Entries Tagged 'Cut the Crap' ↓

Data-driven schools — Really?

Data-driven decision making is the latest silly idea in the education improvement cycle, which goes like this:

1. Education entrepreneurs, researchers and policy makers come up with a silly idea.

2. Teachers resist it.

3. Teachers are blamed for resisting change.

4. Education does not improve, so everything goes back to Step #1.

At this very moment, someone is saying teachers and schools should be data-driven.

Cut the Crap

Yes, we have more data than ever before.  And yes, this is a good thing — if we understand the limitations of that data. But the phrase “data-driven decision making” signals the failure to understand those limitations. Education decisions are driven by judgment. Good decisions come from good judgments. Bad decisions come from bad judgments.

Researchers, test companies, and publishing houses promote the data-driven idea so they can sell data, data collecting and data analysis tools to schools. And educational administrators and policy makers are so unimaginative they fall for it, proving once again that poor decisions are driven by poor judgment, not poor data.

No matter how much data are collected and analyzed, schools improve when teachers and administrators use good judgment.  They can start by rejecting “data-driven decision making.”

Dear Dr. Amy:

According to the Huffington Post, you were unhappy that one of your patients did not show up on time for her appointments:

An OB-GYN in St. Louis is under fire after posting a Facebook status about one of her patients. According to KMOV, Amy Dunbar, a physician at Mercy Hospital, was so frustrated with an expecting mother’s lateness that she ranted about it online.

Did you really “rant” about a patient being late? Surely you realize we “regular” people have to wait 40-80 minutes in uncomfortable waiting areas every time we have a medical appointment. Surely your medical school taught you to schedule your days so you never wait for patients, even if that means they have to wait for you — 20 minutes in the lobby and 30 minutes or more in the exam room.

Cut the Crap

I love the irony of an MD being unhappy because someone was late.

Dear MDs:

It’s simple, if you want your patients to be on time, be on time!  And don’t give me that “we are short of doctors” crap.  If we are short of doctors it’s because your medical schools limit enrollments so we ARE short of doctors. And the AMA keeps it that way, not because it is difficult to become a doctor, but so you can charge ridiculous prices for the marginal services you provide.

Or if you did more to educate the public about prevention, your patient load might decrease enough that you could be on time once in a while. But that would blow your cover — the great myth of the busy, devoted MD, whose time is more important than everyone else’s.

What a crock!  If you want veneration, be on time once in a while.

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.

Continue reading →

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.