Archives for the month of: June, 2014

There is tremendous pressure, inside the ed world, to transform public schools into make-believe start-ups.

Inside the”student-centered” class of the 21st century, students move purposefully about the room, poking their devices and working in teams to…innovate.

From a typical report in Education Week:

The fast trends:

Schools are rethinking the roles of teachers, as pressure increases for digital-learning integration in classrooms, including a shift to “student-centered” learning and flipped classrooms. The report states that in ideal class settings, the teacher will function as the mentor, guiding groups and individual learners through technology-based lessons.

[snip]

Trends expected in five years or more:

Overall changes in the structure of schools are aimed to create innovative school designs and restructuring school schedules to allow more flexibility and cultivate student creativity. The report notes that the multi-disciplinary nature of project-based learning and other models requires subjects to be linked to one another, without the restriction of bell schedules and classrooms. Students at Venture Academy in Minneapolis go to school in a repurposed printing plant without structured classrooms and at High Tech High in San Diego students work freely throughout the school building, designing structures and producing multimedia.

This is where IUFSD is headed.

SUPERINTENDENT: Curriculum should be infused with technology
CURRICULUM: I am a child-centered professional
TECHNOLOGY DIRECTOR: Jesse Lubinsky, Technology Director,
..Twitter feed
|  NY Tech Ed blog

“…the chief barriers to effective school reform are not the usual accused: bad teacher unions, low teacher quality, burdensome government dictates. Many a charter school in the US has been able to bypass those barriers without being able to produce better results than the regular public schools they were meant to replace. No wonder. Many of these failed charter schools were conceived under the very myths that Ms. Christodoulou exposes [in her book Seven Myths About Education]. It wasn’t the teacher unions after all! Ms. Christodoulou argues convincingly that what has chiefly held back school achievement and equity in the English-speaking world for the past half century is a set of seductive but mistaken ideas.”

A Game-Changing Education Book from England
by E. D. Hirsch, Jr.
July 2nd, 2013

From Daisy Christodoulou’s Seven Myths about Education

My central argument is that much of what teachers are taught about education is wrong, and that they are encouraged to teach in ineffective ways. After I had been teaching for 3 years, I took a year out to do further study. I was shocked to stumble across an entire field of educational and scientific research which completely disproved so many of the theories I had been taught when training and teaching. I was not just shocked; I was angry. I felt as though I had been misled. I had been working furiously for 3 years, teaching hundreds of lessons, and much information that would have made my life a whole lot easier and would have helped my pupils immeasurably had just never been introduced to me. Worse, ideas that had absolutely no evidence backing them up had been presented to me as unquestionable axioms. One of the writers I most enjoyed reading was Herbert Simon. His research into decision-making won him a Nobel Prize. Together with two other cognitive scientists, wrote a paper criticizing many of the ideas that are popular in US education:

New ‘theories’ of education are introduced into schools every day (without labeling them as experiments) on the basis otheir philosophical or common-sense plausibility but without genuine empirical support.

Simon’s observation appeared in a paper published in 2000: “Applications and Misapplications of Cognitive Psychology to Mathematics Education” by John R. Anderson, Lynne M. Reder, & Herbert A. Simon | Texas Education Review, v1 n2 p29-49 Sum 2000.

In the years since 2000, common-sense plausibility has taken a back seat to theory. A “hot! hot! hot!” practice like the flipped classroom not only defies common sense but is actively promoted in counterintuitive terms (“turning the traditional classroom on its head,” “learning from YouTube is as natural as it gets,” etc.)

As E.D. Hirsch tells us, the thoughtworld of education schools has insulated them from science — and, today, from common sense as well.