Have you been exhausted, anxious or just plain stressed lately? Has the current focus on common core standards, accountability and insane politics put you over the edge? This is your lucky day! Step right up for a sure-fire remedy guaranteed to bring vitality and energy to teaching and learning. You will be amazed by the immediate results gained from a dose of humor.
Directions: Take frequently as needed for depression, bad mood, loneliness, anger and stress. Humor can also help improve relationships with administrators, parents and students. May be especially helpful in coping with difficult people. Keep in reach of children.
Warning label: Excessive use may cause tears. Can be contagious. Humor is more than the snake-oil skill of telling jokes. The research addressed here focuses on many preliminary findings, and could be biased toward the positive benefits of humor. Be absolutely certain that the drug is of the positive and healthy variety. (read more…)
As we continue to fight to keep the arts in education, it is time to realize that the real fight is keeping the art in education. When I first started teaching many years ago, teaching was primarily seen as an art — an innate ability to use creative skill and imagination to communicate and build relationships that facilitate learning. The curriculum guide was a small gray book covering all subjects. Now, teaching is seen primarily as a science. Attention is paid to specific teaching techniques, core curriculum, testing and narrowly-focused results. Data is collected, analyzed and used more for accountability than to personalize student programs.
We need to create a balance of art and science as we nurture the students in our care. Granted, research over the past few decades has provided us with evidence of how the brain functions, how students learn in different ways and that they have multiple intelligences. (read more…)
What if we gave a test and everyone passed? That should be the goal! If that happened, however, instead of celebrating that success, policymakers likely would have the test-makers create harder tests. The reason is pretty clear: standardized tests primarily are for controlling education, not educating students.
Standardized tests measure student performance, identify “failing” schools and help evaluate teachers, all with the goal of increasing student achievement. This is a rather indirect and uncertain route for achieving that goal. To be managerially effective and fulfill their purpose, standardized tests cannot be designed for all students to pass them — some have to fail them.
Even though standardized tests primarily measure how large groups of students perform, the test items can represent specific learning objectives. Individual responses can, therefore, indicate what students know or don’t know. This can be useful information, but it doesn’t tell why they answered incorrectly, nor does it indicate how to best instruct them. (read more…)
Children and adults alike use play to make sense of the world. Here are some things we develop through play: creativity, imagination, problem solving, resiliency and the ability to handle the unexpected.
Back in 1999, after eight years of operating out of a shop front (and eventually several shop fronts), we moved The Grauer School onto our dream site: five, green, coastal acres in Encinitas, Calif. We could have a real playtime at last — a green recess. Running, chasing, throwing, falling. It was then that we made an unexpected finding about the typical California suburban kid: many did not know how to recreate or use unstructured time. They stood around, looked into their computer screens, hung out in corners of the field and slouched on couches in the lobby.
Since I grew up running pretty much all day long, and since my parents’ primary form of discipline consisted of the demand, “Get outside!” this problem had never occurred to me. (read more…)
In 1978, educator and academic Eric Hirsch was teaching an English class in a community college in Richmond, Va., when he noticed that, despite the pupil’s reading ability being on a par with university students, they struggled to understand a passage about General Lee’s surrender to General Grant at Appomattox.
Hirsch concluded that the background knowledge and shared set of cultural facts he promoted through his “Cultural Literacy” book were important, not for the sake of knowledge but because “a shared intellectual landscape was all-important in empowering students to read and write richly.”
In the U.K., the educational landscape is changing. A new system has been introduced by the central government, which allows state-run schools to apply for academy status, meaning they will have direct funding from the government and can gain greater powers over their own curriculum and teaching methods.
A free school has the same powers and funding, but is a new institution established with sponsorship from charities, faith groups or even parent groups. (read more…)