Friday, April 17, 2015

actively engaged.

The first element I'm considering for a Beaufort like scale of educational effectiveness has to do with engagement. We know that students or teachers passively engaged in schooling, are like a sailing ship becalmed by lack of wind. There are several possible causes for lack of engagement, just as there may be various causes for a lack of wind. But the failure of a teacher to engage the students means that in the vessel of school performance, the class goes nowhere fast.

So in total calm, both the teachers and students are passive. What's more common is that the teacher may be actively presenting information to a class that cares nothing for the content and lacks engagement. I have this on occasion with one of my students in wood shop who claims that she has no interest in woodworking. As an active teacher, I work to find solutions.

Every day at school students have the potential of learning something. In hurricane force winds they may be learning they want to crawl under a desk and escape. The point is, however, that with s simple scale, if it were widely adopted as was the Beaufort Scale in the British Navy, we could put standardized testing aside and have much greater confidence in our nation's schools, rather than have that confidence undermined by those who would  twist it out of our control. I think in the  simple chart above, you can see that the Beaufort Scale can give guidance to the sailor. Can it also give guidance to teachers, administrators, parents and kids? Work with me on this if you like.

The irony is that some observers would look at a class of students sitting quietly and think that's a good thing.  But in my view, students are not in school to be well managed, but to learn. Most parents, teachers and administrators can step into a classroom and observe engagement and the level of student interest without using a standardized test.

I have been sick with a head cold the last two days, but am looking forward to beginning work on my book about making Tiny Boxes.

make, fix and create...

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