Friday, September 17, 2010

assessment scale

Yesterday, I began creating a Beaufort Scale for Education, using the arts to formulate a scale through which parents and teachers untrained in statistics can observe, measure and create educational excellence. I'll be working on this for days, as I also have other things to do with my life, and I work best in short spurts between hours of hands on engagement... You can help via the comments function on the blog, or by the email link at right. If you think I am onto something and this is worthy of encouragement, let me know.

First children must be safe for creative expression. That means all bullying by students and school staff must be brought to an end. That is not as easily done as one might think. It requires training of all staff in conflict resolution and an active program to eliminate bullying to and from and within the school grounds. Bullying is always a two way street, and students are damaged at both ends. And so, moving from zero on the scale to one is not something that can come quick. It should be noted that verbal and emotional abuse can be as damaging as physical abuse.

There are other things you can be preparing to do while you tackle number one aggressively in your spare time. Moving from one to two and three on the scale requires arts and PE, a growing commitment and regular engagement in each. We've had thirty years of Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences theory which is widely known and accepted, and it is past time for us to act on what we know... that all children don't learn in the same way, are not smart in the same ways, and all children deserve opportunities to develop and demonstrate their full intelligences in schools, not only those who are "number smart" and reading smart. This too, is not an easy mark to make, as most teachers have been advanced in their educations based on number smarts and reading smarts, and the greater emphasis placed on these, traditionally in education makes the other intelligences appear of lesser importance. They are not. A school that does not apply equal emphasis to all human intelligences by allowing each child to discover his or her own meaningful contributions to culture and econony, does a disservice to all.

So here's the Beaufort scale so far as it has developed. It will be 10 points, more or less, rising to a full blown hurricane of learning and growth, and allow parents and teachers to see what they are getting from their investment.
1. Children are safe and the school actively supports each child physically and emotionally in expressions of their creativity.
2. Children are offered art, music and PE.
3. Children have a regular opportunity to express themselves and their intelligences through through a variety of crafts and art, music and PE as thoroughly as through reading and math and receive equal acknowledgment for their efforts.
One thing that a person might notice is that the failure in schools to acknowledge and validate non-discursive intelligence can be viewed as a subtle but widely accepted and commonly approved form of bullying, that allows one form of intelligence to unreasonably dominate others and causes children and society to suffer the effects. One of the consequences of No Child Left Behind legislation and teach-to-the-test pressures has been that arts and PE have been reduced or eliminated in many schools. Recess time has been curtailed or eliminated. Those are wrong steps if you are concerned about quality education.

If you want to see the original Beaufort Scale of wind velocity you can find a number of versions on-line

At this point, one in 7 Americans is living in poverty while some American industries are unable to find qualified workers. It is obvious that some changes are long past due. It was proposed that we were to become a "service economy" rather than an industrial one. It was sold to us all as a great idea. We then exported most manufacturing to developing nations, and have been diminished as a result. One of the only ways to fix that is through a renewed emphasis on quality education, which must include the arts.

Today in my wood shop, I am working on small boxes for an order, trying to figure out my next steps in making my tie cabinets, and working on bases for the Arkansas Governor's Award for Quality.

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