Saturday, November 07, 2015

faced with revolt

The New York State Education Department has faced a revolt among parents and students with as many as 20% opting out of standardized tests. Some parents are opposed to the tests generally and some are opposed to the use of the tests to evaluate teachers. So, the NYSED, knowing that things for them will get worse before better came up with a toolkit of resources that superintendents and principles might use to convince parents that the tests are OK.

The Washington Post chose an ironic photograph to illustrate their article on NYSED's attempt to put testing back on track. Surely the NYSED's idea of a toolkit would not be a thing you would find hanging in Grampa's basement wood shop. You might get the idea from the Washinton Post's choice of photo that the New York State Education Department is a collection of dull blades and their toolkit little more than a matching set of Taiwanese pliers.

The first line of the Washington Post article by Valerie Strauss was:
This belongs in the youcan’tmakeupthisstuff category. Also in the someoneisactuallygettingpaidtodothis category.
In any case, the photo above is an interesting one, and you may enjoy looking at tools found on someone's  grandfather's basement wall. I am particularly intrigued by flat chisels that have been ground round on the cutting edge. There are several of them, and I doubt that anyone from the NYSED could tell any of us what they might be used for.  I have no idea either. But I do know how to fix American education without standardized tests.

In 1890, T.C Horsefall in the UK wrote of the effects of manual arts training in elementary schools as follows:
Its effect on many of the large class of children who, though not dullards, show lack of interest in, and deficiency in the power to understand, the subjects comprised in the ordinary school-curriculum, has been most beneficial. In their Sloyd-lessons many of these children have found themselves the equals, some more than equals, of companions far their superiors at book work, and have by this gained a confidence in their own ability which has often reacted on their power and their will to conquer their other lessons. Thus many children who, when they first began Sloyd, were distinctly below the average in intelligence, have become under its influence completely "normal." On nearly all children the effect of this kind of training has been so vivifying that, a least, as much progress has been made with other subject, when several hours weekly have been given to Sloyd, as had been made previously when all the school-time was given to them.
The points here are simple. All children are hardwired to learn. Children need to be engaged in concrete activity that engages their hands and thus their minds, also. And if you give students of any age something to do that is worthy of their interest and attention, they will learn at a faster rate and retain learning longer than those students who are confined to desks, and restrained through passive learning. 

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning likewise.

No comments:

Post a Comment