By Allan Alach
Today I read an article by Bill Gates (yes I survived) where he appeared to be questioning the USA teacher evaluation systems that are based on test scores. Good stuff, Bill, but why did you promote this kind of evaluation on the first place? Gates quotes this mind boggling example.
‘In one Midwestern state, for example, a 166-page Physical Education Evaluation Instrument holds teachers accountable for ensuring that students meet state-defined targets for physical education, such as consistently demonstrating “correct skipping technique with a smooth and effortless rhythm” and “strike consistently a ball with a paddle to a target area with accuracy and good technique.” ‘
Here’s a response by US blogger Anthony Cody, which concludes with ‘When Bill Gates states he is all for accountability, perhaps he might start with himself. Until then, I really do not value his views on what good accountability systems for others ought to consist of.’
I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s homework!
The War Over Math and Reading
‘There is a simmering war (of words) about boys, girls, math, reading and why fewer women become scientists or technology experts.’
Read to learn more – leads to conclusions about lower achieving students.
Chicago is ground zero for disastrous ‘free market’ reforms of education
‘Chicago has turned public schools into privately run charters. The results aren’t stellar and other cities should beware.’
‘The school reformers peddling neoliberal snake oil, promising the healing benefits of privatizing the country’s public school system, are undoubtedly watching Chicago very closely, looking for strategies to export to other cities.’
Contemporary Education Reform and “A Cult of Ignorance”
As well as being a great writer of science fiction, Isaac Asimov was also a very perceptive commentator on wider issues. This blog discusses an article from 1980 where Asimov declared, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
Since then this ‘cult of ignorance’ has spread outside the USA, to the detriment of us all.
Creativity – its place in education
Excellent article by Wayne Morris published on Bruce Hammonds’ Leading and Learning blog:
“The roots of a creative society are in basic education. The sheer volume of facts to be digested by the students of today leaves little time for a deeper interrogation of their moral worth. The result has been a generation of technicians rather than visionaries, each one taking a career rather than an idea seriously. The answer must be reform in our educational methods so that students are encouraged to ask about “know-why” as well as “know-how”.
The new kindergarten: Kids write ‘informative’ reports
‘Remember back in the olden days when kindergarteners used to be allowed to learn from playing? Now, in the age of the Common Core State Standards, 4 and 5 year olds are being required to do things such as write “Informative/Explanatory Reports” and identify topic sentences.’
Brace yourselves – when will this nonsense appear ‘down under?’ Note – ‘kindergarteners’ includes 5 year olds.
Penn-Finn Learnings 2013: Does Student Voice Translate in Finnish? (via Bruce)
Another perspective on Finland – this time exploring the input from the students.
Arts Education: A Right and Necessity (via Bruce)
One increasingly familiar outcome from GERM is the neglect of subjects outside literacy and numeracy. So much for the concept of a ‘full education,’ replaced instead by skills training for a limited future as a ‘wage slave.’ Here’s an argument for the inclusion of arts in the curriculum.
Brief mindfulness training may boost test scores, working memory
Now for something completely different….