Archives for category: “21st century skills”

Workplace skills Irvington_Vision_and_Current_Reality10_2015_2-GMK_pdf - BEST

What do we know about the future? Irvington_Vision_and_Current_Reality10_2015_2-GMK_Strategic plan

A slide from the Strategic Planning forum.

College preparation is not included. Nor does the facilitator see knowledge as important to the workplace.

This is constructivism.

Constructivists believe the world is changing so fast that the knowledge students learn today will go extinct by the time they graduate high school or college.

Therefore you should replace knowledge with empty skills that can be transferred to all the new jobs yet to be invented. 

That’s the constructivist position.

Cognitive science tells us that the constructivist position is wrong: empty cognitive skills do not exist.

Instead, skill and knowledge are flip sides of a coin: no knowledge, no skill. This is turning out to be true with athletics, too. Athletic skill draws upon knowledge stored inside long-term memory.

For the record, constructivism is a very old philosophy, dating back as far as 1900.

In one of the earliest manifestations of constructivism, progressive educators argued that working class students should be taught useful skills like sewing instead of Latin and Greek. Working class parents disagreed. They wanted their children to be taught the same elite curriculum wealthy children were taught.

Today progressive educators argue that no one should be taught traditional knowledge — rich, poor, or in-between.

They’ve updated the “skills” they believe children should be taught to a fuzzy array of workplace skills: leadership, “strategic planning skills,” etc. 

Constructivists believe public schools should become pretend b-schools, and that is what our central administrators, supported by a board majority, are doing.


Kris Harrison’s plan for the district


Definitions of Success 3.5.2013 – Superintendent definition & response

Tony Wagner – Rigor Redefined – Harrison vision – 9.24.2013replaces college preparation with “workplace” preparation

Rigor Redefined by Tony Wagner – October 2008

Creating IUFSD Vision for Technology – 1.28.2014 (annotated) 

Creating the Vision for Technology – 1.28.2014 (original)

Response to superintendent technology memo – 2.8.2014

Flipped classrooms in Irvington – Irvington Insight – 1.2014



District Technology Plan – Adopted 6.15.2015no mention of college preparation; no mention of Common Core

9-29_-_strategic_plan_presentation_FINAL “Framework for Strategic Planning”

STRATEGIC PLANNING FORUM: Irvington Vision and Current Reality 10.14.2015.2 – Strategic planing forum – GMKno mention of college preparation; no mention of Common Core

Super’s plan: replace college prep with “workplace” prep
Teacher-centered v. learner-centered classrooms 
“Fast trends”
Teachers “taking risks”

10.10.2015 Teacher-centered v. learner-centered

9-7-2015 KMH Employment agreement

14-15 Code of Conduct

What we have:

3/5/2013 – Definitions of Success  
9/24/2013 – “Focus and success”
9/24/2013 – “Rigor Redefined” by Tony Wagner  
1/28/2014 – Creating an IUFSD Vision for Technology 
1/2014 – “I am a child-centered professional” (Flipped classrooms)
6/15/2015 – Adopted – District Technology Plan 2014 – 2018

Teacher-centered v. learner-centered 10.10.2015

What we don’t have:

Core Knowledge: A liberal education for K-8

School board:

Whitney, President
(914) 591-9175

Catherine Palmieri, Vice President
914) 693-6896

John Montgomery
(914) 591-9352

Bob Grados
(914) 231-6365

Michael Hanna
(917) 750-8790


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

Order Seven Myths about Education

And see:
Do we want to be a constructivist district?
Curriculum and property values

Cross-posted at the Irvington Parents Form

The school board has posted its “District Technology Plan 2014-2018.”

College preparation isn’t on it.

The only goal of “technology,” here in IUFSD, is the propagation of “21st century skills.”

That is a grave mistake, not least because 21st century skills don’t exist.

The phrase “21st century skills” is a marketing slogan developed by the “Partnership for 21st Century Skills,” a lobbying outfit created by the NEA and tech companies that sell to schools.

“21st century skills” are win-win for unions and tech companies.

The union wins because no teacher can be held accountable for teaching 21st century skills.

Tech companies win because schools buy more devices.

You don’t need Chromebooks and iPads to prepare students for college (or law school, or business school, or medical school).

Change the mission to “21st century skills,” and every student needs a mobile device.

Bob Grados, Maria Kashkin, and Phil Whitney have decided that this is our path.

Three people have the power to make this decision for all district children.

Theory of Action

If we provide students with rigorous, authentic learning experiences rooted in a comprehensive curriculum, then they will acquire the knowledge, skills and dispositions of successful 21st Century learners that will prepare them to thrive in a rapidly evolving global society.”

That’s another thing: we don’t live in a “rapidly evolving global society.”

“Rapidly evolving global society” is a slogan created by unions and tech companies.

When you look at the actual data, or live in the actual world, you know that: a) we don’t live in an exciting, fast-paced “global society” (not unless you think Charlie Hebdo and ISIS offer our kids fabulous opportunities for advancement; and b) to the extent that we do live in a “global society,” it’s not “rapidly evolving.” 

The quote-unquote global society is no different today than it was 20 years ago, except that it’s worse in every respect. More financial trauma, more terror.

The simple truth is that our central administrators are completely unmoored from reality, and they are supported by 3 people who know it’s all nonsense but have chosen to impose the will of the central administrators they’ve hired and tenured on the rest of us.

Since the words “comprehensive curriculum” are plugged into the “theory of action” above, I will concede that, yes, of course, the district will continue to “offer” state-required college preparatory courses.

But our central administrators have zero interest in college preparation or in liberal education.

When that is the case, when you’re “offering” liberal education only because the state requires it, you’re not going to do it well.

Time to opt out.


All of this ties in directly with the hours-long interrogation of middle school children who accessed the teacher’s portion of the district website.

Kris, Raina, and Jesse fetishize technology.

They light up when they talk about technology; the delivery of PowerPoint talks and “Think Tank” manifestos on the subject of technology is the only time you hear real excitement in their voices, and see real excitement in their faces. For our central administrators, technology is magic.

If the three (five?) middle school boys who have been treated so harshly had done what they did without touching a computer, they would have been given lunchtime detention and that would have been the end of it.

But these boys broke a rule that involved a computer.

Breaking a rule involving a computer triggers automatic notification of the police. The Code of Conduct says so.


Even worse: reading through the Code, I learned that the punishment for bringing a gun to school is a one-year suspension.

Not expulsion. Suspension. For bringing a real gun in school.

One of the boys was threatened with permanent expulsion for a first computer infraction.

That tells you everything you need to know about our plight.


Do we want to be a constructivist district?
21st-century skills, the document Kris & Raina are using to transform the district

This year 6th-grade math students have been given only one day of whole-class direct instruction per week.

They spend the other four days engaging in math activities or watching videos at a “learning station,” which they choose.

Many parents have hired tutors to provide the missing instruction at home.

None of our administrators takes responsibility for this state of affairs.

Details at the Parents Forum listserv.

Why digital natives prefer reading in print. Yes, you read that right. By Michael S. Rosenwald February 22, 2015 | WAPO

L.A. Unified survey finds little use of iPads’ curriculum

The iPad experiment in LA Unified has been a saga.

From the story:

The review, conducted by a nine-member team from the Washington, D.C.-based American Institutes for Research, offers a sharp contrast to early pronouncements from the school district on the $1.3-billion effort. In particular, Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy labeled the project “an astonishing success” and officials faulted media reports for suggesting otherwise.

Taking notes on laptops rather than in longhand is increasingly common. Many researchers have suggested that laptop note taking is less effective than longhand note taking for learning. Prior studies have primarily focused on students’ capacity for multitasking and distraction when using laptops. The present research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing. In three studies, we found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand. [emphasis added] We show that whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.
The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking Pam A. Mueller1 Daniel M. Oppenheimer2 Published online before print April 23, 2014, doi: 10.1177/0956797614524581 Psychological Science

This study was done at Princeton.

Here’s the Science Daily summary:

Dust off those Bic ballpoints and college-ruled notebooks: research shows that taking notes by hand is better than taking notes on a laptop for remembering conceptual information over the long term.

Take notes by hand for better long-term comprehension

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.


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

Digital Schools: How Technology Can Transform Education:

Imagine an educational system in which pupils master vital skills and critical thinking in a collaborative manner, social media and digital libraries connect learners to a wide range of informational resources, student and teacher assessment is embedded in the curriculum, and parents and policymakers have comparative data on school performance. Teachers take on the role of coaches, students learn at their own pace through real-life projects, software programs track student progress, and schools are judged by the outcomes they produce.4 Rather than being limited to six hours a day for half the year, this kind of education moves toward 24/7 engagement and full-time learning.5
Darrell West | Brookings | 2012
Chapter 1: New Models in Education

So I guess in the brave new world, spring break is going to be a thing of the past.

Makes sense.

Once technology has transformed education, kids won’t care about spring break. They’ll be having too much fun mastering vital skills and critical thinking at their own pace in a collaborative manner through real-life projects to care about going on vacation.

And see:
Consulting the Google machine
Our goal
Response to superintendent technology memo

“Literacy and mathematics are the foundation to all facets of learning,” he said. “Curriculum (should be) very skill-based, rich and infused with technology.”
Irvington schools pick N.J. educator as next superintendent

On Google: 39,100 hits for “infusing technology into the classroom