Entries Tagged 'Media Reviews' ↓

It’s all in the definition, what’s yours?

The headline about the George Zimmerman verdict read: “Jury instructions at center of verdict: Reasonable doubt, justifiable force definitions played part in decision.” (Asheville Citizen-Times, July 15, 2013, p. A4)

Later that day I opened the July 8/July 15 TIME cover story on happiness. The author wrote:

Part of the solution, however, may lie not in a product or a program but simply in a better understanding of the particular way Americans define happiness in the first place. (p. 27)

There you have it.  Every discussion related to the Zimmerman case depends on your definition of reasonable doubt and justifiable force. And every discussion related to happiness depends on your definition of happiness.  Of course they do, just like every discussion related to education depends on your definition of “educated.”

What’s yours?

How to hire “educated” teachers

According to an elementary school principal in Cherry Hill, NJ:

For those coming out of college, getting a full-time position immediately is not going to happen. (Asheville Citizen-Times, 2/19/2013, p. 2)

This might be an exaggeration because a few new teachers are hired every year, but the point is important. A glut of teachers has been created by recent staff reductions.

From the perspective of school boards trying to hire the best teachers, this is an unprecedented opportunity to hire the most highly educated people. School boards that adopt the six-virtue definition of the educated person can advertise like this:

Teaching Vacancies

Independent School District is hiring elementary, middle and high schools teachers. We define the educated person as one whose intellect is understanding and imaginative, whose character is strong and courageous, and whose spirit is humble and generous.  Applicants should possess a bachelor’s degree in education and complete an application in which they describe how they model and teach those virtues.

If new hires modeled and taught the six virtues, school communities would see:

1. Test scores go up.

2. Bullying go down. (Each incident would be an opportunity to teach U, I, S, C, H & G.)

3. Second language learners welcomed into the school community.

4. Struggling students with more opportunities for success.

5. Parents feel welcome.

6. High morale — those who aren’t six-virtue teachers would leave, affording more opportunities to hire six-virtue ones.

7. Teacher & student leadership grow.

The list could go on and on. The six-virtue definition of the educated person is the key to hiring “educated” teachers.  Without it, school districts will miss this opportunity, and tomorrow’s teaching force will be just as uneducated as today’s.

All school boards have to do is believe in the six-virtue definition of the educated person. It costs nothing, which makes it the holy grail of school reform — improvement at no extra cost.

If you are a school board member who believes in a different definition of the educated person, please share it in a “comment.” Or nominate a virtue that is not a combination of these six. Or describe a knowledge or skill that can be learned without the six virtues.

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.

Equal educational opportunity and capitalism are oil and water

“The Common Core: Educational Redeemer or Rainmaker?” (Teachers College Record (TCR), 2012) argues that common core advocates profit from its implementation. We should not be surprised. Just like other American institutions, public education is now driven by the buying and selling of goods and services. Some say this is good because capitalistic principles and practices are positive social forces.

But we need to ask how the ideal of equal educational opportunity (EEO) mixes with capitalism. Ten years ago, while teaching a graduate course at a for-profit, family-owned school in Nicaragua, I discovered they are oil and water. Continue reading →

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 →

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 →

Improving schools is difficult. Don’t make it complicated.

A must-read for school personnel is Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal’s Reframing Organizations (RO). It uses clear language to explain an idea that is so simple it can be remembered and applied in even the most complex, hectic, school situations. When applied to schools, the theory behind RO is that educators acquire a full understanding of school situations by looking at them through four different “frames:” (1) structural, (2) human relations, (3) political, and (4) symbolic.

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 →