I found these two posts in recent weeks and thought they’d be good for starting the school year conversation.
Five Changes Every School Should Make
by Cathy Davidson
“In her book Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn(Viking), Duke University professor Cathy Davidson talks about how the education system must be overhauled.”
“1. End standardized end-of-grade tests. They demotivate learning and good teaching. Instead, test in challenging ways, using tough game mechanics with real-time feedback on results so kids can learn from the test—not be taught to scam the test!
2. Make all learning real, relevant, tied to communities, with real application in the kids’ lives outside of the classroom. Example: Ban research papers—unless they are published online and have an informative, persuasive, or other real purpose for others. Learning should have an impact beyond getting an “A” on the assignment.
3. Teach kids to think through, with, about, for–and create–new, interactive digital global communication. I don’t mean this as an add on. I mean rethinking all the subjects we now teach in view of the possibilities (what techies call “affordances”) of the digital age. That means getting rid of the “two cultures” binary. STEM subjects are impoverished without creativity, analysis, critical thinking. The Information Age is about putting back together the knowledge that the Industrial Age subdivided. A simpler way is to say have them all learn Scratch multimedia programming and think about the possibilities.
4. Restore arts, music, shop, P.E., dance: Kids need the soul-stirring learning that lets them move, make, sing, create, dream.
5. Eliminate the “college prep” and AP distinctions, and stop making college the implicit standard for all education, back to preschool. Many worthy careers don’t need higher ed. Many careers that don’t need higher ed still need a liberal arts education in creative, applied, cross-disciplinary thinking, all of which are as necessary to run your whole hair salon or motorcycle repair shop as they are to get a law degree. Conversely, make college free and open to everyone, at any age. Now, that would be a game changer!”
I’d add another one. Stop starting high school too early in the morning. Let the young teens get enough sleep and stop sending them home in the early afternoon to unsupervised homes, malls, and neighbourhoods. There is research that this results in major improvements in performance and scores. Why is human biology and teen development knowledge ignored?
“1. Survey Your Students About Social Media
2. Utilize Groups and Communities
3. Establish Clearly Communicated Boundaries”
“By some estimates, more than 80% of college professors use social media in some way. As more and more educators venture into the world of online technology, new and innovative possibilities will emerge. By being mindful of your students’ comfort levels, encouraging group discussion on official class pages and being clear about your boundaries, you will create lively and extremely useful communication channels for your students.”