secondary school were facing a social media “cliff edge” as they entered an online world of cyber-bullying and pornography. According to Public Health England, extended screen use correlates to emotional distress, anxiety and depression in children. The American College of Paediatricians associates it with sleep problems, obesity, increased aggression and low self-esteem.

And not only is screen technology harmful to children per se, there’s little evidence that it helps them to learn. A 2015 OECD report found that the impact of computers on pupil performance was “mixed, at best”, and in most cases computers were “hurting learning”. The journal Frontiers in Psychology identifies “an absence of research supporting the enthusiastic claims that iPads will ‘revolutionise education’”. Researchers at Durham University found that “technology-based interventions tend to produce just slightly lower levels of improvement” compared with other approaches. Even for the head of the e-Learning Foundation, proving technology improves results remains the “holy grail”.

Education technology is often justified on the grounds that it boosts disadvantaged children, yet research shows it widens rather than bridges socioeconomic divides. The One Laptop per Child programme, which distributed 25m low-cost computers with learning software to children in the developing world, failed to improve language or maths results.

Such evidence does not dent the faith of ed tech’s proselytisers. Children need to be prepared for the future, we are told. But companies don’t want children who learned PowerPoint aged 10, they want employees who know how to think from first principles. All those mind-numbing software programs will soon be obsolete anyway. Most coding classes only teach children to assemble pre-made building blocks. Silicon Valley executives restrict their own social media use and send their own kids to tech-free schools.

Technology does not evolve naturally; programs and devices are promoted by those with a commercial interest in selling them. Ed tech is projected to be worth £129bn by 2020. This week, the world’s biggest ed tech convention, Bett, is in London, “Creating a better future by transforming education”. Google, Microsoft and Facebook are flogging expensive kit to cash-strapped schools using buzzwords such as “engagement” and “interactivity”. The traditional teacher-pupil hierarchy must be “flipped”, they say, “empowering” pupils to direct their own learning.

In reality, children tap on tablets whose inner workings are as arcane and mystical to them as any authoritarian deity – and stare, blinds down, at the giant interactive whiteboard. Children may be temporarily gripped, but their attention spans will shrink in the long term.

Cyber-utopianism promises magic bullets for poverty and the crooked timber of humanity. But it’s old-school solutions that really work in the classroom: good teachers, plenty of fresh air and exercise, and hands-on exploration of the real, physical world. This is even what “digital natives” themselves actually want: a Canadian study of e-learning in universities revealed that students preferred “ordinary, real-life lessons” and “a smart person at the front of the room”.

I don’t want my kids fed into the sausage machine of standardised testing and the bureaucratic “information economy”. I don’t want them to become robotic competitors to the robots we are told are taking their future jobs. I can opt my children out of RE, but where technology is concerned, I feel bound by a blind determinism. Surely we have a choice, as humans, over the direction technology is taking us, and education is the perfect illustration of this capacity. Our children turn up as blank slates, and learn to design the future. It’s time for schools to join the backlash. It’s time to think again."
technology  edtech  schools  education  policy  addiction  computers  tablets  curriculum  2018  elianeglaser  standardizedtesting  standardization  digitalnatives  digital  humanism  siliconvalley 
january 2018 by robertogreco
An Autistic Education - The Autistic Advocate
""School is like a universe of sensory and overwhelm shoved in a bottle, cork applied and shaken up. Remove the cork and it explodes in your face."

I've never written much about my children, because I firmly believe that their story is theirs to tell, not mine. But what's been happening in the last few weeks directly relates to me and my story, it's especially relevant.

Quinn, my eldest, who is 8, was struggling hugely at school. His teacher was off sick and had been for a while. He was having a supply teacher, who he only describes as 'VERY TALL', in an ominous voice. She must really be tall, Michelle is nearly 6 feet tall so it's not like he's not used to tall women. Or maybe it's because, when you're anxious everyone seems to loom over you and oppress you.

Quinn's Headteacher has taken his class a few times, which Quinn likes, because he's the kind of man who adds a corny joke in every third or fourth line, which appeals to Quinn's sense of humour. He also has another class teacher standing in, who has kind of become a rock to Quinn as she represents the only piece of stability he has at school at the moment.

School had Ofsted inspections in last week, which obviously made the teachers anxious, which probably fed into Quinn's anxious state. It also didn't help that no matter how much we tried to change his mind, he remained convinced that they were there to inspect him, not the school.

School was also off-timetable because it's Christmas. That time of year which absolutely screws up Autistic children and adults. Houses turn into some deranged Madman's idea of Santa's grotto, with Christmas scenes outside made up of a million high powered searchlights, searing into your eyeballs and your soul. The music blares everywhere you go, the same songs on repeat jabbing into your ears, your skull.

Tinsel. Evil, evil tinsel. It glints and winks at you, sparkling in a merrily Christmassy way that can't help but catch your eye, hypnotise you with its twitch inducing, irritating twinkling. Then some evil entity wraps it round you for a 'joke', where it scratches and scrapes at your skin and feels like it's throttling you.

Our house is always little threadbare on decorations beyond a tree.

Bah humbug.

Every year though I do hang up some Mistletoe, which I keep, with my manly, handsomeness, trying to lure Michelle to stand under, but I always end up with Olivia somehow.

Chocolate and milk breath kisses from a four year old.

How delightful...

Sorry, I got sidetracked on the horrors of Christmas. It's pretty overwhelming.

School have been brilliant and supportive as ever, they listen to us, work with us and, more importantly, listen and work with Quinn to make changes to support him as best they can, but it's still affecting him negatively and hugely.

Basically he's all over the place. One morning he had a huge meltdown and ran to his room, slamming his bedroom door.

Immediately there was a crash.

I went running.

I opened the door and there he was in a crumpled heap on the floor.

As he'd slammed his door, his whiteboard (where we write his timetable for the next day and Quinn draws), had fallen off of the wall and landed on him.

Physically, he was fine, but the look on his face utterly destroyed me. His eyes were dull and raw and wet, with huge bags under them, his lip was actually trembling. His world was crumbling around him.

The teacher he worships was gone, along with the safety and comfort she brings.

His routine was all messed up. Routines are part of what keep us Autistic people safe. They are our comfort and our safety net. We cling to them and they help keep us together, because they don't change. Change is hard to process. Change involves reassessing situations and scripts, people and places. Change brings us uncertainty, uncertainty brings anxiety and, oh dear me are we anxious creatures.

In that split second between seeing him lying there and picking the whiteboard off him, what he was going through hit me with a Flashback. I've blocked out a lot of my time at school, mostly due to the constant sensory overwhelm, being surrounded by people i struggled to relate to, the bullying, the isolation, and having to learn in what, to me, was a poisonous environment. I look back at school and beyond certain standout moments there is nothing but black. I look into my mind and most of my school is locked behind the door I described in 'The Inside of Autism'.

This Flashback hit me pretty hard. I actually physically staggered and fell to my knees as I knelt to lift the board off of him. The door in my mind, the door that holds my darkest thoughts and memories, exploded open and overwhelmed me with over an hours worth of memory in a split second:

I haven't done my homework.

I got distracted last night, I was supposed to read a chapter of a book and write a book report, but I read the whole book and then I had to go to bed.

I knew I needed to write the report, I tried to tell Mum, but the words were locked in my head. All I could do was comply and quietly nod and agree with Mum when she asked me to clean my teeth and get into bed.

So I did, I lay there, eyes wide open for hours, wanting to wait until Mum had gone to bed so i could get up and write it.

It got later and longer and longer and later and I must have fallen asleep.

I wake up and already, inwardly I'm panicking, screaming and shouting inside my skull.

I try to follow my routine quicker so I'll have time to write it, but i start forgetting things and have to keep going back. I forgot my sock three times and ended up stuck in a causal loop, staring into space, swaying gently.

My Mum shouts at me again and again and inside, like pushing myself out of thick mud, I feel myself rise to the surface enough to shout "Coming!"

It comes out wrong though, it sounds rude and angry and I didn't mean it to sound that way.

Mum is cross, she's shouting at me, my Dad is lunging up the stars ready to smack me and I'm sat on the bed in my trousers, rocking harder and harder, one sock half hanging off my foot, no shirt.

I haven't done my homework.

My brain seizes up and i explode.

Screaming and crying, just an explosion of noise and outpouring of pain and frustration and it goes on.

And on...

And on...

And on...

And on...

My Dad dresses me roughly as I'm still screaming and carries me out to his van. I quieten during the three minute drive to school.

We pull up outside. We're late.

I haven't done my homework.

Inside, a version of me is screaming to be let out.

Outside, the Mask comes down.

I turn to my Father and ask "Do I look like I've been crying?""


"I lay back on the bed, looking at the familiar cracks in my ceiling. Lines i have followed for years whilst waiting for sleep.

I'm so tired. Tired to my bones. I don't want to die, not really, I just want to step out, I've had enough. I don't know another way of doing it though. Nobody sees what I see. Nobody is what I am. Nobody else stands on the periphery of life stuttering and farting and misfiring like Mr Toad's car.

79 tablets sitting in my belly. I can feel them there, slowly dissolving.

I close my eyes. I can feel the softness of the pillow as my head sinks into it.

A lifetime of being separate from everything, disjointed and apart starts to feel different, starts to feel like it happened to someone else...

I think of school again, as I did before I took the tablets. It's still just black, still just a sense of hurting and pain and fear, but it feels distant now, far away. It's a nice feeling.

I feel waves of comfort slowly washing over me, almost as if each wave is a tablet dissolving and disappearing into my bloodstream.

I can hear my clock ticking on the wall, it seems to synchronise with my heartbeat.

I'm relaxed and calm for probably the first time in my life. My head is quiet. The Rolodex of my mind has slowed to a crawl.

I'm floating now. Watching myself lie there. Not screaming now, not trying to fight with my body to get anything out. I'm Mute, but in a good way, because I choose to be.

I'm stepping out.

No more confusion.

No more pain.

No more exhaustion.

No more alone.

I sleep.

Just darkness.

I awake to my alarm

The fleeting calm gone.

I sigh and sit up. I look around the room of a teenager who tried to kill himself and failed, the teenage posters, my books. It all feels a little redundant.

Last night I was leaving.

Last night i was dying and i wasn't scared.

The thought of not having to do this anymore made me happy.

And I failed at happy."
autism  experience  schools  schooling  2018  kieranrose  education  children  accessibility  difference  carolblack  standardization 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Jonathan Mooney: "The Gift: LD/ADHD Reframed" - YouTube
"The University of Oregon Accessible Education Center and AccessABILITY Student Union present renowned speaker, neuro-diversity activist and author Jonathan Mooney.

Mooney vividly, humorously and passionately brings to life the world of neuro-diversity: the research behind it, the people who live in it and the lessons it has for all of us who care about the future of education. Jonathan explains the latest theories and provides concrete examples of how to prepare students and implement frameworks that best support their academic and professional pursuits. He blends research and human interest stories with concrete tips that parents, students, teachers and administrators can follow to transform learning environments and create a world that truly celebrates cognitive diversity."
neurodiversity  2012  jonathanmooney  adhd  cognition  cognitivediversity  sfsh  accessibility  learning  education  differences  howwelearn  disability  difference  specialeducation  highered  highereducation  dyslexia  droputs  literacy  intelligence  motivation  behavior  compliance  stillness  norms  shame  brain  success  reading  multiliteracies  genius  smartness  eq  emotions  relationships  tracking  maryannewolf  intrinsicmotivation  extrinsicmotivation  punishment  rewards  psychology  work  labor  kids  children  schools  agency  brokenness  fixingpeople  unschooling  deschooling  strengths  strengths-basedoutlook  assets  deficits  identity  learningdisabilities  schooling  generalists  specialists  howardgardner  howweteach  teams  technology  support  networks  inclusivity  diversity  accommodations  normal  average  standardization  standards  dsm  disabilities  bodies  body 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Isabel Rodríguez on Twitter: "Rather than seeking to equalize educational results, we should seek to equalize access to good food, good housing, adequate health services,…"
"The central problem in education is not about improving learning. It is about power imbalances and unacknowledged violence and abuse against children.

The accountability we need in education should not be about learning outcomes, but about making political and economic elites responsible for the abuses that are inflicted on children for the sake of economic exploitation and political control.

We could also think of the accountability we need in education in terms of how children are treated and the resources that are made available to them.

The socioeconomic gaps among children, which incidentally mirror gaps in the results of standardized tests, will not be closed with stricter schools.

Rather than seeking to equalize educational results, we should seek to equalize access to good food, good housing, adequate health services, natural spaces, playgrounds, and a wide array of educational resources for all children.

Democratizing education should not be about compulsory schools attendance, but about democratizing the access for people of all ages to educational resources and respecting the right of children to have a voice in their own education.

We could have open schools with a good library, computers, an Internet connection, all sorts of tools, musical instruments, sports' facilities, a community garden, workshops and courses in order to meet many different learning needs, etc.

What we need to understand is that we cannot have a competition and not have losers. As long as human beings are made to compete for access to a good life, we will always have exclusion and inequality.

And as a matter of justice, the well-being and safety of racial, cultural and linguistic minorities should not depend on meeting school expectations and adopting ideas and behaviors promoted by upper class white families.

As a matter of justice, children who are diverse in interests and skills should not be made to conform to a very narrow and arbitrary curriculum.

As a matter of justice, children who are diverse in characteristics should not be made to conform to prejudiced notions of normalcy.

When education is thought as a path out of poverty and towards social justice, we are only leaving off the hook those who create poverty, exclusion and violence in the first place.

The problem of social and economic inequality is not educational, it is political. It is about institutional arrangements that create exclusion and force people to submit and compete.

And schools can never be a substitute for what must be solved through laws granting access to nature, good housing, good food, health services, etc., etc., etc.

At the end of the day, it is always about elites not willing to give up power and privilege, and choosing instead to make the poor accept blame for their own poverty and oppression for their own "good".

It's not that schools can do nothing. Raising free and peaceful individuals, people literate in the ways of those in power, people not willing to submit as easily, should help.

But if we accept that the central problem in regard to inequality is about power, an education meant for liberation requires a radical departure from the adultism, standardization and control exercised in conventional schools.

An education meant for liberation requires an alignment between the overt and the hidden curriculum.

It requires that we stop confusing being good with being obedient, being responsible and professional with being cruel and alienated from our humanity, being hardworking with not playing and doing busy work, and being educated with having a diploma.

It requires understanding that values such as freedom, equality and respect are not just things we teach, but things we live and do.

Above all, it requires giving up pretensions and simulations in regard to learning that are only about exploiting children for the benefit of others.

I don't agree with everything said in this documentary, but the segment in min.18:21 illustrates what I want to say. There's a difference between making killer whales perform tricks for an audience and seeing them playing freely and for their own benefit.

The problem is: Freeing killer whales and treating them with respect would kill the business."
isabelrodríguez  schools  schooling  education  inequality  compulsory  unschooling  deschooling  curriculum  standardization  policy  learning  lcproject  openstudioproject  libraries  justice  race  socialjustice  racism  colonization  decolonization  obedience  class  freedom  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  diversity  exploitation  children  adultism  ageism  control  power  submission  economics  capitalism  society  privilege  health  healthcare  food  hunger  equality  poverty  conformity  2017  business  businessinterest  corporatism  humanity  humanism 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Radical Eyes for Equity: Why Journalists Shouldn’t Write about Education | National Education Policy Center
"Over the past couple of days, I have watched almost universal praise for Dana Goldstein’s Why Kids Can’t Write*. Since those sharing this article have tended to be people and organizations that I respect, my own response has been tempered—even though I recognize in the overview of teaching writing the same problems with edujournalism I have been confronting for many years.

Other than Jim Horn’s challenge that Goldstein takes the “blame the teachers” route, many in the writing and teaching writing community have posted and shared this article without challenge, and several have added that Goldstein does a more than adequate job covering the landscape of teaching writing.

The irony here is that this article on the failures to teach students to write is a model for both typical mainstream journalism and everything wrong with mainstream journalism: the breezy recounting of a complex field within which the journalist has no real experience or expertise and the “both sides” coverage of complex issues that treats “sides” as somehow equally credible.

The key problems in this piece can be unpacked in a few claims made by Goldstein.

Early, Goldstein asserts (without any link to evidence):
Focusing on the fundamentals of grammar is one approach to teaching writing. But it’s by no means the dominant one. Many educators are concerned less with sentence-level mechanics than with helping students draw inspiration from their own lives and from literature.

What is profoundly garbled here is a conflating of what the field of teaching writing shows through research and what teachers actually do in their classrooms.

The reality of 2017 and how students are taught writing is best reflected in a comment by former NCTE president Lou LaBrant from 1947:
A brief consideration will indicate reasons for the considerable gap between the research currently available and the utilization of that research in school programs and methods. (p. 87)

Isolated grammar instruction has been shown to have almost no transfer into student writing, and George Hillocks (among others) detailed that traditional grammar exercises could even make student writing worse.

However, I invite Goldstein and others to visit classrooms and, better yet, simply read through the Connected Community’s Teaching and Learning Forum (NCTE) where weekly English teachers voice their continued commitment to “[f]ocusing on the fundamentals of grammar.”

I want to come back to this point with another example below, but next, Goldstein wanders into the fatal flaw of edujournalism with this splash of evidence:
Three-quarters of both 12th and 8th graders lack proficiency in writing, according to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress. And 40 percent of those who took the ACT writing exam in the high school class of 2016 lacked the reading and writing skills necessary to successfully complete a college-level English composition class, according to the company’s data.

Poor writing is nothing new, nor is concern about it. More than half of first-year students at Harvard failed an entrance exam in writing — in 1874. But the Common Core State Standards, now in use in more than two-thirds of the states, were supposed to change all this. By requiring students to learn three types of essay writing — argumentative, informational and narrative — the Core staked a claim for writing as central to the American curriculum. It represented a sea change after the era of No Child Left Behind, the 2002 federal law that largely overlooked writing in favor of reading comprehension assessed by standardized multiple-choice tests.

The relentless and uncritical faith in what standardized tests tell us is one of the great problems with edujournalism across all discussions of education, but with writing, this is particularly problematic since standardized testing of writing is universally horrible, lacking validity and itself providing the context for why the teaching of writing is in fact inadequate.

Again, Hillocks has carefully analyzed that one of the most negative influences on teaching students to write has been the high-stakes testing movement. Teachers and their students have become slaves to state-level and national tests of writing that make writing to prompts and conforming to anchor papers as well as rubrics supersede any authentic writing goals that were endorsed by important movements such as the National Writing Project (a key focus of Goldstein’s article).

As I noted earlier, the irony is that a professional journalist’s piece in the NYT fails to provide the sort of credible evidence that many would expect as essential to student writing."

"But, again, what is incredibly important about causality in Applebee and Langer’s analysis, and what is totally subsumed by Goldstein’s focus on teachers, is that the standards and high-stakes testing movement killed the path to authentic writing instruction begun by the National Writing Project in the late 1970s and early 1980s (I outline that phenomenon in a chapter on de-grading the writing classroom).

Teachers and their students are being held accountable for writing standards and high-stakes tests—and everything we know about teaching writing well be damned.

On balance, then, Goldstein fails to expose accurately why students can’t write by glossing over the field of teaching writing without the care and expertise that topic deserves and by depending on weak evidence at the exclusion of a wealth of evidence that powerfully addresses the exact problem she seeks to examine.

Writing and teaching writing are highly complex fields, but we have a great deal of research, we do know how to teach writing well, and the field of composition, like all vibrant fields, remains a living thing driving by debate and investigation.

If we need a simple statement, then, on why students can’t write, let me offer something to consider: Students can’t write well because teachers are blocked from teaching well, and thus, the wall that must be torn down so both can excel is the standards and high-stakes testing movement.

* Goldstein’s title alludes to one of the worst but also enduring works ever on literacy, Why Johnny Can’t Read. This book spurred the school-bashing movement and engrained some of the most negative attitudes about literacy still remaining in the U.S. See Revisiting Content and Direct Instruction."
education  journalism  writing  2017  reporting  danagoldstein  katewalsh  testing  standardizedtesting  reform  schoolreform  learning  teaching  howweteach  literacy  media  standardization  commoncore  data  assessment  pedagogy  lolabrant  1947  georgehillocks  ncte  nationalwritingproject  instruction  grammar  arthurapplebee  judithlanger  1970s  1980s  rudolfflesch  policy  plthomas  paulthomas  high-stakestesting 
august 2017 by robertogreco
This Just Isn’t Something Public Teachers Do — Part 1
"In 2013 I took a teaching job in a district closer to where I lived. On the surface my new school had little in common with College Success Academy; I went from teaching a 100% African American population to a student body representing over 40 countries. My first school was situated in the poorest section of a city while my new school sat in one of the wealthiest counties in the country. One focused on college prep while the other claimed a holistic, whole child approach. Despite these differences, I found myself doing exactly the same things: using state testing blueprints and multiple choice test data to map out what, when, and how students would learn. My ability to move seamlessly between the two schools had nothing to do with “best practices” and everything to do with a unified core of assumptions about teaching, learning, and schooling. I had discovered the ideological boundaries of the rational community of teachers.

The Rational Community of Teachers

According to philosopher Alphonso Lingis, a rational community is a group of individuals who submit to a common discourse through a process of continual depersonalization. The concept of the rational community provides us with a useful theoretical model for analyzing the intersections of community, identity, and behavior. Lingis explains that rational communities are a necessary component of modern life (1994, p. 110). All groupings, from occupations to national and cultural identities, form through the same mechanism of depersonalization and submission to a group identity. It’s important to note that rational communities are inherently neither positive nor negative; they’re essential to the functioning of modern life. Every rational community functions in accordance with a specific set of principles that the group both produces and is produced by. He says,
Statements can be true, and meaningful, only in the discourse of an established community that determines what could count as observations, what degrees of accuracy in recording observations are possible, how the words of common language are restricted and refined for different kinds of cognition and for practical or technological uses, and what could count as an argument” (1994, p. 135).

As an example, we as a society have come to define plumbing as the knowledge and maintenance of water, sewage, and drainage systems. In order to become a plumber one must demonstrate one’s ability to understand and maintain these systems with a certain degree of fidelity. I would not expect a plumber to critique my bathroom’s color scheme because that’s not a practice of their rational community. Similarly, if I want to be a teacher then I need to act in a way that conforms to my community and society’s definition of a teacher. This means I teach content and skills to different groups of adolescents, assessing them at some point to check for proficiency. The instructional methods and assessment strategies I may pull from are not infinite; they draw from a set of assumptions that my community produces and is produced by. So while I could spend every class period performing cartwheels up and down the hallway, I wouldn’t because it obviously doesn’t fit with what we think teachers should do. But what about if I wanted to remove all grades and tests from my class? Would my actions still align with my community? Although I would still be teaching and assessing, I would no longer be enacting the practice of A — F grades, a staple of public education since at least the 1960s (Schneider & Hutt, 2014).

My ability to transition seamlessly between two opposing school environments revealed a set of technocratic and instrumentalist assumptions about what it means to be a teacher in this moment in time. These norms cast education as a scientific instrument. Teachers wield education as a seemingly neutral tool to bring about specific and predetermined learning outcomes. In my state this means ensuring that every child knows how to do things like identify the main idea of a passage, summarize important details, and ascertain a reading passage’s organizational pattern. Children demonstrate proficiency with these skills by correctly answering multiple-choice questions on a test. While teachers can and often do provide additional methods of assessment, test-based accountability means that, at the end of the day, scores on standardized exams are what matters most."

"To stray from the community becomes an act of open rebellion. Something as simple as removing letter grades from student assignments and providing only narrative feedback goes against the core assumptions of the community. As I found out during that afternoon with the assistant principal, refusal to participate in the practices of the rational teaching community puts one’s ability to be a teacher at risk. Regardless of the rhetoric around creativity, the whole child, differentiation, and creativity, teachers are expected to function within a of specific set of instructional practices and behavioral dispositions. Plumbers use wrenches; teachers use data."

[See also
"Confronting My Critical Identity in Social Media: The Critical Ceiling, Part II"
This Just Isn’t Something Public Teachers Do — Part 2

"Confronting My Critical Identity in Social Media: The Critical Ceiling, Part II" ]
education  pedagogy  criticalpedagogy  peteanderson  2017  teaching  howweteach  cultue  practice  sfsh  schools  schooling  resistance  rebellion  change  unschooling  deschooling  learning  standardization  standardizedtesting  testing  standards  gertbiesta  alphonsolingis  community  rationalcommunities  gregdimitriadis  marclamonthill  tests  society 
july 2017 by robertogreco
The History of Ed-Tech: What Went Wrong?
"There’s a popular origin story about education technology: that, it was first developed and adopted by progressive educators, those interested in “learning by doing” and committed to schools as democratic institutions. Then, something changed in the 1980s (or so): computers became commonplace, and ed-tech became commodified – built and sold by corporations, not by professors or by universities. Thus the responsibility for acquiring classroom technology and for determining how it would be used shifted from a handful of innovative educators (often buying hardware and software with their own money) to school administration; once computers were networked, the responsibility shifted to IT. The purpose of ed-tech shifted as well – from creative computing to keyboarding, from projects to “productivity.” (And I’ll admit. I’m guilty of having repeated some form of this narrative myself.)

[tweet: "What if the decentralized, open web was a historical aberration, an accident between broadcast models, not an ideal that was won then lost?" ]

But what if, to borrow from Ian Bogost, “progressive education technology” – the work of Seymour Papert, for example – was a historical aberration, an accident between broadcast models, not an ideal that was won then lost?

There’s always a danger in nostalgia, when one invents a romanticized past – in this case, a once-upon-a-time when education technology was oriented towards justice and inquiry before it was re-oriented towards test scores and flash cards. But rather than think about “what went wrong,” it might be useful to think about what was wrong all along.

Although Papert was no doubt a pioneer, he wasn’t the first person to recognize the potential for computers in education. And he was hardly alone in the 1960s and 1970s in theorizing or developing educational technologies. There was Patrick Suppes at Stanford, for example, who developed math instruction software for IBM mainframes and who popularized what became known as “computer-assisted instruction.” (Arguably, Papert refers to Suppes’ work in Mindstorms when he refers to “the computer being used to program the child” rather than his own vision of the child programming the computer.)

Indeed, as I’ve argued repeatedly, the history of ed-tech dates at least as far back as the turn of the twentieth century and the foundation of the field of educational psychology. Much of we see in ed-tech today reflects those origins – the work of psychologist Sidney Pressey, the work of psychologist B. F. Skinner, the work of psychologist Edward Thorndike. It reflects those origins because, as historian Ellen Condliffe Lagemann has astutely observed, “One cannot understand the history of education in the United States during the twentieth century unless one realizes that Edward L. Thorndike won and John Dewey lost.”

Ed-tech has always been more Thorndike than Dewey because education has been more Thorndike than Dewey. That means more instructivism than constructionism. That means more multiple choice tests than projects. That means more surveillance than justice.
(How Thorndike's ed-tech is now being rebranded as “personalization” (and by extension, as progressive education) – now that's an interesting story..."

[via: ""Edward L. Thorndike won and John Dewey lost" is pretty much the perfect tl;dr version of the history of education."

See also: "Or David Snedden won. People forget about him." ]
audreywatters  ianbogost  johndewey  seymourpapert  edtech  computers  technology  education  ellencondliffe  edwardthorndike  bfskinner  sidneypressey  psychology  management  administration  it  patricksuppes  constructivism  constructionism  progressive  mindstorms  progressiveeducation  standardization  personalization  instructivism  testing  davidsnedden  history 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Nick Kapur on Twitter: "Today we speak of "BBC English" as a standard form of the language, but this form had to be invented by a small team in the 1920s & 30s. 1/"
"Today we speak of "BBC English" as a standard form of the language, but this form had to be invented by a small team in the 1920s & 30s. 1/

It turned out even within the upper-class London accent that became the basis for BBC English, many words had competing pronunciations. 2/

Thus in 1926, the BBC's first managing director John Reith established an "Advisory Committee on Spoken English" to sort things out. 3/

The committee was chaired by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, and also included American essayist Logan Pearsall Smith, 4/

novelist Rose Macaulay, lexicographer (and 4th OED editor) C.T. Onions, art critic Kenneth Clark, journalist Alistair Cooke, 5/

ghost story writer Lady Cynthia Asquith, and evolutionary biologist and eugenicist Julian Huxley. 6/

The 20-person committee held fierce debates, and pronunciations now considered standard were often decided by just a few votes. 7/

Examples included deciding "garage" would rhyme with "carriage" rather than "barrage" and "canine" (the tooth) sounding like cay-nine. 8/

In 1935, there was a crisis over what word BBC radio should use for "users of a television apparatus" (whom we now call "viewers"). 9/

To solve this conundrum, a 10-member "Sub-Committee on Words" was set up, chaired by the American, Logan Pearsall Smith. 10/

The Sub-Committee came up with the following list of possible new words for the users of the television apparatus: 11/ [contains screenshot of text: "auralooker glancer, looker, looker-in, optavuist, optovisor, seer, sighter, teleseer, teleserver, televist, teleobservist, televor, viewer-in, visionnaire, visionist, visor, vizior, vizzior"]

The Sub-Committee ultimately chose none of these, settling on "televiewer," which was shortened by the main committee to just "viewer." 12/

Emboldened by this early "success," the Sub-Committee on Words began to run amuck, inventing new words willy-nilly out of whole cloth. 13/

In particular, Sub-Committee chair Logan Pearsall Smith wanted to beautify English and "purify" it of foreign influences. 14/

He also disliked words with too many syllables and preferred English plurals to foreign plurals (eg. hippopotamuses over hippopotami). 15/

Some of the new coinages were reasonable and have survived. For example, "airplane" replaced "aeroplane" and "roundabout" was invented 16/

to replace the then-common "gyratory circus." Similarly the word "servicemen" was invented to describe members of the armed forces, and 17/

BBC radio was instructed to stop saying "kunstforscher" and instead say "art researcher," which has since become "art historian." 18/

Other ideas were...less successful. E.g. Smith proposed the BBC call televisions "view-boxes," call traffic lights "stop-and-goes," and 19/

call brainwaves "mindfalls." Other members of the Sub-Committee also came up with bizarre new words. 20/

Edward Marsh devised "inflex" to replace "inferiority complex," and Rose Macaulay wanted "yulery" to replace "Christmas festivities." 21/

By June of 1936, things were getting out of hand, and the BBC's Director of Program Planning Lindsay Wellington urged: 22/ [contains screenshot of text: "[H]aving read the minutes of the Sub-Committee's meeting, at which all kinds of suggestions had been made with regard to new words, some sort of restraint should be placed upon the Sub-Committee. It was not the Corporation's policy to initiate proposals of this kind, which were rather the function of some outside body… [S]ome of the suggestions — e.g. 'halcyon' in place of 'anti-cyclone' or 'view-box' for television set — were so ludicrous that irreparable harm to the main Committee's prestige might be done should any of these suggestions be broadcast."]"

Finally in January 1937, Chairman of the Governors R.C. Norman shut down the Sub-Committee on Words for good, arguing that: 23/ [contains screenshot of text: "The Corporation has read with interest the minutes of the Sub-Committee appointed to make recommendations as to the framing of new words. It feels that it must define more closely the extent to which it can accept the advice of the Sub-Committee. Such advice will be sought by the Corporation when new words have to be found for its own purposes — as in the creation of vocabulary of television terms. The Sub-Committee, however, has recommended the introduction to the public of new words for general use (e.g. 'halcyon', 'stop-and-go'). This responsibility is one which the Corporation feels it cannot accept."]
bbc  english  history  language  words  classideas  sfsh  structuredwordinquiry  radio  television  johnreith  standardization  georgebernardshaw  loganpearsallsmith  ctonions  kennethclark  alistaircooke  cynthiaasquith  julianhuxley  pronunciation  tv  edwardmarsh  rosemacaulay  rxnorman  1937  1926  nickkapur  invention 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Is the U.S. Education System Producing a Society of “Smart Fools”? - Scientific American
[had me until he says more (a new kind of) testing is the answer to the problem]

"At last weekend’s annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science (APS) in Boston, Cornell University psychologist Robert Sternberg sounded an alarm about the influence of standardized tests on American society. Sternberg, who has studied intelligence and intelligence testing for decades, is well known for his “triarchic theory of intelligence,” which identifies three kinds of smarts: the analytic type reflected in IQ scores; practical intelligence, which is more relevant for real-life problem solving; and creativity. Sternberg offered his views in a lecture associated with receiving a William James Fellow Award from the APS for his lifetime contributions to psychology. He explained his concerns to Scientific American.

[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]

In your talk, you said that IQ tests and college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT are essentially selecting and rewarding “smart fools”—people who have a certain kind of intelligence but not the kind that can help our society make progress against our biggest challenges. What are these tests getting wrong?

Tests like the SAT, ACT, the GRE—what I call the alphabet tests—are reasonably good measures of academic kinds of knowledge, plus general intelligence and related skills. They are highly correlated with IQ tests and they predict a lot of things in life: academic performance to some extent, salary, level of job you will reach to a minor extent—but they are very limited. What I suggested in my talk today is that they may actually be hurting us. Our overemphasis on narrow academic skills—the kinds that get you high grades in school—can be a bad thing for several reasons. You end up with people who are good at taking tests and fiddling with phones and computers, and those are good skills but they are not tantamount to the skills we need to make the world a better place.

What evidence do you see of this harm?

IQ rose 30 points in the 20th century around the world, and in the U.S. that increase is continuing. That’s huge; that’s two standard deviations, which is like the difference between an average IQ of 100 and a gifted IQ of 130. We should be happy about this but the question I ask is: If you look at the problems we have in the world today—climate change, income disparities in this country that probably rival or exceed those of the gilded age, pollution, violence, a political situation that many of us never could have imaged—one wonders, what about all those IQ points? Why aren’t they helping?

What I argue is that intelligence that’s not modulated and moderated by creativity, common sense and wisdom is not such a positive thing to have. What it leads to is people who are very good at advancing themselves, often at other people’s expense. We may not just be selecting the wrong people, we may be developing an incomplete set of skills—and we need to look at things that will make the world a better place.

Do we know how to cultivate wisdom?

Yes we do. A whole bunch of my colleagues and I study wisdom. Wisdom is about using your abilities and knowledge not just for your own selfish ends and for people like you. It’s about using them to help achieve a common good by balancing your own interests with other people’s and with high-order interests through the infusion of positive ethical values.

You know, it’s easy to think of smart people but it’s really hard to think of wise people. I think a reason is that we don’t try to develop wisdom in our schools. And we don’t test for it, so there’s no incentive for schools to pay attention.

Can we test for wisdom and can we teach it?

You learn wisdom through role-modeling. You can start learning that when you are six or seven. But if you start learning what our schools are teaching, which is how to prepare for the next statewide mastery tests, it crowds out of the curriculum the things that used to be essential. If you look at the old McGuffey Readers, they were as much about teaching good values and good ethics and good citizenship as about teaching reading. It’s not so much about teaching what to do but how to reason ethically; to go through an ethical problem and ask: How do I arrive at the right solution?

I don’t always think about putting ethics and reasoning together. What do you mean by that?

Basically, ethical reasoning involves eight steps: seeing that there’s a problem to deal with (say, you see your roommate cheat on an assignment); identifying it as an ethical problem; seeing it as a large enough problem to be worth your attention (it’s not like he’s just one mile over the speed limit); seeing it as personally relevant; thinking about what ethical rules apply; thinking about how to apply them; thinking what are the consequences of acting ethically—because people who act ethically usually don’t get rewarded; and, finally, acting. What I’ve argued is ethical reasoning is really hard. Most people don’t make it through all eight steps.

If ethical reasoning is inherently hard, is there really less of it and less wisdom now than in the past?

We have a guy [representative-elect Greg Gianforte of Montana] who allegedly assaulted a reporter and just got elected to the U.S. House of Representatives—and that’s after a 30-point average increase in IQ. We had violence in campaign rallies. Not only do we not encourage creativity, common sense and wisdom, I think a lot of us don’t even value them anymore. They’re so distant from what’s being taught in schools. Even in a lot of religious institutions we’ve seen a lot of ethical and legal problems arise. So if you’re not learning these skills in school or through religion or your parents, where are you going to learn them? We get people who view the world as being about people like themselves. We get this kind of tribalism.

So where do you see the possibility of pushing back?

If we start testing for these broader kinds of skills, schools will start to teach to them, because they teach to the test. My colleagues and I developed assessments for creativity, common sense and wisdom. We did this with the Rainbow Project, which was sort of experimental when I was at Yale. And then at Tufts, when I was dean of arts and sciences, we started Kaleidoscope, which has been used with tens of thousands of kids for admission to Tufts. They are still using it. But it’s very hard to get institutions to change. It’s not a quick fix. Once you have a system in place, the people who benefit from it rise to the top and then they work very hard to keep it.

Looking at the broader types of admission tests you helped implement—like Kaleidoscope at Tufts, the Rainbow Project at Yale, or Panorama at Oklahoma State, is there any evidence that kids selected for having these broader skills are in any way different from those who just score high on the SAT?

The newly selected kids were different. I think the folks in admissions would say so, at least when we started. We admitted kids who would not have gotten in under the old system—maybe they didn’t quite have the test scores or grades. When I talk about this, I give examples, such as those who wrote really creative essays.

Has there been any longitudinal follow-up of these kids?

We followed them through the first year of college. With Rainbow we doubled prediction [accuracy] for academic performance, and with Kaleidoscope we could predict the quality of extracurricular performance, which the SAT doesn’t do.

Do you think the emphasis on narrow measures like the SAT or GRE is hurting the STEM fields in particular?

I think it is. I think it’s hurting everything. We get scientists who are very good forward incrementers—they are good at doing the next step but they are not the people who change the field. They are not redirectors or reinitiators, who start a field over. And those are the people we need.

Are you hopeful about change?

If one could convince even a few universities and schools to try to follow a different direction, others might follow. If you start encouraging a creative attitude, to defy the crowd and to defy the zeitgeist, and if you teach people to think for themselves and how what they do affects others, I think it’s a no-lose proposition. And these things can be taught and they can be tested."
education  science  social  wisdom  iq  meritocracy  intelligence  2017  psychology  claudiawallis  robertsternberg  performance  creativity  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  rainbowproject  power  ethics  reasoning  values  learning  selfishness  gildedage  inequality  climatechange  pollution  violence  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  sat  gre  act  knowledge  teachingtothetest 
june 2017 by robertogreco
How Rutgers University-Newark's Approach to Admissions Helps Black Students Graduate - The Atlantic
"With the national college-graduation rate for black students half that of whites, this school is changing the rules of the game—and beating the odds."

"Protests focused on entrenched racism rocked campuses around the country this year. Many top colleges enroll small numbers of black students, and the four-year college graduation rate for black students is half that of whites.

In response, many admissions officers have been scouring the country—and the globe—to attract “qualified” black and brown students, striving to meet diversity targets while avoiding students they consider “at risk” of dropping out.

But a growing group of colleges and universities think that the calculation for who is “at risk” is fundamentally wrong. They not only accept students often turned away by other four-year universities, but also aggressively recruit them, believing that their academic potential has been vastly underrated.

Rutgers University-Newark in New Jersey has a graduation rate for black students that is far above the national average. But instead of offering out-sized athletic scholarships or perks to potential out-of-state students, the university is doubling down on a bid for students who are often ignored—low-income, urban, public high-school graduates with mediocre test scores.

Rutgers offers free tuition for low- and moderate-income Newark residents and local transfer students, regardless of their GPAs and test scores. Its newly minted honors program doesn’t consider SAT scores for admissions. It has put emotional and financial supports in place. Course offerings have been enhanced.

And administrators don’t see their efforts as charity.

“We’re a land grant public institution with a commitment to our state and our city, and that’s the talent we should be cultivating,” said Nancy Cantor, who has been chancellor at Rutgers-Newark for two years. “There’s phenomenal knowledge and talent out there, and that contributes so much to the institution. We don’t have the traditional view that we’re somehow ‘letting these kids in’ to be influenced by us.”

In 2015, Rutgers-Newark’s six-year graduation rate was 64 percent for black students and 63 percent for white students, according to administrators, compared with 40 percent and 61 percent respectively at public institutions nationally.

Among public universities whose student populations are at least 5 percent black and one-quarter low-income, Rutgers-Newark had the second-highest black male graduation rate in the nation in 2013 and the fifth-highest black graduation rate overall. It also had a much higher percentage of low-income students and African American students than the four universities above it.

“These are very talented students who, for a variety of reasons, rarely having to do with their own issues, are going to get bypassed if we don’t draw them into the education system,” Cantor said."
highered  highereducation  rutgers  2017  admissions  colleges  universities  diversity  inclusivity  grades  grading  standardizedtesting  standardization  race  racism  education  testscores 
may 2017 by robertogreco
The Snarling Girl | Hazlitt
"Oh really, she says. Now I matter? Wrong, motherfucker: I mattered before. (Also: Nope, can’t help you write a book, best of luck.)

She’s a little trigger-happy on the misanthropic rage, this snarling girl. She is often accused of “not living up to her potential.” She is neither inspired by nor impressed with prep school. The college admissions race leaves her cold. Her overbearing mother berates her about crappy grades and lack of ambition. (O-ho, the snarling girl says, you want to see lack of ambition? I’ll show you lack of ambition!) Where she is expected to go right, she makes a habit of veering left. She is not popular, not likely to succeed. Her salvation arrives (surely you saw this coming) in the form of books, movies, music. She obsessively follows the trail of breadcrumbs they leave behind. Here is a neat kind of power: she can be her own curator. She can find her way from one sustaining voice to another, sniffing out what’s true, what’s real. In her notebooks she copies out passages from novels, essays, poems, and songs. She Sharpies the especially resonant bits on her bedroom wall. This is how she learns to trust herself, no easy feat. These are epigraphs to the as yet unwritten book of her life, rehearsals for the senior page she is keen to assemble. These stories and lines and lyrics are companionship, proof that the universe is much, much bigger than her radioactive family and rich bitch west L.A. and Hebrew school and Zionist summer camp. Behold: She is not crazy! She is not alone! She is not a freak! Or, rather: she is crazy, she is alone, she is a freak, and she’ll keep glorious company with all of these other crazy, lonely, amazing freaks.

Look at her notebooks, all in a row. They live in my study, above shelves stacked with my books, galleys, audiobooks, foreign editions, literary journals, anthologies, Literary Death Match Champion medal, and piles of newspapers and magazines in which I’m celebrated as this amazing thing: a writer. A novelist. Legit. But witness, please, no coincidence, the notebooks live above that stuff. Spiral-bound, leather-bound, fabric-bound, black, pink, green, floral. This Notebook Belongs To: Elisa Albert, neatly printed in the earliest, 1992. Fake it ’til you make it, girl! The notebooks have seniority. Here is how she began to forge a system of belief and belonging, to say nothing of a career. Am I aggrandizing her? Probably. I am just so goddamn proud of her."

"Everything worthwhile is a sort of secret, not to be bought or sold, just rooted out painstakingly in whatever darkness you call home.

Here is what we know for sure: there is no end to want. Want is a vast universe within other vast universes. There is always more, and more again. There are prizes and grants and fellowships and lists and reviews and recognitions that elude us, mysterious invitations to take up residence at some castle in Italy. One can make a life out of focusing on what one does not have, but that’s no way to live. A seat at the table is plenty. (But is it a good seat? At which end of the table??? Alongside whom!?) A seat at the table means we are free to do our work, the end. Work! What a fantastic privilege."

"Some ambition is banal: Rich spouse. Thigh gap. Gold-buckle shoes. Quilted Chanel. Penthouse. Windowed office. Tony address. Notoriety. Ten thousand followers. A hundred thousand followers. Bestseller list. Editor-in-Chief. Face on billboard. A million dollars. A million followers. There are ways of working toward these things, clear examples of how it can be done. Programs, degrees, seminars, diets, schemes, connections, conferences. Hands to shake, ladders to climb. If you are smart, if you are savvy, who’s to stop you? Godspeed and good luck. I hope you get what you want, and when you do, I hope you aren’t disappointed.

Remember the famous curse? May you get absolutely everything you want.

Here’s what impresses me: Sangfroid. Good health. The ability to float softly with an iron core through Ashtanga primary series. Eye contact. Self-possession. Loyalty. Boundaries. Good posture. Moderation. Restraint. Laugh lines. Gardening. Activism. Originality. Kindness. Self-awareness. Simple food, prepared with love. Style. Hope. Lust. Grace. Aging. Humility. Nurturance. Learning from mistakes. Moving on. Letting go. Forms of practice, in other words. Constant, ongoing work. No endpoint in sight. Not goal-oriented, not gendered. Idiosyncratic and pretty much impossible to monetize.

I mean: What kind of person are you? What kind of craft have you honed? What is my experience of looking into your eyes, being around you? Are you at home in your body? Can you sit still? Do you make me laugh? Can you give and receive affection? Do you know yourself? How sophisticated is your sense of humor, how finely tuned your understanding of life’s absurdities? How thoughtfully do you interact with others? How honest are you with yourself? How do you deal with your various addictive tendencies? How do you face your darkness? How broad and deep is your perspective? How willing are you to be quiet? How do you care for yourself? How do you treat people you deem unimportant?

So you’re a CEO. So you made a million dollars. So your name is in the paper. So your face is in a magazine. So your song is on the radio. So your book is number one. You probably worked really hard; I salute you. So you got what you wanted and now you want something else. I mean, good, good, good, great, great, great. But if you have ever spent any time around seriously ambitious people, you know that they are very often some of the unhappiest crazies alive, forever rooting around for more, having a hard time with basics like breathing and eating and sleeping, forever trying to cover some hysterical imagined nakedness.

I get that my foremothers and sisters fought long and hard so that my relationship to ambition could be so … careless. I get that some foremothers and sisters might read me as ungrateful because I don’t want to fight their battles, because I don’t want to claw my way anywhere. My apologies, foremothers: I don’t want to fight. Oh, is there still sexism in the world? Sigh. Huh. Well. Knock me over with a feather. Now: how do I transplant the peonies to a sunnier spot so they yield more flowers next year or the year after? How do I conquer chapter three of this new novel? I’ve rewritten it and rewritten it for months. I need asana practice, and then I need to sit in meditation for a while. Then some laundry. And the vacuum cleaner needs a new filter. Then respond to some emails from an expectant woman for whom I’m serving as doula. And it’s actually my anniversary, so I’m gonna write my spouse a love letter. Then pick up the young’un from school. And I need to figure out what I’m making for dinner. Something with lentils, probably, and butter. Then text my friends a stupid photo and talk smack with them for a while.

Taking care of myself and my loved ones feels like meaningful work to me, see? I care about care. And I don’t care if I’m socialized to feel this way, because in point of fact I do feel this way. So! I am unavailable for striving today. I’m suuuuuper busy.

Yes, oppression is systemic, I get it, I feel it, I live it, I struggle, I do. Women are not equal, we’re not fairly represented, the pie charts are clear as day: nothing’s fair, nothing at all, it’s maddening, it’s saddening, it’s not at all gladdening. We all suffer private and public indignities (micro-aggressions, if you prefer) big and small. It’s one thing to pause and grapple with unfairness, but if we set up camp there, we can’t get anything done, can’t get to the root of the problem. So sure, great, go on and on about how women should help other women! Rah rah, put it on a T-shirt, sell it on Etsy. Great marketing, but what’s actually being accomplished? Who, specifically, is being helped? A collection of egos shouting ME ME ME is not artistically or intellectually productive or interesting.

“Real” work is often invisible, and maybe sort of sacred as such. The hollering and clamoring and status anxiety and PR two inches from our collective eyeballs all day? Not so much. So tell the gatekeepers to shove it, don’t play by their rules, and get back to work on whatever it is you hold dear. Nothing’s ever been fair. Nothing will ever be fair. But there is ever so much work to be done. Pretty please can I go back to my silly sweet secret sacred novel now? Bye. Take care."

"Here’s what bothers me about conventional ambition, the assumption that we all aspire to the top, the winner’s circle, the biggest brightest bestest, the blah blah blah, and that we will run around and around and around our little hamster wheels to get there: most of these goals are standardized. Cartoonish. Cliché. Beware anything standardized, that’s what I would teach my daughter. Health care, ambition, education, diet, culture: name it, and you will suffer endlessly from any attempt to go about it the same way as some projected Everyone Else. You cannot be standardized. You are a unique flower, daughter. Maybe the Ivy League will be wonderful for you; maybe it will crush your soul. If the former, I will mortgage the house to pay your way; if the latter, give that shit the finger and help me move these peonies, will you? You are not defined by such things, either way. Anyway, let us discuss what we want to whip up for dinner and take turns playing DJ while doing so.

“She can, though every face should scowl / And every windy quarter howl / Or every bellows burst, be happy still.” That was Yeats.

I mean, fuck ambition, that’s where this is going. I don’t buy the idea that acting like the oppressor is a liberation, personal ambition being, in essence, see above, patriarchal. And yeah, about recognition. What about when genius and/or hard work isn’t recognized? Because often it isn’t, and what do we make of that… [more]
elisaalbert  writing  belief  2017  literature  purpose  books  notebooks  care  caring  emotionallabor  whatmatters  feminism  audience  small  slow  ambition  standardization  mayaangelou  patriarchy  liberation  recognition  success  mastery  accomplishment  sideeffects  unintendedconsequences  striving  humility  winning 
april 2017 by robertogreco
When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer… – Arthur Chiaravalli – Medium
"As I reflect back on these experiences, however, I wonder if the standards-based approach gave me a warped view of teaching and learning mathematics. I had apparently done an excellent job equipping my students with dozens of facts, concepts, and algorithms they could put into practice…on the multiple-choice final exam.

Somewhere, I’m sure, teachers were teaching math in a rich, interconnected, contextualized way. But that wasn’t the way I taught it, and my students likely never came to understand it in that way.

Liberating Language Arts

Fast forward to the present. For the past five years I have been back teaching in my major of language arts. Here the shortcomings of the standards-based method are compounded even further.

One of the more commonly stated goals of standards-based learning and grading is accuracy. First and foremost, accuracy means that grades should reflect academic achievement alone — as opposed to punctuality, behavior, compliance, or speed of learning. By implementing assessment, grading, and reporting practices similar to those I’d used in mathematics, I was able to achieve this same sort of accuracy in my language arts classes.

Accuracy, however, also refers to the quality of the assessments. Tom Schimmer, author of Grading From the Inside Out: Bringing Accuracy to Student Assessment through a Standards-based Mindset, states
Low-quality assessments have the potential to produce inaccurate information about student learning. Inaccurate formative assessments can misinform teachers and students about what should come next in the learning. Inaccurate summative assessments may mislead students and parents (and others) about students’ level of proficiency. When a teacher knows the purpose of an assessment, what specific elements to assess…he or she will most likely see accurate assessment information.

Unfortunately, assessment accuracy in the language arts and humanities in general is notoriously elusive. In a 1912 study of inter-rater reliability, Starch and Elliot (cited in Schinske and Tanner) found that different teachers gave a single English paper scores ranging from 50 to 98%. Other studies have shown similar inconsistencies due to everything from penmanship and the order in which the papers are reviewed to the sex, ethnicity, and attractiveness of the author.

We might argue that this situation has improved due to common language, range-finding committees, rubrics, and other modern developments in assessment, but problems remain. In order to achieve a modicum of reliability, language arts teams must adopt highly prescriptive scoring guides or rubrics, which as Alfie Kohn, Linda Mabry, and Maya Wilson have pointed out, necessarily neglect the central values of risk taking, style, and original thought.

This is because, as Maya Wilson observes, measurable aspects can represent “only a sliver of…values about writing: voice, wording, sentence fluency, conventions, content, organization, and presentation.” Just as the proverbial blind men touching the elephant receive an incorrect impression, so too do rubrics provide a limited — and therefore inaccurate — picture of student writing.

As Linda Mabry puts it,
The standardization of a skill that is fundamentally self-expressive and individualistic obstructs its assessment. And rubrics standardize the teaching of writing, which jeopardizes the learning and understanding of writing.

The second part of Mabry’s statement is even more disturbing, namely, that these attempts at accuracy and reliability not only obstruct accurate assessment, but paradoxically jeopardize students’ understanding of writing, not to mention other language arts. I have witnessed this phenomenon as we have created common assessments over the years. Our pre- and post-tests are now overwhelmingly populated with knowledge-based questions — terminology, vocabulary, punctuation rules. Pair this with formulaic, algorithmic approaches to the teaching and assessment of writing and you have a recipe for a false positive: students who score well with little vision of what counts for deep thinking or good writing.

It’s clear what we’re doing here: we’re trying to do to writing and other language arts what we’ve already done to mathematics. We’re trying to turn something rich and interconnected into something discrete, objective and measurable. Furthermore, the fundamentally subjective nature of student performance in the language arts renders this task even more problematic. Jean-Paul Sartre’s definition of subjectivity seems especially apt:
The subjectivity which we thus postulate as the standard of truth is no narrowly individual subjectivism…we are attaining to ourselves in the presence of the other, and we are just as certain of the other as we are of ourselves.…Thus the man who discovers himself directly in the cogito also discovers all the others, and discovers them as the condition of his own existence. He recognises that he cannot be anything…unless others recognise him as such. I cannot obtain any truth whatsoever about myself, except through the mediation of another. The other is indispensable to my existence, and equally so to any knowledge I can have of myself…Thus, at once, we find ourselves in a world which is, let us say, that of “intersubjectivity.”

First and foremost, the language arts involve communication: articulating one’s own ideas and responding to those of others. Assigning a score on a student’s paper does not constitute recognition. While never ceding my professional judgment and expertise as an educator, I must also find ways to allow students and myself to encounter one another as individuals. I must, as Gert Biesta puts it, create an environment in which individuals “come into presence,” that is, “show who they are and where they stand, in relation to and, most importantly, in response to what and who is other and different”:
Coming into presence is not something that individuals can do alone and by themselves. To come into presence means to come into presence in a social and intersubjective world, a world we share with others who are not like us…This is first of all because it can be argued that the very structure of our subjectivity, the very structure of who we are is thoroughly social.

Coming to this encounter with a predetermined set of “specific elements to assess” may hinder and even prevent me from providing recognition, Sartre’s prerequisite to self-knowledge. But it also threatens to render me obsolete.

The way I taught mathematics five years ago was little more than, as Biesta puts it, “an exchange between a provider and a consumer.” That transaction is arguably better served by Khan Academy and other online learning platforms than by me. As schools transition toward so-called “personalized” and “student-directed” approaches to learning, is it any wonder that the math component is often farmed out to self-paced online modules — ones that more perfectly provide the discrete, sequential, standards-based approach I developed toward the end of my tenure as math teacher?

Any teacher still teaching math in this manner should expect to soon be demoted to the status of “learning coach.” I hope we can avoid this same fate in language arts, but we won’t if we give into the temptation to reduce the richness of our discipline to standards and progression points, charts and columns, means, medians, and modes.

What’s the alternative? I’m afraid I’m only beginning to answer that question now. Adopting the sensible reforms of standards-based learning and grading seems to have been a necessary first step. But is it the very clarity of its approach — clearing the ground of anything unrelated to teaching and learning — that now urges us onward toward an intersubjective future populated by human beings, not numbers?

Replacing grades with feedback seems to have moved my students and me closer toward this more human future. And although this transition has brought a kind of relief, it has also occasioned anxiety. As the comforting determinism of tables, graphs, charts, and diagrams fade from view, we are left with fewer numbers to add, divide, and measure. All that’s left is human beings and the relationships between them. What Simone de Beauvoir says of men and women is also true of us as educators and students:
When two human categories are together, each aspires to impose its sovereignty upon the other. If both are able to resist this imposition, there is created between them a reciprocal relation, sometimes in enmity, sometimes in amity, always in tension.

So much of this future resides in communication, in encounter, in a fragile reciprocity between people. Like that great soul Whitman, we find ourselves “unaccountable” — or as he says elsewhere, “untranslatable.” We will never fit ourselves into tables and columns. Instead, we discover ourselves in the presence of others who are unlike us. Learning, growth, and self-knowledge occur only within this dialectic of mutual recognition.

Here we are vulnerable, verging on a reality as rich and astonishing as the one Whitman witnessed."
arthurchiaravalli  2017  education  standards-basedassessments  assessment  teaching  math  mathematics  writing  learning  romschimmer  grading  grades  alfiekohn  lindamabry  gertbiesta  khanacademy  personalization  rubics  waltwhitman  simonedebeauvoir  canon  sfsh  howweteach  howwelearn  mutualrecognition  communication  reciprocity  feedback  cv  presence  tension  standards  standardization  jean-paulsartre  mayawilson  formativeassessment  summativeassessment  interconnection  intersubjectivity  subjectivity  objectivity  self-knowledge  humans  human  humanism 
april 2017 by robertogreco
The Slow Professor movement: reclaiming the intellectual life of the university - Home | The Sunday Edition | CBC Radio
"You have heard of the slow food, there's a "slow professor" movement.

Two university professors say they feel time-crunched, exhausted and demoralised. They say they are being asked to be more efficient at the expense of more thoughtful teaching.
"Really, we're being encouraged to stay away from the really big questions because they're going to take too long to think through. You want to pump out as much stuff as quickly as you can. That's going to have a consequence for how thoughtful things are." — Barbara K. Seeber

Maggie Berg, a professor of English at Queen's University, and Barbara K. Seeber, a professor of English at Brock University, are co-authors of The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy.

Berg and Seeger argue universities squeeze as much intellectual capital out of professors as possible, and closely monitor the output of their mental exertions.

They spoke to Michael about their book and their mission to "reclaim the intellectual life of the university.""

[Update: See also: "We need a “slow food” movement for higher education" ]
slow  highereducation  highered  education  academia  reflection  2017  barbaraseeber  maggieberg  deliberation  slowprofessor  productivity  standardization  speed  homogeneity  slowfood  knowledgeproduction  universities  corporatism  corporatization  competition  economics  fastknowledge  research  adminstrativebloat  teaching  howweteach  wisdom  faculty  howwelearn  friendship  benjaminginsberg  management  power  labor  work  casualization  adjuncts  busyness  time  anxiety  stress  davidposen  credentials  credentialization  joy  beauty  transferableskills 
february 2017 by robertogreco
The EdTech Rebel Alliance – Learning {Re}imagined – Medium
"Papert, who I had the opportunity to spend time with in those years, had developed a learning theory he called “Constructionism”. Papert had been a student of Piaget and Vygotsky who had developed philosophies about the nature of knowledge called Constructivism and Social Constructivism respectively.

[Seymour Papert ]

Constructivism is primarily focused on how humans make meaning in relation to the interaction between their experiences and their ideas. That is, their learning is as a result of their experiences.

Such experiential learning, rather than the abstract learning of content by rote, inspired Papert to develop his own Constructionist learning theory. Papert saw how, at the dawn of the micro-computer, learning could be a reconstruction of knowledge rather than simply a transmission. That learning could be personal, experiential and situated where, aided by digital systems, learners would effectively construct their own meaning as a discovery of knowledge. This, Papert believed, was the true liberating power that computers would bring to future learners and teachers as creators of learning experiences.

[Situating Constructionism ]

But this is where the similarity between 1985 and 2017 ends. The optimism that we shared for the future of learning dwindled as technology was co-opted not to liberate but to reinforce standardisation and automation of schools ways.

In 1993 in his book,”The Children’s Machine”, Papert lamented:
“Little by little the subversive features of the computer were eroded away: Instead of cutting across and so challenging the very idea of subject boundaries, the computer now defined a new subject; instead of changing the emphasis from impersonal curriculum to excited live exploration by students, the computer was now used to reinforce School’s ways. What had started as a subversive instrument of change was neutralised by the system and converted into an instrument of consolidation.”

[The Children's Machine by Seymour Papert ]

As I walked around the 2017 Bett Show I was struck by how exceptionally bland everything was, bathed in fluorescent lighting that felt like it was irradiating the soul out of the machines like it was E.coli. Despite the incredible financial bets being made on EdTech, with more money than ever being injected into start-ups, they’ve turned EdTech into the equivalent of airport passenger conveyors or “satellite navigation” for learning which means you never get lost and you always end up at the same destination passing through the town of Boredom.

[Edtech is the next fintech ]

Enslaved to the tyranny of testing and measurement, the affordances of todays technology in EdTech form are being used to develop ever more efficient ways of delivering a 19th century curriculum. Perhaps we have lost sight of what education is for and why we send our kids to school?

Essentially we are using today’s digital platforms to go into reverse. We’re talking about content, and teacher at the front distribution while measuring the effectiveness of our tech by improvement in measured learning outcomes for which read, passing tests.

When you look at who’s making the big financial investments in EdTech things suddenly become clear.

[Who's Investing in Ed-Tech (2010-2016) ]

There is a chain of command of organisations, think tanks, agencies and deliverologists who brief financial institutions that whatever bells and whistles you’ve got the point is to get school kids through a set of tests preferably owned by another multinational corporation like, for example, Pearson.

[ ]
Standardised, Automated and Privatised

This, while the creeping privatisation of state education via academisation, charter and free schools who are adopting similar leadership strategies to those used in retail or fast food outlet management to the shop floor. Sorry, I mean classroom.

These strategies are based around standardisation and automation of content distribution and testing. By focusing on instruction rather than the learner, actual personalisation can take a backseat.

But what about “personalised learning” I hear you cry? Well, it takes a human being, practiced in the craft of teaching, to do that. Personalised learning is focused on the child rather than the instruction and the individuated or differentiated learning that software is capable of, think Amazon recommendations for example, is all about instruction. This is what is known as “Instructionism” or the explicit teaching of facts or showing students how to solve problems and then having the students practice them. Instructionists believe that learning is the direct result of having been taught.

But all is not lost.

Amidst the big budget trade stands/booths at the outer fringes of the galaxy are new start-ups, many of which are existing on the financial equivalent of fumes. This, to me, was where the action and excitement was. New EdTech designers like Night Zookeeper, Erase All Kittens, SAM Labs, Pi-Top, Stepping Into Business, Detective Dot, A Tale Unfolds, Technology Will Save Us and many others have embraced, wittingly or unwittingly, the spirit of Papert’s Constructionism. These young organisations are all about providing the tools and the opportunities for experiential learning that is centred on the learner rather than the instruction.

[ ]

I would argue that it is organisations like these who, rather than those seeking to automate and standardise education, are like a “Rebel Alliance” liberating learners and teachers alike to create their own, powerful learning experiences. Learning how to learn, solving abstract challenges and creating new knowledge must surely be some of the most vital competences that a child can leave school with.

It’s hard to see how another interactive white board or learning management system, with or without AI, will provide access to these skills. Yet these nascent enterprises give me hope that EdTech has yet to have its soul completely crushed, swallowed and spat out as another uberfication of education where the learner is simply a passenger and the destination is a set of certificates from a bygone age.

Perhaps we need an alternative event to the kind that the Bett Show, or ISTE for that matter, has become. Perhaps we actually do need to form an “EdTech Rebel Alliance” where all of the stakeholders of learning, that includes teachers, parents and learners can converge to design new learning futures.

It strikes me that we need something that isn’t just another EdTech incubator/accelerator/trade association Ponzi scheme where whoever pays the most cash gets the most attention. I’m thinking of a mutually supportive collective committed to radically transforming education not by automating it but by liberating it from the tyrannical business plan of a multinational corporation."
education  technology  automation  grahambrown-martin  2017  resistance  children  constructionism  contructivism  socialconstructivism  seymourpapert  jeanpiaget  vygotsky  experientiallearning  sfsh  canon  privatization  instructionism  standardization  personalization  differentiation  unschooling  deschooling  learning  howwelearn  control  content 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Tyler Reinhard on Twitter: "how come no one is saying that school itself is a bad idea?"
"how come no one is saying that school itself is a bad idea?

learning — obviously — is something that occurs throughout life and intersects with creative and communal activity and cannot be confined.

there is no reason schools should resemble factories or prisons (as they do now) or startups. schools must instead be community centers.

most importantly, schools cannot be standardized to move with the labor markets. it’s impossible and foolish and destroys entire generations

when maria montessori drafted a model for a fusion of the scientific method and pedagogy she was optimizing for agrarian industrialism

we’ve barely improved on her ideas, and have yet to embrace her approach: build a community that extended thought beyond the industrial era.

we’ve moved beyond the industrial era, and our communities have too. we need communities that extend thought beyond the digital age

learning (like labor) will no longer be constrained by geography. accordingly, schools are a liability for both learners and teachers.

not to say we shouldn’t build social spaces for learning — we should! but those spaces need to be products of communities, not economies.

i dropped out of high school. best decision i ever made. i’ve spoken at length about how important teachers were both in and out of class.

instead of worrying about the state education leadership, we should be worried about whether our kids will even have communities to learn in

i outlined my opposition to schools over a year ago and @rogre collected my thoughts here: [Also collected here: ]"
tylerreinhard  education  schools  unschooling  community  communitycenters  learning  howwelearn  geography  marimontessori  montessori  pedagogy  standardization  labor  industrialism 
february 2017 by robertogreco
From Tape Drives to Memory Orbs, the Data Formats of Star Wars Suck (Spoilers) | Motherboard
"Why on Earth are ports standardized but data storage isn’t? Why are data storage formats wildly variable, but file formats are readable across enemy lines? Why is it that I have to carry five dongles so my Macbook can play a PowerPoint presentation but a decades-old Rebel droid needs zero to stay interoperable with an enemy’s state-of-the-art battle station?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I at least have a theory about why the Empire keeps its backups on magnetic tape.

You see, the Scarif facility is just too badly designed for it all to be a coincidence. It doesn’t appear to be patterned after Old Republic systems. The tape format never appears again in the movies. The incredibly large files contained on the tape can be stored on palm-sized, paper-thin disks, meaning the tapes are unnecessary. The claw-machine system makes no sense. The antenna tower makes the Scarif facility easy to target in a military attack.

In other words, the archival system on Scarif appears to be designed in a deliberate act of sabotage by anti-Imperial archivists attempting to undermine Palpatine’s rule. Like Galen Erso, the archivists chose to remain embedded inside the Empire, and as their act of resistance, build the most useless, asinine archival system the galaxy had ever seen.

As part of their plan, they adopted a magnetic tape format, to maximize the size of the facility and make it necessary to manufacture massive amounts of interoperable technology to support the tapes. Given that the tapes are never seen before or after Rogue One, it may be that the archivists developed the tape format using military funding, in hopes that diverting money away from weapons and into a bad R&D project would, in the grand scheme of things, save lives.

This is absolutely the only rational explanation for the data storage formats depicted in Rogue One, and I look forward to seeing the prequel about the heroic rebel archivists."
archives  media  facebook  interoperability  2016  startwars  rogueone  sarahjeong  archivists  mediatypes  standardization  data  datastorage  storage 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Sara Wachter-Boettcher | Talk: Design for Real Life
[video: ]

"Lots of people have weird backgrounds and diverse backgrounds. And the thing is, all of us could have made those design mistakes. Any one of us could have had a scenario where we didn’t think about it, and we made an assumption, and we built it in. Because we’re so used to thinking about our target audience as some sort of narrow, easy-to-imagine thing, somebody we can picture, right? And to be honest, if you’re white and straight and cis—speaking as somebody who is—it’s really easy to imagine that the world is full of people like you. It’s really easy to imagine that, because, like, you see people like you all the time in your social circle and on TV. And it’s really easy to forget how diverse the world really is.

So we all have these blind spots. And the only way to change that, the only way to get around that, is to do the work. And to admit it, to own up to it and say, yeah—yeah, I have bias. And it’s my job to figure that out and do the best I can to get rid of it.

Because if we don’t, and if we don’t also do the work of making our teams and our industry more diverse, more welcoming to people who are different than us, then what we’ll start to do is we’ll start to build exclusion in. An interface that doesn’t support gay people or doesn’t support people of color leads to data that doesn’t represent gay people or doesn’t represent people of color. And that has a domino effect across an entire system.

And so I think back to that example with Google images, right, with their image recognition, and I think about the machine learning that people are really excited about—and should be, because it’s amazing—and I want to remind us all: machines learn from us. They’re really good at it, actually. So we have to be really careful about what we’re teaching them. Because they’re so good at learning from us, that if we teach them bias, they’ll perform bias exceptionally well. And that’s a job that I think all of us actually play a role in, even if it seems distant at this moment."

"Design for real life

But we can do that. I think we really do our best work when we take a moment and we say, how could this be used to hurt someone? How can we plan for the worst? And that’s what I mean when I talk about designing for real life, because real life is imperfect. Real life is biased. Real life can be harmful to people.

Real life has a hell of a lot of problems.

So what I want to leave you with today is one last story that shows just how much design and content can affect people, can affect what happens in their lives.

It actually takes it back offline to standardized tests. I’m sure many of you have taken tests like this in the past with the little Scantron; you fill in the bubbles. In the United States, we take the SATs—many people take the SATs toward the end of high school as a major part of their college entrance. It plays a huge role in where you might get in.


They have three parts: there’s reading, there’s math and there’s writing. Reading and math are done via this multiple-choice format.

Now, for a very long time, there have been some very big disparities in those scores across race and across gender. White students outscore black students by an average of 100 points on each of those exams. And this is not new. This is about the same margin—it’s been this way for decades. And for boys and girls, you also have this as well. It’s a smaller margin, but you’ve got a little bit of a difference in reading for boys versus girls, and then about a 30-point difference in math.

And what researchers have really started to show is that one of the reasons that this gap is not narrowing—despite all of these other indicators that you would think it might, like the number of women who are going to college and all that, right—it’s not narrowing, because the test is actually biased. Because Education Testing Services, which is the people who write all the questions for the test, what they do is they pretest everything, so potential questions get pretested before they make it to an exam. What that does is it assumes in their testing process that “a ‘good’ question is one that students who score well overall tend to answer correctly, and vice versa.”

So what that means is that if a student who scores well on the current SAT, in the current system with the current disparities, if they tend to do well on this other question, then it’s a good question, and if they don’t, then it’s bad. “So if on a particular math question, girls outscore boys or blacks outscore whites, that question has almost no chance of making the final cut,” because what is happening is that process is perpetuating the disparity that already exists. It’s re-inscribing that disparity over and over again, because it’s making a test perform the same for the people it’s always performed well for, right? The people it was first made for in the ‘20s. People who went to college in the ‘20s, and ‘30s, and ‘40s, and ‘50s. Not the diversity of people who are in college now.

And I tell this story, because this is design, and this is content. What is a test like that, besides content, the questions, and an interface with which a student actually answers it, the test itself? This is what happens when we assume that our work is neutral, when we assume that the way that things have been doesn’t have bias already embedded in it. We allow the problems of the past to re-inscribe themselves over and over again.

And that’s why I think that this is us. This is our work. This is not just the work of, you know, super technical folks, who are involved with AI. This is all of us.

Because ultimately, what we put into interfaces, the way that we design them, what the UI copy says, they affect how people answer questions. They affect what people tell us. They affect how people see themselves. So whether you’re writing a set of questions that a defendant has to fill out that’s going to get them rated as a risk for criminal recidivism, or you’re just explaining how to use a form or establishing default account settings, the interface will affect the input that you get. And the input is going to affect the outcome for users. For people.

The outcomes define norms: what’s perceived as normal and average in our society, the way that we see people. Who counts.

What this means is that design has a lot of power. More power, I think, than we sometimes realize. More power than we sometimes want to believe as we’re sort of like squabbling in our companies about whether we’re being invited to the right meetings. There’s a fundamental truth that design has a lot of power.

And so the question is not whether we have power, but how we’ll use it.

Do we want to design for real people, facing real injustice and real pain? Do we want to make the world a little fairer, a little calmer, and a little safer? Or are we comfortable looking the other way?

I’m not. And so I hope you’ll join me. Thank you."

[via: "Every interface decision encodes culture into the system. So what are we encoding? Video/transcript of my new talk:" ]
bias  diversity  inclusion  inclusivity  sarawachter-boettcher  2016  ui  ux  interface  design  testing  standardization  standardizedtesting  sat 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Fiction or Standardized Test? ‘Multiple Choice’ Is Both - The New York Times
Zambra was born in Chile in 1975, and his entire primary education took place during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. His four works of fiction that have been translated into English before “Multiple Choice” have been lauded for exploring how the repressive forces of that era continue to haunt the country today. This new book, however, is the first to focus solely on the role that education and testing played in constricting the discussion of art and ideas during the dictatorship — and still plays, more than 25 years later in the different context of today. Just last week, my 16-year-old niece in Chile took a multiple-choice test in her literature class that asked her and her classmates to identify “the correct ­order” of events in a Borges story.

"I'ma leave this one right ... Here. [link to article]"

"Read this as part of the struggle vs overtesting. Bars."

See also:

"No coincidence that Milton Friedman's free market schooling ideology had its first outing in Chile." ]
tests  testing  multiplechoice  chile  education  policy  politics  2016  books  borges  miltonfriedman  debate  conversation  control  authority  authoritarianism  standardization  standardizedtesting  idranovey  alejandrozambra 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Janwaar Castle Our Principles - Janwaar Castle
"Janwaar Castle is a sandbox project for which the principles are clearly defined (without being taught or said) and inside this sandbox everything is possible. It is up to the children what we take forward. The options are manifold. Our principles are simple:

Systems over objects
We believe in networks and we think in networks. Janwaar Castle is a network based model. Therefore we put systems over objects and constantly ask ourselves how do we responsibly participate in the village and the area around us.

Emergence over authorities
We don’t tell the children what to do. We let them do, observe and then guide them in the things they’ve chosen to do. It’s not on us to decide what will be done or what is right or wrong. And they don’t need to ask for permission. They can simply go ahead and do.

Pull over push
Janwaar Castle pulls from the network as it needs it rather than keep everything in stock. We are agile. Resources one considers as assets actually become liabilities when one wants to be agile.

Resilience over strength
It is not the fittest or strongest who keeps Janwaar Castle running, it’s the one who is ready to go the long distance if needed and to achieve balance within the Janwaar Castle ecosystem.

Disobedience over compliance
This is a tough one for India. You don’t win Nobel prizes for doing what you’re told. We need to create environments that are resilient to the automatization of the world, and that require disobedience and encourage to ask questions. A lot of civics is about disobedience.

Compasses over maps
At Janwaar Castle it’s much more important to navigate and find your own way in life than following a pre-defined path or a standardized curriculum.

Learning over education
Education is something what you do to others. Learning is what you do to yourself. And this is what Janwaar Castle is all about.

Practice over theory
We do. We build stuff. We fail. We do it again differently. We might fail again. Then we do it again. And we learn by doing so. We succeed. This way the kids for instance have learnt to fix their skateboards, to use their tablets and to skateboard. Without instruction. What they’ve learnt will stay with them.

We over me
Janwaar Castle is community oriented, it doesn’t focus on the individual. This is a natural outcome of the network and the system thinking we’ve embraced."

[See also:
"Why A German Woman Built A Skatepark In Rural Madhya Pradesh"

"The first hurdle was bringing the children from the Adivasi and Yadav communities together.

"In the village we have Adivasis and Yadavs -- they are strictly separated in their houses. First the Yadav kids came to the skatepark, they were 'pushing out' the Adivasis," she said.

The Adivasi and the Yadav children wouldn't skate together. They had different timings.

But, slowly, things changed. "Now the skatepark has a mix of Adivasi and Yadav, boys and girls, and all age groups," she said.

Recalling an incident, she said, "A key moment in this was in one of our morning sessions. There was a little Adivasi girl standing in the middle of our circle. She was dirty like hell, no one wanted to give her the hand and include her in the circle. So, I did. A few seconds later a Yadav boy took the other hand and she was included."" ]
janwaarcastle  education  learning  resilience  systemsthinking  systems  emergence  emergentcurrciulum  sfsh  disobedience  compliance  democracy  practice  theory  praxis  skateboarding  skating  skateparks  lcproject  openstudioproject  children  empowerment  standardization  curriculum  via:willrichardson  standards  community  individualism  networks  india  madhyapradesh  inclusion  inclusivity  skateboards 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Why the metric system matters - Matt Anticole - YouTube
"View full lesson:

For the majority of recorded human history, units like the weight of a grain or the length of a hand weren’t exact and varied from place to place. Now, consistent measurements are such an integral part of our daily lives that it’s hard to appreciate what a major accomplishment for humanity they’ve been. Matt Anticole traces the wild history of the metric system.

Lesson by Matt Anticole, animation by Globizco."

[via: ]
metricsystem  measurement  2016  history  unitsofmeaurement  standardization  standards  mattanticole 
august 2016 by robertogreco
a16z Podcast: The Meaning of Emoji 💚 🍴 🗿 – Andreessen Horowitz
"This podcast is all about emoji. But it’s really about how innovation really comes about — through the tension between standards vs. proprietary moves; the politics of time and place; and the economics of creativity, from making to funding … Beginning with a project on Kickstarter to crowd-translate Moby Dick entirely into emoji to getting dumplings into emoji form and ending with the Library of Congress and an “emoji-con”. So joining us for this conversation are former VP of Data at Kickstarter Fred Benenson (and the 👨 behind ‘Emoji Dick’) and former New York Times reporter and current Unicode emoji subcommittee member Jennifer 8. Lee (one of the 👩 behind the dumpling emoji).

So yes, this podcast is all about emoji. But it’s also about where emoji fits in the taxonomy of social communication — from emoticons to stickers — and why this matters, from making emotions machine-readable to being able to add “limbic” visual expression to our world of text. If emoji is a (very limited) language, what tradeoffs do we make for fewer degrees of freedom and greater ambiguity? How exactly does one then translate emoji (let alone translate something into emoji)? How do emoji work, both technically underneath the hood and in the (committee meeting) room where it happens? And finally, what happens as emoji becomes a means of personalized expression?

This a16z Podcast is all about emoji. We only wish it could be in emoji!"
emoji  open  openstandards  proprietarystandards  communication  translation  fredbenenson  jennifer8.lee  sonalchokshi  emopjidick  mobydick  unicode  apple  google  microsoft  android  twitter  meaning  standardization  technology  ambiguity  emoticons  text  reading  images  symbols  accessibility  selfies  stickers  chat  messaging  universality  uncannyvalley  snapchat  facebook  identity  race  moby-dick 
august 2016 by robertogreco
The Common Core Costs Billions and Hurts Students - The New York Times
"FOR 15 years, since the passage of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind act, education reformers have promoted standardized testing, school choice, competition and accountability (meaning punishment of teachers and schools) as the primary means of improving education. For many years, I agreed with them. I was an assistant secretary of education in George H. W. Bush’s administration and a member of three conservative think tanks.

But as I watched the harmful effects of No Child Left Behind, I began to have doubts. The law required that all schools reach 100 percent proficiency as measured by state tests or face harsh punishments. This was an impossible goal. Standardized tests became the be-all and end-all of education, and states spent billions on them. Social scientists have long known that the best predictor of test scores is family income. Yet policy makers encouraged the firing of thousands of teachers and the closing of thousands of low-scoring public schools, mostly in poor black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

As the damage escalated, I renounced my support for high-stakes testing and charter schools. Nonetheless, I clung to the hope that we might agree on national standards and a national curriculum. Surely, I thought, they would promote equity since all children would study the same things and take the same tests. But now I realize that I was wrong about that, too.

Six years after the release of our first national standards, the Common Core, and the new federal tests that accompanied them, it seems clear that the pursuit of a national curriculum is yet another excuse to avoid making serious efforts to reduce the main causes of low student achievement: poverty and racial segregation.

The people who wrote the Common Core standards sold them as a way to improve achievement and reduce the gaps between rich and poor, and black and white. But the promises haven’t come true. Even in states with strong common standards and tests, racial achievement gaps persist. Last year, average math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress declined for the first time since 1990; reading scores were flat or decreased compared with a decade earlier.

The development of the Common Core was funded almost entirely by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It was a rush job, and the final product ignored the needs of children with disabilities, English-language learners and those in the early grades. It’s no surprise that there has been widespread pushback.

In 2009 President Obama announced Race to the Top, a competition for $4.35 billion in federal grant money. To qualify, states had to adopt “college and career ready standards,” a requirement that was used to pressure them into adopting national standards. Almost every state applied, even before the specifics of the Common Core were released in June 2010.

The federal government, states and school districts have spent billions of dollars to phase in the standards, to prepare students to take the tests and to buy the technology needed to administer them online. There is nothing to show for it. The Race to the Top demoralized teachers, caused teacher shortages and led to the defunding of the arts and other subjects that were not tested. Those billions would have been better spent to reduce class sizes, especially in struggling schools, to restore arts and physical education classes, to rebuild physically crumbling schools, and to provide universal early childhood education.

Children starting in the third grade may spend more than 10 hours a year taking state tests — and weeks preparing for them. Studies show that students perform better on written tests than on online tests, yet most schools across the nation are assessing their students online, at enormous costs, because that is how the Common Core tests are usually delivered. Computer glitches are common. Sometimes the server gets overloaded and breaks down. Entire states, like Alaska, have canceled tests because of technical problems. More than 30 states have reported computer testing problems since 2013, according to FairTest, a testing watchdog.

Standardized tests are best at measuring family income. Well-off students usually score in the top half of results; students from poor homes usually score in the bottom. The quest to “close achievement gaps” is vain indeed when the measure of achievement is a test based on a statistical norm. If we awarded driver’s licenses based on standardized tests, half the adults in this country might never receive one. The failure rates on the Common Core tests are staggeringly high for black and Hispanic children, students with disabilities and English-language learners. Making the tests harder predictably depresses test scores, creating a sense of failure and hopelessness among young children.

If we really cared about improving the education of all students, we would give teachers the autonomy to tailor instruction to meet the needs of the children in front of them and to write their own tests. We would insist that students in every school had an equal opportunity to learn in well-maintained schools, in classes of reasonable size taught by expert teachers. Anyone who wants to know how students in one state compare with students in other states can get that information from the N.A.E.P., the existing federal test.

What is called “the achievement gap” is actually an “opportunity gap.” What we need are schools where all children have the same chance to learn. That doesn’t require national standards or national tests, which improve neither teaching nor learning, and do nothing to help poor children at racially segregated schools. We need to focus on that, not on promoting failed ideas."
2016  dianeravitch  commoncore  standardization  standardizedtesting  testing  government  us  nclb  rttt  georgehwbush  gatesfoundation  billgates  standards  education  schools  publischools  poverty  inequality  segregation  naep  statistics  achievementgap  opportunitygap  politics  policy 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Teacher Tom: Revolution
"We need a revolution in how we perceive children. They are not incomplete adults or empty vessels or anything less than full-fledged human beings with rights, including the right to be respected, heard, and responded to as fellow human beings and not inferior ones to be bossed around.

We need a revolution in how we view learning. It's not the job of adults to decide what and when children learn. That is the children's job. Our responsibility as adults is to role model our values in day to day life, strive to be the person we want our kids to grow up to be, take a genuine interest in what our children are excited about, and know that childhood exists, first and foremost, for play.

We need a revolution in how we view "stuff." I recently returned from China. In the US, we tend to think of "communist" China, but that somehow hasn't been an impediment to their decision-makers deciding that the nation should move toward a "consumer economy" more like those found in western societies. The thing is, the Chinese people apparently haven't been particularly accommodating. They don't seem overly interested in more stuff, they've learned to love what they already have, and it is putting the skids on their central plan. Yes, I'm sure part of that is generations of official education emphasizing that consumerism is an evil of the west, but it is noteworthy nevertheless. Many of the barriers to improving our educational system have to do with our consumption of stuff, the cars and houses and electronics and space we think we need. It makes us need two incomes and long work days. None of it is necessary, and probably detrimental, to a satisfying life.

We need a revolution against authoritarianism. Yes, I'm talking about politics, but also about day to day life. We must rise up against the entire concept of obedience. As Utah Phillips sang, "I will not obey." And then he sang, "But I'm always ready to agree." That is, at its heart, is what this revolution is about.

All of it is scary. Our revolution requires upending at least four sacred cows. All of it is daunting. This revolution requires generations of work. I used to be uncomfortable using the word revolution, but I've come to realize that human history is one of continual revolution, we're all a part of every one of them by either our actions or inactions. Revolution is the engine of progress and we are it's fuel. We either choose our revolution or it chooses us.

Of course, I hear you: all of this is well and good for some ivory tower blogger, but what about my kid, right now? This is where idealism meets reality. Public schools are looking increasingly like test score coal mines, private education is too much of a financial stretch for most of us, we love our kids with every ounce of our beings, and we want what's best for them. Something's got to give. Given reality, given our fears, given how daunting it is, what do we do? At bottom it's a question each of us can only answer for ourselves, but I think we make a mistake when we don't err on the side of revolution because in that direction lies the better future we want for those we love.

We must be firm, I think, in our defiance of standardization in our schools and specifically I'm talking about opting our children out of high stakes testing and home work. Be assured, high stakes testing and home work are not evidence-based aides to learning: indeed the evidence points to testing and homework mostly succeeding in making our children hate school even more. Your child is objectively more likely to grow into an avid, life-long learner if he is not subjected to high stakes testing and homework. The more of us who stand up for this, the more revolutionary it will be.

The second thing you can do for your child right now is talk to your friends and family. Talk to them about their own childhoods, ask them about their memories, revel in their stories about playing outdoors, unsupervised, with their friends and few toys. Share your own stories along with your concerns about today's children missing out on that. Revolutions must speak to the souls of every day people and I've found that there is no more direct way to get there than through connecting folks with their own childhoods.

Thirdly, we can all work on how we speak with the children in our lives, striving to avoid the directives of obedience, those commands like, "Come here" or "Sit down" or "Eat this" or "Stop it!" Better is to practice replacing those commands with informative statements, like "It's time to go" or "The people behind you can't see if you stand up" or "I don't want you to do that." Yes, it takes more words, but it is trading out commands for the space of simple truth in which children can practice thinking for themselves. A revolution will not be told what to do.

And finally, perhaps most difficult, and definitely most important is coming to appreciate the beauty of living with less. This would be the greatest revolution of all. The time it would give us as parents would set our children free.

The only thing we can do is to try. Just try. I give all my respect to each one of you who does. And ultimately this is the only way to guarantee that you will be doing the best you can to make a better future for your child. A revolution will never be a result of what you do, but it will always be a result of what we do. Everything is daunting if you feel you're going it on your own. If we all try at the same time, we cannot be stopped.

Our children love freedom and so do we."
tomhobson  children  youth  rights  2016  ageism  authoritarianism  politics  schooling  policy  china  us  consumerism  consumption  childhood  play  learning  unschooling  deschooling  education  standardization  testing  standardizedtesting  freedom  sfsh  high-stakestesting 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Learning / Sex — Carol Black
"Many of us have difficulty explaining the concept of unschooling, life learning, or self-directed learning to those who are unfamiliar with it. In an attempt to help unschoolers communicate their way of looking at things to the wider community, we have come up with the following helpful worksheet in two parts.


To understand how unschoolers view education, simply take these common and widely held beliefs about sex, and replace the word "sex" with the word "learning."

1. The desire for _______ is a powerful human drive which expresses itself naturally at the developmentally appropriate time. It's important that young people are able to begin _______ when they feel ready and not when someone else pressures them to begin.

2. If people feel scrutinized, measured, or assessed during _______ it can take the fun out of it pretty fast.

3. It's not good manners to compare one person's performance in _______ to another person's. Any kind of scoring system that uses letters or numbers to rate a person at _______ would be wildly inappropriate.

4. While some people don't mind being watched, reprimanded, or threatened with punishment during _______, most people’s enjoyment of _______ tends to wane under those conditions.

5. When it comes to _______, people are all different. Anyone who tries to tell you that one kind of _______ is "normal" and another kind of _______ is a "disorder" should be viewed with skepticism.

6. Having a preconceived set of objectives can tend to take the pleasure out of _______. Sometimes it’s better to just dive into _______ and see where it goes.

7. Research shows that _______ performed for rewards such as money, food treats, praise, or trips to Disneyland is not the same as _______ engaged in for its own sake.

8. The right to personal choice in matters of _______ is fundamental to human dignity and happiness.

9. Sometimes _______ that takes a long time is even better than _______ that happens really fast.



To understand how unschoolers view current education policy, simply take the following common statements about education and replace the word "learning" with the word "sex."

1. All students must be prepared to begin _______ by the same age, which will be determined on a statewide basis by a qualified panel of experts.

2. Students should not be allowed to fall behind their peers in ________ . Those who do must be identified as early as possible so that they can receive immediate professional intervention, including medication if necessary.

3. Students must master the skills for _______ in sequence, with the basic building blocks for _______ mastered and tested before higher-order _______ can begin.

4. The normal way to begin _______ is in a classroom using textbooks and worksheets rather than through experimentation and hands-on experience.

5. _______ is better in groups of 20 or 30 than one on one.

6. _______ should be scheduled in 45 minute sessions that begin and end promptly with the ringing of a loud bell.

7. It is not permitted to use the bathroom during _______ . Texting and snacking are also strictly forbidden.

8. Students should be given a clear rubric for _______ that tells them how many points will be earned for each _______ activity, as well as the criteria for scoring. Also make it clear how many points will be taken off for sloppiness or lateness.

9. Students’ progress at _______ should be constantly evaluated on a percentile basis, with their rank among their peers posted on a bulletin board in the hallway.

10. Parents can reward excellence in _______ by proudly putting a bumper sticker on their car announcing that their child is better than other people's children at _______.

11. The U.S Department of Education, through the use of federally mandated standards, intends to ensure that in the 21st century all American students achieve minimum performance levels at _______, so that we will be able to compete with the Chinese.


Now you know how to think like an unschooler!"
carolblack  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  howwelearn  nealmarlens  humor  sex  measurement  standardization  development  motivation  enjoyment  joy  dignity  policy  competition  ranking  rankings  howweteach  teaching 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Carol Black on Twitter: "Leanne @betasamosake Simpson: Whose learning "standards" are centered, whose are pushed to the periphery? @JennBinis"
[bookmarked for the full thread]

"Leanne @betasamosake Simpson: Whose learning "standards" are centered, whose are pushed to the periphery? @JennBinis [image]

Jennifer Binis
@cblack__ you're choir preaching here, Carol :)

Carol Black
@JennBinis Nope, because the answer to this problem is fundamentally incompatible w. legally mandated standards. Ethically. At a deep level.

Jennifer Binis
@cblack__ And yet, there is no answer to the problem.

Carol Black
@JennBinis Sure there is. As with free speech/press, you have to allow people to do things you disagree with, with only limited restrictions

Jennifer Binis
@cblack__ Who are the people we're talking about here? That is, if a child never wants to learn to read, do we shrug and say, ah well?

Carol Black
‏@JennBinis Sigh. Excessive fears about this are the source of so much bad policy.

Jennifer Binis
@cblack__ It's not about fear. It's about history. (And to be clear, nothing I say is a defense of the worst parts of public education.)

Carol Black
@JennBinis What history? We haven't had history without compulsory standards for 100 years.

Jennifer Binis
@cblack__ Amusingly, I looked up from a chapter on compulsory education during the Persian War (400BCE) to type this.

Carol Black
@JennBinis So what history validates the fear US children won't learn to read w/o compulsion? The fact they don't learn WITH compulsion?

Jennifer Binis
@cblack__ you know that's not an actual fear, right? It was an example related to allowing ppl to do things we disagree with."
carolblack  standards  standardization  pedagogy  education  schooling  2016  power  scale  control  curriculum  compulsory  self-determination  sexism  racism  patriarchy  paternalism  punishment  hierarchy  colonization  colonialism 
may 2016 by robertogreco
'I Love My Label': Resisting the Pre-Packaged Sound in Ed-Tech
"I’ve argued elsewhere, drawing on a phrase by cyborg anthropologist Amber Case, that many of the industry-provided educational technologies we use create and reinforce a “templated self,” restricting the ways in which we present ourselves and perform our identities through their very technical architecture. The learning management system is a fine example of this, particularly with its “permissions” that shape who gets to participate and how, who gets to create, review, assess data and content. Algorithmic profiling now will be layered on top of these templated selves in ed-tech – the results, again: the pre-packaged student.

Indie ed-tech, much like the indie music from which it takes its inspiration, seeks to offer an alternative to the algorithms, the labels, the templates, the profiling, the extraction, the exploitation, the control. It’s a big task – an idealistic one, no doubt. But as the book Our Band Could Be Your Life, which chronicles the American indie music scene of the 1980s (and upon which Jim Groom drew for his talk on indie-ed tech last fall), notes, “Black Flag was among the first bands to suggest that if you didn’t like ‘the system,’ you should simply create one of your own.” If we don’t like ‘the system’ of ed-tech, we should create one of our own.

It’s actually not beyond our reach to do so.

We’re already working in pockets doing just that, with various projects to claim and reclaim and wire and rewire the Web so that it’s more just, more open, less exploitative, and counterintuitively perhaps less “personalized.” “The internet is shit today,” Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde said last year. “It’s broken. It was probably always broken, but it’s worse than ever.” We can certainly say the same for education technology, with its long history of control, measurement, standardization.

We aren’t going to make it better by becoming corporate rockstars. This fundamental brokenness means we can’t really trust those who call for a “Napster moment” for education or those who hail the coming Internet/industrial revolution for schools. Indie means we don’t need millions of dollars, but it does mean we need community. We need a space to be unpredictable, for knowledge to be emergent not algorithmically fed to us. We need intellectual curiosity and serendipity – we need it from scholars and from students. We don’t need intellectual discovery to be trademarked, to a tab that we click on to be fed the latest industry updates, what the powerful, well-funded people think we should know or think we should become."
2016  audreywatters  edupunk  edtech  independent  indie  internet  online  technology  napster  history  serendipity  messiness  curiosity  control  measurement  standardization  walledgardens  privacy  data  schools  education  highered  highereducation  musicindustry  jimgroom  ambercase  algorithms  bigdata  prediction  machinelearning  machinelistening  echonest  siliconvalley  software 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Learn Different - The New Yorker
"Students at AltSchool are issued a tablet in pre-K and switch to a laptop in later years. (For now, AltSchool ends at the equivalent of eighth grade.) When I visited a mixed classroom for second and third graders, most of the children were sunk into their laptops. All were engaged in bespoke activities that had been assigned to them through a “playlist”—software that displays a series of digital “cards” containing instructions for a task to be completed. Sometimes it was an online task. Two children were doing keyboarding drills on a typing Web site. Their results would be uploaded for a teacher’s assessment and added to the student’s online Learning Progression—software developed by AltSchool which captures, in minute detail, a student’s progress.

The curriculum is roughly aligned with the Common Core, the government standards that establish topics which students should master by the end of each grade. But AltSchool’s ethos is fundamentally opposed to the paradigm of standardization that has dominated public education in recent decades, and reflects a growing shift in emphasis among theorists toward “personalized learning.” This approach acknowledges and adapts to the differences among students: their abilities, their interests, their cultural backgrounds.

A girl in the class was completing an offline task—reading a book about polar bears. A boy lay on his stomach on the carpeted floor, headphones on, using a Web site called BrainPOP to learn how to calculate the perimeters of basic shapes. “Two out of five!” he shouted at one point, as oblivious of those around him as a subway rider wearing earbuds and singing along to Drake.

Not all the activities were solitary. Two girls sat together, laptops before them, using Google Images to scroll through pictures of seals for a social-studies assignment; occasionally, they paused to compare notes. Every so often, a student spoke with the teacher, a young woman in jeans and a loose top, her iPhone tucked under her thigh as she sat on the carpet. One girl had been using her laptop to research castles—an area of sustained interest. She and the teacher discussed princesses and castles, and whether they always went together. “That’s a good question,” the teacher said, and then asked, “Does America have princesses?”"

"At the same time, educators at AltSchool are discussing whether children really need to attain certain skills at particular stages of their educational development, as the Common Core implies. Seyfert thinks that it might be more useful to think of learning not as linear but as scrambled, like a torrent file on a computer: “You can imagine all the things you need to learn, and you could learn it all out of order so long as you can zip it up at the end, and you are good to go.”

Like other AltSchool teachers, Seyfert was drawn to the startup because of its ambition to make systemic change. Two or three times a week, she told me, she gives colleagues feedback about the school’s digital tools. The Learner Profile, Stream app, and other tools are only about a year old, and AltSchool’s personalization still requires considerable human intervention. Software is updated every day. Carolyn Wilson, AltSchool’s director of education, told me, “We encourage staff members to express their pain points, step up with their ideas, take a risk, fail forward, and fail fast, because we know we are going to iterate quickly. Other schools tend to move in geologic time.” (Ventilla may question the utility of foreign-language acquisition, but fluency in the jargon of Silicon Valley—English 2.0—is required at AltSchool.)

Ventilla told me that these tools were central to a revised conception of what a teacher might be: “We are really shifting the role of an educator to someone who is more of a data-enabled detective.” He defined a traditional teacher as an “artisanal lesson planner on one hand and disciplinary babysitter on the other hand.” Educators are stakeholders in AltSchool’s eventual success: equity has been offered to all full-time teachers."

"Some education advocates are wary about potential privacy violations that might result from data collection on the scale intended by AltSchool, particularly given that AltSchool is a for-profit company. (Most independent schools are not-for-profit institutions.) These concerns could complicate the adoption of AltSchool software by public school systems. Ventilla says that there is no intention to use AltSchool data for commercial purposes, and that AltSchool can gather data in a way that will respect a student’s anonymity. Only salient moments in the classroom videos are saved, he says, and most are not even stored. “I would never want to record all the things a kid says and keep them around,” he said. But he added that looking at vocabulary-acquisition patterns in aggregate could provide teachers with valuable information that will help them teach each individual more effectively. “The collection of any kind of data is not free,” Ventilla acknowledged. “But the alternative is the incredibly invasive, inaccurate standardized-testing regimen that we have now, which comes at a lot of cost, psychic and otherwise, and doesn’t provide nearly the amount of benefit that we want.”

Daniel Willingham, an education scholar at the University of Virginia, told me that adopting technology in schools can be maddeningly inefficient. “The most common thing I hear is that when you adopt technology you have to write twice the lesson plans,” he told me. “You have the one you use with the technology, and you have the backup one you use when the technology doesn’t work that day.” Willingham also notes that the most crucial thing about educational software isn’t the code that assesses student performance; it’s the worthiness of the readings and the clarity of the math questions being presented onscreen. “People are very focussed on the algorithm,” he said. “But equally important is the quality of the materials.”

The gap between AltSchool’s ambitions for technology and the reality of the classroom was painfully obvious the morning that I spent in the Brooklyn school. One kindergartner grew increasingly frustrated with his tablet as he tried to take a photograph of interlocking cubes that he had snapped into a strip of ten. (He was supposed to upload the image to his playlist.) He shook the unresponsive tablet, then stabbed repeatedly at the screen, like an exhausted passenger in a cab after an overnight flight, unable to quell the Taxi TV.

Even when AltSchool’s methods worked as intended, there were sometimes questionable results. The two girls whom I watched searching for seals on Google Images found plenty of suitable photographs. But the same search term called up a news photo of the corpse of a porpoise, its blood blossoming in the water after being rent almost in half by a seal attack. It also called up an image in which the head of Seal, the singer, had been Photoshopped onto a sea lion’s body—an object of much fascination to the students. To the extent that this exercise was preparing them for the workplace of the future, it was also dispiritingly familiar from the workplace of the present, where the rabbit holes of the Internet offer perpetual temptation."

"There had been some bumpy moments for the Palo Alto school, which opened last fall. One family left after concluding that there wasn’t enough homework. Other parents wanted to know the curriculum in advance—an impossible demand in a school dedicated to following children’s interests. A look around the classrooms confirmed that for some children the ability to follow their own passions reaped rich dividends. I observed the kindergarten-and-first-grade classroom during afternoon “choice time,” and saw two children separately involved in complicated long-term projects. A seven-year-old boy with an avid interest in American history had built a dining-table-sized model of Fort Sumter out of cardboard—he was painting black-splotch windows on its perimeter. He had also composed a storybook about Paul Revere, which was vibrantly written, if impressionistically spelled. Another seven-year-old boy had undertaken a physics experiment, building two styles of catapult out of tongue depressors and tape. He was measuring their power with the help of a yardstick affixed to the wall, and recording the data in a notebook. The AltSchool environment—and an inspiring young teacher named Paul France—had liberated these children’s individual creativity and intellectual curiosity in just the way that the parents of a potential Elon Musk might hope.

The boys’ classmates, however, had made less demanding use of their choice time, and this had apparently allowed the teaching staff to provide the necessary support for the more ambitious projects. Four boys were seated on the floor making primitive catapults with Jenga blocks. Half a dozen girls had chosen “art creation,” and were sitting around a table affixing stickers to paper and chatting. One girl had opted to work in clay. But no students had chosen to engage in dramatic play, or to work at the light table, or to do jigsaw puzzles—options that were displayed on a wall chart. The remaining eight children—six boys and two girls—had selected “tablet time.” They were sitting around a table, each with headphones on, expertly swiping and clicking their way through word or number games. Their quiet immersion would be recognizable to any parent who has ever bought herself a moment’s peace from the demands of interacting with her child by opening Angry Birds on her phone."

"When the AltSchool technologists who participated in the December hackathon shared their discoveries at the end of the session, the team that had focussed on bookmarking video seemed particularly pleased with its innovations. The team had decided to try to find a “fun route” to help … [more]
altschool  education  schools  2016  children  learning  pedagogy  amplify  teachtoone  brooklyn  paloalto  maxventilla  surveillance  standardization  blendedlearning  howweteach  howwelearn  automation  technology  edtech  sanfrancisco  gender  siliconvalley  commoncore  standards  brainpop 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Standards, Grades And Tests Are Wildly Outdated, Argues 'End Of Average' : NPR Ed : NPR
"Todd Rose dropped out of high school with D- grades. At 21, he was trying to support a wife and two sons on welfare and minimum wage jobs.

Today he teaches educational neuroscience at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He's also the co-founder of The Center for Individual Opportunity, a new organization devoted to "the science of the individual and its implications for education, the workforce, and society."

In other words, Todd Rose is not your average guy. But neither are you.

In fact, he argues, absolutely no one is precisely average. And that's a big problem, he tells NPR Ed: "We've come to embrace a way of thinking about ourselves as people that was intentionally designed to ignore all individuality and force everything in reference to an average person."

Admissions offices, HR departments, banks and doctors make life-changing decisions based on averages. Rose says that "works really well to understand the system or the group, but it fails miserably when you need to understand the individual, which is what we need to do."

Rose talked with us about his new book: The End Of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness.

Q: The opening example you use in the book is that in the 1940s, when the Air Force designed cockpits based on the average measurements of the pilots, there were an unacceptable number of crashes. But when they went back and measured thousands of pilots, across 10 body dimensions, they found that zero of them even came close to the "average" on all 10. So they concluded that they had to redesign the seats and so forth to be adjustable to each person.

A: Body size is a very concrete example of what I call jaggedness. There is no average pilot. No medium-sized people. When you think of someone's size you think of large, medium, small. Our mass-produced approach to clothing reinforces that. But if that were true you wouldn't need dressing rooms.

Q: So dimensions like height and weight and arm length and waist circumference ...

A: Yes, they're not nearly as correlated as you would think. Height is one-dimensional, but size isn't. People are jagged in size, in intelligence, everything we measure shows the same thing.

Q: I'm going to quote a line from the book, said to psychologist Paul Molenaar, who is arguing for a greater focus on individual difference: "What you are proposing is anarchy!" How do you make decisions about people if you can't use statistics and cutoff scores and compare them to averages?

A: People feel like if you focus on individuality, everyone's a snowflake, and you can't build a science on snowflakes. But the opposite has been true.

It's not that you can't use statistics, it's just that you don't use group statistics. If I want to know something about my daily spending habits, one straightforward way would be to collect records of what I spend every day. To take an average for myself would be perfectly fine.

Q: So you can generalize across time, but not across people?

A: We've got to let go of putting a group into a study and taking an average and thinking that's going to be close enough to universal insight.

Now we have something better. We have a natural science of individuality that gives us a surer foundation. We've gotten breakthrough insights in a whole range of research, from cancer to child development.

Q: How does what you term "Averagerianism" impact our school system both historically and today?

A: It's so ubiquitous that it's hard to see.

We design textbooks to be age-appropriate, but that means, what does the average kid of this age know and can do? Textbooks that are designed for the average will be a pretty bad fit for most kids.

Then you think of things like the lockstep, grade-based organization of kids, and you end up sitting in a class for a fixed amount of time and get a one-dimensional rating in the form of a grade, and a one-dimensional standardized assessment. It's everything about the way we test and move kids forward.

Q: With standardized tests, I often hear teachers talking about students being two months behind or ahead, as if there's a very fixed timeline for progress that all human beings should fit.

A: It feels comforting. But if you take the basic idea of jaggedness, if all kids are multidimensional in their talent, their aptitude, you can't reduce them to a single score. It gives us a false sense of precision and gives up on pretending to know anything about these kids.

Q: So alongside jaggedness, two other principles of individual variation you look at are "context-dependence" and "pathways." Talk about those.

A: It's meaningless to talk about behavior and performance without context. Let's take assessment. Carnegie Mellon [University] had this work showing that changing the way a question is asked can fundamentally alter how a kid performs. So if the [math] problem is about football players instead of ballerinas, you can't standardize on the item. That systematically affects the kids' ability to demonstrate what they know.

But at a macro level, I think [context] introduces an attention to things like the impact of stress and trauma.

Q: And what about pathways? This sounds a lot like the talk around personalizing learning using technology and allowing each student to learn at his or her own pace.

A: I think people who care about personalized learning talk about it as: If we just collect more data, we're going to have this personalization. And that's not clear to me at all.

I think when you look at the idea of pace, we are so convinced that slow means dumb and fast means smart. We feel justified in pegging the time to how fast the average person takes to finish.

But this is where, with a better understanding of this and realizing, "Oh, pace really has nothing to do with ability, people are fast at some things and slow with others," you would build a very different system than the one we have.

Q: Do you think the school system acknowledges the need to treat students as individuals?

A: Two years ago I would have said no. But my colleague Paul Reville, who used to be secretary of education in Massachusetts, he's rethinking the architecture of school systems. In most states, people have put on the books goals about meeting every kid where they're at. Even the "Every Student Succeeds" [ESSA, the new federal law] approach is based on the assumption that we're meeting each kid where they're at, to give them what they need to be successful.

But we haven't thought through the system design that needs to be in place to do that.

We're trying to have a system to do what it was never designed to do.

Q: What about in higher education?

A: In higher ed we have a brutally standardized system. It doesn't matter what your interests are, what job you want, everyone takes the same courses in roughly the same time and at the end of the course you get ranked.

This is personal for me. I have two kids in college. The idea that someone is going to click a stopwatch, compare you to other kids in your class, and the kids with the best grades can get the best jobs, that's not a good deal. I want my two boys to figure out what they love and what they're good at and be exposed to things and be able to turn that into a job.

Q: You talk about innovations that are starting to catch on, like competency-based education and credentialing — basically, accommodating different pathways and different balances of strengths and weakness.

A: There's plenty of ways we're making smaller units of learning to combine in ways that are useful to you. To me, competency based education is nonnegotiable. I don't think you can have fixed-time, grade-based learning anymore. I don't see how you justify diplomas.

It doesn't mean students can take forever, but allowing some flexibility in pace and only caring whether they master the material or not is a sound foundation for a higher ed system.

There are so many examples of a lot of really interesting universities trying these things.

Q: Yes, reading this book it struck me that in some quarters, it seems like we've already moved forward to a focus on individuality, innovation, creativity. You talk about how companies like Google are finding that GPA or school prestige or even ranking employees against each other is not useful, and instead they need to create, essentially, performance-based assessments for doing tasks in context.

A: There are bright spots where you can see the principles of individuality at work.

So for me it comes back to, well, wait a minute. So why is that not the mainstream?

What I think my contribution is, is to say: Our institutions are based on assumptions about human beings. Our education system is based on a 19th century idea of an average person and using 20th century statistics.

As long as people think you can understand people based on averages, or how they deviate from averages, it seems reasonable. It looks like accountability and fairness rather than absurdity.

Q: And you're trying to show that there's an alternative?

A: If we don't get rid of this way of thinking about ourselves and the people around us, it's hard to get the public demand to create sustainable change. That's the role that I and my organization want to play. We're making a really big bet."
anyakamenetz  toddrose  standards  grades  grading  averages  education  howweteach  schools  admissions  tests  testing  standardization  standardizedtesting  sameness  paulmolenaar  textbooks  behavior  performance  individuality 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Most Likely to Succeed | American RadioWorks |
"In most modern work places employees are expected to be self-directed and also work collaboratively. But do conventional public schools do enough to encourage creative and critical thinking?

We’ll hear from Ted Dintersmith, executive producer of “Most Likely to Succeed,” a film that takes a look at how traditional high schools need to change in order to prepare students for the innovations of tomorrow. Dintersmith wasn’t always a film producer. For 25 years he was a successful venture capitalist. He says he noticed that many of the people he hired looked really good on paper – they’d done well in large, structured corporate environments. But they didn’t seem to thrive in smaller, more innovative environments. At home, Dintersmith also noticed that his children’s homework assignments focused on getting students ready for standardized tests, rather than getting them to think creatively. Ted Dintersmith recently spoke to American RadioWorks associate producer Suzanne Pekow."
mostlikeltosucceed  hightechhigh  teddintersmith  2015  sandiego  education  learning  schools  kipp  colleges  universities  collegeadmissions  standardizedtesting  standardization  problemsolving  meaning  purpose  lcproject  openstudioproject  unschooling  deschooling  edg 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Spinoza in a T-Shirt – The New Inquiry
"This is the social and ethical function of design standardization: to assign and put bodies in their “proper” place. Standardized design creates violent relations between bodies and environments. The intensity of violence the standard body brings to bear on an individual’s body is measured in that body’s difference and distance from the standard. A chair that is too high, a beam too low, a corridor too narrow acts on the body forcefully and with a force that is unevenly distributed. Bodies that are farther from the standard body bear the weight of these forces more heavily than those that are closer to the arbitrary standard. But to resolve this design problem does not mean that we need a more-inclusive approach to design. The very idea of inclusion, of opening up and expanding the conceptual parameters of human bodies, depends for its logic and operation on the existence of parameters in the first place. In other words, a more inclusive approach to design remains fundamentally exclusive in its logic.

If Spinoza’s critical question points us toward an understanding of what standardized design does wrong, it also indicates how to get it right. The works of fashion designer Rei Kawakubo and of the artists-architects Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins are the result of materialist practices that reflect the Spinozist principle of not knowing what a body is. Their approach to design is based not so much on what the designers claim to know about the body, but instead on what they ignore. Their approaches refuse predetermined conceptualizations of what a body is and what a body can do. For instance, Kawakubo’s “bumpy” dresses (from the highly celebrated “Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body” Comme Des Garcons Spring/Summer 1997 collection) form a cloth+body assemblage that challenges preconceived ideas of the body and of beauty. At a larger scale, Arakawa and Gins’ Mitaka Lofts in Tokyo and Yoro Park in Gifu prefecture deny any predetermined category of the body in favor of a profound ignorance of what makes a body a body at all.

These designs can have profound sociopolitical effects. Momoyo Homma (the director of the architects’ Tokyo office) relates how her mother, who normally cannot walk without her cane, had no problems navigating the bumpy floor of the Mitaka Lofts. Homma’s mother’s experience does not mean that the Mitaka Lofts are a miraculous instrument that would resuscitate a septuagenarian’s ability to walk without a cane. It reveals that her body only needs a cane in environments designed for bodies that differ substantially from hers.

The cane, itself a designed object, is a clear marker of the differential (often antagonistic) relations that design produces between bodies and spaces/places, and between non-standard and standard bodies. As a prosthesis, the cane’s purpose is to “correct” the non-standard body so that its functions reflect as closely as possible a fidelity with the “normal” body. Arakawa and Gins’ architecture offers an environment where the non-standard body does not need a “corrective,” since the environment’s design is not structured around what they think a body is.

Spinoza’s question—what can a body do?—insists that we set aside preconceived and normative notions of what a body is. Arakawa and Gins’ architecture suggests a slight but significant revision: Rather than conceptualizing bodies from the position of not knowing what they are, we should begin from the position that we don’t know what bodies are not. The double-negative allows a crucial correction to the Spinozist account of the body.

Spinoza’s question delays conceptualizations of the body, but it still doesn’t do away with normative formulations of the body. Affirming an ignorance of something presupposes that what is ignored could be actually known. “We don’t know what a body is” implicitly suggests that a holistic knowledge of what a body is actually exists—we just don’t presume to know it (yet).

The position of “not presuming” is too close to the liberal stance of having tolerance for difference—a position of liberal multiculturalism we find suspicious. The problem with liberal tolerance is that it already assumes and takes up a position of power. The designer is in the privileged position of being tolerant of another, and of designating who is deserving of tolerance. Whether the presumption is to know or not know the body, it is either way an act of the designer’s agency since knowing/unknowing the body is realized exclusively in the design of the garment, room, chair, table, etc. The power of the designer remains intact either way.

Alternatively, to not know what a body isn’t does more than suspend or delay normalizing conceptualizations of the body. It refuses such total claims of body knowledge at all. Just as the double-negative construction becomes affirmative, not knowing what a body isn’t affirms all bodies by doing away with the ideal of the normative body altogether. To not know what a body isn’t means that the idea of the body is infinitely open, rather than just momentarily open. To not know what a body isn’t means that all bodies are equally valid modes and forms of embodiment. Nothing is “not a body” and so everything is a body. This is not a philosophical issue but a political problem. What is a body? What is a human body? These are philosophical treatises that do not address our concern with how built environments empower some bodies and disempower others according to a set of “universal” design presumptions and methods.

By shifting our focus from what a body is to what a body can do, we can begin to explore the political—sometimes violent—relations of bodies, objects, and environments that are produced and maintained through standard design practices and knowledge. How might a collaborative relation of body and environment create the potential for a more non-hierarchical architecture? How might it build one that frees all bodies from the abstract concept of a “normal” body?

As impressive and seductive as the designers named above are, they are not politically egalitarian even though their designs may be aesthetically radical. Kawakubo, Gins, and Arakawa’s built environments are among a highly rarified class of design, out of reach to all but a select few inhabitants/consumers. Although their design approaches are unconventional, they don’t disrupt the hierarchical relations that structure dominant paradigms of design. In fact, their work is greatly celebrated in establishment fashion and architecture design circles.

A design process and philosophy that doesn’t know what a body isn’t can be found in a decidedly more mundane built environment. The jersey knit cotton T-shirt—a product found across the entire price point spectrum—is accessible and inhabitable by a great number of people. Jersey knit cotton is one of the cheaper fabrics, pliable to a broad range of bodies. Jersey knit cotton T-shirts really don’t know what a body isn’t—to this T-shirt, all bodies are T-shirt-able, all bodies can inhabit the space of a T-shirt, though how they inhabit it will be largely determined by the individual body. How the t-shirt pulls or hangs loose (and by how much) will certainly vary across bodies and across time. Indeed, the T-shirt’s stretchy jersey knit cotton materializes precisely this principle of contingency.

Julie Wilkins’ designs are aimed at “extending the grammar of the T-shirt.” Stretching the T-shirt to new proportions, her Future Classics Dress collections (made entirely of jersey knit fabrics, though not necessarily knit from cotton) are even more adaptable and modifiable than the classic T-shirt, which is somewhat limited by its fundamental T shape. (“Somewhat limited,” because its T shape has not precluded the vast number and variety of bodies that do not conform to the T-shape from wearing T-shirts.) Wilkins’ design approach is unlike those that make up traditional tables, chairs, windows, and clothing that are designed and fabricated around standard body dimensions. Wilkins’ designs create built environments that are pliant, dynamic, modular, and mobile.

Wilkins’ Future Classics Dress designs are modifiable by and adaptable to an unspecified range of bodies; they are conditional architectures. As demonstrated on their website, one garment can be worn in many ways, on many bodies. How users inhabit the clothes depends on them as much as on the designer. Choosing how to wear a Future Classics garment can be an involved process. While the Future Classics Dress collections don’t give individuals total autonomy, they allow bodies more freedom than we’ve seen before."

"The idealized relationship of bodies and designed grounds is a predictive geometric one. It is widely accepted that a surface directly perpendicular to the body provides the best environment for bodies to function. As a result, the surfaces of designed grounds are overwhelmingly flat, and non-flat floors are marked as problems to be fixed. Yet even a cursory glance at any playground and its many and differently uneven grounds—“terrains” is a better word—trouble this taken-for-granted logic.

Children tend to have a particularly acute relation to their physical environment. Their small and unpracticed bodies almost never fit the overwhelmingly hard, flat surfaces of mainstream environments. In this way, all young children can be understood as having non-standard bodies. Their “unfitness” is measured in relation to normatively designed built environments. The image of any young child climbing a set of stairs illustrates the kind of unfitness we mean. By contrast, the playground’s dense rubbery foam floors, its flexible pathways (e.g, chain-linked bridges), and its integration of Parent and Virilio’s Oblique Function of various slopes and elevations, are surfaces that children’s bodies navigate capably, oftentimes with a level of ease that escapes adults… [more]
spinoza  design  arakawa  madelinegins  body  bodies  normal  normalization  standardization  variation  architecture  fashion  politics  inclusion  tolerance  inclusivity  adaptability  léopoldlambert  minh-hatpham  henrydreyfuss  reikawakubo  juliewilkins  paulvirilio  claudeparent  theobliquefunction  futureclassicsdress  modification  stretch  give  glvo  uniformproject  audiencesofone  philosophy  standards  canon  canes  ability  abilities  disability  variability  ablerism  ethics  textiles  personaluniforms  fabrics  clothing  clothes  inlcusivity  disabilities 
july 2015 by robertogreco
My Objections to the Common Core State Standards (1.0) : Stager-to-Go
"The following is an attempt to share some of my objections to Common Core in a coherent fashion. These are my views on a controversial topic. An old friend I hold in high esteem asked me to share my thoughts with him. If you disagree, that’s fine. Frankly, I spent a lot of time I don’t have creating this document and don’t really feel like arguing about the Common Core. The Common Core is dying even if you just discovered it.

This is not a research paper, hence the lack of references. You can Google for yourself. Undoubtedly, this post contains typos as well. I’ll fix them as I find them.

This critique shares little with the attacks from the Tea Party or those dismissed by the Federal Education Secretary or Bill Gates as whiney parents.

I have seven major objections to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

1. The CCSS are a solution in search of a problem.

2. The CCSS were implemented in a remarkably undemocratic fashion at great public expense to the benefit of ideologues and corporations.

3. The standards are preposterous and developmentally inappropriate.

4. The inevitable failure of the Common Core cannot be blamed on poor implementation when poor implementation is baked into the design.

5. Standardized curriculum lowers standards, diminishes teacher agency, and lowers the quality of educational experiences.

6. The CCSS will result in an accelerated erosion of public confidence in public education.

7. The requirement that CCSS testing be conducted electronically adds unnecessary complexity, expense, and derails any chance of computers being used in a creative fashion to amplify student potential."

[continues on to elaborate on each objection, some pull quotes here]

"there is abundant scholarship by Linda Darling-Hammond, Diane Ravitch, Gerald Bracey, Deborah Meier, and others demonstrating that more American kids are staying in school longer than at any time in history. If we control for poverty, America competes quite favorably against any other nation in the world, if you care about such comparisons."

"As my colleague and mentor Seymour Papert said, “At best school teaches a billionth of a percent of the knowledge in the world and yet we quibble endlessly about which billionth of a percent is important enough to teach.” Schools should prepare kids to solve problems their teachers never anticipated with the confidence and competence necessary to overcome any obstacle, even if only to discover that there is more to learn."

"When teachers are not required to make curricular decisions and design curriculum based on the curiosity, thinking, understanding, passion, or experience of their students, the resulting loss in teacher agency makes educators less thoughtful and reflective in their practice, not more. The art of teaching has been sacrificed at the expense of reducing pedagogical practice to animal control and content delivery."

"The singular genius of George W. Bush and his No Child Left Behind legislation (kicked-up a notch by Obama’s Race-to-the-Top) was the recognition that many parents hate school, but love their kids’ teachers. If your goal is to privatize education, you need to concoct a way to convince parents to withdraw support for their kid’s teacher. A great way to achieve that objective is by misusing standardized tests and then announcing that your kid’s teacher is failing your kid. This public shaming creates a manufactured crisis used to justify radical interventions before calmer heads can prevail.

These standardized tests are misunderstood by the public and policy-makers while being used in ways that are psychometrically invalid. For example, it is no accident that many parents confuse these tests with college admissions requirements. Using tests designed to rank students mean that half of all test-takers be below the norm and were never intended to measure teacher efficacy.

The test scores come back up to six months after they are administered, long after a child advances to the next grade. Teachers receive scores for last year’s students, with no information on the questions answered incorrectly. These facts make it impossible to use the testing as a way of improving instruction, the stated aim of the farcical process."

"It is particularly ironic how much of the public criticism of the Common Core is related to media accounts and water cooler conversations of the “crazy math” being taught to kids. There are actually very few new or more complex concepts in the Common Core than previous math curricula. In fact, the Common Core hardly challenges any of the assumptions of the existing mathematics curriculum. The Common Core English Language Arts standards are far more radical. Yet, our innumerate culture is up in arms about the “new new math” being imposed by the Common Core.

What is different about the Common Core approach to mathematics, particularly arithmetic, is the arrogant imposition of specific algorithms. In other words, parents are freaking out because their kids are being required to solve problems in a specific fashion that is different from how they solve similar problems.

This is more serious than a matter of teaching old dogs new tricks. The problem is teaching tricks at all. There are countless studies by Constance Kamii and others demonstrating that any time you teach a child the algorithm, you commit violence against their mathematical understanding. Mathematics is a way of making sense of the world and Piaget teaches us that it is not the job of the teacher to correct the child from the outside, but rather to create the conditions in which they correct themselves from the inside. Mathematical problem solving does not occur in one way no matter how forcefully you impose your will on children. If you require a strategy competing with their own intuitions, you add confusion that results in less confidence and understanding.

Aside from teaching one algorithm (trick), another way to harm a child’s mathematical thinking development is to teach many algorithms for solving the same problem. Publishers make this mistake frequently. In an attempt to acknowledge the plurality of ways in which various children solve problems, those strategies are identified and then taught to every child. Doing so adds unnecessary noise, undermines personal confidence, and ultimately tests memorization of tricks (algorithms) at the expense of understanding.

This scenario goes something like this. Kids estimate in lots of different ways. Let’s teach them nine or ten different ways to estimate, and test them along the way. By the end of the process, many kids will be so confused that they will no longer be able to perform the estimation skill they had prior to the direct instruction in estimation. Solving a problem in your head is disqualified."
garystager  commoncore  2015  education  policy  schools  publicschools  standardization  standardizedtesting  standards  learning  teaching  pedagogy  technology  testing  democracy  process  implementation  agency  howweteach  howwelearn  publicimage  seymourpapert  numeracy  matheducation  math  mathematics  numbersense  understanding  memorization  algorithms  rttt  gatesfoundation  pearson  nclb  georgewbush  barackobama 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Why are teachers cheating the American school system? This videogame will explain - Kill Screen - Videogame Arts & Culture.
"Children are the worst. They have needs and wants and a complete inability to distinguish between the two. Pity the poor teachers tasked with educating these indolent creatures. Their jobs would be much easier if these pesky students lost all of their child-like qualities.


Subaltern Games’ No Pineapple Left Behind, which just released its alpha trailer, will let you live out this pedagogical dream. You are the principal of a school where, by a magical intervention, the pupils have been transformed into test-taking pineapples. Their prowess in passing exams brings the school money. If left unsupervised, however, the pineapples revert to being kids with personalities and interests that keep them from studying. So what do you, as the principal, do?

[game trailer: ]

No Pineapple Left Behind’s title is a joking reference to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002. The crueler joke, however, is that the No Child Left Behind Act has proven to be a game in its own right. Rules—whether politicians or game developers impose them—create a series of incentives that shape human behavior. No Child Left Behind established a system of financial penalties and rewards for American schools. Failure to meet proscribed standards would result in reduced funding. This makes some sense as an abstract economic theory, but try telling a teacher with struggling students that the answer is less support. Thirteen years on, it’s clear that a policy designed to foster higher educational standards has encouraged a subset of America’s teachers to game the system.

The most famous example of this phenomenon took place in Atlanta, where eleven teachers and administrators were recently convicted on multiple felony charges after it was discovered that they systematically altered test results. One of the teachers, Damany Lewis, told The New Yorker’s Rachel Aviv "I'm not going to let the state slap [students] in the face and say they're failures." This attitude is hardly confined to Atlanta. In 2013, the Government Accountability Office reported, "40 states detected potential cheating during the past two school years and 33 states confirmed at least one instance of cheating."


Of course, gaming the system can have less criminal meanings. Teaching to tests, for instance, is the logical outcome of a system that puts tremendous emphasis on end-of-year standardized exams. This, too, arguably comes at the cost of forms of learning that are not as easily quantified.

There is very little humour to be found in America’s education system, which consistently outspends much of the OECD only to produce average or below average outcomes as measured on the PISA index. If No Pineapple Left Behind can wring some humour from this political and ethical morass, more power to it. However, it might mean the game only manages to highlight the absurdist status quo."
standardizedtesting  testing  schools  schooling  education  gaming  videogames  subalterngames  nopineappleleftbehind  humor  satire  children  teaching  learning  howweteach  factoryschools  standardization  nclb  rttt  publicschools  pisa  absurdism  atlanta  cheating  economics 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Leon Botstein for Democracy Journal: Are We Still Making Citizens?
[via: ]

"Democracy requires a commitment to the public good. But for a long time now, our citizens have been taught to see themselves as only private actors."

"What the European émigrés discovered was a reality that partially resembled these principles. They saw from the outside, as it were, how vital the connection is between how we structure our schools and our capacity to maintain a functioning pluralist democracy. John Dewey, America’s greatest thinker on education since Mann, guided the ideology of public education. For Dewey, the justification for the proper pedagogy was not primarily political; his conception of teaching and learning derived largely from an epistemological conceit within Pragmatism. But for the European émigrés, the contrast between the school systems from which they came and the school system in the country in which they arrived—the virtue and attraction of American educational practice—was significant in terms of its political consequences.

In those years, the defining factor in the American system was the idea of a single, unitary public school system in which everybody enrolled. All citizens went to the same sort of schools through to the end of secondary school. Private schools were an elite phenomenon and relatively insignificant. Most European public systems, by contrast, were intentionally segregated by ability, creating distinct groups beginning at age 11. The state, using examinations, divided the school population into varying categories, each of which maintained a different track. The majority of citizens never completed school beyond elementary school. Some percentage went on to vocational schooling. A very small segment of the population went, as adolescents, either to a humanistic academic high school (Gymnasium) or to a less prestigious practical and science-oriented high school (Realschule) and received a secondary-school diploma. A Matura or Abitur, the diploma from these two types of secondary schools, permitted an elite student to enroll in the university.

Consequently, the unitary public school system that kept all children together until college and that built citizens of character, devoted to democratic values, was viewed by the émigré generation as a marvel. American education appeared to fit the idea that the nation and democracy were tied to a homogeneity of rights, and that diverse constituencies could not only obtain equal legal status but through education achieve the means to realize it in economic and social terms. Citizenship via a nominally nondiscriminatory and standard process accessible to all irrespective of birth, religion, ethnicity, or even language was unheard of in Europe, but it—and the concrete advantages education added—seemed possible in America.

Higher education was no less eye-opening. Undergraduates delayed specialization and studied more than one subject. They were, from the start, asked to do far more writing that called for the expression of their own arguments and judgments. What was equally shocking to a European was the way in which the American university system seemed immensely flexible and open to new ideas. There was not a rigid hierarchy with one professor running each “faculty.” Young scholars did not have to wait for their elders to retire or die. The university was able to create new fields and new positions. Not only was there less hierarchy and formality, but in graduate education there was even less deference to authority than in the public school system. The dissenter, rebel, and ambitious entrepreneur were prized more than in Europe. In terms of graduate education and academic career advancement, American university practice still stands in contrast to that of Europe.

That was the good news. The bad news was that the academic standards by which the American common school system operated seemed horrifically low. The price paid by the democratic culture of the American school system, the émigré observers concluded, was the low level of shared culture achieved at the end of secondary public education. Freshmen could not read or write properly, and they possessed little understanding of literature, art, philosophy, or history. The thinly veiled (at best) snobbery of the mid-century émigré scholars simply exploded when their members (such as Werner Jaeger, Leo Strauss, and Kurt Wolff) came to teach American college students."

"I distrust private languages and the tendency to rely on one’s personal narrative as the basis for talking about politics and, in particular, education, understood as a political good. The personal narrative is always contingent on those outside of it. What a child has to learn in school is not only to formulate a personal narrative but also to set it aside; children need to listen, to observe others, and thereby to distinguish their personal narrative from those of others as each individual constructs a role as a citizen. However, the two imperatives—personal growth and citizenship—don’t appear naturally to overlap. A child needs to learn things that allow him or her to function in a democratic context, to learn to consciously ignore personal self-interest and contemplate the public good. What a common public school ought to teach, therefore, is the capacity for disagreement, contest, and compromise. But if I think public goods are irrelevant, that we can do without government, I automatically subscribe to a kind of illusion of individualism against which criticism is hard, since the point of having a discussion or debate—the creation of the public space of a shared participatory politics—is rejected."

"The project of public education is fundamental to the notion of public goods in America. The restoration of public education seems a precondition for making the public sphere operate properly. Education must be about something more than personal happiness and benefit, economically defined; it has to map out the idea that there is more to the public good than the belief that through some free-market-style calculus of aggregate self-interests, the greatest good for the greatest number will emerge. In other words, public education is about educating the future citizen to consider a common ground in politics that can and will secure a more rewarding notion of personal security and tranquility for all.

But in the context of today’s disenchantment with the public sphere, what can a school-trained citizen do? Merely compete in the marketplace? Work for Google? What actually defines the public sphere today is not the government and Congress, but Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Conspiracy theorists when I was young pointed to the presence of socialists and communists who were said to undermine our system of values. Fear seemed reasonable in the Cold War and under the threat of nuclear war. The line between fear and paranoia was thin indeed. Fear was plausible.

But the people who frighten me and undermine the public sphere today are not terrorists and ideologues interested in overthrowing the government; they are not even those who work for the U.S. government within the NSA or the CIA. Rather, I’m afraid of the very large corporate giants that control our access to information, regulate our private lives by providing social networks—a platform for deceptive intimacy—and monitor every move we make in life and preserve a record of every message, thereby rendering secret-keeping and forgetting—two essential human experiences—impossible."

"So where does this bring us with regard to education? As a practitioner of education, I still hold to the idea that the most difficult and yet most vital thing to do is to construct and sustain a language of public conversation. And that language of public conversation will inevitably be different from our several private languages. We cannot expect it to be the same. The conversation on matters that affect us all has to take place in real space and time. School is one source of that essential opportunity.

One of the depressing aspects of our politics today is the extent to which our candidates think it is enough to be a personality and to rely on a private language in order to get elected. We are more interested in the personalities of our politicians, as if they were our neighbors or private friends, than we are in what they think. Today’s politicians cannot speak a comprehensible language of ideas in public conversation about public goods, the matters at stake in politics. We have lost the taste for a sustained debate about ideas.

To confront this lack of public discourse based on ideas—ideas bolstered by claims and evidence subject to open scrutiny—public education needs to work. It needs to create a community of very diverse citizens who are able to occupy a public space in which they can negotiate matters of shared concern, from foreign affairs to domestic policy, using a shared language. The Internet does not offer such a platform, nor does the virtual space or Facebook or any other social media.

I therefore think that we need to redouble the defense of a single system of public education to which our citizens have free access. We need to resist the privatization of schooling. That does not mean that every school should look alike. But since we will continue to be (I hope) an immigrant nation, we will have to champion a public school system if we are to reconcile increasing differences, inequalities of wealth, and class distinctions into a functioning, dynamic democracy made up of citizens.

I share the émigré generation’s quite romantic optimism for the potential of a democratic school system, one marked by excellence and equity. I think such a system is worth fighting for. There are lots of reasons to be optimistic. There is evidence that we can improve schools. A welcome first step would be to instill in the best of our current college students and future … [more]
leonbostein  democracy  publicschools  civics  citizenship  2015  individualism  collectivism  publicgood  education  society  us  privatization  government  disagreement  debate  participation  capitalism  hannaharendt  hansweil  christianmackauer  progressive  progressivism  freedom  interdependence  independence  politics  learning  johndewey  egalitarianism  americandream  equality  inequality  generalists  specialization  hierarchy  informality  formality  horizontality  standards  standardization  competition  universities  colleges  highered  highereducation  criticalthinking  accessibility  europe  history  leostrauss  kurtwolff  wernerjaeger  jacobklein  robertmaynardhutchins  stringfellowbarr  heinrichblücher  elitism  privateschools  content  process  methodology  pedagogy  howweteach  howwelearn  purpose  sputnik  truth  canon  discourse  isolation  technology  internet  schooling  schooliness  science  wikipedia  communication  language  eliascanetti  teaching  information  research 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Ideas About Education Reform: 22 Things We Do As Educators That Will Embarrass Us In 25 Years by Terry Heick
"22 Things We Do As Educators That Will Embarrass Us In 25 Years
by Terry Heick

Saw a picture today from the 1970s of a mother driving her car with her newborn baby in the passenger seat (no car seat). This, of course, got me thinking about education. What do we do now that in 25 years we’ll look back on and shake our heads? What are our “doctors smoking cigarettes while giving check ups” moments? I have a feeling we’re going to look back and be really confused by quite a bit. There’s probably a lot more than this, but I had to stop somewhere.

22 Things Education Does That Will Embarrass Us In 25 Years

1. We separated literacy from content.
And were confused when we couldn’t properly untangle them.

2. Meter progress by grade levels.
Right now, progress through academia is incremental, like inches on a ruler. These increments are marked by “grade levels,” which really has no meaning other than the artificial one schools have given it in the most self-justifying, circular argument ever.

3. We frowned upon crowdsourced content (e.g., Wikipedia)
Even though it has more updates and cross-checks than more traditional sources of info. It’s not perfect, but it’s the future. Err, present.

4. We gave vacations.
Why do we feel the need to provide months off at a time from learning to read, write, and think? We made school so bad that students couldn’t stand to do it without “vacations”? We cleaved it so cleanly from their daily lives that they “stopped” learning for months at a time?

5. We closed off schools from communities.
Which was the first (of many) errors. Then we let the media report on school progress under terms so artificially binary that we ended up dancing to the drum of newspaper headlines and political pressure.

6. We made it clumsy and awkward for teachers to share curriculum.
Seriously. How is there no seamless, elegant, and mobile way to do this?

7. We turned content into standards.
This makes sense until you realize that, by design, the absolute best this system will yield is students that know content.

8. We were blinded by data, research, and strategies…. we couldn’t see the communities, emotions, and habits that really drive learning.

9. We measured mastery once.
At the end of the year in marathon testing. And somehow this made sense? And performance on these tests gave us data that informed the very structures our schools were iterated with over time? Seriously? And we wonder why we chased our tails?

10. We spent huge sums of money on professional development.
While countless free resources floated around us in the digital ether. Silly administrators.

11. We reported progress with report cards.
Hey, I’ve tried other ways and parents get confused and downright feisty. We did a poor job helping parents understand what
grades really meant, and so they insisted on the formats they grew up with.

12. We banned early mobile technology (in this case, smartphones).
And did so for entirely non-academic reasons.

13. We shoehorned technology into dated learning models.
Like adding rockets to a tractor. Why did we not replace the tractor first?

14. We measured mastery with endless writing prompts and multiple-choice tests.
Which, while effective in spots, totally missed the brilliant students who, for whatever reason, never could shine on them.

15. We had parent conferences twice a year.
What? And still only had 15% of parents show up? And we didn’t completely freak out? We must’ve been really sleepy.

16. We ignored apprenticeships.
Apprenticeship is a powerful form of personalized learning that completely marries “content,” performance, craft, and
communities. But try having a 900 apprentices in a school. So much for that.

17. We claimed to “teach students to think for themselves.”

18. We often put 1000 or more students in the same school.
And couldn’t see how the learning could possibly become industrialized.

19. We frowned on lectures.
Even though that’s essentially what TED Talks are. Instead of making them engaging and interactive multimedia performances led by adults that love their content, we turned passionate teachers into clinical managers of systems and data.

20. We ignored social learning.
And got learning that was neither personal nor social. Curious.

21. We tacked on digital citizenship.
The definition of digital citizenship is “the quality of actions, habits, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities.” This is artificial to teach outside of the way students use these tools and places on a daily basis–which makes hanging a “digital citizenship” poster or teaching a “digital citizenship” lesson insufficient.
Like literacy, it needs to be fully integrated into the learning experiences of students.

22. We turned to curriculum that was scripted and written by people thousands of miles away.
We panicked, and it was fool’s gold.

Bonus 23. We chewed teachers up and spit them out
We made teachers entirely responsible for planning, measuring, managing, and responding to both mastery and deficiency. And through peer pressure, a little brainwashing, and appealing to their pride, somehow convinced them they really were."
education  schools  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  terryheick  literacy  content  curriculum  gradelevels  agesegregation  crowdsourcing  wikipedia  community  vacations  standards  standardization  preofessionaldevelopment  money  waste  bureaucracy  technology  edtech  mobile  phones  smartphones  criticalthinking  socialemotional  civics  citizenship  digitalcitizenship  social  learning  lectures  data  bigdata  quantification  apprenticeships  testing  standardizedtesting  assessment  fail  sharing  socialemotionallearning 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Why America’s obsession with STEM education is dangerous - The Washington Post
"For most of its history, the United States was unique in offering a well-rounded education. In their comprehensive study, “The Race Between Education and Technology,” Harvard’s Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz point out that in the 19th century, countries like Britain, France and Germany educated only a few and put them through narrow programs designed to impart only the skills crucial to their professions. America, by contrast, provided mass general education because people were not rooted in specific locations with long-established trades that offered the only paths forward for young men. And the American economy historically changed so quickly that the nature of work and the requirements for success tended to shift from one generation to the next. People didn’t want to lock themselves into one professional guild or learn one specific skill for life.

That was appropriate in another era, the technologists argue, but it is dangerous in today’s world. Look at where American kids stand compared with their peers abroad. The most recent international test, conducted in 2012, found that among the 34 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States ranked 27th in math, 20th in science and 17th in reading. If rankings across the three subjects are averaged, the United States comes in 21st, trailing nations such as the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia and Estonia.

In truth, though, the United States has never done well on international tests, and they are not good predictors of our national success. Since 1964, when the first such exam was administered to 13-year-olds in 12 countries, America has lagged behind its peers, rarely rising above the middle of the pack and doing particularly poorly in science and math. And yet over these past five decades, that same laggard country has dominated the world of science, technology, research and innovation.

Consider the same pattern in two other highly innovative countries, Sweden and Israel. Israel ranks first in the world in venture-capital investments as a percentage of GDP; the United States ranks second, and Sweden is sixth, ahead of Great Britain and Germany. These nations do well by most measures of innovation, such as research and development spending and the number of high-tech companies as a share of all public companies. Yet all three countries fare surprisingly poorly in the OECD test rankings. Sweden and Israel performed even worse than the United States on the 2012 assessment, landing overall at 28th and 29th, respectively, among the 34 most-developed economies.

But other than bad test-takers, their economies have a few important traits in common: They are flexible. Their work cultures are non-hierarchical and merit-based. All operate like young countries, with energy and dynamism. All three are open societies, happy to let in the world’s ideas, goods and services. And people in all three nations are confident — a characteristic that can be measured. Despite ranking 27th and 30th in math, respectively, American and Israeli students came out at the top in their belief in their math abilities, if one tallies up their responses to survey questions about their skills. Sweden came in seventh, even though its math ranking was 28th.

Thirty years ago, William Bennett, the Reagan-era secretary of education, noticed this disparity between achievement and confidence and quipped, “This country is a lot better at teaching self-esteem than it is at teaching math.” It’s a funny line, but there is actually something powerful in the plucky confidence of American, Swedish and Israeli students. It allows them to challenge their elders, start companies, persist when others think they are wrong and pick themselves up when they fail. Too much confidence runs the risk of self-delusion, but the trait is an essential ingredient for entrepreneurship."
stem  education  testing  standardizedtesting  us  policy  sweden  israel  testscores  comparison  innovation  technology  science  conformity  conformism  standardization  diversity  williambennett  nclb  rttt  ronaldreagan  anationatrisk  writing  criticalthinking  liberalarts  fareedzakaria  2015 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Future is Learning, But What About Schooling? | Higher Ed Beta @insidehighered
"I am, in short, moving away from my earlier conviction that schooling is learning enacted for public purposes through public institutions, and moving toward a broader vision for learning as a social activity upon which society depends for its future development. I am increasingly aware that the weight of politics and public policy upon the institutions of schooling is making schools less and less likely to be the privileged place where learning occurs in the future.

The future of learning in society is virtually unlimited, at least for the foreseeable future. Learning is the conversion of information into knowledge; information, in the digital age has become a vast sea of ones and zeros; information becomes knowledge by passing through some medium that transforms the ones and zeros into a conceptually organized form.

In the past, we have thought of this transformation as a single authoritative portal, called schooling. The advent of digital culture means that this portal is now one among many possible places, virtual and physical, where information can become knowledge. The type of knowledge and skill required to negotiate this increasingly complex world is completely different from what schools have conventionally done, and schools are institutionally disadvantaged as players in this new world, in large part because of the well-intentioned efforts of school reformers.

While learning has largely escaped the boundaries of institutionalized schooling, educational reformers have for the past thirty years or so deliberately and systematically engaged in public policy choices that make schools less and less capable of responding to the movement of learning into society at large.

Standards and expectations have become more and more literal and highly prescriptive in an age where human beings will be exercising more and more choice over what and how they will learn.

Testing and assessment practices have become more and more conventional and narrow as the range of competencies required to negotiate digital culture has become more complex and highly variegated.

Teacher preparation, hiring, induction, and evaluation practices have become more and more rigid and hierarchical in an age where the teaching function is migrating out into a more individualized and tailored set of learning environments.

We are continuing to invest massively in hard-boundary physical structures in an age where learning is moving into mobile, flexible, and networked relationships. In other words, it would be hard to imagine an institutional structure for learning that is less suited for the future than the heavily institutionalized, hierarchical world that education reformers have constructed."

[via: ]
richardelmore  2015  education  learning  howweteach  unschooling  dechooling  schooliness  edreform  netwrokedlearning  policy  standards  standardization  expectations  evaluation  hierarchy  schooling  decentralization  obsolescence  irrelevance  bureaucracy  knowledge  information  schoolreform  institutions  institutionalization  publicschools  society  scriptedlearning  testing  assessment  hiring  flexibility  mobility  experience  leadership  politics 
february 2015 by robertogreco
The Great Equity Test | EduShyster
"Xian Franzinger Barrett argues that accountability without equity means more inequity…

EduShyster: OK—I need you to set me straight here. Is ensuring that we continue to test kids in high-needs schools the civil rights issue of our time? Or is striking a blow against too much testing in high needs schools the civil rights issue of our time? Or is civil rights actually the civil rights issue of our time?

Xian Franzinger Barrett: The people who are talking about this genuinely on both sides are talking about the same thing, it’s just that the problem they’re trying to address is pervasive and terrible. This idea that we’re unseen and unheard unless we’re measured has a basis in history and reality, so I think it’s important that we don’t lose that. But anyone who says *you’re not going to be acknowledged unless you’re tested* is either too pessimistic or they’re racist. We also have to acknowledge that the very fact that people aren’t being supported or treated equitably unless they’re measured is racism. No one would ever say: *the rich kids in this private school—we don’t have a good measurement of them so we’re just not going to give them an education.* That’s just ridiculous.

EduShyster: That was only my first question and I’m pretty sure that already you have caused a number of heads to explode. So let’s keep going. You argue that accountability without equity actually ends up deepening inequity. Explain.

Franzinger Barrett: You think of that old expression about how when one person gets a cold, the other folks get pneumonia. If you mandate testing, it’s going to cause a mild disruption in most privileged communities, and it’s going to utterly decimate education in high-needs communities—unless, of course, there is some kind of intervention to stop that from happening. So when people say: *to acknowledge these communities, we have to do testing,* we need to ask why the communities aren’t acknowledged—and how are we going to make sure that this doesn’t become another inequitable thing stacked on top of people who are already burdened by inequity. You have the folks who argue that we need data on everything, everywhere saying that *if no one is watching what’s happening to the highest needs kids they’re not going to be supported.* But the flip side of that is that if there’s no filter for equity, you end up creating impossible burdens on the students, the parents and the teachers.

Xian2EduShyster: Well, I can tell you that you’re wrong because it says so right here in this internal messaging guide *How to Talk About Testing.* And one of the first thing it says is that if a parent or teacher tells you that there is too much testing, explain slowly and in simple language that they are wrong.

Franzinger Barrett: The burden of testing is inequitable. I’ll tell you what it means in the kind of environment that I’ve taught in. I happen to have a progressive principal now who advocates for our students and our building. But I’ve had 10 principals in 9 years in the Chicago Public Schools, and most have pushed the central office line on test at the staff and students of the community. So you’ve got a principal who spends most of her time outside of the building being harassed by higher ups about low test scores. She then comes back to the building and says *we’ve got a new plan and all of our resources are going to go to support test prep,* which means no field trips this year. Usually the plan isn’t based on any real research. The plan gets passed down, which means that every teacher is forced to ask themselves in an individual context: how do I weigh what I know is best for young people against my job? Teaching engaging lessons with culturally relevant curriculum is a hard thing to do even when you’re fully supported. But it becomes almost impossible when you’re basically being asked to risk your career in order to do that. What I need to do to really teach the highest needs students well automatically puts me at odds with higher ups in a district that’s focused on testing.

EduShyster: I follow you on Twitter, where you are a master of, among other things, the 140 character history lesson, especially when it comes to reminding people that inequity didn’t exactly arise with the advent of standardized testing.

Franzinger Barrett: I think it’s important that we don’t frame testing and the resulting narrowing of the curriculum as a new thing that has created inequity. While testing has created more inequity, high needs minorities communities have always been subjected to compliance-focused education—with one important exception: when these communities have run their own educations. Jean Anyon has written about the hidden curriculum of schools and how schools have been set up to teach empowerment and creativity and agency to affluent kids, but to teach working class kids to be compliant and follow orders. What’s interesting is that these sort of *improve everything* charter schools tend to fall into the second category. We can look back before Brown vs. Board of Education and say education was a catastrophe because of under-resourcing. When we look at the actual agency that African-American teachers had teaching African-American students, an argument can be made that it was better.

Ice CreamEduShyster: Since this interview is about race and equity, I have to ask you about racial tensions within the pro-public education movement. You’re a leader of that movement but you’ve also been a sharp critic of it for being overly white and frankly out-of-touch when it comes to issues of race.

Franzinger Barrett: So much of it has to do with organizing strategies and our core beliefs about what a pathway to freedom or a march to freedom looks like. We need to face the fact that it’s not possible for the privileged to lead a movement for educational justice on behalf of high-needs communities—and I would place myself in that privileged group here. Whether it’s our stance on testing or a just and empowering curriculum or teacher evaluation, we would all do better if we sat down and listened to the communities we work in and the students we serve. And we need to be prepared to hear some very harsh realities. I’m very interested, by the way, to see what happens this spring with our Network for Public Education (which I’m on the governing board of) conference in Chicago because you have a lot of great people with awesome motives who have worked their butts off for justice who are scratching their heads and asking *why are we so white?* I don’t think this is about shaming that. We have to address it head on and ask: *What is our long term plan to ensure that our movement is led by those most affected by policy?*

EduShyster: That idea that teachers need to listen to their students and the communities they’re from is a big part of the vision of CORE, the Chicago Teachers Union’s Caucus of Rank and File Educators, that you’re part of. Give us an example of what you hear.

Franzinger Barrett: In my 9th year of teaching in Chicago’s Gage Park neighborhood, I did peace circles with my students, which are safe spaces where participants can share their experiences without judgment. It was like being a first-year teacher again. I had assumed for all of those years that the honors kids liked the way they were learning at the school and the highest-needs kids, who I spent my time with, didn’t. But what I found out was that all of those kids who were doing great on tests hated the general school culture too. It was just that they’d learned along the way that there was some compensation for towing the line. And that was really hard. It was hard as an educator to stand there and hear that, as good as your motives are, you’re still part of the team that’s trapping us in this oppressive place. I was really thankful that they were willing to tell me that. That led to a lot of effective activism to make our school a more affirming, welcoming place. It was a tough moment but something beautiful came out of it.

EduShyster: One of the things I love about you is that you talk about *peace circles,* and say things like *march to freedom.* No one talks like that! Other than listening to Xian Franzinger Barrett, who else should we be paying more attention to in the debate over the future of public education?

Franzinger Barrett: Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) did opt-out work that wasn’t covered much. The first thing they did was hold protests and press conferences to try to get the right to take the ACT—because many students had been declared ineligible in order to raise test scores. Then not long after they led a walk out from the ACT Workkeys test because they said that it was more likely to steer them towards non-professional jobs as youth of color. Some of the reporters found this very confusing and wanted to know how students could be demanding to take the tests one week and refusing to take them the next, but to VOYCE that was the whole point. They wanted a choice and a say. I just want to point out though that there tends to be a lot of overlap between groups that are doing great work around high-stakes testing with other community groups, because the issues all intersect. So it’s hard to be in community and care about testing and not also work on the school to prison pipeline or curriculum justice. So I’d point to folks like the Schools LA Students Deserve, Project NIA, the Black Youth Project, the Algebra Project, the student unions in Providence and Philly. Those are some of the groups I’m looking to learn from."
xianfranzingerbarrett  xianbarrett  2015  jenniferberkshire  teaching  howweteach  socialjustice  schools  publicschools  inequality  education  policy  measurement  oppression  control  power  learning  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  brownvsboardofeducation  integration  segregation  class  chicago  race  equity  justice  legibility  leadership  privilege  inequity  empowerment  agency  activism  curriculum  voyce  canon 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Russell Davies: blog all kindle highlights: The Rhesus Chart
"Read The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross a while ago. Only one highlight. Again, not because it's a bad book, just not that sort of book. This was a resonant expression though.

"A bureaucracy is all about standardization, so that necessary tasks can be accomplished regardless of the abilities of the human resources assigned to it.""
charliestross  russelldavies  2015  standardization  bureaucracy  humanresources  design  organizations 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Jen Delos Reyes | Rethinking Arts Education | CreativeMornings/PDX
[video on YouTube: ]

"On the complex terrain of arts education today and expanded ways of valuing knowledge.

What should an arts education look like today? Can education change the role of artists and designers in society? How does teaching change when it is done with compassion? How does one navigate and resist the often emotionally toxic world of academia? With the rising cost of education what can we do differently?


Streetwork: The Exploding School by Anthony Fyson and Colin Ward

Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks

Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope by bell hooks

Education Automation: Comprehensive Learning for Emergent Humanity by Buckminster Fuller

Talking Schools by Colin Ward

Learning By Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit by Sister Corita Kent and Jan Steward

The Open Class Room by Herbert Kohl

Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich

Why Art Can’t Be Taught by James Elkins

Education and Experience by John Dewey

Freedom and Beyond by John Holt

Notes for An Art School edited by Manifesta 6

Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community by Martin Duberman

Teaching as a Subversive Activity by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner

We Make the Road By Walking by Myles Horton and Paulo Friere

Education for Socially Engaged Art by Pablo Helguera

Rasberry: How to Start Your Own School and Make a Book by Sally Rasberry and Robert Greenway

This Book is About Schools edited by Satu Repo

Art School: (Propositions for the 21st Century) edited by Steven Henry Madoff"
via:nicolefenton  jendelosreyes  2014  art  arteducation  education  booklists  bibliographies  anthonyfyson  colinward  bellhooks  buckminsterfuller  sistercorita  coritakent  jansteward  herbertkohl  ivanillich  jameselkins  johndewey  johnholt  manifesta6  martinduberman  blackmountaincollege  bmc  unschooling  deschooling  informal  learning  howwelearn  diy  riotgirl  neilpostman  charlesweingartner  paulofriere  pablohelguera  sallyraspberry  robertgreenway  saturepo  stevenhenrymadoff  lcproject  openstudioproject  standardization  pedagogy  thichnhathahn  teaching  howweteach  mistakes  canon  critique  criticism  criticalthinking  everyday  quotidian  markets  economics  artschool  artschoolconfidential  danclowes  bfa  mfa  degrees  originality  avantgarde  frivolity  curriculum  power  dominance  understanding  relevance  irrelevance  kenlum  criticalcare  care  communitybuilding  ronscapp  artworld  sociallyendgagedart  society  design  context  carnegiemellon  social  respect  nilsnorman  socialpracticeart  cityasclassroom  student-centered  listening  love  markdion  competition  coll 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The Future of Big-Box Schooling
"The fundamental flaw which is structurally embedded in our education system is the fallacy of social engineering – the false belief that it is possible to institute a top-down, mechanical structure, impose it on a complex living system, and expect predictable results. The entire superstructure of goals, objectives, state standards, curricula, and tests is fundamentally built on the assumption that learning is a mechanical process, in which the proper ingredients can be fed into the pipeline and the proper product will emerge at the other end. (Of course, the fact that this persistently does not happen, John Taylor Gatto argues, is no accident, but reflects the fact that it is not actually in the interests of the existing power structure to have a large population capable of exercising independent critical intelligence.)"

"Every culture is different, and as anthropologist Meredith Small points out, every culture makes trade-offs: it would be romantic to assume that there is some perfect balance to be found. But because a traditional culture embodies learning which takes place over many generations, in which thousands of years of observation and trial-and-error allow for a multi-generational wisdom about human nature to evolve, it is possible that nuanced and workable ways of relating to children may exist in traditional cultures from which modern societies can learn and benefit.

Aspects of learning in many (not all) traditional cultures include:

• Immersing young people in adult activity rather than segregating them by age.
• Immersing children in multi-age groups where they can learn from older children.
• Immersing young people in nature rather than confining them indoors for most of the day.
• A blurring of the boundaries between work and play.
• Allowing for physical movement and engagement with new tasks or knowledge rather than requiring a sedentary existence as the condition for learning.
• Allowing the time for freedom, experimentation, choice, fluidity, play.
• Learning through deeper personal relationships, mentorships, apprenticeships, rather than from teachers who are not known on a personal level.
• Control over the timing, form and content of learning which resides in the child and/or in adults who know the child as an individual, rather than control being located in distant “experts” and one-size-fits-all “standards.”
• Allowing for extended transformative experiences in which young people make independent choices to discover their unique gifts, rather than step-by-step controlled sequences which attempt to dictate the process as well as the outcome of learning.

These strategies can work for learning to identify medicinal plants in a rainforest, for learning to anticipate and respond to the moods and movements of wild caribou, for learning to build a sustainable house out of mud brick, and they can work for learning how to design software applications or conduct a biological field study or write an elegant and compelling essay.

So if modernized societies are beginning to discuss moving from 20th century “big-box” schooling to a more 21st century networked model of learning, one possibility is that we may see a convergence of learning styles between ancient and modern cultures. As Sugata Mitra has discovered, unlettered street children can teach themselves how to use computers when given free access to the technology. So does it make sense to remove indigenous children from their traditional cultures and put them into outdated factory-style schools? Or should traditional people consider skipping that step, and deciding for themselves how they may want to use, ignore, adapt, blend, or hybridize new technologies and information in an open-network self-regulating manner?

When a new form of knowledge is truly vital and desired by a population, and access to the necessary resources is available, there is no question of needing to make education compulsory — you couldn’t stop the spread of knowledge if you tried. Look at how computer technology and expertise spread through the developed world. Personal computers were not invented by people in schools, and the vast majority of the population did not learn how to use them in schools. It was an open-access / open-source process – an organically expanding, networking, self-correcting, self-regulating and incredibly effective process – just like the early spread of literacy in many parts of Europe before the institution of widespread schooling.

Whether this is always good, of course, is another question. New technologies always change our lives, and not always for the better. Television has burned a wide swath through many cultures, including our own, leaving obesity, isolation, and advertising-driven insecurity and depression in its wake. I’m uneasy about the aggressive marketing of cell phones and technology to remote areas like Ladakh: once people from a sustainable culture suddenly require cash to feed a technology habit, many negative consequences ensue. But ultimately, it’s still better to be in control of what you adopt and what you choose not to adopt –– to be able to take what you need and leave the rest, absorb new things at a rate of your own choosing, than to be forced into an obsolete model of schooling just as the developed world begins to seriously discuss moving beyond it."
carolblack  ellwoodcubberly  johntaylorgatto  kenrobinson  meredithsmall  culture  knowledge  diversity  local  education  learning  children  parenting  sugatamitra  society  indigeneity  indigenous  howweteach  howwelearn  pedagogy  unschooling  deschooling  colonization  standardization  standardizedtesting  standards  relationships  mentoring  apprenticeships  internships  agesegregation  work  play  control  authority  hierarchy  colonialism 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Occupy Your Brain: On Power, Knowledge, and the Re-Occupation of Common Sense
[also here: ]

"Once learning is institutionalized under a central authority, both freedom for the individual and respect for the local are radically curtailed. The child in a classroom generally finds herself in a situation where she may not move, speak, laugh, sing, eat, drink, read, think her own thoughts, or even  use the toilet without explicit permission from an authority figure.  Family and community are sidelined, their knowledge now seen as inferior to the school curriculum. The teacher has control over the child,  the school district has control over the teacher, the state has control over the district, and increasingly, systems of national standards and funding create national control over states. In what should be considered a chilling development, there are murmurings of the idea of creating global standards for education – in other words, the creation of a single centralized authority dictating what every child on the planet must learn.

The problem with this scenario should be obvious:  who gets to decide what the world’s children will learn?  Who decides how and when and where they will learn it? Who controls what’s on the test, or when it will be given, or how its results will be used? And just as important, who decides what children will not learn? The hierarchies of educational authority are theoretically justified by the superior “expertise” of those at the top of the institutional pyramid, which qualifies them to dictate these things to the rest of us.  But who gets to choose the experts? And crucially, who profits from it?"

"And what could we create, what ecological problems could we solve, what despair might we alleviate, if instead of imposing our rigid curriculum and the destructive economy it serves on the entire world, we embraced as part of our vast collective intelligence the wisdom and knowledge of the world’s thousands of sustainable indigenous cultures? If the internet is the collective intelligence of human beings connecting across the dimension of digital space, then indigenous wisdom is the collective intelligence of human beings connecting across the dimension of time. Every ecosystem in the world at one time had a people who knew it with the knowledge that only comes with thousands of years of living in place. A tribal person in New Guinea can still identify 70 species of birds by their songs; a shaman in the Amazon can identify hundreds of species of plants and which preparations will enhance their chemical potency in the human body; a traditional Polynesian navigator can detect an island miles beyond the horizon by a pattern in the waves and the behavior of birds. This kind of knowledge seems almost supernatural to a modern person stumbling noisily through the forest; but it’s not supernatural. It is human intelligence honed over millennia, through unimaginably vast numbers of individual observations, experiments, reflections, intuitions, refinements of art and experience and communication. It is the indigenous equivalent of a spacecraft sent to Mars; it is human intelligence shaped and perfected and then shot like an arrow, like a ray of light, deep into the heart of nature."
carolblack  education  unschooling  deschooling  centralization  decentralization  curriculum  power  control  policy  authority  colonization  hierarchy  autonomy  testing  standardization  local  freedom  globalization  knowledge  diversity  sustainability  indigeneity  colonialism 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Seven ways schools kill the love of reading in kids — and 4 principles to help restore it - The Washington Post
"1. Quantify their reading assignments. …

2. Make them write reports. …

3. Isolate them. …

4. Focus on skills. …

5. Offer them incentives. …

6. Prepare them for tests. …

7. Restrict their choices. …


At this point, I’ll abandon the somewhat labored conceit of showing you how to kill interest and instead try to suggest, in more straightforward fashion, some ways to think about how students can play a more active role in their own learning. My assumption is that if you’ve read this far, you’d probably like to support their desire to learn and read.

First, then, a few general principles:

1. Supporting their autonomy isn’t just about having them pick this over that. …

2. Autonomy can be supported — and choices can be made – collectively. …

3. It’s not all or nothing. Teachers who favor a traditional approach to teaching sometimes offer a caricature of an autonomy-supportive classroom – one devoid of intellectual challenge where kids do whatever they feel like – in order to rationalize rejecting this model. But autonomy support not only doesn’t exclude structure, as Keith Grove reminds us; it also doesn’t rule out active teacher involvement. That involvement can be direct, such as when teacher and students negotiate a mutually acceptable due date for an essay. (Instead of “You folks choose,” it may be “Let’s figure this out together.”) Or the involvement can be indirect, with the teacher setting up broad themes for the course and students making decisions within those parameters. But that doesn’t mean we should be prepared to share power with students only about relatively minor issues. It may make sense to start with that and then challenge ourselves to involve them in thinking about bigger questions as you (and they) become more comfortable with a democratic classroom.

4. “See above.” The half-dozen suggestions for killing interest in reading in the first part of this essay don’t become irrelevant just because students are given more authority to direct their learning, individually and collectively. For example, rewards are still counterproductive even if kids get to choose what goodie they’ll get. And there’s reason to worry if a language arts course is focused mostly on narrowly defined facts and skills even if students are permitted to make decisions about the details. (As one of Bianca’s suitors observes in The Taming of the Shrew, “There’s small choice in rotten apples.”) Even autonomy support in its richest sense works best in the context of a course that’s pedagogically valuable in other ways – and avoids various familiar but counterproductive practices.


Finally, here are a few specific suggestions for bringing students in on making decisions, offered here in the hope that they will spark you to think of others in the same spirit:

* Let students sample a work of literature, then generate their own questions and discussion topics – for themselves and one another.

* Before having students help each other to revise their writing, invite them to brainstorm possible questions they might ask about its construction and its impact on the reader (rather than having them simply apply your editing guidelines or, worse, evaluating the writing against a prefabricated rubric[13]).

* Have students think together about ideas for the papers they’ll write, then follow up once the writing is underway by inviting each student to ask the group for suggestions. Encourage discussion about the rationale for, and usefulness of, each idea that emerges in order to promote reflection that may well benefit everyone.

* When you’re planning to respond to their journals or other writings, begin by asking students – individually and as a class – what kinds of responses would be most helpful to them. (Wouldn’t you prefer that administrators proceed that way when offering feedback on your teaching?)

* Let students choose the audience for whom they’re writing, as well as the genre in which they respond to something they’ve read (e.g., play, op-ed, speech).

* Check in periodically with students during class meetings about how the course is going for them, whether the decision-making process seems to be working, whether the climate is conducive to learning. Ask what might make discussions and assignments more productive and satisfying – but only if you’re really open to making changes based on what they tell you.

* Bring students in on the process of assessment by asking them to join you in thinking about alternatives to conventional tests. “How can you show me what you understood, where you still need help, and what I may need to rethink about how I taught the unit?” Beyond the format of the assessment, invite them as a class to suggest criteria by which someone’s work might be evaluated – and, later, have them apply those criteria to what they’ve done.

* Remember that group decision making doesn’t require voting, which is basically just adversarial majoritarianism. Help them to acquire the skills and disposition to reach for a deeper kind of democracy, one in which compromises are generated and consensus is reached."
alfiekohn  2014  reading  incentives  motivation  children  howwelearn  learning  choice  freedom  testing  standards  standardization  autonomy  teaching  howweteach  control 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Standardizing Human Ability | DMLcentral
"Here’s a thought experiment. Let’s try to imagine a society (there were lots of them before modernity) where there is no interest in measuring educational success. Let’s imagine a society where the only goal of teaching (it’s a high bar) is to help every child master what they need in order to lead the most fulfilling life they are capable of leading—productive, creative, responsible, contributing to their own well-being and that of their society. No grades. No tests. Just an educational system based on helping each child to find her or his potential for leading the best (Socrates would call it “happiest”) life possible. In such a world, do learning disabilities exist?"

"Here’s a list (in no particular order) of some of the changes in U.S. education, from kindergarten to professional school, either invented or finalized in the Taylorist era (the same era that produced the assembly line, statistics, standard deviation, spreadsheets, blueprints, punch clocks):  mandatory public secondary schooling, research universities, majors, minors, divisions, certification, graduate school, collegiate law school, nursing school, graduate school of education, collegiate business school, degree requirements, grades, required courses, electives, distribution requirements, IQ tests, multiple choice tests, item response college entrance exams (SAT), school rankings, class rankings. And learning disabilities.

There are some great things in that list. My point in this open-ended meditation, though, is that these are invented things.  Like all inventions, they are historically situated, created for a specific time and place, to solve problems of an era and address the possibilities afforded by the society, institutions, wealth, ambitions, and technologies of that time and place.  Like statistics and the assembly line, the system of education we have inherited is not “timeless.”  It is an industrial age invention.  So is the practice of ranking students from best to worst (“one best way”), using standardized forms of testing (extending Galton’s questionnaire form to the one-best-answer or item-response test).

We invented these standardized, regulatory, categorizing, statistical, practices for determining educational success or failure for the Fordist era of the assembly line. We can invent better ones for our own era."
cathdavidson  2014  taylorism  assessment  standardization  ability  accessibilities  ableism  testing  standardizedtesting  standards  success  disability  rankings  highered  highereducation  education  learning  teaching  howweteach  schools  schooliness  schooling  certification  disabilities 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Beautiful Bytes of Data | The Jose Vilson
"The word data slides easily off the tongue but has no personality and sounds as dry as a funeral drum. School administrators try to grace the word by telling parents that “data-driven school districts” will radically change public education, hoping that a staccato of words and a flare of alliteration will impress a captive audience. Some disingenuous school officials assert that “data-driven” is an essential tool for effectively managing a business, so why not a school system?

But it’s all a ruse. The sum of all the rhetoric about the importance of designing data-driven school districts is a shell game, a slight of hand practiced by illusionists to distract trusting parents who believe school administrators know what is best for their children. Anything “data-driven” must be beneficial for schools, parents are told, because data is information, and information is necessary to make sound decisions about curriculum, instruction and learning. And since even the best used car salesperson can no longer sell the faux elixir of Common Core now that this failed one-size-fits-all education policy has been exposed, school administrators need a new mantra to mystify parents.

Data has an ugly side, a face that frequently emerges when it is misinterpreted or convoluted to justify a faulty assumption or bad decision. The countless financial manipulations practiced by Wall Street brokers and bankers have repeatedly proven that data can be exploited and cause financial ruin for millions of people. Data may be defined as a set of values of quantitative and qualitative variables, and business savors at the trough of data, but schools should be people-driven rather than data-driven institutions.

The young man who stepped in front of the train was a beautiful byte of data, but he was more than the sum of the quantitative information collected by a data-driven school district. His social and emotional data fills less space on his school district’s list of quantifiable student data than math and science scores, and that is the shame of the present state of American public education.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24, and more teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease … combined. Need quantitative data? Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 5,400 suicide attempts by young people grades 7-12, and four out of five teens who have attempted suicide give clear warning signs. Maybe its time to take off the blinders of a data-driven school district to see clearly that our students are suffering.

Data is not our generation’s penicillin. It is an ugly word used by school administrators, policy makers, and government officials to demean the greatest social institution ever designed by human hands – a public school. Data is being used to compare the United States with countries such as Finland because the Finns score higher on international math and science tests, but can someone – anyone – tell me what Finland produces with their wealth of science and math knowledge?

The United States may score lower on international math and science tests, but somehow we instill creativity in our students and produce amazing technologies.

I taught and helped mentor the young man who stepped in front of the train. I helped him get a scholarship to a vocational school after he earned a high school diploma. He wanted to be an electrician, but I also knew about the many demons that tormented his gentle soul. He endured a miserable childhood, never knew his father, drank too much, and could not leash his black dog of depression. I tried to place him on a road that could lead him to a better place, believing that terra firma would make him feel a clearer path to success and salvation, but he could not see nor feel the ground beneath his feet. I failed.

I believe the vast majority of classroom teachers are not opposed to collecting data that may enhance instructional strategies or improve learning, but do object to a school system trying to emulate a business model designed to increase production and profits rather than enhance social and emotional growth. The social and emotional learning needs of children are too often omitted when describing the purpose of a “data-driven school district” and this is a flawed education philosophy.

The young man was a beautiful byte of data. Now he is a cold dead statistic."
2014  data  depression  metrics  schools  publischools  comparison  standardization  standardizedtesting  politics  policy  pisa  finland  us  testing  commoncore  josévilson 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Balance : Stager-to-Go
"Ah, balance!

Balance is the Fabreze of education policy. It is a chemical spray designed to mask the stench of a two year-old tuna sandwich found in the minvan with the artificial bouquet of an April rain dancing on a lily pad.

• Balanced literacy got us systemic phonics.
• Balanced math begot Singapore Math worksheets.
• Balanced standards produced The Common Core.
• Balanced policy debates produced No Child Left Behind and Race-to-the-Top

A balanced approach to educational technology made computer science extinct in schools and has now taught two generations of children to find the space bar in a computer lab-based keyboarding class.

I could go on.

Balance is elusive. It is fake and lazy and cowardly and sad. Balance is embraced by those who don’t know or can’t/won’t articulate what they truly believe. Balance fills the void left by the absence of alternative models and excellence. It is anonymous.

Educators are told that passion should be tempered. Every pedagogical idea is just fine as long as it is “for the children.” We should just do our jobs and not complain about outrageous attacks on our dignity, paycheck, curriculum, working conditions, or the living conditions of the students we serve.

Balance fills the school day with mandates and directives and lots of interruptions that while offering an illusion of options make it impossible for a learner to focus on anything long enough to become good at it.

Balance teaches children that teachers are helpless pawns in a system they don’t control or cannot understand.
Balance is the absentee parent of incrementalism. As educators take “baby steps” towards what they know is right or righteous they lead a long and meandering hike after which the followers cannot remember the original destination.
“This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” (Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963)

Educators are to remain neutral and seek consensus at all-costs. Balance programs us to find the silver lining in tornados. There MUST be SOMETHING good in what Bill Gates or Sal Khan or any number of a million corporations with ED or MENTUM or ACHIEVE or VATION in their names happen to be peddling.

The laws of the political universe, and education is inherently political, greet each embrace of “balance” as ten steps in a more conservative direction. There is no balance – just weakness.

I urge you to read one of my favorite passages ever written about “balance” in education. It is from a lesser-known classic, On Being a Teacher,”  by the great American educator, Jonathan Kozol. Please take a few minutes to read, “Extreme Ideas. [ ]”
garystager  balance  compromise  mediocrity  submission  2014  jonathankozol  resistance  hybridmodel  politics  policy  weakness  dilution  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  curriculum  commoncore  phonics  rttt  nclb  mandates  directives  rules  standardization  helplessness  gradualism  teching  pedagogy  schools  education  khanacademy  socialjustice  leadership  learning 
november 2014 by robertogreco
826 Seattle Changes Its Name to the Bureau of Fearless Ideas by Paul Constant - Seattle Books - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper
"And as Part of Its Commitment to Fearlessness, Breaks Off from 826 National and Expands into White Center with Another Tutoring Space

"he nonprofit soon to be formerly known as 826 Seattle was not conceived as a branch of 826 National. Hein had been organizing it for a year under other names. It was originally called Pencil Head “for the blink of an eye” until “these kids told me that was stupid,” and then it was going to be “Studio 26” until Eggers asked Hein to join 826 National. Since then, Hein says, they’ve been “operating at capacity for all our programs. We’ve never taken a loan, we’ve ended up in the black every year. Even through the worst of the economic decline, our budget’s been going up and up and up and up.” Staffing has increased from “two and a half” employees to 19. The first year’s annual budget was a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. This year, the budget is almost a million.

So if everything’s going so well, why rock the boat? Hein has nothing but kind words to say about 826 National, but she thinks her nonprofit has always been “kind of the independent chapter” and needs to grow beyond the 826 National mission statement. Plus, as 826 National grows and expands, they will probably need to standardize their procedures in order to capture the larger grants that a truly national educational program needs. Hein hopes the BFI will become an affiliate of 826 National; she’d like to pilot educational programs that she can then pass on to the nationwide branches. Gerald Richards, CEO of 826 National, issued a statement saying, "We wish them well,” but did not elaborate on the future of the BFI’s involvement with 826 National.

So what will the BFI do differently? For one thing, Hein says, they’re going to open a branch in White Center by 2016. And obviously the name is changing. A lot of serious thought has gone into the terminology behind the BFI. Students and tutors will be “Field Agents,” Hein is the “Bureau Chief,” and starting next week, students will be doing after-school tutoring and taking other classes at the Greenwood Field Office, which will still be hidden behind a teleporter in the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company.

Hein says the organization makes most of its money from individual donors, a rarity in the nonprofit education field. “Are we crazy to think we can raise another million dollars,” she says, “and open another center somewhere else? Or two centers? Or five centers?” She’s considered offices in Burien, and she calls Tukwila and the Crossroads neighborhood on the Eastside interesting possibilities. Wherever the field offices open, Hein wants them to become intrinsically tied to their neighborhoods. Seattle feels more divided than ever, she says, thanks to worsening traffic and economic disparity. But “what happens to kids when they really identify with their neighborhood and their sense of confidence and their sense of safety with their neighborhood?”

The programs that 826 Seattle has become known for will still be happening at the Bureau, including tutoring assistance, classes on writing family history “through poetry, prose, and a comic/graphic novel,” travel and food writing classes, and a National Novel Writing Month meet-up group for high-schoolers. The programs will still be free and available to kids from all financial backgrounds; they serve three thousand kids a year in Greenwood alone. Hein is bursting with ideas involving low-power radio and incorporating neighborhood businesses into the act. Hein says, “One of my fantasies is that the kids with their adults will research the history of Greenwood and perform a play about it with the adults at the Taproot Theatre.” She begins whirling off ideas—personal histories of immigrant small-business owners, songwriting projects—until it’s obvious that she’s just gotten started."
826seattle  seattle  terihein  2014  via:coreycaitlin  education  standardization  826national  tutoring  writing  children  youth  openstudioproject  lcproject 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Speed Kills: Fast is never fast enough - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"In the past 50 years, two economies that operate at two different speeds have emerged. In one, wealth is created by selling labor or stuff; in the other, by trading signs that are signs of other signs. The virtual assets scale at a speed much greater than the real assets. A worker can produce only so many motorcycles, a teacher can teach only so many students, and a doctor can see only so many patients a day. In high-speed markets, by contrast, billions of dollars are won or lost in billionths of a second. In this new world, wealth begets wealth at an unprecedented rate. No matter how many new jobs are created in the real economy, the wealth gap created by the speed gap will never be closed. It will continue to widen at an ever-faster rate until there is a fundamental change in values.

One of the most basic values that must be rethought is growth, which has not always been the standard by which economic success is measured. The use of the gross national product and gross domestic product to evaluate relative economic performance is largely the product of the Cold War. As the battleground between the United States and the Soviet Union expanded to include the economy, the question became whether capitalism or communism could deliver more goods faster."

"The problem is not only, as Michael Lewis argues in Flash Boys, finding a technological fix for markets that are rigged; the problem is that the entire system rests on values that have become distorted: individualism, utility, efficiency, productivity, competition, consumption, and speed. Furthermore, this regime has repressed values that now need to be cultivated: sustainability, community, cooperation, generosity, patience, subtlety, deliberation, reflection, and slowness. If psychological, social, economic, and ecological meltdowns are to be avoided, we need what Nietzsche aptly labeled a "transvaluation of values."

"The growing concern about the effectiveness of primary, secondary, and postsecondary education has led to a preoccupation with the evaluation of students and teachers. For harried administrators, the fastest and most efficient way to make these assessments is to adopt quantitative methods that have proved most effective in the business world. Measuring inputs, outputs, and throughputs has become the accepted way to calculate educational costs and benefits. While quantitative assessment is effective for some activities and subjects, many of the most important aspects of education cannot be quantified. When people believe that what cannot be measured is not real, education and, by extension society, loses its soul.

Today’s young people are not merely distracted—the Internet and video games are actually rewiring their brains. Neuroscientists have found significant differences in the brains of "addicted" adolescents and "healthy" users. The next edition of the standard Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will very likely specify Internet addiction as an area for further research. The epidemic of ADHD provides additional evidence of the deleterious effects of the excessive use of digital media. Physicians concerned about the inability of their patients to concentrate freely prescribe Ritalin, which is speed, while students staying up all night to study take Ritalin to give them a competitive advantage.

Rather than resisting these pressures, anxious parents exacerbate them by programming their kids for what they believe will be success from the time they are in prekindergarten. But the knowledge that matters cannot be programmed, and creativity cannot be rushed but must be cultivated slowly and patiently. As leading scientists, writers, and artists have long insisted, the most imaginative ideas often emerge in moments of idleness.

Many people lament the fact that young people do not read or write as much as they once did. But that is wrong—the issue is not how much they are reading and writing; indeed they are, arguably, reading and writing more than ever before. The problem is how they are reading and what they are writing. There is a growing body of evidence that people read and write differently online. Once again the crucial variable is speed. The claim that faster is always better is nowhere more questionable than when reading, writing, and thinking.

All too often, online reading resembles rapid information processing rather than slow, careful, deliberate reflection. Researchers have discovered what they describe as an "F-shaped pattern" for reading web content, in which as people read down a page, they scan fewer and fewer words in a line. When speed is essential, the shorter, the better; complexity gives way to simplicity, and depth of meaning is dissipated in surfaces over which fickle eyes surf. Fragmentary emails, flashy websites, tweets in 140 characters or less, unedited blogs filled with mistakes. Obscurity, ambiguity, and uncertainty, which are the lifeblood of art, literature, and philosophy, become decoding problems to be resolved by the reductive either/or of digital logic.

Finally, vocationalization. With the skyrocketing cost of college, parents, students, and politicians have become understandably concerned about the utility of higher education. Will college prepare students for tomorrow’s workplace? Which major will help get a job? Administrators and admission officers defend the value of higher education in economic terms by citing the increased lifetime earning potential for college graduates. While financial matters are not unimportant, value cannot be measured in economic terms alone. The preoccupation with what seems to be practical and useful in the marketplace has led to a decline in the perceived value of the arts and humanities, which many people now regard as impractical luxuries.

That development reflects a serious misunderstanding of what is practical and impractical, as well as the confusion between the practical and the vocational. As the American Academy of Arts and Sciences report on the humanities and social sciences, "The Heart of the Matter," insists, the humanities and liberal arts have never been more important than in today’s globalized world. Education focused on STEM disciplines is not enough—to survive and perhaps even thrive in the 21st century, students need to study religion, philosophy, art, languages, literature, and history. Young people must learn that memory cannot be outsourced to machines, and short-term solutions to long-term problems are never enough. Above all, educators are responsible for teaching students how to think critically and creatively about the values that guide their lives and inform society as a whole.

That cannot be done quickly—it will take the time that too many people think they do not have.

Acceleration is unsustainable. Eventually, speed kills. The slowing down required to delay or even avoid the implosion of interrelated systems that sustain our lives does not merely involve pausing to smell the roses or taking more time with one’s family, though those are important.

Within the long arc of history, it becomes clear that the obsession with speed is a recent development that reflects values that have become destructive. Not all reality is virtual, and the quick might not inherit the earth. Complex systems are not infinitely adaptive, and when they collapse, it happens suddenly and usually unexpectedly. Time is quickly running out."
speed  health  life  trends  2014  via:anne  marktaylor  filippomarinetti  futurists  futuristmanifesto  modernism  modernity  charliechaplin  efficiency  living  slow  thorsteinveblen  wealth  inequality  values  us  growth  economics  writing  finance  education  highered  highereducation  communication  internet  web  online  complexity  systemsthinking  systems  humanities  liberalarts  stem  criticalthinking  creativity  reflection  productivity  reading  howweread  howwewrite  thinking  schools  schooling  evaluation  assessment  quantification  standardization  standardizedtesting  society  interdisciplinary  professionalization  specialization  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  learning  howwelearn  howwethink  neuroscience  slowness  deliberation  patience  generosity  consumption  competition  competitiveness  subtlety  sustainability  community  cooperation  nietzsche  capitalism  latecapitalism 
october 2014 by robertogreco
All Technology is Assistive — Backchannel — Medium
"You might imagine that “disability studies” is just one more category of identity research that’s been created primarily for political advocacy, interesting only to those directly affected by issues of accessibility, accommodation, or special rights. But “disabled-ness” is another matter altogether. There are at least two big reasons why disability concerns are everyone’s concerns.

First, it’s a false divide to make a we/them: either able-minded, able-bodied, or disabled. After all, how cultures define, think about, and treat those who currently have marked disabilities is how all its future citizens may well be perceived if and when those who are able-bodied become less abled than they are now: by age, degeneration, or some sudden — or gradual — change in physical or mental capacities. All people, over the course of their lives, traffic between times of relative independence and dependence. So the questions cultures ask, the technologies they invent, and how those technologies broadcast a message about their users — weakness and strength, agency and passivity — are critical ones. And they’re not just questions for scientists and policy-makers; they’re aesthetic questions too.

Second, in many cultures — and certainly in the US — a pervasive, near-obsession with averages and statistical norms about bodies and capacities has become a naturalized form of describing both individuals and populations. But this way of measuring people and populations is historically very recent, and worth reconsidering."

"Well — it’s worth saying again: All technology is assistive technology. Honestly — what technology are you using that’s not assistive? Your smartphone? Your eyeglasses? Headphones? And those three examples alone are assisting you in multiple registers: They’re enabling or augmenting a sensory experience, say, or providing navigational information. But they’re also allowing you to decide whether to be available for approach in public, or not; to check out or in on a conversation or meeting in a bunch of subtle ways; to identify, by your choice of brand or look, with one culture group and not another.

Making a persistent, overt distinction about “assistive tech” embodies the second-tier do-gooderism and banality that still dominate design work targeted toward “special needs.” “Assistive technology” implies a separate species of tools designed exclusively for those people with a rather narrow set of diagnostic “impairments” — impairments, in other words, that have been culturally designated as needing special attention, as being particularly, grossly abnormal. But are you sure your phone isn’t a crutch, as it were, for a whole lot of unexamined needs?"

"In the name of good friction, then, I want to suggest some possible dispositions for designers and artists taking a look at ability and disability.

1. Invisibility is overrated.

2. Rethink the default bodily experience.

3. Consider fine gradations of qualitative change.

4. Uncouple medical technologies from their diagnostic contexts.

5. Design for one.

6. And this is perhaps the most important: Let the tools you make ask questions, not just solve problems."

[Previous versions/references here: (now gone) ]

[See also this exchange: ]
sarahendren  2014  technology  assistivetechnology  disability  ablerism  activism  design  audiencesofone  tolls  askingquestions  canon  experience  bodies  humans  norms  standards  standardization  individualization  personalization  bellcurve  normalcy  normalness  lennarddavis  ideal  dependence  independence  questionasking  disabilities  body 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Education in the Age of Globalization » Fatal Attraction: America’s Suicidal Quest for Educational Excellence
"That virus is the rising tide of authoritarianism in the United States. In exchange for the comfort of knowing how their children are doing academically and that their schools are being held accountable, Americans welcomed high-stakes testing into public education. Without the benefit of historical experience with these kinds of high-stakes tests, however, Americans failed to recognize those benign-looking tests as a Trojan horse—with a dangerous ghost inside. That ghost, authoritarianism, sees education as a way to instill in all students the same knowledge and skills deemed valuable by the authority.

Despite cheating scandals and stressed-out students, America doesn’t seem ready to be rid of its villain. Many Americans still believe standardized tests are needed, and that problems like widespread cheating can be fixed through superficial means. Since the cheating scandals went public, most of the attention has gone to the crimes committed by a few individuals and technical fixes that would have prevented them—everything from prescribing more severe punishments to increasing testing security and inventing better tests. Political leaders have pushed aside the call to abandon high-stakes testing altogether. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that while he was “stunned” by the Atlanta cheating scandal, the problem “is an easy one to fix, with better test security.”[5] Most parents support standardized testing and the use of test scores in teacher evaluation. Even some educators and school leaders support standardized testing. The two largest education unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, both accept standardized testing as part of American education.

Herein lies the tragedy for America—and reason for my writing this book.

The tale told by Chinese education illustrates the full range of tragic events that can happen under authoritarian rule. As one of the perfect incarnations of authoritarian education, China has produced superior test takers who have maintained a great civilization for millennia–but have failed to cultivate talents to defend against Western aggressions backed by modern technology and sciences in the 1800s. Since then China has struggled to retreat from its tradition of authoritarian education. Although China has already benefited from a gradual withdrawal from central dictation, as evidenced by its recent miraculous economic growth, authoritarianism still rules.

The Chinese people were deprived of any other means to succeed in life, both spiritually and materially. Their only option was to pass the exams dictated by the absolute authority—emperors in the past, and the government today. When people are convinced that there are no worthy options to pursue in life except the narrow path prescribed by an authoritarian government, they are forced to comply, accept indoctrination, and be homogenized. For this reason, Chinese parents have to invest generously in their children’s education and test preparation; their efforts mitigate the lack of sufficient investment from the government. When onlookers praise the efficiency of the Chinese educational system—in which minimal government investment begets huge gains in test scores—they ignore the resources Chinese parents throw into the pot.

The Chinese have also been praised for emphasizing effort and diligence instead of inherent intelligence or social conditions. Again, this is no more than a mistaken romanticization of an authoritarian ploy to deny the existence of individual differences and unequal social conditions. Emphasizing effort is a convenient way for the authority to evade responsibility for leveling the playing field for those with diverse abilities and talents. It is an excuse for not providing programs for children with disabilities or those born into extremely unfavorable social circumstances. It also serves as a seductive marketing slogan, persuading individuals to welcome homogenization."

"I wrote this book to show how China, a perfect incarnation of authoritarian education, has produced the world’s best test scores at the cost of diverse, creative, and innovative talents. I also tried to illustrate how difficult it is to move away from authoritarian thinking, by showing how China has struggled to reform its education for over a century. The book is intended to warn the United States and other Western countries about the dangerous consequences of educational authoritarianism.

Education in the West must go through transformative changes. A paradigm shift will be necessary, if we are to prepare children to live successfully in the new world. (I wrote about this shift in my previous book, World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students [4]). As traditional routine jobs are offshored and automated, we need more and more globally competent, creative, innovative, entrepreneurial citizens—job creators instead of employment-minded job seekers. To cultivate new talents, we need an education that enhances individual strengths, follows children’s passions, and fosters their social-emotional development. We do not need an authoritarian education that aims to fix children’s deficits according to externally prescribed standards.

If the U.S. and the West are concerned about being overtaken by China, the best solution is to avoid becoming China. The empire that led the world for over two millennia was shattered by Western technological and scientific innovations in the 1800s. Its education represents the best of the past. It worked extremely well for China’s imperial rulers for over 1,000 years, but it stopped working when the modern world emerged. The Chinese system continued to produce students who excel in a narrow range of subjects. Only 10% of its college graduates are deemed employable by multinational businesses[5], because these students lack the very qualities our new society needs.

China’s achievements over the past thirty years should be no reason for America and other Western nations to panic, as forewarned by French historian Nicolas Boulanger more than 250 years ago:
All the remains of her ancient institutions, which China now possesses, will necessarily be lost; they will disappear in the future revolutions; as what she hath already lost of them vanished in former ones; and finally, as she acquires nothing new, she will always be on the losing side. [8, p. 134].
education  assessment  nclb  china  yongzhao  via:taryn  competition  standardization  rttt  policy  schools  schooling  control  authoritarianism  us  homogenization  accountability  indoctrination  high-stakestesting 
september 2014 by robertogreco
CURMUDGUCATION: Students Travel in Packs
"We don't talk about this much, but one more problem with the reformster agenda is that it takes each student as an isolated unit, a human being with no context. The picture of "individualized" education often portrayed by folks like Knewton (the mad number crunching scientists at Pearson) is that we feed Pat into the Giant Data Bank and the GDB spits out Chris a student that the magic formulas claim is just like Pat. "Here's how Chris learned this stuff," says the magical computer. "Just teach Pat the same way."

This is an odd approach for many reasons, but one of the oddest reasons is that it assumes that Pat and Chris are discrete isolated student units with no real context or social setting.

In reformsterland, people are disconnected and no relationships exist. Teachers and students interact in a Strictly Business manner-- teachers deliver instruction and students respond to it by becoming capable enough to score well on standardized tests. But at least teachers and students interact in some manner; in reformsterland, students do not interact with other students at all. The relationships they form, the culture that they create in their schools-- none of this actually exists. In reformsterland, students travel in isolated bubbles, unaffected by any of the other bubbles around them.

It's ironic, because in reformsterland every one of those bubbles contains an identical data generation unit (formerly known as human children). One size fits them all, and I suppose it doesn't matter which one of the other bubbles is their "friend" because they're all interchangeable, and relationships don't affect anything anyway.

It's just one more way in which reformsterland does not resemble the real world. Because in the real world, students travel in packs, and the packs are interesting and vibrant and affecting because every person brings something unique to the table. And the possible combinations of all these humans are infinite in number, staggering in complexity, and endless in influence, whether reformsters want to recognize their existence or not."
education  policy  edreform  onesixefitsall  standardization  school  instruction  standards  individualization  relationships  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  teaching  business  standardizedtests  data  petergreene  2014 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Why Girls Get Better Grades Than Boys Do - The Atlantic
[My tweet: "“Why Girls Get Better Grades Than Boys Do” … Missing: Conscientiousness or deference? Innate or conditioned?"]

"This self-discipline edge for girls carries into middle-school and beyond. In a 2006 landmark study, Martin Seligman and Angela Lee Duckworth found that middle-school girls edge out boys in overall self-discipline. This contributes greatly to their better grades across all subjects. They found that girls are more adept at “reading test instructions before proceeding to the questions,” “paying attention to a teacher rather than daydreaming,” “choosing homework over TV,” and “persisting on long-term assignments despite boredom and frustration.” These top cognitive scientists from the University of Pennsylvania also found that girls are apt to start their homework earlier in the day than boys and spend almost double the amount of time completing it. Girls’ grade point averages across all subjects were higher than those of boys, even in basic and advanced math—which, again, are seen as traditional strongholds of boys.

What Drs. Seligman and Duckworth label “self-discipline,” other researchers name “conscientiousness.” Or, a predisposition to plan ahead, set goals, and persist in the face of frustrations and setbacks. Conscientiousness is uniformly considered by social scientists to be an inborn personality trait that is not evenly distributed across all humans. In fact, a host of cross-cultural studies show that females tend to be more conscientious than males. One such study by Lindsay Reddington out of Columbia University even found that female college students are far more likely than males to jot down detailed notes in class, transcribe what professors say more accurately, and remember lecture content better. Arguably, boys’ less developed conscientiousness leaves them at a disadvantage in school settings where grades heavily weight good organizational skills alongside demonstrations of acquired knowledge.

These days, the whole school experience seems to play right into most girls’ strengths—and most boys’ weaknesses. Gone are the days when you could blow off a series of homework assignments throughout the semester but pull through with a respectable grade by cramming for and acing that all-important mid-term exam. Getting good grades today is far more about keeping up with and producing quality homework—not to mention handing it in on time.

Gwen Kenney-Benson, a psychology professor at Allegheny College, a liberal arts institution in Pennsylvania, says that girls succeed over boys in school because they tend to be more mastery-oriented in their schoolwork habits. They are more apt to plan ahead, set academic goals, and put effort into achieving those goals. They also are more likely than boys to feel intrinsically satisfied with the whole enterprise of organizing their work, and more invested in impressing themselves and their teachers with their efforts.

On the whole, boys approach schoolwork differently. They are more performance-oriented. Studying for and taking tests taps into their competitive instincts. For many boys, tests are quests that get their hearts pounding. Doing well on them is a public demonstration of excellence and an occasion for a high-five. In contrast, Kenney-Benson and some fellow academics provide evidence that the stress many girls experience in test situations can artificially lower their performance, giving a false reading of their true abilities. These researchers arrive at the following overarching conclusion: “The testing situation may underestimate girls’ abilities, but the classroom may underestimate boys’ abilities.”

It is easy to for boys to feel alienated in an environment where homework and organization skills account for so much of their grades. But the educational tide may be turning in small ways that give boys more of a fighting chance. An example of this is what occurred several years ago at Ellis Middle School, in Austin, Minnesota. Teachers realized that a sizable chunk of kids who aced tests trundled along each year getting C’s, D’s, and F’s. At the same time, about 10 percent of the students who consistently obtained A’s and B’s did poorly on important tests. Grading policies were revamped and school officials smartly decided to furnish kids with two separate grades each semester. One grade was given for good work habits and citizenship, which they called a “life skills grade.” A “knowledge grade” was given based on average scores across important tests. Tests could be retaken at any point in the semester, provided a student was up to date on homework.

Staff at Ellis Middle School also stopped factoring homework into a kid’s grade. Homework was framed as practice for tests. Incomplete or tardy assignments were noted but didn’t lower a kid’s knowledge grade. The whole enterprise of severely downgrading kids for such transgressions as occasionally being late to class, blurting out answers, doodling instead of taking notes, having a messy backpack, poking the kid in front, or forgetting to have parents sign a permission slip for a class trip, was revamped.

This last point was of particular interest to me. On countless occasions, I have attended school meetings for boy clients of mine who are in an ADHD red-zone. I have learned to request a grade print-out in advance. Not uncommonly, there is a checkered history of radically different grades: A, A, A, B, B, F, F, A. When F grades and a resultant zero points are given for late or missing assignments, a student’s C grade does not reflect his academic performance. Since boys tend to be less conscientious than girls—more apt to space out and leave a completed assignment at home, more likely to fail to turn the page and complete the questions on the back—a distinct fairness issue comes into play when a boy’s occasional lapse results in a low grade. Sadly though, it appears that the overwhelming trend among teachers is to assign zero points for late work. In one survey by Conni Campbell, associate dean of the School of Education at Point Loma Nazarene University, 84 percent of teachers did just that.

Disaffected boys may also benefit from a boot camp on test-taking, time-management, and study habits. These core skills are not always picked up by osmosis in the classroom, or from diligent parents at home. Of course, addressing the learning gap between boys and girls will require parents, teachers and school administrators to talk more openly about the ways each gender approaches classroom learning—and that difference itself remains a tender topic."
gender  schools  boys  girls  education  homework  compliance  conscienciousness  angeladuckworth  2014  martinseligman  deference  authority  self-discipline  adhd  grades  grading  gwenkenney-benson  conditioning  goalsetting  persistence  lindsayreddington  connicampbell  disaffection  testtaking  timemanagement  studyhabits  learninggap  attention  distraction  academics  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  gendernorms  society  enricognaulati  assessment  standardization 
september 2014 by robertogreco