Saturday, June 12, 2010

a teacher's reflections..28 to be exact

The year is over. For awhile now I've been mulling over some fairly big picture notions regarding schools, but since I've embraced the art of "slow blogging" none of you out there would know about that would you?
Here are some shorthand statements and questions that represent a sketched outline of what's on my mind these days. Maybe someday they will cohere into essay form.
  1. Too many kids and too many parents seem to uncritically accept college as the default post-high school option.
  2. Too many educators at the high school and college level counsel too many kids towards college.
  3. Getting accepted into a college is a far cry from being able or ready to flourish there.
  4. Anything short of flourishing in college, represents an outcome that makes college a questionable investment.
  5. Not all college degrees are worth the money, and some represent an ill advised accumulation of debt with little prospect of pay-off down the road.
  6. Too many employers uncritically require college degrees as part of their job requirements.
  7. Too many legal and cultural impediments exist to allow young people meaningful entrance into the adult world of work.
  8. The boundaries between school and work need to be far more permeable.
  9. Not enough value is placed on life/work experience or on portfolio's of work.
  10. Not enough education and training is available in the workplace.
  11. Credits and grades are profoundly distracting to the project of acquiring a good education.
  12. Instead of or in addition to reporting out GPAs and credits, we should furnish narratives and impressions that accurately characterize each of our students.
  13. What should matter most to educators, students, and parents in high schools are these four questions: What do you know? What can you do? What can you make? Who do you who can help you with the first three questions?
  14. There is no substitute for the joy of creation, and there is no greater leverage in the quest for excellence than that joy.
  15. Success in one domain, however narrow, should be mined for all its worth, even at the risk of ignoring other domains...over time, success spills across the board.
  16. Grade level is a pernicious concept.
  17. Teaching is a practice that must perpetually revised and refined over time...therefore, good teaching practices require quality time for review and reflection.
  18. Schools should be places where reflection is a core value and a conspicuous practice.
  19. Teachers should be practitioners in their areas of teaching, not just be certified.
  20. Teachers should grade less and assess more authentically and effectively.
  21. Teachers should be wary of textbooks and, at every opportunity, introduce their students to primary texts (contemporary and historical) and authentic materials that inform their discipline.
  22. Teachers should teach intolerance of lazy thinking.
  23. Teachers should solicit anonymous evaluations from their students...and read them.
  24. Students should assemble their own portfolios of work to carry forward into life after school.
  25. Students should expect to have to exhibit their work in a public way.
  26. A principal should be the lead educator in the building, not merely the person enforcing policy and holding the purse strings.
  27. Administrators spend almost no time in the classroom...this is exactly the opposite of what the case should be.
  28. Administrators ought to be able to articulate forcefully and coherently all these things that are listed above in order that the public is not permitted to be ignorant of the true costs and benefits of a quality education.

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