Tuesday, November 01, 2011

bring it on?

Sir Ken Robinson is a spokesman for education revolution, and it seems that as bad as so many things have gotten, revolution may actually be more relevant than reform. One of my students from last week is a science teacher at the high school level, and he said that the current system forces teachers to "teach to the test" even though they are told explicitly not to. Teacher salaries are tied to student test scores, and so in order for a teacher to do well, both as recognixed by administration and in economic terms, he or she must make certain that students know the materials on which they will be tested. They have no time or resources for anything more. But the real problems that students will face in life will be those which have not arisen yet. And so, how can we test for that? You will find that what Sir Ken is looking for is education that fosters creativity like what you would find at the Clear Spring School.

Sir Ken Robinson suggests that students need to be placed in situations that encourage creative problem solving. Lessons need to be individualized and personalized. Give kids real things to do, and you will watch their interests rise. Give them real things upon which to be tested (not bubble tests) and they will learn more deeply, and retain learning much longer. I can tell you this, but you will know the truth by looking backwards and seeing what things you remember most from your own experience. If you don't have much to remember, you must have already been in a pretty crappy school experience.

Many educators believe that the educational revolution will best be a digital one, in which iPads and other devices are used in the classroom by children of all ages. I am thinking the revolution may best be the simpler one that was proposed by Charles H. Ham in the late 1800s. He said that schools should become workshops, humming with real work. Saws, hammers and even knives present creative technologies that allow children to take an active rather than passive role in their own learning. Saws, hammers and real tools of all kinds also present the opportunity for learning to progress naturally and most effectively in the manner that early educators prescribed... from the known to the unknown, from the easy to the more difficult, from the simple to the complex, and from the concrete to the abstract.

Blog reader Randall sent me this link to an excellent article by Mike Rose, UCLA professor and author of Mind at Work. Blue Collar Brilliance: Questioning assumptions about intelligence, work, and social class

Make, fix and create...


  1. Here's George Carlin on why education won't be fixed:

    Cynical, sure, but rather refreshing.

  2. http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/80910477/

    George Carlin on why education won't be fixed. Cynical perhaps, and perhaps slightly off the mark, but smart too.

  3. Doug-

    My woodworking and gardening program is up and running. My students are excited and doing well. I like to call it science shop. It's science class with a creative twist that allows kids to be imaginative, productive, learn practical skills and develop their character. Thank you so much for your inspiration through your words. I may have never developed this program without your leadership.


    Chris Sagnella