From Deborah Meier on Bridging Differences in what is unquestionably one of the most powerful paragraphs about education I’ve read in a long time:
As long as we use test scores as our primary evidence for being poorly educated we reinforce the connectionâ€”and the bad teaching to which it leads. If by some course of action we could get everyone’s score the sameâ€”even by cheatingâ€”Iâ€™d be for it, so we could get on to discussing the interactions that matter in classrooms and schools: between â€œI, Thou, and It.â€ Iâ€™ve spent 45 years trying, unsuccessfully, to shift the discussion to schools as sites for learning. Such a â€œconversationâ€ might not produce economic miracles, but it would over time connect schooling to the kind of learning that can protect both democracy and our economy. Because thatâ€™s where schools are (or are not) powerful.
Sites for learning. What a concept.
Are we talking “A site for learning” or “THE site for learning”?
WOW I like the quote and the concern regarding the use of test scores as they measure and show 19-20th century learning not 21st C learning. Very interesting……As for schools being the “site for learning” I’m not so sure school as we know it will be as we physically know it. Might school be more of a virtual location that serves as the portal for learning? I don’t see it as being a “stable location”.
I agree, turning into more of a virtual location that serves as a portal for learning. Our summer school (credit recovery) programs are all online, with little to no human interaction. When will all classrooms go to this aspect?
Meredith Broderick says
On the Mark, exactly. conversations. Real meaningful Conversations. in my own tech Lab where we study many subjects, with 4th graders, during a lesson two of my students started a debate about the economic merits of slavery to the founder fathers, and the colonies in opposition to the ideal of human rights. Then about 4 more joined them, I just let them go and listened This was April. special Education kids, and a group of them got into a somewhat passionate discussion, a discussion many of my fellow teachers would not have, it took till April, why? because in every other class their opinion, their interpretation, their connection to the learning does not really matter, “getting the Right Answer is the focal point and there is not time or room for anything else.
but let’s be realists Arne duncan is giving away $100, million dollars to states that can show how they use data to drive instruction, not soft data, but hard data, (state Tests). How do you magically turn accountable talk, meaningful hi-level conversations and debate into hard data.?
the problem I have thought for years is that teaching is an art as much if not more so than a science. We would like it to be a science with neat formulas that prove true again and again, and that is just not the case of classrooms.
Anthony Negron says
Very interesting read here. Everything we know growing up as a student revolved around trying to score our very best on exams and get good grades. You score high on the SAT’s and you likely to end up in a better college/university. You score high on the GRE’S or GMAT’S and you get into great MBA or Master’s program. It is almost as if we were being trained to perform to only succeed in tests and having numerical scores prove our intelligence. Of course, this is not the situation all of the time. I know that I have had some of my best classes where it has been open discussion. High amounts of interaction between students and teacher. I think think tests are important to a certain extent but I feel that moving towards more classroom interaction and discussion will make for a more richer and valuable education for students.
Carol Fitzpatrick says
I agree with you totally. For years, educators have done what we’ve been told to do by the politicians (who want quick, concrete results because they NEED these quick, tangible numbers to prove their effectiveness or need for policy changes while they’re STILL in office). Let’s be honest, we prepare our students for every test that we’re told our students have to take. Nothing can replace innovative, creative learning. Vital, well-orchestrated class discussions open the doors to new ideas and “thinking outside the box.” I’ve actually had to teach some students to stop thinking of all possibilities in order to find the one answer the testmakers want them to find. That’s not the real world! That’s not the foundation of independent thinking that has engendered every revolutionary change in history. Why don’t we want this type of thinking for our children?
Bri Brewer says
I think sites for learning would harness the power of interaction to create an engaging environment. The idea that test scores are the sole measure of learning is antiquated and belies what learning is truly about. I can still remember the heated debates of my jr. year Humanities class where I learned more about the subjects we studied than I could have ever retained from lecture and testing. The best way to learn something is to teach, so let’s invite our students to teach us and eachother something.