Posted on August 24, 2013 by debmeier
Thanks to Julie Diamond (who, she reminded me, was my grandson’s kindergarten teacher), I have a copy again of The English Infant School and Informal Eduction by Lillian Weber, published 42 years ago! Teachers and parents of young children should figure out how to get hold of it and pour over its pages. I like the phrase “informal,” which we’ve dropped even in progressive circles. It fits so well with Lillian’s drive for continuity between home and school communities rather than the relentless current drive to put a wall between the school and the child’s own roots and loved ones. But the latter is not new, and it was what Lillian Weber was fighting against in the 1960s and 70s. It’s the key dilemma we’ve never focused on for long enough, the ways available that simultaneously strengthen schools AND their families, communities and children. Rather than seeing families as the “cause” of school failure, how might we join with them to celebrate the intellectual and social strengths and affections that children bring with them to school. Thanks, Lillian—as in all her sparse writing, I hear her insistent, no-nonsense voice which carried with it a very different meaning for “no excuses.” It’s time for rereadng her work and revisiting the practices she encouraged us to seek out—the cracks in the system where we could plant new seeds.
A good place to start is Looking Back and Thinking Forward, edited by Beth Alberty (TC Press).
Filed under: 2013 posts | 2 Comments »
Posted on August 23, 2013 by nicholasmeier
Posted on August 22, 2013 by debmeier
“Eye On Education” is offering to sell us the answer to our dreams in a series of 4 new books entitled: “Literacy, Rigor and the Common Core State Standards.” It’s got all the latest buzz words into one short unsurpassable sentence. The one of the four I like best is entitled “Rigor Made Easy”. The inventor of that title deserves a bonus.
Filed under: 2013 posts | Tagged: rigor | 7 Comments »
Posted on August 20, 2013 by debmeier
This is an article by my dear friend Don Rose, reprinted from the Chicago Daily Observer, Austust 20, 2013
No One Wants to Go to Charter Schools Anymore, Charter Schools are Too Crowded
by Don Rose
There are so many twists and turns in Rahm Emanuel’s school plans it’s hard to figure out exactly what he has in mind—apart from wrecking the Chicago Teachers Union. He sure doesn’t seem to be helping the kids, which should be his first order of business.
As noted in previous tirades, he’s closing about 50 schools and keeps coming up with different reasons why. Economics was the first line until some knowledgeable folk pointed out there would not be that much saving. He also posited that all the kids from closed schools would be going to better performing schools, which turned out to be another fiction. Add the fact that many classroom sizes will swell well beyond anyone’s idea of optimal for learning.
Earlier he mandated a longer school day so the kids’ basic courses could be enriched with arts and culture. Then came a series of budget cuts that resulted in the firing of more than 3200 teachers and support personnel, causing beleaguered principals to cut staff—paradoxically in the arts and other enrichment areas.
Thus far he’s turned a deaf ear to parents urging him to use money from his Tax Increment Financing slush fund for schools. Saving it for developer/donors?
Ah, but even though he is cutting budget and personnel for regular public schools he magically came up with enough money to open a batch of new charter schools—some of them in areas where he closed down regular public schools.
Surely by now he must be aware that, on the whole, charters perform no better than traditional public schools—and if we are to look at a dramatic new report from New York, they may even be doing worse.
New York has been ahead of Chicago in introducing the “Common Core” curriculum—the latest experiment in development of national standards (read “tests”) that are theoretically the embodiment of what every student should know, grade by grade. It is supposed to be an improvement on traditional standardized reading and math tests by trying to teach and measure critical thinking. Not a bad goal in itself, to be sure, but the whole thing is completely unproven and in the eyes of many may be setting impossible goals.
In any case, New York tested its students on the Common Core curriculum and less than a third of all kids passed in Mayor Bloomberg’s self-proclaimed miracle system. Worse yet, a couple of the largest charter groups, including the highly touted KIPP schools, underperformed the regular public schools at many grade levels. In one KIPP charter only 11percent of 5th graders passed the math test and 16 percent the reading test. Another group of charters passed with flying colors, but even those were outshone by the top public schools.
So why, with an impoverished school system, is Emanuel picking kids’ pockets to gamble on more charters?
The only serious rationale for charters is to create successful models that can be proliferated in the public system. Ain’t happening.
Beyond that it’s either union busting or a step toward privatizing public education.
Filed under: 2013 posts | 5 Comments »
Posted on August 18, 2013 by debmeier
Do you regularly read Larry Cuban’s School Reform and Classroom Practice blogs? It’s worth reading for both topics–policy and practice. But this week’s, provocatively titled “Why Common Core Standards Will Succeed” is great! Be sure to read it from start to finish.
p.s. I’m also clearing out clothes I don’t wear. I feel so virtuous.
Filed under: 2013 posts | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 16, 2013 by debmeier
I’m overwhelmed with the self-imposed task of sorting out my “life”—all the papers and books that have accumulated over the years because “how can I throw this out?” or “I was just thinking of writing about this,” or “how come I never read this?” etc. Therefore I’ve not been blogging of late. (I’ve set Thanksgiving as my deadline for house-cleaning, and already have 11 boxes full of books which I part with nervously.)
But I can’t resist this amazing piece that Michael Goldenberg sent me (even if it delays the final job by a few…days?): Nicholson Baker’s The Wrong Answer: The case against Algebra II (in Harpers Magazine, September 2013). Twenty-five years ago a few of us at Central Park East Secondary School in East Harlem brought some top mathematics educators together to press this same case, and seek a sensible solution for what needs to be taught–and learned. We thought we were lonely nuts, and our efforts didn’t get us far. But—I’m regaining enthusiasm for the cause. Thanks Michael for your indefatigable efforts, and thanks Andrew Hacker and others for keeping the flame burning!! Here’s the last paragraph of Baker’s superbly written and definitive essay.
“Math-intensive education hasn’t done much for Russia, as it turns out. But historical counter examples don’t seem to interest the latest generation of crisis-mongers. We’ve once again gotten ourselves caught up in a strangely self-destructive statistical cold war with other high-achieving countries. The recruits are young teenagers, their ammunition the little bubbles on standardized tests. America’s technological future hinges, say the rigorists, on whether our student population can plug-and-chug the binomial theorem better than, say, Korean or Finnish or German or Chinese students. The childishness of this hyper nationalistic mentality depresses me, and I want it to end, and I am not alone..”
Filed under: 2013 posts | Tagged: algebra, education, math | 9 Comments »
Posted on August 5, 2013 by nicholasmeier
My son, professor Nick Meier, has posted another blog worth reading. Below is an excerpt of it. for the rest you can go to his blog: (http://www.nicholasmeier.com)
by Nicholas Meier
On the theme of popular ideas that I feel a need to critique….
Bloom’s taxonomy has been around for a long time as an aid to teachers, presented as a hierarchy of sophistication of thinking. I was first introduced to it when I started teaching in the 1980s. The college where I currently teach asks all of their instructors to keep it in mind when developing and teaching their courses.
I have two central problems with Bloom’s taxonomy, both of which I will discuss. Then I will mention how it can be used positively.
First of all, when I have used Bloom’s list, or the new revised list, to analyze a lesson and to think about which categories are being tapped into, I find it hard to pigeonhole activities or questions. My teacher education students and I often find that we can put the same questions into multiple categories depending on how we interpret them. In other words, real ideas and lessons do not seem to fit neatly into these categories, and getting agreement on categories is not intuitive, making them less useful. For instance the top of the six categories is: Creating, putting information together in innovative ways. But “Applying” (third level from bottom) on one chart I am reading is listed as using the knowledge gained (level 2) in new ways. What is the difference between applying knowledge in a new way and being creative or innovative?
A bigger problem I have with Bloom’s taxonomy is that they are presented as a hierarchy, and Bloom meant them that way. In this hierarchy the first stage is knowledge or remembering. In other words, rote learning comes first. The next level, understanding, is that then we learn the meaning of what we memorized…
(to read the rest to to http://www.nicholasmeier.com)
Filed under: 2013 posts | Tagged: blooms taxonomy | Leave a Comment »