Entries Tagged 'Cut the Crap' ↓

Stating the obvious — again

The six virtues are sometimes criticized for stating the obvious. But educators state the obvious all the time.  Some even get paid to state the obvious to large audiences. Bill Daggett has been getting paid to state the obvious for more than 20 years.

According to him, students are more likely to respond positively to math problems that are relevant to their lives. He gave two examples:

Calculate percentages of advertising in a newspaper. Tour the school building and identify examples of parallel and perpendicular lines, planes and angles.

And district superintendent Dr. Beth Everitt said,

That’s a framework that’s interesting and relevant to students. It’s important to put their work into a context that they can understand.

Really?

Cut the Crap

Thirty-five years ago I “tricked” students into learning by assigning activities relevant to their lives. Does Daggett know why educators don’t “trick” students  more often with relevant lessons? It’s not because they disagree. It’s because they lack the imagination, courage, and humility to develop meaningful, relevant lessons within the constraints of a K-12 school.

It’s because today’s educators dutifully learned three vices in their own K-16 experiences:

A. As they sat still, kept their mouths shut, and didn’t ask too many questions; they learned intellectual incompetence.

B. They learned to fear truths like these: (1) Nineteenth century U.S. history is about the government stealing land from native tribes.  (2) States legislate unequal educational opportunity. (3) Our economic system would collapse if citizens stopped making unnecessary, unhealthy purchases.

C. And they learned to be proud — proud to be an American, Texan, Minnesotan, Floridian, etc.

Of course not all K-12 teachers demonstrate these vices, but these are norms among public school educators.

Instead of adopting the six-virtue definition of the educated person, public school policy makers hire people like Bill Daggett and district superintendent Everitt to state the obvious — “It’s important to put their work into a context that they can understand.”  Brilliant.

What makes a good teacher?

According to PBS’s American Graduate project, this is a “simple question at the center of almost any discussion on education reform.” Hari Sreenivasan does not answer the question, presumably because:

. . . the answers are many and often complex, and the question can lead to highly polarizing debates over exactly how and how often teachers should be evaluated on their job performance.

Really?

Cut the Crap

The answer is simple, if you know the six virtues of the educated person.

PBS doesn’t know the six virtues, so they broadcast a program about teacher evaluations at a charter school in Connecticut that goes through extensive evaluation procedures. The school has a 360 degree evaluation process and a five-stage career path. Does anybody else think it strange that they go through so much, but they don’t know “What makes a good teacher?”

Maybe I shouldn’t pick. So what if the question was posed and never answered? So what if they broadcast a story about a charter school that does not answer the question?

At the end Jeffrey Brown invites us to go online:

There’s much more online, including a video about Bridgeport Academy’s strict rules, uniforms and college expectations. Plus, tell us what you think makes a great teacher.

Dear Jeffrey:

Good teachers are understanding, imaginative, strong, courageous, humble and generous. But don’t take my word for it. Remember your own “good teachers.” Did they bring the six virtues into their classrooms, or were they ignorant, unimaginative, weak, fearful of truth, proud or selfish? Why don’t you come to this website and answer that simple question. I love irony.

One “success in life” lesson schools don’t teach

The headline reads:

5 Lessons Our Kids Don’t Learn in School For Success in Life

The author is Jennifer Owens. According to her LinkedIn summary, she has never worked in K-12 schools, so I am not sure how she knows kids don’t learn these 5 lessons in school. I suppose, like most people who write about improving education, she is working from a sample size of one — one family, one type of school, one period in history.

Continue reading →

Do you think we are THAT stupid?

I have written about political rhetoric before.  In one blog I described the difference between liberal and conservative media this way:

The liberal media use the actual words of conservatives (sometimes out of context, sometimes not) to ridicule their ideas and philosophy. The right-wing media distorts the words (and beliefs) of liberals, and then ridicules them. . . In the language of debate competitions, they “prop up a straw man and knock it down.”

Here is the Romney campaign reaction to President Obama explaining the biggest mistake of his first term: Continue reading →

Define “educated” with 6 virtues, and 21st Century Skills are covered

If you believe we should define 21st Century skills, but not define what it means to be educated, check out this blog or download this PDF. If you realize that modeling and teaching the six virtues covers these skills, read here.

Three ideas from 21st Century skills blog: Continue reading →

Meet the new education– Same as the old education

This week’s TIME magazine reported on the Khan Academy.  Irony drips from Salman Khan’s claim to being an education outsider (page 41):

I think there’s an advantage to being an outsider–I am not colored by the dogma of the Establishment.

Really?

Cut the Crap

Dear Salman:

You ARE the Establishment. Continue reading →

Philosophy “matters” more than curriculum

The title of the Education Week blog, “Curriculum Matters,” is a play on the two meanings of “matters.” It addresses all kinds of curriculum issues (matters); and because curriculum influences everything in the school, it “matters” above all else.

That is why blogger Catherine Gewertz described how principals are being brought up-to-date on the implementation of the new Common Core curriculum.

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Nothing “social” about social media

With Facebook going public we have been inundated with reports about how social media (Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, Linked In, etc.) are revolutionizing how we communicate. Two recent NPR programs featured guests making the following claims. (I can’t remember the programs. I was in the car.)

1. “Social media are revolutionizing how we communicate”  — Really?

Cut the Crap

They are not. We have communicated via text since the invention of writing, through music since the playing of musical instruments, and through images since the invention of photography.  Those were revolutionary inventions. Facebook and Twitter allow us to share in these formats WITHOUT being social.

2.  “Social media (Facebook) are changing teenage life”  — Really?

A Stanford professor found that teenagers are lonely, even though they spend a lot of time “presenting themselves” on Facebook — posting pictures and stories, constantly changing their order and their “presentation.”

Cut the Crap

No change here. Teens have always been self-absorbed and lonely.  By the way, teens have always bullied, too. (I am not excusing it.) We now call it cyber-bullying, but it is what teens have always done, just with another tool.

3.  “Social media are ubiquitous; but, we are not more social”  — Really?

Cut the Crap

Calling something “social” does not make it so. Technology writers had to find an appealing name for a new technology. They called it “social media” because nobody would use it, if they called it “narcissistic media.” There is nothing “social” about social media. Facebook, Twitter, and the others make life better in some ways; but “social” life is not one of them.

News flash from psychologist!

Psychologese Crap

News flash for teachers and parents:

Students learn when they are engaged in their lesson!  You can watch the two-minute video yourself.

Students learn when they are engaged?  I am glad a psychologist revealed that (sarcasm).

Cut the Crap

In common language, students learn when they put their mind to it.  They learn when they bring understanding, imagination, and strong character to the lesson.

We can pretend psychologists offer insight, or we can keep it simple: Just model and teach the six virtues!

Is “educated” really this complex?

Richard Tabor Greene identified 48 capabilities of the educated person.  Does his research answer my question about what it means to be educated?  Or is it another list of desired qualities that is neither useful nor inspiring?

Cut the Crap

I tried to read the explanation; but it’s an example of why philosophers get a bad name — discussing esoteric topics in tortured language.  Greene conducted social scientific research to answer a philosophical question.  He provides charts and arrows to illustrate what he found.

Continue reading →