Thursday, April 23, 2015

letter grades...

 This last week letter grades were assigned to every public school in my state of Arkansas  based on a measurement scheme of academic progress. Of course there is incredible stupidity in that. Not all children start at the same position in the race. Some are handicapped by poverty, and by social irregularities like crime and abuse. Most often these cases of tragic irregularities are clustered in smaller geographic settings, and the schools in those areas do their best at enormous cost to the teachers involved. To all this, I say, eliminate the poverty and see what happens next.

This story in the following link is of a school near my own town in Arkansas: Giving Excellence a D: when school accountability grades fail. In it we observe the consequences of the continuing application of the administratively progressive mindset described in the paper I linked earlier in the week, "How Dewey Lost." That paper explores David Snedden's ideas for educational reform, as managed from the top down. It involved school grades, and test scores as a means of managing schools to become more like industrial concerns.

Here in Eureka Springs, the public middle school and high school were given a "B" and a "C" was awarded at the elementary level. Clear Spring School as an independent school was not subjected to grading.

Yesterday I turned ring boxes and managed to take enough photos of the process to complete the first chapter of a new book, making Tiny boxes. Years ago, when told I needed to write something, my mother suggested that it is best to write about something that I know. That would be good advice for others to adhere to. Develop knowledge first and then write. Learn first and then share, rather than share ignorance like a social disease.

In my own case it works to my advantage. I make things, take photos of the actual process and then write about it from the standpoint of actually having done so. For others, not so well, as they can get carried away despite their lack of understanding. For instance, my first and second grade students brought me a book they were reading that involved a wood carver. They liked the book, but one student pointed out a serious error in it. The craftsman was carving delicate feathers on an angel wing, and was using a large gouge and mallet to do it. His mallet was drawn back for the next strike. My student noted, "If he hits there like that, he'll break the whole wing off." If the illustrator had actually done some real carving first, such an error would have easily been avoided.

Is it not amazing that my students would have more real knowledge about how to do real things than the illustrator, author, editors and publisher of a book intended for children? What kind of letter grade can you give that?

Make, fix and create...

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