Opinion:

What makes educators think that content has relevance when taught in isolation? Does anybody live life that way? Also, standardized tests should be academically diverse. Why do we test individual subjects when people do not even live that way? Instructional time with expert educators is much more important than the thousands of student hours spent justifying an educational system that has proven itself time and time again. Let's teach our students to be human again; standardized test-taking is not the only important activity in education! Life is integrated, and then we die.

Multiple Intelligences Leave No Child Behind


from "EDUTOPIA"


State of the Union 2007 Excerpt (see video below)

"Spreading opportunity and hope in America also requires public schools that give children the knowledge and character they need in life. Five years ago, we rose above partisan differences to pass the No Child Left Behind Act — preserving local control, raising standards and holding schools accountable for results. And because we acted, students are performing better in reading and math, minority students are closing the achievement gap.
Now the task is to build on this success, without watering down standards ... without taking control from local communities ... and without backsliding and calling it reform. We can lift student achievement even higher by giving local leaders flexibility to turn around failing schools ... and by giving families with children stuck in failing schools the right to choose some place better. We must increase funds for students who struggle — and make sure these children get the special help they need. And we can make sure our children are prepared for the jobs of the future, and our country is more competitive, by strengthening math and science skills. The No Child Left Behind Act has worked for America’s children — and I ask Congress to reauthorize this good law." --- President George W. Bush

Opinion and Commentary

Knowledge and character - our job should be knowledge first, what do you think? The word "local" was used frequently in this excerpt. Local control has been all but eliminated in most schools. Our communities know what is best for our children, so why not return a bit of this "local control" to the local leaders. Teachers who speak with students each day know their needs! They need time to address those needs. Failing schools? What about those schools which consistently meet yearly progress plateaus? The words "choose some place better" uncover the real reason for NCLB's existence, to display our schools as failures.The No Child Left Behind Act is not working for America’s children — it would be weak even if it were subsidized! Diversity is lost, creativity has been abandoned, gray matter is fading, and the ideals of classical education are all but gone - left behind. Talent, creative thought and skill, and connective reasoning are almost memories! These were all once an integral part of the beauty of our schools.Can our curriculum be saved?

So... when does this change?



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History

History is an element common to all academic areas. Investigations into the historic or developmental aspects of almost anything provide teachers and students with an opportunity to link all things academic. Many teachers teach their subjects in solitude. An exercise in linking subjects by using of time lines or historical eras opens up a new world of interest to students! Rich histories are well-documented in art, music, sociology, writing, philosophical reasoning, science, and just about any other academic pursuit. When teachers incorporate other subjects related by era or generation, new layers of interest unfold in the classroom. Great variety entices great interest. Go to the bottom of this page for an assortment of ideas!

Sir Ken Robinson Rants! Do Schools Kill Creativity?



Vision

This is a nice link about educational vision. It focuses on the vision of an entire school. "Vision is an image of the future". Whose future?

Sometimes our students' vision of themselves is very limited. This could be the result of an enclosed family life, a limited circle of friends, non-participation in activities, lack of imagination, or a variety of other reasons. Is it a teachers place to inspire vision in students, or do they overstep their bounds by suggesting that students reach beyond the walls of their home, school, or community? Do our students visualize themselves as being vital contributors to society in the future? Do they see success? Sometimes we must visualize for them! As teachers, we need to let them know exactly how much knowledge, work, skill, creativity, and perseverance it takes to succeed in an increasingly competitive world!

How Do We Increase Academic Rigor?
Most testing, traditional and standardized, whether local or state mandated, will never measure academic rigor. In the classroom, we demand that students learn content, but curricular content is only a tool. Students who can use those tools to demonstrate and apply the concepts learned in class should be the paradigm. "Model students" are the ones who can accomplish a task through the use of the tools they are given.

Small class sizes will challenge the individual, but are not appropriate for every type of class. Encouraging discussion and debate, or focusing on analyzing and synthesis rather than memorizing information will provide more challenges to students. Reading, writing, creative projects, technology, involvement in educational activities, contests, and many other projects can extend the reach of course content and reinforce the ideas conveyed in the classroom.

Course content is rarely exclusive. A certain level of rigor might be reached through cross-curricular application of content. This diversity leads to an elevated state of mental activity. The students must sift through a variety of content and connect all information before them toward solving an overarching problem. As teachers, we need to develop a problem, provide information and resources, and then guide the students toward the solution. Real experiences and diverse opportunities for the use of course content will reinforce and give students a reason for retention. Success of seemingly unrelated activities just might be a true measure of rigor.
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Rigor Versus Relevance

In the halls of advanced academe, a battle brews over the philosophical foundation of rigor versus relevance. In the K-12 classroom we are so busy teaching to standardized tests that we seldom have time to think about it! Rigor will certainly force students to master content and work toward perfecting skill levels. But without a glimmer of relevance, retention becomes a null set! So how does our content become relevant? It is my opinion that more answers can be found outside the walls of our own classroom than inside. Skills and content are not always exclusive, and the larger lessons learned are usually the most important lessons. Relevance can be elusive, but when it is found, a new world of thinking and synthesis is at the students' doorstep!
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Squirrels

Do you squirrel away your resources and your talents? I've been guilty of that at times; after all we DO have our favorite things! Why should anyone else have them? Why should I tell THEM about that? I've had those selfish moments. To be honest, I've even had selfish decades, but the time comes when that attitude seems jaded and ridiculous! Why was I EVER like that?

Sometimes it takes a very long time to realize that we are only a small part of a team. Our subject is not the ONLY important thing in the school! Our books, videos, and talent might be of use to somebody else. Life is not all about what happens in our own little hole in the tree. Even squirrels have to scout about and collect their resources for the long winter. Stretch out and help your colleagues and the returns will be incredible! Don't be a squirrel!

Technology in Arts Education

The use of technology in the arts should not be forced. The latest fads and gadgets should serve the artist; they should not drive the artist. When we are driven by technology, we sometimes "lose our brakes" and zoom into a strange neighborhood.

The basic elements of every traditional art form were carved in granite for us long ago. Sometimes the inappropriate use of technology is like taking a hammer to that fine sculpture. I believe that creative works emanating from human beings are the ones most appreciated by them. In my opinion, dazzling graphics and sound driven by a microprocessor will never equate with the emotion pouring from a truly human creation.

We can't propel the process of artistic creativity into the twenty-second century until we have lived the twenty-first. What do you think?