So just a couple of quick education centered observations about this past weekend, spent with various family members from both sides:
First, one of my tribe is a teacher at one of the top 15 high schools as listed in the current version of Connecticut Magazine. It’s a very well off district that sends a high number of it’s graduates to college, a good number of them to the “best” schools in the world. Over the years, he’s been hearing my spiel about technology and the Web, and he and a couple of his colleagues have been dipping their toes into the social tools waters with varying degrees of success with one very notable, very positive exception. So here’s the news: almost all of it is being done pretty much under the radar with very little discussion, investment or support of technology of any kind in the classroom. Most of the professional development is centered around the learning theory author du jour, and the focus of all of it is maintaining or increasing test scores. In other words, it’s pretty much all about trying to do better what we’ve been doing all along, assessing it all the same way, and hoping for the same result. There is little or no talk of “21st Century” (or whatever you want to call them) skills or literacies in terms of global collaboration, networking, connecting and problem solving.
My other story deals with a third grader on Wendy’s side of the family. She came to visit over the weekend and at one point she pulled out a little red workbook and started doing problems in it. “It’s homework,” she said, adding that she had six pages to do over the weekend. Later, when she was done and had left it open on the dining room table, I flipped through it a bit and saw page after page of pretty basic math and word problems and (fill in the blank). When I closed it, I finally noticed the title: “Preparation for the 3rd Grade New Jersey ASK Assessment.”