Monday, April 18, 2016

real ways to assess real learning?

My daughter Lucy is teaching at Harvest Collegiate in New York City. This is her second year of teaching, but her first of real TEACHING in which she is trusted to engage children's passions for learning rather than confine them to seats and prepare them for bubble tests.  An editorial We need real measures of learning by the head of the New York Teacher's Union, Michael Mulgrew, helps to explain where Harvest Collegiate fits in. For surely parents and most teachers are all fed up with bubble testing, and ready to rebel against the stupidity of confining children to learning from and by the book.

We all learn best, children and adults, when we (particularly our hands) are engaged in doing real things. We all know that to be true in our own lives, so why do we not design learning for our children that utilize their natural inclinations to learn?

Here's a short list of what's been lost or marginalized to support standardized testing. Shop classes, music, theater, culinary arts (Lucy leads the cooking club), athletics, poetry and the visual arts.

On Saturday, Lucy's school was honored with a special award from the United Federation of Teachers for its collegial relationship between teachers and administrative staff.

Just as in Finland, where teachers from all over the world are visiting to discover how their methods lead to real learning, the same is happening on a smaller scale at Harvest Collegiate. In Finland the strategy is simple. Hire the best to be teachers, prepare them well, provide them with mentors, and trust them to teach.  In the photo, Lucy is at the far right.

In Arkansas this week, the state board of education announced the results of standardized testing in public schools across the state, and noted a serious decline. They insist the results reflect the use of more difficult tests. The sad thing is that the best results rarely come from top down imposition of standards. They do arise from the collegial efforts of teachers, parents, administrators, and yes, children. And believe it or not, children in all kinds of real activities, and under the right circumstances can set very high standards for themselves.

Today in the woodshop at the Clear Spring School, my older students will be working on their box guitars and my upper elementary school students will reflect on the use of the tools and games they made for their Arkansas travel.

Make, fix, create, and extend to others the love of learning likewise.

No comments:

Post a Comment