Friday, September 17, 2010

standing on the shore...

The Admiral Beaufort Scale for wind velocity was created in two versions, one for land and the other for sea, and so, I'm working on two versions of my Beaufort scale for school assessment, one for use in schools by teachers and administrators, and the other for observation from outside that might best be used by a parent observing from home. The wind is the same whether on land or sea, but if you are on land, and not able to directly observe what is taking place in the classroom, you will still need specific indicators to monitor school progress and the well-being of your own child.

As with most of my woodworking projects, I am in over my head, making things up as I go along, and so, you may chime in at any point and help me out. It was reader JD who noticed that I need two scales or at least two sets of related markers depending on where you are standing when the wind blows, at home or at sea.

I realize that the few readers I have for the blog are not really enough to make a big mark on American education. But I am honored to have a few faithful readers, none the less. Today I got an email from Paramount pictures wanting me to sign a petition pressuring the Arkansas governor to do more testing and agree to new "standards." The idea is that now we have enough data to know what's needed for school reform and must demand change. It's funny to think, 200 years after Comenius, 150 years after Froebel, 100 years after Dewey and Montessori, that thanks to standardized testing some educators think they have arrived at the point of actually knowing what they are doing. Do you not see the absurdity of that? To the current batch of educational reformers, data mined from standardized testing is more real than direct, compassionate observation of real children. I was excited to see some fresh enthusiasm for educational reform, and then realized that there are those using it to continue screwing things up.

Make, fix, sew, sow, make do, do, learn, grow. The idea that testing will fix everything is a deceit, but there are real things in the world that are far more rewarding and compelling and at the end of the day, some having little or no notion of such things will awaken to discover themselves at the center of diddly squat.

Tomorrow I will address teamwork and collaboration as important observable unmeasurable indicators of school success.

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