I’ve been way out of the loop with my blog/professional reading for the last few weeks. End of school just always slams me, and then I got to go on a wonderful vacation, so it’s literally been a couple of months since I’ve really read what is showing up in my google reader! I can’t wait to begin looking through and thinking about what recently happened at NECC.
Anyway, this morning (since I’m still a bit jet-lagged), I got up early and began reading David Warlick’s blog–he always gets me thinking! He has a turn of phrase that so often provides a clarity that I just can’t express as well myself.
In his response to Clarence Fisher’s post, (America, You’ve Got Trouble ), David considers how both Canadian and American classrooms can effectively incorporate the changes that are necessary to our students tomorrow.
The problem, in my opinion, began when we started to consider and to treat our students as our future workforce. When it became our industries that were at stake, rather than democracy, then we had no choice but to mechanize education, to turn it into an assembly line, where we install math, and install reading, and install science, and then measure each product at the end to make sure that they all meet the standards — that they all know the same things and think the same ways.
The sad part is that this theme of class as future work force is just about too firmly entrenched to turn around in the short months and years we have, before it’s too late. I’m finding myself promoting the creative arts skills for the sake of the economy, rather than a richer life for our children. But even within that story, I think that we can retool our classrooms in a way that does help our children inside and outside their work experiences.
Standards–and minimum standards, at that–are being used on a massive scale in our schools to ensure just that–learning at the lowest acceptable level by the greatest number of children. We put great time and effort into ensuring that minimum competencies are met by all (or most). Admittedly, we do talk professionally about “extending the learning” of all students, especially those who we know will pass the test in the end, but is that enough? It seems artificial & prescriptive to me…a bit disingenuous, in fact…to allow “extension,” but primarily for the students who have already met the minimum. Is it enough that all our students know the “same things and think the same ways?” That is scary to me…and sad.
More and more, I find myself out of sync with the general practice in my profession–at least locally. Shouldn’t we challenge all our kids to think creatively? Not just with the goal of better standardized test scores in mind! Honoring our students’ creativity and fostering its development is what will make a difference in their adult lives–both economically and personally. Is there room for that when minimum standards consume our practice? What is the answer?