robertogreco + alfiekohn   82

Building an Inclusive Campus
[via: https://twitter.com/Jessifer/status/1128104712316825601

bracketed parts from Twitter thread:
https://twitter.com/Jessifer/status/1128111041177694208 ]

"Scaffolding can create points of entry and access but can also reduce the complexity of learning to its detriment. And too often we build learning environments in advance of students arriving upon the scene. We design syllabi, predetermine outcomes, and craft rubrics before having met the students. We reduce students to data.

["I'm increasingly disturbed when I see compassion, respect, and equity for students being mislabeled with the derogatory word “coddling."

"We need to design our pedagogical approaches for the students we have, not the students we wish we had." @Jessifer @saragoldrickrab https://www.chronicle.com/article/Teaching-the-Students-We-Have/245290 ]

5 things we can do to create more inclusive spaces in education:


1) Recognize students are not an undifferentiated mass.


2) For education to be innovative, at this particular moment, we don’t need to invest in technology. We need to invest in teachers. 


3) Staff, administrators, and faculty need to come together, across institutional hierarchies, for inclusivity efforts to work. At many institutions, a faculty/staff divide is one of the first barriers that needs to be overcome.


4) The path toward inclusivity starts with small, human acts:

* Walk campus to assess the accessibility of common spaces and classrooms. For example, an accessible desk in every classroom doesn’t do much good if students can’t get to that desk because the rooms are overcrowded.

* Invite students to share pronouns, model this behavior, but don’t expect it of every student.

* Make sure there is an easy and advertised process for students, faculty, and staff to change their names within institutional systems. Make sure chosen names are what appear on course rosters.

* Regularly invite the campus community into hard conversations about inclusivity. For example, a frank discussion of race and gender bias in grading and course evaluations.

5) Stop having conversations about the future of education without students in the room."

["“Critical formative cultures are crucial in producing the knowledge, values, social relations and visions that help nurture and sustain the possibility to think critically...” @HenryGiroux

The path toward inclusivity starts with small, human acts.

"You cannot counter inequality with good will. You have to structure equality." @CathyNDavidson

"The saddest and most ironic practice in schools is how hard we try to measure how students are doing and how rarely we ever ask them." @fastcrayon" ]
teaching  howweteach  jessestommel  2019  scaffolding  syllabus  syllabi  pedagogy  inclusivity  inclusion  humanism  cathydavidson  henrygiroux  measurement  assessment  differentiation  coddling  compassion  respect  equity  outcomes  standardization  learning  howwelearn  ranking  metrics  norming  uniformity  accreditation  rigor  mastery  rubrics  performance  objectivity  education  highered  highereducation  grades  grading  bias  alfiekohn  hierarchy  power  paulofreire  pedagogyoftheoppressed  throeau  martinbickman 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Does Homework Work? - The Atlantic
"America’s devotion to the practice stems in part from the fact that it’s what today’s parents and teachers grew up with themselves."



"The typical prescription offered by those overwhelmed with homework is to assign less of it—to subtract. But perhaps a more useful approach, for many classrooms, would be to create homework only when teachers and students believe it’s actually needed to further the learning that takes place in class—to start with nothing, and add as necessary."
homework  parenting  alfiekohn  education  2019  joepinsker  schools  schooliness 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Differences Between Self-Directed and Progressive Education | Psychology Today
"Self-Directed Education, not progressive education, is the wave of the future."



"I’ve found that when I speak or write about Self-Directed Education some people mistakenly believe that I’m speaking or writing about progressive education. Progressive education has many of the same goals as Self-Directed Education, and its advocates use much of the same language, but the foundational philosophy is quite different and the methodology is very different. In what follows I’ll review the basic tenets of progressive education, then review those of Self-Directed Education, and, finally, explain why I think the latter, not the former, will become the standard mode of education in the not-too-distant future."



"To the advocate of Self-Directed Education, it is the child’s brilliance, not a teacher’s, that enables excellent education. The job of adults who facilitate Self-Directed Education is less onerous than that of teachers in progressive education. In Self-Directed Education adults do not need to have great knowledge of every subject a student might want to learn, do not have to understand the inner workings of every child’s mind, and do not have to be masters of pedagogy (whatever on earth that might be). Rather, they simply have to be sure that the child is provided with an environment that allows the child’s natural educative instincts to operate effectively. As I have argued elsewhere (here and here), that is an environment in which the child (a) has unlimited time and freedom to play and explore; (b) has access to the most useful tools of the culture; (c) is embedded in a caring community of people who range widely in age and exemplify a wide variety of skills, knowledge, and ideas; and (d) has access to a number of adults who are willing to answer questions (or try to answer them) and provide help when asked. This is the kind of environment that is established at schools or learning centers designed for Self-Directed Education, and it is also the kind of environment that successful unschooling families provide for their children.

Education, in this view, is not a collaboration of student and a teacher; it is entirely the responsibility of the student. While progressive educators continue to see it as their responsibility to ensure that students acquire certain knowledge, skills, and values, and to evaluate students’ progress, facilitators of Self-Directed Education do not see that as their responsibility. While progressive education is on a continuum with traditional education, Self-Directed Education represents a complete break from traditional education.

I wish here to introduce a distinction, which has not been made explicit before (not even in my own writing), between, Self-Directed Education, with capital letters, and self-directed education, without capitals. I propose that Self-Directed Education be used to refer to the education of children, of K-12 school age, whose families have made a deliberate decision that the children will educate themselves by following their own interests, without being subjected to an imposed curriculum, either in or out of school. I propose further that self-directed education, without capitals, be used in a more generic sense to refer to something that every human being is engaged in essentially every waking minute of every day. We are all, constantly, educating ourselves as we pursue our interests, make our living, and strive to solve problems in our daily lives. Most of what any of us know—regardless of how much curriculum-based schooling we have attended—has come from self-directed education."



"Progressive educators often cite Rousseau as an early proponent of their views. Rousseau’s sole work on education was his book Émile, first published in 1760, which is a fictional account of the education of a single boy. If this book has any real-world application at all it would be to the education of a prince. Émile’s teacher is a tutor, whose sole job, sole mission in life, is the education of this one boy, a teacher-student ratio of one to one. The tutor, by Rousseau’s description, is a sort of superhero. He is not only extraordinarily knowledgeable in all subjects, but he understands Émile inside and out, more so than it is ever possible (I would say) for any actual human being to understand another human being. He knows all of the boy’s desires, at any given time, and he knows exactly what stimuli to provide at any time to maximize the educational benefits that will accrue from the boy’s acting on those desires. Thus, the tutor creates an environment in which Émile is always doing just what he wants to do, yet is learning precisely the lessons that the tutor has masterfully laid out for him.

I think if more educators actually read Émile, rather than just referred to it, they would recognize the basic flaw in progressive educational theory. It is way too demanding of teachers to be practical on any sort of mass scale, and it makes unrealistic assumptions about the predictability and visibility of human desires and motives. [For more on my analysis of Émile, see here.] At best, on a mass scale, progressive education can simply help to modulate the harshness of traditional methods and add a bit of self-direction and creativity to students’ lives in school.

In contrast to progressive education, Self-Directed Education is inexpensive and efficient. The Sudbury Valley School, for example, which is approaching its 50th anniversary, operates on a per student budget less than half that of the local public schools (for more on this school, see here and here). A large ratio of adults to students is not needed, because most student learning does not come from interaction with adults. In this age-mixed setting, younger students are continuously learning from older ones, and children of all ages practice essential skills and try out ideas in their play, exploration, conversations, and pursuits of whatever interests they develop. They also, on their own initiative, use books and, in today’s world, Internet resources to acquire the knowledge they are seeking at any given time.

The usual criticism of Self-Directed Education is that it can’t work, or can work only for certain, highly self-motivated people. In fact, progressive educators are often quick to draw a distinction between their view of education and that of Self-Directed Education, because they don’t want their view to be confused with ideas that they consider to be “romantic” or “crazy” and unworkable. For example, I’m pretty sure that Alfie Kohn had Self-Directed Education in mind when he wrote (here again): “In this cartoon version of the tradition, kids are free to do anything they please, the curriculum can consist of whatever is fun (and nothing that isn’t fun). Learning is thought to happen automatically while the teachers just stand by, observing and beaming. I lack the space here to offer examples of this sort of misrepresentation — or a full account of why it’s so profoundly wrong — but trust me: People really do sneer at the idea of progressive education based on an image that has little to do with progressive education.”

Kohn’s “cartoon” characterization of Self-Directed Education is not quite right—because children do, on their own, regularly choose to do things that aren’t fun in an immediate sense and because staff members don’t just stand around observing and beaming; but, yet, it is not too far off the mark. And it does work. Don’t trust me on that; read and think skeptically about the evidence. Follow-up studies of graduates of schools for Self-Directed Education and of grown unschoolers have shown that people, who educated themselves by following their own interests, are doing very well in life. You can read much more about this in previous posts on this blog, in various academic articles (e.g. here, here, and here), and in my book Free to Learn.

Self-Directed Education works because we are biologically designed for it. Throughout essentially all of human history, children educated themselves by exploring, playing, watching and listening to others, and figuring out and pursuing their own goals in life (e.g. here and Gray, 2016). In an extensive review of the anthropological literature on education cross-culturally, David Lancy (2016)) concluded that learning—including the learning that comprises education—is natural to human beings, but teaching and being taught is not. Winston Churchill’s claim, “I always like to learn, but I don’t always like to be taught,” is something that anyone, any time, any place, could have said.

Children’s educative instincts still work beautifully, in our modern society, as long as we provide the conditions that enable them to work. The same instincts that motivated hunter-gatherer children to learn to hunt, gather, and do all that they had to do to become effective adults motivate children in our society to learn to read, calculate with numbers, operate computers, and do all that they have to do to become effective adults (see Gray, 2016). Self-Directed Education is so natural, so much more pleasant and efficient for everyone than is coercive education, that it seems inevitable to me that it will once again become the standard educational route.

Coercive schooling has been a blip in human history, designed to serve temporary ends that arose with industrialization and the need to suppress creativity and free will (see here). Coercive schooling is in the process now of burning itself out, in a kind of final flaring up. Once people re-discover that Self-Directed Education works, and doesn’t cause the stress and harm that coercive schooling does, and we begin to divert some fraction of the billions of dollars currently spent on coercive education to the provision of resources for Self-Directed Education for all children, Self-Directed Education will once again become the standard educational route. Then we’ll be able to … [more]
unschooling  self-directed  self-directedlearning  deschooling  progressive  2017  petergray  cv  tcsnmy  sfsh  openstudioproject  lcproject  freedom  children  parenting  alfiekohn  learning  howwelearn  education  society  democracy  coercion  compulsory  sudburyschools  davidlancy  canon  teaching  unchooling  pedagogy 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Progressive Labels for Regressive Practices: How Key Terms in Education Have Been Co-opted - Alfie Kohn
[via: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/1052629222089359361

"So here's the cycle:

1. Educators create valid term for needed reform.
2. Corporate/political forces co-opt term to sell bullshit to schools.
3. Regressive educators equate needed reform with bullshit "reform."
4. Needed reform is defeated & forgotten.

Example:

1. Educators advocate for differentiated/personalized learning as humane, relationship-based alternative to standardization.
2. Corporations co-opt term to sell algorithm-based-ed-tech bullshit.
3. Popular bloggers equate 'personalized learning' with edtech bullshit.
4. Public impression is created that 'personalized learning' is a negative, corporate-driven, bullshit concept.
5. Standardization prevails."

[my reply]

"“a dark commentary on how capitalism absorbs its critiques”" (quoting https://twitter.com/amandahess/status/1052689514039250945 ) ]

"“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

— Lewis Caroll, Through the Looking Glass

“Whole language” (WL), a collaborative, meaning-based approach to helping children learn to read and write, emerged a few decades ago as a grassroots movement. Until it was brought down by furious attacks from social conservatives, academic behaviorists, and others, many teachers were intrigued by this alternative to the phonics fetish and basal boom that defined the field. More than just an instructional technique, WL amounted to a declaration of independence from packaged reading programs. So how did the publishers of those programs respond? Some “absorbed the surface [features] of WL and sold them back to teachers.” Others just claimed that whatever was already in their commercial materials — bite-size chunks of literature and prefabricated lesson plans — was whole language.[1]

Until you can beat them, pretend to join them: WL is literally a textbook illustration of that strategy. But it’s hardly the only one. For example, experts talk about the importance of having kids do science rather than just learning about it, so many companies now sell kits for easy experimenting. It’s branded as “discovery learning,” except that much of the discovery has been done ahead of time.

A teacher-educator friend of mine, a leading student of constructivism, was once treated to dinner by a textbook publisher who sought his counsel about how kids can play an active role in the classroom and create meaning around scientific ideas. The publisher listened avidly, taking careful notes, which my friend found enormously gratifying until he suddenly realized that the publisher’s objective was just to appropriate key phrases that could be used in the company’s marketing materials and as chapter headings in its existing textbook.

Or consider cooperative learning. Having students spend much of their classroom time in pairs or small groups is a radical notion: Learning becomes a process of exchanging and reflecting on ideas with peers and planning projects together. When we learn with and from one another, schooling is about us, not just about me. But no sooner had the idea begun to catch on (in the 1980s) than it was diluted, reduced to a gimmick for enlivening a comfortably traditional curriculum. Teachers were told, in effect, that they didn’t have to question their underlying model of learning; students would memorize facts and practice skills more efficiently if they did it in groups. Some writers even recommended using grades, certificates, and elaborate point systems to reinforce students for cooperating appropriately.[2]

In short, the practice of “co-opting” potentially transformative movements in education[3] is nothing new. Neither, however, is it just a historical artifact. A number of labels that originally signified progressive ideas continue to be (mis)appropriated, their radical potential drained away, with the result that they’re now invoked by supporters of “bunch o’ facts” teaching or a corporate-styled, standards-and-testing model of school reform.[4]

A sample:

* Engaging doesn’t denote a specific pedagogical approach; it’s used as a general honorific, signifying a curriculum that the students themselves experience as worthwhile. But these days the word is often applied to tasks that may not be particularly interesting to most kids and that they had no role in choosing. In fact, the value of the tasks may simply be ignored, so we hear about student “engagement,” which seems to mean nothing more than prompt or sustained compliance. Such children have internalized the adults’ agenda and are (extrinsically) motivated to complete the assignment, whatever it is. If the point is to get them to stay “on task,” we’re spared having to think about what the task is — or who gets to decide — even as we talk earnestly about the value of having engaged students.[5]

* Developmental originally meant taking our cue from what children of a given age are capable of doing. But for some time now, the word has come to imply something rather different: letting children move at their own pace . . . up an adult-constructed ladder. Kids may have nothing to say about what, whether, or why — only about when. (This is similar to the idea of “mastery learning” — a phrase that hasn’t really been co-opted because it was never particularly progressive to begin with. Oddly, though, it’s still brandished proudly by people who seem to think it represents a forward-thinking approach to education.[6])

* Differentiated, individualized, or personalized learning all emerge from what would seem a perfectly reasonable premise: Kids have very different needs and interests, so we should think twice about making all of them do the same thing, let alone do it in the same way. But there’s a big difference between working with each student to create projects that reflect his or her preferences and strengths, on the one hand, and merely adjusting the difficulty level of skills-based exercises based on students’ test scores, on the other. The latter version has become more popular in recent years, driven in part by troubling programs such as “mass customized learning”[7] and by technology companies that peddle “individualized digital learning” products. (I have more to say about the differences between authentic personal learning and what might be called Personalized Learning, Inc. in this blog post.)

* Formative assessment was supposed to be the good kind — gauging students’ success while they’re still learning rather than evaluating them for the purpose of rating or ranking when it’s too late to make changes. But the concept “has been taken over — hijacked — by commercial test publishers and is used instead to refer to formal testing systems,” says assessment expert Lorrie Shepard.[8] Basically, an endless succession of crappy “benchmark” standardized tests — intended to refine preparation for the high-stakes tests that follow — are euphemistically described as “formative assessment.” Too often, in other words, the goal is just to see how well students will do on another test, not to provide feedback that will help them think deeply about questions that intrigue them. (The same is true of the phrase “assessment for learning,” which sounds nice but means little until we’ve asked “Learning what?”) The odds of an intellectually valuable outcome are slim to begin with if we’re relying on a test rather than on authentic forms of assessment.[9]

* A reminder to focus on the learning, not just the teaching seems refreshing and enlightened. After all, our actions as educators don’t matter nearly as much as how kids experience those actions. The best teachers (and parents) continually try to see what they do through the eyes of those to whom it’s done. But at some point I had the queasy realization that lots of consultants and administrators who insist that learning is more important than teaching actually have adopted a behaviorist version of learning, with an emphasis on discrete skills measured by test scores.

You see the pattern here. We need to ask what kids are being given to do, and to what end, and within what broader model of learning, and as decided by whom. If we allow ourselves to be distracted from those questions, then even labels with a proud progressive history can be co-opted to the point that they no longer provide reassurance about the practice to which the label refers."
alfiekohn  2015  progressive  education  schools  schooling  schooliness  lesicarroll  humptydumpty  wholelanguage  cooption  language  words  buzzwords  pedagogy  differentiation  teaching  business  capitalism  formativeassessment  assessment  learning  howweetach  howwelearn  development  engagement  grassroots 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Why Do We Get Grades in School? | Origin of Everything | PBS
"Will you get a B+, C, an A-, a D+ or the dreaded F? We’ve all had that moment of sheer panic while waiting for your report card. But when you step back, it’s worth asking why do we get letter grades at all? And whatever happened to E? Find out in this week's episode!"
grades  grading  education  learning  schools  ranking  2017  assessment  history  lettergrades  alfiekohn 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Why I Don't Grade | Jesse Stommel
"I've long argued education should be about encouraging and rewarding not knowing more than knowing. When I give presentatiatons on grading and assessment, I often get some variation of the question: “How would you want your doctor to have been assessed?” My cheeky first answer is that I want the system to assure my doctor has read all the books of Jane Austen, because critical thinking is what will help them save my life when they encounter a situation they've never encountered before. I go on to say that I would want a mixture of things assessed and a mixture of kinds of assessment, because the work of being a doctor (or engineer, sociologist, teacher, etc.) is sufficiently complex that any one system of measurement or indicator of supposed mastery will necessarily fail.

There are lots of alternatives to traditional assessment and ways to approach ungrading, which I'll explore further in a future post. In some ways, I am withholding the mechanics of ungrading deliberately here, because I agree with Alfie Kohn who writes, “When the how’s of assessment preoccupy us, they tend to chase the why’s back into the shadows.” Grades are not something we should have ever allowed to be naturalized. Assessment should be, by its nature, an open question."
jessestommel  grades  grading  assessment  2017  syllabus  alfiekohn  cathydavidson  collaboration  learning  howwelearn  teaching  howweteach  sfsh  rubrics  motivation  participation  lauragibbs  objectivity  gradeinflation  outcomes  unschooling  deschooling  pedagogy  syllabi 
october 2017 by robertogreco
When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer… – Arthur Chiaravalli – Medium
"As I reflect back on these experiences, however, I wonder if the standards-based approach gave me a warped view of teaching and learning mathematics. I had apparently done an excellent job equipping my students with dozens of facts, concepts, and algorithms they could put into practice…on the multiple-choice final exam.

Somewhere, I’m sure, teachers were teaching math in a rich, interconnected, contextualized way. But that wasn’t the way I taught it, and my students likely never came to understand it in that way.

Liberating Language Arts

Fast forward to the present. For the past five years I have been back teaching in my major of language arts. Here the shortcomings of the standards-based method are compounded even further.

One of the more commonly stated goals of standards-based learning and grading is accuracy. First and foremost, accuracy means that grades should reflect academic achievement alone — as opposed to punctuality, behavior, compliance, or speed of learning. By implementing assessment, grading, and reporting practices similar to those I’d used in mathematics, I was able to achieve this same sort of accuracy in my language arts classes.

Accuracy, however, also refers to the quality of the assessments. Tom Schimmer, author of Grading From the Inside Out: Bringing Accuracy to Student Assessment through a Standards-based Mindset, states
Low-quality assessments have the potential to produce inaccurate information about student learning. Inaccurate formative assessments can misinform teachers and students about what should come next in the learning. Inaccurate summative assessments may mislead students and parents (and others) about students’ level of proficiency. When a teacher knows the purpose of an assessment, what specific elements to assess…he or she will most likely see accurate assessment information.

Unfortunately, assessment accuracy in the language arts and humanities in general is notoriously elusive. In a 1912 study of inter-rater reliability, Starch and Elliot (cited in Schinske and Tanner) found that different teachers gave a single English paper scores ranging from 50 to 98%. Other studies have shown similar inconsistencies due to everything from penmanship and the order in which the papers are reviewed to the sex, ethnicity, and attractiveness of the author.

We might argue that this situation has improved due to common language, range-finding committees, rubrics, and other modern developments in assessment, but problems remain. In order to achieve a modicum of reliability, language arts teams must adopt highly prescriptive scoring guides or rubrics, which as Alfie Kohn, Linda Mabry, and Maya Wilson have pointed out, necessarily neglect the central values of risk taking, style, and original thought.

This is because, as Maya Wilson observes, measurable aspects can represent “only a sliver of…values about writing: voice, wording, sentence fluency, conventions, content, organization, and presentation.” Just as the proverbial blind men touching the elephant receive an incorrect impression, so too do rubrics provide a limited — and therefore inaccurate — picture of student writing.

As Linda Mabry puts it,
The standardization of a skill that is fundamentally self-expressive and individualistic obstructs its assessment. And rubrics standardize the teaching of writing, which jeopardizes the learning and understanding of writing.

The second part of Mabry’s statement is even more disturbing, namely, that these attempts at accuracy and reliability not only obstruct accurate assessment, but paradoxically jeopardize students’ understanding of writing, not to mention other language arts. I have witnessed this phenomenon as we have created common assessments over the years. Our pre- and post-tests are now overwhelmingly populated with knowledge-based questions — terminology, vocabulary, punctuation rules. Pair this with formulaic, algorithmic approaches to the teaching and assessment of writing and you have a recipe for a false positive: students who score well with little vision of what counts for deep thinking or good writing.

It’s clear what we’re doing here: we’re trying to do to writing and other language arts what we’ve already done to mathematics. We’re trying to turn something rich and interconnected into something discrete, objective and measurable. Furthermore, the fundamentally subjective nature of student performance in the language arts renders this task even more problematic. Jean-Paul Sartre’s definition of subjectivity seems especially apt:
The subjectivity which we thus postulate as the standard of truth is no narrowly individual subjectivism…we are attaining to ourselves in the presence of the other, and we are just as certain of the other as we are of ourselves.…Thus the man who discovers himself directly in the cogito also discovers all the others, and discovers them as the condition of his own existence. He recognises that he cannot be anything…unless others recognise him as such. I cannot obtain any truth whatsoever about myself, except through the mediation of another. The other is indispensable to my existence, and equally so to any knowledge I can have of myself…Thus, at once, we find ourselves in a world which is, let us say, that of “intersubjectivity.”

First and foremost, the language arts involve communication: articulating one’s own ideas and responding to those of others. Assigning a score on a student’s paper does not constitute recognition. While never ceding my professional judgment and expertise as an educator, I must also find ways to allow students and myself to encounter one another as individuals. I must, as Gert Biesta puts it, create an environment in which individuals “come into presence,” that is, “show who they are and where they stand, in relation to and, most importantly, in response to what and who is other and different”:
Coming into presence is not something that individuals can do alone and by themselves. To come into presence means to come into presence in a social and intersubjective world, a world we share with others who are not like us…This is first of all because it can be argued that the very structure of our subjectivity, the very structure of who we are is thoroughly social.

Coming to this encounter with a predetermined set of “specific elements to assess” may hinder and even prevent me from providing recognition, Sartre’s prerequisite to self-knowledge. But it also threatens to render me obsolete.

The way I taught mathematics five years ago was little more than, as Biesta puts it, “an exchange between a provider and a consumer.” That transaction is arguably better served by Khan Academy and other online learning platforms than by me. As schools transition toward so-called “personalized” and “student-directed” approaches to learning, is it any wonder that the math component is often farmed out to self-paced online modules — ones that more perfectly provide the discrete, sequential, standards-based approach I developed toward the end of my tenure as math teacher?

Any teacher still teaching math in this manner should expect to soon be demoted to the status of “learning coach.” I hope we can avoid this same fate in language arts, but we won’t if we give into the temptation to reduce the richness of our discipline to standards and progression points, charts and columns, means, medians, and modes.

What’s the alternative? I’m afraid I’m only beginning to answer that question now. Adopting the sensible reforms of standards-based learning and grading seems to have been a necessary first step. But is it the very clarity of its approach — clearing the ground of anything unrelated to teaching and learning — that now urges us onward toward an intersubjective future populated by human beings, not numbers?

Replacing grades with feedback seems to have moved my students and me closer toward this more human future. And although this transition has brought a kind of relief, it has also occasioned anxiety. As the comforting determinism of tables, graphs, charts, and diagrams fade from view, we are left with fewer numbers to add, divide, and measure. All that’s left is human beings and the relationships between them. What Simone de Beauvoir says of men and women is also true of us as educators and students:
When two human categories are together, each aspires to impose its sovereignty upon the other. If both are able to resist this imposition, there is created between them a reciprocal relation, sometimes in enmity, sometimes in amity, always in tension.

So much of this future resides in communication, in encounter, in a fragile reciprocity between people. Like that great soul Whitman, we find ourselves “unaccountable” — or as he says elsewhere, “untranslatable.” We will never fit ourselves into tables and columns. Instead, we discover ourselves in the presence of others who are unlike us. Learning, growth, and self-knowledge occur only within this dialectic of mutual recognition.

Here we are vulnerable, verging on a reality as rich and astonishing as the one Whitman witnessed."
arthurchiaravalli  2017  education  standards-basedassessments  assessment  teaching  math  mathematics  writing  learning  romschimmer  grading  grades  alfiekohn  lindamabry  gertbiesta  khanacademy  personalization  rubics  waltwhitman  simonedebeauvoir  canon  sfsh  howweteach  howwelearn  mutualrecognition  communication  reciprocity  feedback  cv  presence  tension  standards  standardization  jean-paulsartre  mayawilson  formativeassessment  summativeassessment  interconnection  intersubjectivity  subjectivity  objectivity  self-knowledge  humans  human  humanism 
april 2017 by robertogreco
How To Transform a Space | Activities For Children | Do It Yourself, Environment, homeschool, Imagination, Play At Home Mom, Uncategorized | Play At Home Mom
"Here are the steps I use when transforming a space – whether it be a classroom or playroom…..

1. Move everything out. Yep, get to work and clear out the entire space. This includes taking everything off the walls. My classroom had SEVEN cork boards (not even at child height – which is an entirely different topic altogether) with SEVEN different colors and SEVEN different borders. Whoa!!

2. Clean. There’s no better palate than a nice, clean space. My classroom walls were covered in posters, letters, numbers, tape, and Velcro. The first thing I did was rip those suckers off the walls. I did that before I even decided to take ‘before’ pictures. My floors were a disaster, covered in tape and sand.
3. Purge. Not going to use it? Chunk it. (I threw away about 4 filing cabinets full of worksheets. Worksheets? In pre-k? Pfft!!)

4. Sit in the space – I know this sounds corny, but sitting in a space to visualize how children play is important.

5. Consider the light. Natural light is a great area for an art space, darker areas are good spaces for relaxing and light panel play.

6. Is there a sink in the room? My classroom does not have a sink. Boooooooo! If you have a sink in your space, it’s also a good area for art….washing paint brushes, cleaning paint containers, etc.

7. Get neutral rugs and leave the walls bare. As Alfie Kohn says,

“You can tell quite a lot about what goes on in a classroom or a school even if you visit after everyone has gone home. Just by looking at the walls – or, more precisely, what’s on the walls — it’s possible to get a feel for the educational priorities, the attitudes about children, even the assumptions about human nature of the people in charge.”

Clean walls and neutral rugs/tables helps keep the focus on the beauty of the materials in the room, rather than the bright colors of carpet, tables, and furniture. Let children create the space with pictures of them playing and their artwork. This is a great way for them to reflect on their play and feel worthy – the space belongs to them.

8. Move things back and set up one space at a time. You might find that once you get the furniture in, it really doesn’t work in that space. We have a resource room in our school, so ALL of the cabinets and filing cabinets from my room went in there, to allow for more space. The same can be done with playroom closets, basements, and attic space.

9. Bring in your own lighting. One thing I love about my son’s Montessori school is all of the natural sky lights and the fact that they use lamps around the room for lighting, as opposed to overhead fluorescent lights – yuk! I keep the lights off in my classroom and rely on light sources such as strands of light, rope lights, lamps, and the overhead projector to light our room. There is something very peaceful about the space, and everyone who enters my room comments about how peaceful it is. Yay! That’s what I was going for.

10. Remember that nothing is permanent. It’s okay to change the room around to meet the needs of your students. I recently made a “cozy corner” where we put our rock pillows. Children can go here to read, listen to stories, of just jump on the pillows. My guess is that my room will change again."
via:jolinaclément  2015  classrooms  alfiekohn  sfsh  schooldesign  classroomideas 
august 2016 by robertogreco
So who says competition in the classroom is inevitable? | Lucy Clark | Australia news | The Guardian
"In this extract from her new book Beautiful Failures, the Guardian’s Lucy Clark tackles the culture of contests and rankings at school, arguing that for children – indeed all of us – it is unnecessary and damaging"



"When I talk to my daughter about what it was about school that was so alienating for her, what made her so, so anxious, she has a one-word answer.

Competition.

She couldn’t bear the ranking of individuals. Somehow the lottery of life has blessed this girl with a personality that rejects ranking or assessment of any kind. She can’t even watch the Olympics – actually has to leave the room – because she can’t stand the thought that someone has to come first, second, third, and that someone has to come last. And my girl opted out of the competition early.

She believes it’s natural for kids to be competitive – “Haven’t you seen little kids at an athletics carnival?”

But that’s sport, I say, why can’t education be different?

“It’s just the way that people are. It’s human nature.”

Certainly if you watch kids at a sports day it might seem that way. Think of a child running a race. They crouch, they look up at the finish line, the gun cracks and sparks a whole collection of physiological responses that add up to running as fast as possible. GO!

As they cross the finish line with a blur of other bodies, one thought enters their head.

Where’d I come?

Not: wow, I really enjoyed the feeling of my legs striding out and the powerhouse muscles in my thighs propelling me along the track. Not: mmm, my friend Jack’s had a bad week at school; I really hope he managed a personal best today. No.

Kids of all ages understand the predominant purpose of a running race – it is to win, regardless of parents saying, “Just go out there and have a good time.” And there can only be one winner (photo finishes notwithstanding).

The psychology of kids wanting to win a running race seems as reflexive as the psychology of wanting a cuddle from Mum or Dad when they’ve taken a tumble.

But we all know that education is not a sport, right? Sport is sport, and education is something else.

Yet people keep thinking of education and learning as something akin to a race – a simplistic message that reduces the rich and multilayered fabric of 12 years of formal learning to the idea of running in a straight line from A to B.

In personally questioning the role of competition in education I have lost count of the number of people who have said to me, yes, but life is competitive and school is just a training ground for the sort of competition our kids will face as adults in the real world.

Is that what school should be? A warm-up for the main game? A simulation of grown-up life, where we wake up in the morning, put on our armour and go out to compete in a dog-eat-dog world?

It’s understandable that sport – the great contest of human physical endeavour, practised the world over – bleeds into other parts of life. It makes for easy analogies and anecdotes that sum up the triumph of the human spirit if one works hard enough to overcome whatever obstacles come our way. Witness the success of sports motivational talkers on the circuit lecturing schools and corporations.

And competition and contest is everywhere. You can’t turn on the television without seeing people compete with each other to cook the best meal, to survive the most appalling conditions in some bloody jungle somewhere, to be the most alluring and desirable female, to have the best recipe to make a million bucks, to be the best foreman for the job, or to have the best voice according to four people sitting in weird Star Trek chairs.

If they don’t win, they lose: they’re asked to leave the competition, pack their bags and move out of the fancy waterfront mansion immediately; they’re voted off the island; they have their wretched hearts broken because the bachelor chose some other chick; they fail at their tilt at riches beyond their dreams; they can’t sing, after all. Losers."
lucyclark  education  sdsh  alfiekohn  2016  teaching  howweteach  schools  competition  competitiveness  sports  learning 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Failure of Failure
"Alas, the fundamental difference between approaching success and avoiding failure will be missed by anyone who tends to focus only on behaviors — what can be observed and measured — rather than on how an individual interprets what happened. The good news is that not every goof in setting up a math problem will register in the child’s mind as a spirit-crushing Failure.

The bad news is that coming up short may indeed be experienced by children as debilitating, particularly under certain circumstances. As Deborah Stipek of Stanford University explains, that experience may change kids’ understanding of why they succeed or fail. Unlike “children who have a history of good performance,” those who have learned to see themselves as failures are “more likely to attribute success [when it does happen] to external causes, and failure to a lack of ability.” A kid who doesn’t do well assumes that if he does succeed, he must have just gotten lucky — or that the task was easy. And he assumes that if he fails again, which he regards as more likely, it’s because he doesn’t have what it takes.

This quickly becomes a vicious circle because attributing results to causes outside of one’s control makes people feel even more helpless, even less likely to do well in the future. The more they fail, the more they construct an image of themselves that leads to still more failure. That’s particularly true when students are deliberately given overly difficult tasks in the name of “rigor.” Or when the failure occurs in the context of intense pressure to succeed — or, worse, to defeat other students who are also trying to succeed. (If little evidence demonstrates the value of failing, no evidence has ever found any value in losing — or in pitting children against one another in general.)

Under certain circumstances, yes, it’s possible for a child to pick herself up and try again, just as we might hope. But it’s simply not the most likely outcome. The experience of having failed is a uniquely poor bet for anyone who wants to maximize the probability of future success. Moreover, it’s not just achievement that suffers. Kids who fail also tend to (1) lose interest in whatever they’re doing (say, learning), and (2) prefer easier tasks. It’s hard for someone to stay excited about something she has reason to think she can’t do well, and it’s even harder for her to welcome a more difficult version of whatever she was doing. In fact, failure often leads kids to engage in what psychologists call “self-handicapping”: They deliberately make less of an effort in order to create an excuse for not succeeding. They’re able to tell themselves that if they had tried, they might have done much better.

Even someone who really does buckle down and try harder when he fails may be doing so out of an anxious, compulsive pressure to feel better about himself rather than because he takes pleasure from what he’s doing. (This is only one of many possible concerns about the idea of “grit” that has taken the field of education by storm.) To that extent, anyone concerned about children’s mental health, not just how well they do in school, has even more reason to be skeptical about the tendency to romanticize failure.

All these findings are sobering — or at least they should be. But as with many similar claims about what’s good for children, I’ve noticed that assertions about the value of failure aren’t always based on its actual effects. People who believe it’s good for children to fail tend not to back down when presented with contrary evidence. Instead, they insist that “kids these days” are overprotected and have things too easy. Thus, what was originally offered as an empirical claim (about the allegedly positive impact of failure) is revealed to be a matter of ideology: Children ought to have to struggle, regardless of its effects.

One last point: What’s so powerful about making structural changes — adopting the kind of curriculum and pedagogy described in that Singapore study, for example — is that they really can help students to be more successful (and excited) learners. But to reframe the issue as “productive failure” may distract us from the need for such changes and lead us instead to accept the misleading idea that what kids mostly need is more opportunities to fail. This is closely related to the “fix the kid, not the schools” narrative lurking in the grit fad that I mentioned a moment ago — and also in the closely related enthusiasm for promoting a “growth mindset.”

Maybe someone just figured that the language of productive failure is a clever way to sell valuable progressive practices to a wider audience, rather like rebranding them as “21st-century skills” or “brain-based education.” But that just raises the question: How in the world did this come to be a selling point? Why have so many people accepted the idea that kids need to fail more?"
alfiekohn  education  struggle  failure  progressiveeducation  progressive  2016  psychology  children  curriculum  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  via:willrichardson  grit  misreadingings  sfsh 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Why Lots of Love (or Motivation) Isn't Enough - Alfie Kohn
"I get a kick out of spotting invisible threads that connect disparate theories and lines of research. Sometimes I’ll even notice a pattern (after the fact) in my own essays about different topics — which can be gratifying until I realize that the common denominator is embarrassingly simple.

One observation I’ve offered in various contexts is that “how much” tends to matter less than “what kind.” That’s something I’ve written about in four very different domains. My only defense against the reply “Well, duh. Who says otherwise?” is: “No one says otherwise, but most of us tend to act as if it weren’t true.” Let me explain.

1. Motivation. After I published a thick book about the damaging effects of rewards, I realized that a lot of the research I had cited could be summarized in a few straightforward sentences: Without really thinking about it, we tend to assume there’s something called “motivation” – a single entity of which someone can have a lot or a little. When we deal with people who have less power than we do, we’re often tempted to offer them rewards for acting the way we want because we figure this will increase their level of motivation to do so.

If we ignore the moral implications of treating others this way, rewarding them might be justified in practical terms. . . . that is, if the underlying model of motivation were accurate. Unfortunately, it isn’t. In reality, there are qualitatively different kinds of motivation, and the kind is more important than the amount. What matters is whether one is intrinsically motivated to engage in an activity (which means one finds it valuable or satisfying in its own right) or extrinsically motivated (which means that doing it produces a result outside of the task, such as a reward).

Even impressive levels of extrinsic motivation don’t bode well for meaningful goals. In fact, as scores of studies have shown, rewards tend to reduce people’s intrinsic motivation. You get a prize for reading a book (or for being helpful) and you tend to find reading (or helpfulness) itself less appealing in the future. Thus, what matters isn’t how motivated someone is, but how someone is motivated. The common but mistaken assumption that motivation comes in only one flavor helps to explain why rewards remain popular despite all the harm they do.

Many teachers, I find, are familiar with the modifiers “intrinsic” and “extrinsic,” yet they continue to talk about “how motivated” a student is or how to “motivate” kids in general. By overlooking the critical difference between types of motivation, they contribute to a serious problem. Only extrinsic motivation can be increased from the outside, so that’s what schools focus on (with grades, points, awards, praise, and the like) — often at the expense of children’s interest in learning.

2. Love. Let’s consider a very different example of the same general principle. Many of us who are parents take comfort from the idea that what kids really need — maybe all they need — is our love. The implication is that love is a substance we can supply in greater or lesser quantities — greater, of course, being preferable.

But again, this assumption turns out to be fatally simplistic since there are actually different ways of loving a child, and these ways aren’t equally desirable. The psychoanalyst Alice Miller observed that it’s possible to love a child “passionately – but not in the way he needs to be loved.” If she’s right, the relevant question isn’t just whether, or even how much, we love our kids. It also matters how we love them. Once that’s understood, we could pretty quickly come up with a list of different types of parental love along with opinions about which are better.

I tend to focus on the distinction between loving kids for what they do and loving them for who they are. The first kind is conditional, which means children must earn our acceptance — by acting in ways we deem appropriate or performing up to our standards. The second kind of love is unconditional: It doesn’t hinge on how they act, whether they’re successful or well-behaved or anything else. And it’s the latter, according to a growing body of research, that children really need — from their parents and even from their teachers. Unfortunately, it’s also the opposite of what most parenting and classroom management resources are selling. Positive reinforcement for good behavior, just like “time out” for bad behavior, exemplifies conditional acceptance.

3. Self-esteem. Conservatives have been sneering at what they call the “self-esteem movement” for decades, but considerable research confirms that how people regard themselves is indeed a powerful predictor of various psychological outcomes — and that higher self-esteem is better than lower. Over the last few years, however, a number of psychologists have shown that what matters about self-esteem isn’t just how much of it one has but how stable it is. If your confidence in yourself is fragile, the result may be anger or depression. And even if your self-esteem is generally high, you may struggle with self-doubt or become defensive if that positive view isn’t sufficiently secure.

The crucial determinant of stability, in turn, seems to be unconditionality. A solid core of belief in yourself, an abiding sense that you’re competent and worthwhile — even when you screw up or fall short — creates a more reliable (and healthier) form of self-esteem. Conversely, if you think well of yourself only to the extent that you’re successful or attractive or appreciated by others — if you regard self-esteem as something that’s perpetually in doubt — then you’re in for trouble, psychologically speaking. Low self-esteem (“I don’t feel very good about myself”) is bad enough; self-esteem that’s contingent (“I feel good about myself only when…”) is even more worrisome.[1]

It’s a neat parallel: The level of esteem one has for oneself, just like the amount of love children receive from their parents, doesn’t tell the whole story. Actually, it’s more than a parallel because these lines intersect. Being accepted unconditionally is what allows children to accept themselves unconditionally. Or to put it the other way around, conditional acceptance predicts conditional self-acceptance — and poorer psychological health.

4. Internalization. Many people with an interest in child development — even if they’re aware of the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation — like to say that kids should be helped to internalize good values or behaviors. But how exactly does that process play out? On the one hand, kids may swallow whole (or “introject”) an adult’s rule or standard so that it seems to control them from the inside: They do what they’ve been told because they’ll feel guilty if they don’t. On the other hand, internalization can happen more authentically, so the behavior has been fully integrated into their value structure. It feels chosen.[2]

In short, internalization can take place in very different ways. Which means, once again, that what counts isn’t just whether (or the extent to which) kids are doing it, but how.

When adults control children, they end up promoting an introjected style that often results in learning that’s rigid, superficial, and ultimately less successful. Many older students have very effectively internalized a compulsion to do well in school. On the outside they look like admirably dedicated students, but they may have mortgaged their present lives to the future: noses to the grindstone, perseverant to a fault, stressed to the max. High school is just preparation for college, college is just an occasion for collecting credentials for whatever comes next. Such students may be skilled test-takers and grade grubbers and gratification delayers, but they’re often motivated by a perpetual need to feel better about themselves rather than by anything resembling curiosity.

True, these students no longer require carrots or sticks. They don’t need discipline because they’re self-disciplined. . . in a way that’s disturbing. Their motivation is internal, but it sure as hell isn’t intrinsic. And that key distinction would go unnoticed if we had just asked whether they had internalized certain values rather than inquired about the nature of that internalization.

*

If we know better, why do so many of us act as if things like love, motivation, self-esteem, and internalization come in only one variety? Might we focus on how much of “it” someone has because of our culture’s preoccupation with quantification and data?[3] Or is it just that we’ve never been invited to consider the practical ramifications of the fact that none of these concepts is actually unitary?"
alfiekohn  grading  grades  motivation  love  education  2016  self-esteem  psychology  internalization  children  schools  learning  howwelearn  intrinsicmotivation 
may 2016 by robertogreco
The Overselling of Ed Tech - Alfie Kohn
We can’t answer the question “Is tech useful in schools?” until we’ve grappled with a deeper question: “What kinds of learning should be taking place in those schools?”



"Lucid critiques of ed tech — and of technology more generally — have been offered by educators and other social scientists for some time now. See, for example, the work of Larry Cuban, Sherry Turkle, Gary Stager, and Will Richardson. (Really. See their work. It’s worth reading.) But their arguments, like the available data that fail to show much benefit, don’t seem to be slowing the feeding frenzy. Ed tech is increasingly making its way even into classrooms for young children. And the federal government is pushing this stuff unreservedly: Check out the U.S. Office of Education Technology’s 2016 plan recommending greater use of “embedded” assessment, which “includes ongoing gathering and sharing of data,” plus, in a development that seems inevitable in retrospect, a tech-based program to foster a “growth mindset” in children. There’s much more in that plan, too – virtually all of it, as blogger Emily Talmage points out, uncannily aligned with the wish list of the Digital Learning Council, a group consisting largely of conservative advocacy groups and foundations, and corporations with a financial interest in promoting ed tech.

There’s a jump-on-the-bandwagon feel to how districts are pouring money into computers and software programs – money that’s badly needed for, say, hiring teachers. But even if ed tech were adopted as thoughtfully as its proponents claim, we’re still left with deep reasons to be concerned about the outmoded model of teaching that it helps to preserve — or at least fails to help us move beyond. To be committed to meaningful learning requires us to view testimonials for technology with a terabyte’s worth of skepticism."
edtech  alfiekohn  2016  technology  education  learning  schools  teaching  garystager  willrichardson  larrycuban  sherryturkle  emilytalmage  via:lukeneff 
april 2016 by robertogreco
There’s nothing wrong with grade inflation - The Washington Post
"Even where grades can be useful, as in describing what material a student has mastered, they are remarkably crude instruments. Yes, the student who gets a 100 on a calculus exam probably grasps the material better than the student with a 60 — but only if she retains the knowledge, which grades can’t show.

Meanwhile, I’ve taught humanities subjects for 15 years, and I still can’t say very well what separates a B from an A. What’s more, I never see the kind of incompetence or impudence that would merit a D or an F. And now, in our grade-inflated world, it’s even harder to use grades to motivate, or give feedback, or send a signal to future employers or graduate schools.

We need to move to a post-grading world. Maybe that means a world where there are no grades — or one where, if they remain, we rely more on better kinds of evaluation.

Employers, faced with crushes of applicants with A averages, already depend on other factors in evaluating them. According to a 2012 study by the Chronicle of Higher Education, GPA was seventh out of eight factors employers considered in hiring, behind internships, extracurricular activities and previous employment. Last year, Stanford’s registrar told the Chronicle about “a clamor” from employers “for something more meaningful” than the traditional transcript. The Lumina Foundation gave a$1.27 million grant to two organizations for college administrators working to develop better student records, with grades only one part of a student’s final profile.

Some graduate schools, too, have basically ditched grades. “As long as you don’t bomb and flunk out, grades don’t matter very much in M.F.A. programs,” the director of one creative-writing program told the New York Times. To top humanities PhD programs, letters of reference and writing samples matter more than overall GPA (although students are surely expected to have received good grades in their intended areas of study). In fact, it’s impossible to get into good graduate or professional schools without multiple letters of reference, which have come to function as the kind of rich, descriptive comments that could go on transcripts in place of grades. Right now, students end up being evaluated twice: once with an inflated and meaningless letter grade, then again by teachers asked to write letters of recommendation.

In 2013, Forbes interviewed career-services directors at four top schools: Brandeis, NYU, the Rochester Institute of Technology and Purdue. They said employers want a GPA of 3.0 or even 3.5. But again, that standard would include almost every Harvard student — which suggests that GPAs serve not to validate students from elite schools but to keep out those from less-prestigious schools and large public universities, where grades are less inflated. Grades at community colleges “have actually dropped” over the years, according to Stuart Rojstaczer, a co-author of the 2012 grade-inflation study. That means we have two systems: one for students at elite schools, who get jobs based on references, prestige and connections, and another for students everywhere else, who had better maintain a 3.0. Grades are a tool increasingly deployed against students without prestige.

Since the elite schools clearly won’t fix their grading scales, the rest should ditch grades, moving toward more nuanced transcripts with comments.

Right now, some institutions already teach students well without grades — they are rarified, expensive places, such as St. Ann’s, a private school in Brooklyn; Hampshire College; and Yale School of Medicine. Rachel Rubinstein, a literature professor and dean at Hampshire College, who helps train new faculty members to use its system of evaluating students, said that it takes her a full two weeks after the term ends to finish writing comments, which run about a half-page, single-spaced, per student. “It’s not like writing a recommendation, where you frame everything as a positive,” Rubinstein says. “They can be very frank.”

Students can compare evaluations from different classes, too, “read across all of them, see what they need improvement on.” And when they graduate, they — and employers or grad-school admission offices — get far more than a printed page of grades. “Our transcripts are kind of a beast — it’s like reading 25 recommendation letters,” Rubinstein says.

The trouble is that, while it’s relatively easy for smaller colleges to go grade-free, with their low student-to-teacher ratios, it’s tough for professors at larger schools, who must evaluate more students, more quickly, with fewer resources. And adjuncts teaching five classes for poverty wages can’t write substantial term-end comments, so grades are a necessity if they want to give any feedback at all.

But perhaps the small, progressive colleges can inspire other schools to follow, as they have in, say, abolishing the SAT as an admissions requirement — once it was a few schools like Hampshire, now it’s hundreds more. A change in grading would be even harder. It would mean hiring more teachers and paying them better (which schools should do anyway). And if transcripts become more textured, graduate-school admission offices and employers will have to devote more resources to reading them, and to getting to know applicants through interviews and letters of reference — a salutary trend that is underway already.

* * * * *

When I think about getting rid of grades, I think of happier students, with whom I have more open, democratic relationships. I think about being forced to pay more attention to the quiet ones, since I’ll have to write something truthful about them, too. I’ve begun to wonder if a world without grades may be one of those states of affairs (like open marriages, bicycle lanes and single-payer health care) that Americans resist precisely because they seem too good, suspiciously good. Nothing worth doing is supposed to come easy.

Alfie Kohn, too, sees ideology at work in the grade-inflation panic. “Most of what powers the arguments against grade inflation is a very right-wing idea that excellence consists in beating everyone else around you,” he says. “Even when you have sorted them — even when they get to Harvard! — we have to sort them again.” In other words, we can trust only a system in which there are clear winners and losers.

Even in my Yale classrooms filled with overachievers, most of whom want to learn for the sake of learning, some respond well to the clarity of a grade. And it’s true that if all schools got rid of grades tomorrow, the immediate result would be to worsen inequality: I’d give rich comments to my Yale students, while my overworked peers at cash-strapped state colleges would give a sentence or two to each of their hundreds of pupils.

But grade inflation, and thus grades’ diminishing importance, is real. The question is whether we can see in this trend something better."
markoppenheimer  grades  grading  gradeinflation  2016  democracy  assessment  highered  highereducation  alfiekohn  ideology  education  teaching  learning 
march 2016 by robertogreco
All Aboard the LeaderShip - Alfie Kohn
"If you’re going to lead a school or other organization, it might be smart to give some thought to what it means to be a good leader. But that fact doesn’t explain why some schools proudly announce that they train their students — every last one of them — in the art of leadership. What’s up with that?

I’d suggest three possible explanations. The first is that leadership, like a lot of other terms that show up in mission statements (transformational, responsible, good citizens, 21st-century as an adjective), is just a rhetorical flourish — something we’re not supposed to think about too carefully. No one is likely to stand up and say, “Hey, wait just a minute! Exactly which characteristics does this school regard as admirable in the 21st century that it didn’t value in, say, 1995?”

Similarly, you’re not expected to ask how it’s possible for everyone to be a leader. You’re just supposed to smile and nod. Leadership good.

Possibility number 2 is that the term does have a specific meaning — a meaning that’s actually rather disturbing in this context. “When colleges promise to make their students leaders, they’re telling them they’re going to be in charge,” William Deresiewicz wrote in the September issue of Harper’s magazine. In fact, that pact with the privileged begins well before college. The message, if made explicit, would sound something like this: “No, of course everyone can’t be a leader. The elite are far more likely to attain that status. So buy your kids an education here and we’ll equip them to be part of that elite.”[1]

It’s a shrewd selling point for a selective school, granted. And it explains why, as someone observed recently, you don’t find many institutions that refer to themselves as “followership academies.”

The relatively benign word leadership may be a way to mute the objectionable implications of grooming certain students to run the world. It’s not unlike how adults try to make themselves feel better about punishing children by referring to what they’re doing as “imposing a consequence.”

*

When I mused about this issue on Twitter a few weeks ago, wondering whether appeals to leadership implicitly endorsed a competitive hierarchy, my post produced a bushel of responses that made me consider possibility number 3: Maybe leadership, like a lot of other words, just means whatever the hell you want it to mean.

One person pointed me to a website about being a “servant/leader” — a phrase with religious roots, I discovered. The site, which had the feel of a late-night TV commercial, offered materials to promote both “personal development” and an “entrepreneurial mindset.”

Here, reproduced verbatim, are a few of the other replies I received:

* Leadership requires that we lead ourselves first. Part of being a great leader is being a good follower too

* Students can lead in 4 directions- leading up, leading peers, leading down, and leading self

* Everyone can be a leader, everyone can be a servant, and everyone can treat others w/ respect

* Some leadership actually comes from the followers within a group

* Lead from YOUR passion. All can.

* [I] always interpreted “teaching leadership” to mean recognizing/owning our gifts & challenges, and learning what we can do with them

One reasonable reaction to all these declarations would be: “Huh?” The dictionary says a leader is “one who is in charge or command of others.” The leader’s style doesn’t have to be (and ideally wouldn’t be) heavy-handed or authoritarian. But that doesn’t mean the word can be redefined to signify anything we choose, such that the inherent power differential between leaders and followers is magically erased. To deny that feature, or to claim that leadership can refer to being a good follower, stretches the word beyond all usefulness. Likewise for the blithe reassurance that everyone can be a leader, which recalls Debbie Meier’s marvelous analogy: It’s like telling children to line up for lunch, then adding, “And I want all of you to be in the front half of the line!”

In a political context, it makes sense to discuss how to prevent leaders from abusing their power. But if our focus is on education or child rearing, then I’m not sure why we’re promoting a hierarchical arrangement. And teaching kids to “follow as well as lead” doesn’t address this concern any more than the harm caused by having a punitive parent is rectified by having another parent who’s permissive.

It’s fine to hope that those children who do eventually end up in leadership positions will act with kindness and skill. But, again, why frame education in these terms? Why not promote characteristics that apply to everyone (just by virtue of being human) and are relevant to children as well as adults: compassion, skepticism, self-awareness, curiosity, and so on? Why not emphasize the value of being part of a well-functioning team, of treating everyone with respect within a model that’s fundamentally collaborative and democratic? At best, a focus on leadership distracts us from helping people decide things together; at worst, it inures us to a social order that consists of those who tell and those who are told.

*

Alongside my substantive objection to an emphasis on leadership (as the word is actually defined) I will confess to some irritation with the more general tendency to be unconstrained by how words are actually defined. This temptation presents itself with respect to all sorts of terms, and even people with admirable views give in to it. Faced with an objection to a certain idea or practice, the response is likely to be, in effect, “No, no. I use that label to mean only good things.”

Thus: “I reject your criticisms of the flipped classroom [making students watch lecture videos as homework and do what’s more commonly assigned as homework during class] because when I talk about flipped classrooms, I mean those that include wonderful student-designed projects.”

Or: “Why would someone who’s progressive raise concerns about the idea of a growth mindset [attributing outcomes to effort rather than to fixed ability]? The way I use that term, it includes a rejection of grades and other traditional pedagogical practices.”[2]

We’ve disappeared through the looking glass here, finding ourselves in a reality where, as Lewis Carroll had Humpty Dumpty put it, “a word…means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”[3] Like Carroll, I think it’s fine to argue that x is consistent with things you already like (if you can defend that proposition), but it’s not fine to defend x by redefining it however you see fit.

After all, that’s something a good leader would never permit."
alfiekohn  leadership  education  howweteach  schools  williamderesiewicz  skepticism  power  elitism  buzzwords  missionstatements  2015  deborahmeier  compassion  self-awareness  curiosity  democracy  collaboration  society  selfishness  language  lewiscarroll  growthmindset  flippedclassroom  pedagogy  whatweteach  words  kindness  consensus  hierarchy  horizontality  competition 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The Back-to-School-Night Speech We'd Like to Hear* | Psychology Today
"Our top priority here -- and I mean a real, honest-to-goodness commitment, not just a slogan on the website or in a mission statement -- is to learn about and support each student's interests. What questions do they have about the world? How can we help them build on and find answers to those questions? When we meet as a staff, it's usually to think together about how best to do that, how to create a school that's not just academic but intellectual.

We don't want to write a detailed curriculum or devise a bunch of rules in advance and then spend the year demanding that kids conform to them. Our main concern is that what students are learning, and how they're helped to learn it, make sense for the particular kids in a given room. That's why our teachers spend a lot more time asking than telling -- and even more time listening to what the kids wonder about. The plan for learning is created with your kids, not just for them.

Take Ms. _______ and Mr. ________, who are both standing in the back of the room, over there near the fire alarm. (Say hello!) They teach the same grade and the same subjects, but do they have the same curriculum -- the same topics in the same order with the same reading list and assignments? Well, of course not! They teach different kids! And I happen to know that much of what each of them is teaching this year is different from what they were teaching last year. For the same reason.

A good way to tell how successful we are is how excited the students are about figuring stuff out and playing with ideas. Nurturing their desire to learn is more important to us than cramming them full of definitions and dates and details that they're likely to forget anyway. Plus, in my experience, when that excitement is there, academic excellence tends to follow – assuming they've been given the support and resources they need.

So if your children ever seem reluctant to come to school, if you get a sense that they see what they're doing here as a chore, please let us know! Hating school isn't a fact of life; it's a problem to be solved. We're not going to talk about "how to motivate them" or just expect them to "improve their attitude"; it's our responsibility to improve what happens in school. And if it turns out that the curiosity of our students is being smothered by practices that we've come to take for granted, well, we're not going to say, "Too bad. That's life." We're going to rethink those practices.

You want a couple of examples? Well, I think I can safely say -- and feel free, teachers, to contradict me here -- that all of us on the staff used to assume that things like grades, tests, homework, and textbooks were just part of the educational package. So we focused on the details of how we did them -- what seem to us now like piddly little questions. We would solemnly ask: Should grades be posted online -- and what's the best way to do that? Or: Exactly how many minutes of homework should be assigned? Should students be permitted to retake tests? Should textbooks be available digitally? (Boy, that's "innovation" for you, huh? The same collection of predigested facts from a giant publishing conglomerate but, hey, now it's on an iPad!)

Anyway, we gradually realized that because we were so busy asking how to implement x, y, and z, we had let ourselves off the hook by failing to ask whether x, y, or z should be done at all. For instance, a lot of studies have shown that when you give kids grades, they tend to lose interest in what they're learning – and also become less thoughtful in the way they learn it. So if we can offer kids (and also you parents) much more meaningful feedback about how they're doing in school – through written observations and, better yet, in-person conversations -- then why would we risk smothering their excitement about learning by slapping a letter or number on them? We were doing real damage by training kids to think that the point of going to school is to get A's. The solution wasn't to implement “standards-based grading,” or to change “A” to “greatly exceeds expectations,” or ramp up the use of rubrics (which basically take all that's wrong with grades and intensify it). No. The solution was to get rid of grading entirely and replace it with something better. So that's just what we've done. And the results have been nothing short of amazing.

The same thing is true with other old-fashioned practices. Homework creates frustration, anxiety, boredom, exhaustion -- and it's no fun for the kids either! (Ba-dum-bum). So we really paid attention when we discovered teachers -- some in our school, some in other schools -- who had completely stopped assigning homework and found real improvement in the way kids felt about school, about learning, about themselves, and about their teachers -- all without detracting from the quality of their learning. True, kids end up doing less drill and practice when they're free to do what they enjoy after school, but our teachers have gone way beyond the old drill-and-practice approach anyway!

We've seen similar benefits after educating ourselves about how to evaluate kids' understanding of ideas without using tests. And about how textbooks can be left on the shelves, to be consulted occasionally like reference sources, rather than dictating course content. What?? A school without tests or textbooks?? Yes. It's not only possible; it opens new possibilities for learning -- to the point that we wondered why we hadn't ditched these relics years ago.

Well, let's be honest. Some of us wondered that. Others of us are still a little, um, uneasy about completely getting rid of these traditional practices. Some of us understandably need help teaching with primary sources instead of textbooks. Or getting better at knowing how well students are doing (or how we're doing) without giving kids tests and quizzes. Or doing what needs to be done during class instead of saddling kids with more schoolwork after the school day is over.

So we're still struggling with some of this. But we're pretty sure at least we're asking the right questions now. And I'm happy to report that this shift is taking place in all the schools in our district -- elementary, middle, and high schools, since everything I'm talking about tonight is relevant to all grade levels. In fact, at the risk of making your head explode, I could mention that the same is true of a bunch of other features of Old Style education that we're also starting to look at skeptically now: segregating kids by age, or teaching different subjects separately, or even making kids raise their hands so that the teacher alone decides who gets to talk when. If there are solid reasons to keep doing these things, fine. If not, well, "that's the way things have always been done" is a pretty lame justification for not making a change, isn't it?"



"We talk a lot about the importance of creating a caring community of learners. Actually, I guess lots of schools use phrases like that, but one way we prove we really mean it is by making sure we don't do anything that disrupts a feeling of community -- like setting kids against each other in a contest for awards or recognition. The day we start publicly singling out one child as better than everyone else is the day we've given up on the ideal of community. This doesn't mean we don't care about excellence. Just the opposite! Real excellence comes from helping students to see one another as potential collaborators. Sorting them into winners and losers leads each kid to see everyone else as a rival. That undermines achievement (as well as caring and trust) for winners and losers alike. So instead of awards assemblies, you can expect to be invited to student-designed celebrations of what all of us have accomplished together. These ceremonies can be amazingly moving, by the way. If you're used to those rituals where a few kids are called up to the stage to be applauded for having triumphed over their peers, well, you're in for a real treat.

Because we take kids -- all kids -- so seriously here at _________, and because we treat them, and their ideas, with respect, we tend to have remarkably few discipline problems. Few, not none. When there is a problem, we don't talk about it in terms of a kid's "behavior" that needs to be changed; we ask what's going on beneath the behavior. Sometimes what's going on is that something about the school isn't working for that child. That's not a signal to fix the child, to lean on him until he does what he's told. You're sending us your children, not your pets, so we don't use rewards and consequences. We don't bribe or threaten them to make them behave. Hey, we don't like to be treated that way, so why would we treat our students that way? We don't use point systems, or dangle prizes in front of them, or use other strategies of control. Those gimmicks don't really work in the long run, and they're an awfully disrespectful way to treat people of any age. Besides, we find that when the learning is engaging, when our requests are reasonable, when we view students as people to be consulted rather than as bundles of behaviors to be reinforced, most of the time they live up to our expectations. Or even go beyond them.

As the year unfolds, we'll send you occasional letters and e-mails -- and update our website -- about how all this is playing out, about how your child is doing and, more important, what your child is doing. Some teachers host their own blogs or send out periodic newsletters. But don't be worried if sometimes they write things like, "We had a conflict in class that made some kids unhappy so we called a class meeting to work it out" or "Hey, I tried a new way to introduce an unfamiliar concept today, and it bombed so I'm not likely to do that again." If we sent you updates that were always upbeat, implying that every kid loved - and succeeded at - every activity, we'd quickly lose all credibility and you'd discount everything you heard from us. So we'll be tactful but honest in sharing … [more]
alfiekohn  emergentcurriculum  education  unschooling  deschooling  learning  children  schools  priorities  tcsnmy  agency  choice  homework  grades  grading  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  curriculum  reggioemilia  anxiety  boredom  exhaustion  play  democracy  textbooks  caring  progressive  discipline  behavior  competition  awards 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The perils of “Growth Mindset” education: Why we’re trying to fix our kids when we should be fixing the system - Salon.com
"Having spent a few decades watching one idea after another light up the night sky and then flame out — in the field of education and in the culture at large — I realize this pattern often has less to do with the original (promising) idea than with the way it has been oversimplified and poorly implemented. Thus, I initially thought it was unfair to blame Dweck for wince-worthy attempts to sell her growth mindset as a panacea and to give it a conservative spin. Perhaps her message had been distorted by the sort of people who love to complain about grade inflation, trophies for showing up, and the inflated self-esteem of “these kids today.” In the late 1990s, for example, right-wing media personality John Stossel snapped up a paper of Dweck’s about praise, portraying it as an overdue endorsement of the value of old-fashioned toil — just what was needed in an era of “protecting kids from failure.” Their scores stink but they feel good about themselves anyway — and here’s a study that proves “excellence comes from effort”!

This sort of attack on spoiled kids and permissive (or excessive) parenting is nothing new — and most of its claims dissolve on close inspection. Alas, Dweck not only has failed to speak out against, or distance herself from, this tendentious use of her ideas but has put a similar spin on them herself. She has allied herself with gritmeister Angela Duckworth and made Stossel-like pronouncements about the underappreciated value of hard work and the perils of making things too easy for kids, pronouncements that wouldn’t be out of place at the Republican National Convention or in a small-town Sunday sermon. Indeed, Dweck has endorsed a larger conservative narrative, claiming that “the self-esteem movement led parents to think they could hand their children self-esteem on a silver platter by telling them how smart and talented they are.” (Of course, most purveyors of that narrative would be just as contemptuous of praising kids for how hard they’d tried, which is what Dweck recommends.)

Moreover, as far as I can tell, she has never criticized a fix-the-kid, ignore-the-structure mentality or raised concerns about the “bunch o’ facts” traditionalism in schools. Along with many other education critics, I’d argue that the appropriate student response to much of what’s assigned isn’t “By golly, with enough effort, I can do this!” but “Why the hell should anyone have to do this?” Dweck, like Duckworth, is conspicuously absent from the ranks of those critics.

It isn’t entirely coincidental that someone who is basically telling us that attitudes matter more than structures, or that persistence is a good in itself, has also bought into a conservative social critique. But why have so many educators who don’t share that sensibility endorsed a focus on mindset (or grit) whose premises and implications they’d likely find troubling on reflection?

I’m not suggesting we go back to promoting an innate, fixed, “entity” theory of intelligence and talent, which, as Dweck points out, can leave people feeling helpless and inclined to give up. But the real alternative to that isn’t a different attitude about oneself; it’s a willingness to go beyond individual attitudes, to realize that no mindset is a magic elixir that can dissolve the toxicity of structural arrangements. Until those arrangements have been changed, mindset will get you only so far. And too much focus on mindset discourages us from making such changes."
alfiekohn  grit  motivation  education  growthmindset  caroldweck  angeladuckworth  parenting  children  schools  fads  praise  effort 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Cheerful to a Fault: “Positive” Practices with Negative Implications - Alfie Kohn
"We live in a smiley-face, keep-your-chin-up, look-on-the-bright-side culture. At the risk of being labeled a professional party pooper, I’d like to suggest that accentuating the positive isn’t always a wise course of action where children are concerned. I say that not because I’ve joined the conservative chorus whose refrain is that kids today have it too damn easy and ought to be made to experience more failure (and show more “grit”).[1] Rather, my point is that some things that sound positive and upbeat turn out not to be particularly constructive.

1. Praise. The most salient feature of a positive judgment is not that it’s positive but that it’s a judgment. And in the long run, people rarely thrive as a result of being judged. Praise is the mirror image of criticism, not its opposite. Both are ways of doing things to kids as opposed to working with them. Verbal rewards are often more about manipulating than encouraging — a form of sugar-coated control. The main practical effect of offering a reward, whether it’s tangible, symbolic, or verbal, is to provide a source of extrinsic motivation (for example, trying to please the rewarder), and this, according to a considerable body of research, tends to undermine intrinsic motivation (a commitment to the activity or value itself).

While “Good job!” may seem like a supportive thing to say, that support is actually made conditional on the child’s doing what we ask or impressing us. What kids most need from adults, apart from nonjudgmental feedback and guidance, is unconditional support: the antithesis of a patronizing pat on the head for having jumped through our hoops. The solution, therefore, isn’t as simple as praising children’s effort instead of their ability, because the problem isn’t a function of what’s being praised — or, for that matter, how often praise is offered — but of praise itself.[2]

2. Automatic reassurance. Deborah Meier once remarked that if a child says one of her classmates doesn’t like her,
we need to resist reassuring her that it’s not true and getting the classmate to confirm it; then we must ask ourselves what has led to this idea. Probably there is truth to the cry for help, and our refusal to admit it may simply lead the child to hide her hurt more deeply. Do we do too much reassuring – ‘It doesn’t hurt,’ ‘It’ll be okay’ – and not enough exploring, joining with the child’s queries, fears, thoughts?[3]

A reflexive tendency to say soothing things to children in distress may simply communicate that we’re not really listening to them. Perhaps we’re offering reassurance more because that’s what we need to say than because it’s what they need to hear.

3. Happiness as the primary goal. How can we help children grow up to be happy? That’s an important question, but here’s another one: How can we help children grow up to be concerned about whether other people are happy? We don’t want our kids to end up as perpetually miserable social activists, but neither should we root for them to become so focused on their own well-being that they’re indifferent to other people’s suffering. Happiness isn’t a good thing if it’s purchased at the price of being unreflective, complacent, or self-absorbed.

Moreover, as the psychologist Ed Deci reminds us, anger and sadness are sometimes appropriate responses to things that happen to us (and around us). “When people want only happiness, they can actually undermine their own development,” he said, “because the quest for happiness can lead them to suppress other aspects of their experience. . . .The true meaning of being alive is not just to feel happy, but to experience the full range of human emotions.”[4]

*

And here are four specific cheerful-sounding utterances or slogans that I believe also merit our skepticism:

4. “High(er) expectations.” This phrase, typically heard in discussions about educating low-income or minority students, issues from policy makers with all the thoughtfulness of a sneeze. It derives most of its appeal from a simplistic contrast with low expectations, which obviously no one prefers. But we need to ask some basic questions: Are expectations being raised to the point that students are more demoralized than empowered? Are these expectations being imposed on students rather than developed with them? And most fundamentally: High expectations to do what, exactly? Produce impressive scores on unimpressive tests?

The school reform movement driven by slogans such as “tougher standards,” “accountability,” and “raising the bar” arguably lowers meaningful expectations insofar as it relies on dubious indicators of progress — thereby perpetuating a “bunch o’ facts” model of learning. Expecting poor children to fill in worksheets more accurately just causes them to fall farther behind affluent kids who are offered a more thoughtful curriculum. Indeed, as one study found, such traditional instruction may be associated with lower expectations on the part of their teachers.[5]

5. “Ooh, you’re so close!” (in response to a student’s incorrect answer). My objection here is not, as traditionalists might complain, that we’re failing to demand absolute accuracy. Quite the contrary. The problem is that we’re more focused on getting students to produce right answers than on their understanding of what they’re doing. Even in math, one student’s right answer may not signify the same thing as another’s. The same is true of two wrong answers. A student’s response may have been only one digit off from the correct one, but she may have gotten there by luck (in which case she wasn’t really “close” in a way that matters). Conversely, a student who’s off by an order of magnitude may grasp the underlying principle but have made a simple calculation error.

6. “If you work hard, I’m sure you’ll get a better grade next time.” Again, we may have intended to be encouraging, but the actual message is that what matters in this classroom isn’t learning but performance. It’s not about what kids are doing but how well they’re doing it. Decades’ worth of research has shown that these two emphases tend to pull in opposite directions. Thus, the relevant distinction isn’t between a good grade and a bad grade; it’s leading kids to focus on grades versus inviting them to engage with ideas.

Similarly, if we become preoccupied with effort as opposed to ability as the primary determinant of high marks, we miss the crucial fact that marks are inherently destructive. Like demands to “raise expectations,” a growth mindset isn’t a magic wand. In fact, it can distract us from the harmfulness of certain goals — and of certain ways of teaching and assessing — by suggesting that more effort, like more rigor, is all that’s really needed. Not only is it not sufficient; when the outcome is misconceived, it isn’t even always desirable.[6]

7. “Only Positive Attitudes Allowed Beyond This Point.” I’ve come across this poster slogan in a number of schools, and each time I see it, my heart sinks. Its effect isn’t to create a positive atmosphere but to serve notice that the expression of negative feelings is prohibited: “Have a nice day . . . or else.” It’s a sentiment that’s informative mostly for what it tells us about the needs of the person who put up the poster. It might as well say “My Mental Health Is So Precarious That I Need All of You to Pretend You’re Happy.”

Kids don’t require a classroom that’s relentlessly upbeat; they require a place where it’s safe to express whatever they’re feeling, even if at the moment that happens to be sadness or fear or anger. Bad feelings don’t vanish in an environment of mandatory cheer — they just get swept under the rug where people end up tripping over them, so to speak. Furthermore, students’ “negativity” may be an entirely apt response to an unfair rule, an authoritarian environment, or a series of tasks that seem pointless. To focus on students’ emotions in order to manufacture a positive climate (or in the name of promoting “self-regulation” skills) is to pretend that the problem lies exclusively with their responses rather than with what we may have done that elicited them.[7]"

[Also posted here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/07/14/things-we-say-to-kids-that-sound-positive-but-can-be-detrimental/ ]
alfiekohn  education  listening  howweteach  teaching  pedagogy  praise  reassurance  happiness  reflection  expectations  grades  grading  effort  attitudes  positivity  behavior  manipulation  criticism  judgement  feedback  constructivecriticism  support  schools  selflessness  kindness  tests  testing  standardizedtesting  accuracy  deborahmeier 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Defies Measurement on Vimeo
"DEFIES MEASUREMENT strengthens the discussion about public education by exploring why it is so important to address the social and emotional needs of every student, and what happens when the wrong people make decisions for schools.

For information on how to screen this film for others and for resources to learn more and take action, visit defiesmeasurement.com

By downloading this film, you are agreeing to the 3 terms listed below:

1) I will only use portions of Defies Measurement or the whole film for educational purposes and I will NOT edit or change the film in any way. (Educational purposes = viewing a portion or complete version of the film for an individual, private or public event, free of charge or as a fundraiser)

2) I will post a photo or comment about the film and/or screening on the Defies Measurement Facebook page

3) I will spread the word about the film to others via social media and word of mouth. Follow us @defymeasurement #defiesmeasurement"

[See also:
https://www.shineonpro.com/
https://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/115791029088/defies-measurement-via-will-richardsondefies ]
testing  standardizedtesting  nclb  rttt  schools  education  middleschool  chipmanmiddleschool  lindadarling-hammond  alfiekohn  martinmalström  socialemotionallearning  poverty  iq  assessment  policy  howweteach  howelearn  learning  competition  politics  arneduncan  jebbush  measurement  quantification  inequality  finland  us  edreform  tcsnmy  community  experientiallearning  communitycircles  morningmeetings  documentary  film  terrielkin  engagement  meaningmaking  howwelearn  teaching  sylviakahn  regret  sellingout  georgewbush  susankovalik  lauriemclachlan-fry  joanduvall-flynn  government  howardgardner  economics  anthonycody  privatization  lobbying  gatesfoundation  marknaison  billgates  davidkirp  broadfoundation  charitableindustrialcomplex  commoncore  waltonfamily  teachforamerica  tfa  mercedesschneider  dianeravitch  davidberliner  publischools  anationatrisk  joelklein  condoleezzarice  tonywagner  business  markets  freemarket  neworleans  jasonfrance  naomiklein  shockdoctrine  karranharper-royal  julianvasquezheilig  sarahstickle  ronjohnson  alanskoskopf  soci 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Russell Davies: Principle drift
“the biggest challenge in Digital Transformation is not in the initial refocusing on a new organising principle, it's in resisting the steady drift back to the old one.”

[Reminds me of Alfie Kohn on progressive education. http://www.alfiekohn.org/article/progressive-education/
“All progressive schools experience a constant undertow, perhaps a request to reintroduce grades of some kind, to give special enrichments to the children of the “gifted” parents, to start up a competitive sports program (because American children evidently don’t get enough of winning and losing outside of school), to punish the kid who did that bad thing to my kid, to administer a standardized test or two (“just so we can see how they’re doing”), and, above all, to get the kids ready for what comes next — even if this amounts to teaching them badly so they’ll be prepared for the bad teaching to which they’ll be subjected later.”]
russell  davies  digital  undoing  2015  dismantling  backtracking  alfiekohn  principles  persistence 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Should Schools Teach Personality? - NYTimes.com
"The focus on character, however, has encountered criticism. The education writer and speaker Alfie Kohn, for instance, argues that grit isn’t always helpful. In a Washington Post essay adapted from his new book, “The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom About Children and Parenting,” he writes that dogged persistence isn’t the best approach to every situation: “Even if you don’t crash and burn by staying the course, you may not fare nearly as well as if you had stopped, reassessed and tried something else.”

And, he said in an interview, an emphasis on children’s personalities could take attention away from problems with their schools. “Social psychologists for decades have identified a tendency to overestimate how important personality characteristics, motivation, individual values and the like tend to be relative to the importance of the structural characteristics of a situation,” he said. “We tend to think people just need to try harder, or have a better attitude,” but “this tends to miss the boat. What really matters is various aspects of the system itself.”

Truly improving education in America will require “asking about the environment in which kids are placed, what kids are being asked to learn, how they’re being taught, what voice they have, if any, in the experience,” he said. “Every time we focus on personality variables, we are distracted again from addressing the systemic questions that matter.”

And in an essay at The New Republic, Jeffrey Aaron Snyder, an educational studies professor at Carleton College, contends that as currently espoused by KIPP, “character-based education is untethered from any conception of morality.” And, he says in an interview, he questions the value of looking at character traits outside a larger moral framework: “What’s the importance of teaching grit if you’re not teaching it in the context of civic education, the public good, social responsibility?” Teaching it without such context “becomes kind of a looking-out-for-number-one-type approach to education.”

As an example of a better way, he points to a school he came across in his research whose students started a community garden during World War I (gardening is also part of the curriculum at some schools today). Planting, growing and distributing food taught many of the same traits that character-education programs hope to instill, he said, “but it’s all richly integrated into a task that has genuine purpose and that makes the students think beyond themselves.”"
education  schools  personality  grit  angeladuckworth  annanorth  arthurporopat  kipp  character  teaching  learning  curriculum  psychology  motivationjeffreyaaronsnyder  morality  civics  socialresponsibility  publicgood  obedience  individualism  conscientiousness  diligence  duty  creativity  curiosity  schooling  schooliness  howweteach  alfiekohn  tomaschamorro-premuzic  2015 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Seven ways schools kill the love of reading in kids — and 4 principles to help restore it - The Washington Post
"1. Quantify their reading assignments. …

2. Make them write reports. …

3. Isolate them. …

4. Focus on skills. …

5. Offer them incentives. …

6. Prepare them for tests. …

7. Restrict their choices. …

***

At this point, I’ll abandon the somewhat labored conceit of showing you how to kill interest and instead try to suggest, in more straightforward fashion, some ways to think about how students can play a more active role in their own learning. My assumption is that if you’ve read this far, you’d probably like to support their desire to learn and read.

First, then, a few general principles:

1. Supporting their autonomy isn’t just about having them pick this over that. …

2. Autonomy can be supported — and choices can be made – collectively. …

3. It’s not all or nothing. Teachers who favor a traditional approach to teaching sometimes offer a caricature of an autonomy-supportive classroom – one devoid of intellectual challenge where kids do whatever they feel like – in order to rationalize rejecting this model. But autonomy support not only doesn’t exclude structure, as Keith Grove reminds us; it also doesn’t rule out active teacher involvement. That involvement can be direct, such as when teacher and students negotiate a mutually acceptable due date for an essay. (Instead of “You folks choose,” it may be “Let’s figure this out together.”) Or the involvement can be indirect, with the teacher setting up broad themes for the course and students making decisions within those parameters. But that doesn’t mean we should be prepared to share power with students only about relatively minor issues. It may make sense to start with that and then challenge ourselves to involve them in thinking about bigger questions as you (and they) become more comfortable with a democratic classroom.

4. “See above.” The half-dozen suggestions for killing interest in reading in the first part of this essay don’t become irrelevant just because students are given more authority to direct their learning, individually and collectively. For example, rewards are still counterproductive even if kids get to choose what goodie they’ll get. And there’s reason to worry if a language arts course is focused mostly on narrowly defined facts and skills even if students are permitted to make decisions about the details. (As one of Bianca’s suitors observes in The Taming of the Shrew, “There’s small choice in rotten apples.”) Even autonomy support in its richest sense works best in the context of a course that’s pedagogically valuable in other ways – and avoids various familiar but counterproductive practices.

***

Finally, here are a few specific suggestions for bringing students in on making decisions, offered here in the hope that they will spark you to think of others in the same spirit:

* Let students sample a work of literature, then generate their own questions and discussion topics – for themselves and one another.

* Before having students help each other to revise their writing, invite them to brainstorm possible questions they might ask about its construction and its impact on the reader (rather than having them simply apply your editing guidelines or, worse, evaluating the writing against a prefabricated rubric[13]).

* Have students think together about ideas for the papers they’ll write, then follow up once the writing is underway by inviting each student to ask the group for suggestions. Encourage discussion about the rationale for, and usefulness of, each idea that emerges in order to promote reflection that may well benefit everyone.

* When you’re planning to respond to their journals or other writings, begin by asking students – individually and as a class – what kinds of responses would be most helpful to them. (Wouldn’t you prefer that administrators proceed that way when offering feedback on your teaching?)

* Let students choose the audience for whom they’re writing, as well as the genre in which they respond to something they’ve read (e.g., play, op-ed, speech).

* Check in periodically with students during class meetings about how the course is going for them, whether the decision-making process seems to be working, whether the climate is conducive to learning. Ask what might make discussions and assignments more productive and satisfying – but only if you’re really open to making changes based on what they tell you.

* Bring students in on the process of assessment by asking them to join you in thinking about alternatives to conventional tests. “How can you show me what you understood, where you still need help, and what I may need to rethink about how I taught the unit?” Beyond the format of the assessment, invite them as a class to suggest criteria by which someone’s work might be evaluated – and, later, have them apply those criteria to what they’ve done.

* Remember that group decision making doesn’t require voting, which is basically just adversarial majoritarianism. Help them to acquire the skills and disposition to reach for a deeper kind of democracy, one in which compromises are generated and consensus is reached."
alfiekohn  2014  reading  incentives  motivation  children  howwelearn  learning  choice  freedom  testing  standards  standardization  autonomy  teaching  howweteach  control 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Damian Bariexca on Twitter: "Two must-read blog posts for my #LTPS friends by @chrislehmann (http://t.co/GVPN7L2QQe) and @garystager (http://t.co/M4QJe4UVdH). Thoughts?"
Damian Bariexca: "Two must-read blog posts for my #LTPS friends by @chrislehmann (http://practicaltheory.org/blog/2014/11/20/curriculum-design-putting-the-horse-before-the-cart/ …) and @garystager (http://stager.tv/blog/?p=3408 ). Thoughts?"

[Pointing here for the subsequent back-and-forth between Chris Lehmann and Gary Stager (selectively chosen here), including a couple of comments from Ira Socol.

I share Gary's philosophy of education much more than that of Chris Lehmann's and I admire Gary's knowledge and body of work, but Gary's condescending tone often does his attempts to convince others a disservice. He frequently dismisses others with snide remarks and belittling comments. Gary also falls into self-aggrandizement. For example, complaining the other day that *he* hadn't ever been invited to the White House* (see end for references). So, while I don't share Chris's interest and preference for structure (more the type and source of structure than the presence of structure), I agree with his responses here, especially regarding the day-to-day realities of progressive schools and the need for measures to make working in them sustainable. That's why the majority of the tweets quoted here come from him. Notes added.]

Chris Lehmann: "Gary's a great revolutionary but a lousy policy-maker. Sooner or later, the May Day speeches need to lead somewhere."
[I would love to see Gary get off the workshop and conference circuit and start a school to show others how his approach and philosophy can be the core program of a school and stay intact over time.] https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535788736374910976

"Gary, I think you fundamentally underestimate the need for useful structures to help teachers teach this way." [I'd add that there is also a fundamental underestimation of the day-to-day toll that countercurrents have on those in progressive schools.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867057074872320

"It isn't just about workshops. It's about sustaining the effort over years and finding ways to keep getting better." [Standalone workshops, events, or summer classes are one reality that is often embraced. A core progressive/constructivist/constructionist program is something different altogether and it comes with an unrelenting set of apprehensions, anxieties, doubts, ambivalence, undermining, and accusations from adults who aren't fully committed.] https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867165208231936

"And you, too often, downplay any effort to create structure because of your own dislike of structure. But that is+"
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867291507130368

"too much about you, and not enough about the people you would support - teachers and students. The many failures of+" [Here Chris calls Gary out for making things about him. I have seen this too. For example, rather than critiquing what went on during #FutureReady and suggesting others (day-to-day educators) who should have been there, he griped about not being included, placing himself at the center of the conversation.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867469966352384

"progressive schools that had beautiful visions and insufficient roadmaps toward implementation and therefore suffered"
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867633892347904

"mission drift and founder fatigue, and in time, regressed to the mean is the thing we work daily to avoid. Thus, the+" [Regression to the mean. I've seen that happen in a school. I know of many other schools where that has happened. And sometimes I wonder if it's even worth the while to work in a progressive school rather than focus my energy on supporting those that opt out of school altogether.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867774846119936

"need for thoughtful systems and structures that help good people do the work together through reflective practice."
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535867907071541248

"I impune nothing, Gary. I think you are brilliant. I also think you let the perfect being the enemy of the good." [Agreed. There is no need to pit one school against the other. Again, why not create a new school (or lea an existing school) as an example rather than cut down those that are doing their best, aligned with their philosophy? I often say that I have no problem with traditional schools as long as they own what they are doing and don't belittle what others are doing through direct comparison or bashing.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535881338604498945

"not discredit. Merely speak to different experiences. Everything I do is toward SLA as a sustainable structure."
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535881898250473473

"I do not reduce your work. I'm tired of you reducing ours. We at SLA believe in more structure than you. We know." [Here Chris is owning what he believes and what he tries to deliver at SLA. So much respect.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/535884701266092032

Ira Socol: "the everyday is very different. It just is" [This. The everyday cannot be compared to workshops, camps, conferences, theory, etc. It's also dangerous to hide (by not sharing or by implying that everything is unanimously embraced by the adults in the community) the very vocal contrary voices that begin to appear when implementing a constuctionist program as the core school day.]
https://twitter.com/irasocol/status/535885352788303872

Gary Stager: "I don't think balance is the goal. This is a matter of stance, of choices." [I agree with Gary here, but that is our philosophy and it's not for everyone. Similar thoughts by Alfie Kohn: http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/progressive.htm ]
https://twitter.com/garystager/status/536214550329044993

Ira Socol: "and where/how one chooses to work" [Yes. One can choose to disagree with the way SLA does things, but one doesn't have to work there.]
https://twitter.com/irasocol/status/536215980184465408

Chris Lehmann: "so when you say "Bridging Differences," you mean "convince Chris he is wrong."" [I think Chris is right here. Impasse is impasse. Time to move on.]
https://twitter.com/chrislehmann/status/536217394193383425

----------

*"Anyone led more professional development on teaching for the future than me? Funny how I never get invited to the tea party."
https://twitter.com/garystager/status/535485803552456706

"Perhaps a Republican President will invite me to the White House."
https://twitter.com/garystager/status/535487172225146880
garystager  chrislehmann  education  progressive  teaching  structure  2014  irasocol  cv  tcsnmy  disagreement  policy  practice  constructivism  burnout  regression  mediocrity  balance  missiondrift  fatigue  implementation  purity  condescension  alfiekohn  respect  difference  differences 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Actually, practice doesn’t always make perfect — new study - The Washington Post
"We’ve long been eager to believe that mastery of a skill is primarily the result of how much effort one has put in. Extensive practice “is probably the most reasonable explanation we have today not only for success in any line, but even for genius,” said the ur-behaviorist John B. Watson almost a century ago.

In the 1990s K. Anders Ericsson and a colleague at Florida State University reported data that seemed to confirm this view: What separates the expert from the amateur, a first-rate musician or chess player from a wannabe, isn’t talent; it’s thousands of hours of work. (Malcolm Gladwell, drawing from but misrepresenting Ericsson’s research — much to the latter’s dismay — announced the magic number was ten thousand hours.)

It’s daunting to imagine putting in that kind of commitment, but we’re comforted nonetheless by the idea that practice is the primary contributor to excellence. That’s true, I think, for three reasons:

1. Common sense: It seems obvious that the more time you spend trying to get better at something, the more proficient you’ll become. That’s why so many educators continue to invoke the old phrase “time on task,” which, in turn, drives demands for longer school days or years. Common sense, however, isn’t always correct. Researchers have found that only when “achievement” is defined as rote recall do we discover a strong, linear relationship with time. When the focus is on depth of understanding and sophisticated problem solving, time on task doesn’t predict outcome very well at all – either in reading or math.

2. Protestant work ethic: Many people simply don’t like the idea that someone could succeed without having paid his or her dues — or, conversely, that lots of deliberate practice might prove fruitless. Either of these possibilities threatens people’s belief in what social psychologists call a “just world.” This sensibility helps to explain why copious homework continues to be assigned despite dubious evidence that it provides any benefit (and zero evidence that it’s beneficial in elementary school): We just don’t want those kids goofing off, darn it — not in the evening and not even during the summer! Hence the recent enthusiasm for “grit,” which is basically a repackaging of age-old exhortations to stick with whatever you’ve been told to do. (Indeed, Ericsson collaborated with grit maven Angela Duckworth on a study of spelling bee champions.)

3. Nurture over nature: “Innate? Necessarily so!” is what we’ve heard for centuries. Given the tawdry history of biological reductionism, which usually manages to rationalize current arrangements of power as being due to the natural superiority of privileged groups, is it any wonder we remain leery of attributing success to inherited talent? It’s more egalitarian to declare that geniuses are made, not born. Indeed, that skepticism is bolstered by evidence (from Carol Dweck and others) indicating that students are more likely to embrace learning if they believe their performance results from effort, something under their control, rather than from a fixed level of intelligence that they either possess or lack.

*

For many of us, then, Ericsson’s conclusion has been deeply reassuring: Practice hard and you’ll do well. But along comes a brand-new meta-analysis, a statistical summary of 157 separate comparisons in 88 recent studies, that finds practice actually doesn’t play nearly as significant a role as we’d like to think.

“The evidence is quite clear that some people do reach an elite level of performance without copious practice, while other people fail to do so despite copious practice,” wrote Brooke Macnamara, David Hambrick, and Frederick Oswald in Psychological Science. In fact, they calculated that, overall, the amount of deliberate practice in which someone engages explains only 12 percent of the variance in the quality of performance. Which means 88 percent is explained by other factors."
grit  practice  2014  alfiekohn  angeladuckworth  kandersericsson  malcolmgladwell  workethic  nurture  caroldweck  brookemacnamara  davidhambrick  frederickoswald 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The education question we should be asking
"Now if you regularly read education studies, you won’t be surprised to learn that the authors of this one never questioned, or even bothered to defend, the value of the science lessons they used — whether they were developmentally appropriate or presented effectively, whether they involved anything more than reading a list of facts or were likely to hold any interest for 5-year-olds.  Nor did the researchers vouch for the quality of the assessment.  Whatever raises kids’ scores (on any test, and of any material) was simply assumed to be a good thing, and anything that lowers scores is bad.

Hence the authors’ concern that children tend to be “distracted by the visual environment.”  (Translation:  They may attend to something in the room other than the facts an adult decided to transmit to them.)  And hence my friend’s wry reductio ad absurdum response.

Alas, “sparse” classrooms had their own problems. There, we’re told, children “were more likely to be distracted by themselves or by peers.”  Even if we strip everything off the walls, those pesky kids will still engage in instructionally useless behaviors like interacting with one another or thinking about things that interest them.  The researchers referred to the latter (thinking) as being “distracted by themselves.”  Mark that phrase as the latest illustration of the principle that, in the field of education, satire has become obsolete.

 Our attention seems to be fixed relentlessly on the means by which to get students to accomplish something.  We remain undistracted by anything to do with ends — what it is they’re supposed to accomplish, and whether it’s really valuable.  Perhaps that’s why schools of education typically require “methods” classes but not goals classes.  In the latter, students might be invited to read this study and ask whether a child could reasonably regard the lesson as a distraction (from her desire to think, talk, or look at a cool drawing on the wall).  Other students might object on the grounds that it’s a teacher’s job to decide what students ought to do and to maximize their “time on task.”  But such conversations — Time on what task?  Why is it being taught?  Who gets to decide? — are shut down before they begin when all we talk about (in ed. schools, in journals, in professional development sessions) is how to maximize time on whatever is assigned.[2]"
alfiekohn  attention  curriculum  distraction  learning  children  thewhy  2014  instruction  schools  education  edreform 
june 2014 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Why we think 1970s Open Education failed, and considering what the truth really is...
"There are some of us who remember a time, both in the US and the UK, when education seemed to be in search for humanity. In this period test scores mattered less than accomplishments, students became far more involved in, and responsible for, educational decisions, responsibility was something it was assumed children and adolescents could handle, and pedagogy began to meet students where they were. It was a time when teachers and even administrators began to rebel against the American factory schools and the British Disraeli-designed colonial education system.

Today we are taught that this period was a chaotic failure, but the truth lies elsewhere, and the reason we are told of this "failure" can be keenly instructive.

We tend now, after years of political conservatism, to look back at the 1960s and 1970s as a time of dangerous and ineffective turmoil, of assassinations, riots, disruptions, inflation, and the decline of traditional values. Thus we rarely understand the accomplishments. But between 1960 and 1976 a vast number of Americans, including Women, African-Americans, and even some Latinos and Gays,were liberated from those traditional values, with earthshaking changes made in legal racial segregation, legal limitations of women's educational opportunities, job opportunities, and pay, legal exploitation of farm workers, legal arrests for consensual sexual activity between adults. The now much maligned War on Poverty lifted tens of millions of Americans - mostly white Americans to be clear - from "developing world" levels of poverty, by redistributing income from the Northeast and West Coast to states like Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas. When Republicans now say that the American poor have a lot more than the poor elsewhere, that is only true because of The Great Society program, its welfare structures, Medicaid, Medicare, and rural electrification."

[continues]
irsocolo  education  history  progressive  progressiveeducation  openclassroom  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  humanism  teaching  learning  unschooling  conservatism  1960s  19070s  1975  thegreatsociety  self-directedlearning  bankstreet  cuisinairerods  bankstreetreaders  newmath  wholelanguage  differentiation  howweteach  howwetaught  williamalcott  horacemann  henrybarnard  calvinism  johnholt  neilpostman  alfiekohn  johndewey  mariamontessori  factoryschools  class  poverty  control  newrochlle  alanshapiro  openeducation  open  robertmarzano  robertslavin  kipp  1971 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Syllabus | Technologies for Creative Learning
"This course explores how new technologies can engage people in creative learning experiences – and transform the ways we think about learning. Students will experiment with new learning technologies, discuss educational ideas underlying the technologies, analyze design strategies for creating new technologies, and examine how and what people learn as they use these technologies."

[Wayback: http://web.archive.org/web/20120808072239/http://mas714.media.mit.edu/syllabus ]
syllabus  learning  creativity  mit  constructivism  coding  children  technology  computing  computers  scratch  mindstorms  ivanillich  davidresnick  seymourpapert  mimiito  henryjenkins  barbararogoff  alfiekohn  caroldweck  mihalycsikszentmihalyi  sherryturkle  jamespaulgee  via:dianakimball  readinglists  education  teaching  programming  syllabi 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Education Week: Schooling Beyond Measure
"In education, the question "How do we assess kids/teachers/schools?" has morphed over the years into "How do we measure ... ?" We've forgotten that assessment doesn't require measurement, and, moreover, that the most valuable forms of assessment are often qualitative (say, a narrative account of a child's progress by an observant teacher who knows the child well), rather than quantitative (a standardized-test score). Yet the former may well be brushed aside in favor of the latter by people who don't even bother to ask what was on the test. It's a number, so we sit up and pay attention. Over time, the more data we accumulate, the less we really know.…

I'll say it again: Quantification does have a role to play. We need to be able to count how many kids are in each class if we want to know the effects of class size. But the effects of class size on what? Will we look only at test scores, ignoring outcomes such as students' enthusiasm about learning or their experience of the classroom as a caring community?

Too much is lost to us—or warped—as a result of our love affair with numbers. And there are other casualties as well:

• We miss the forest while counting the trees…

• We become obsessed with winning…

• We deny our subjectivity…

To be overly enamored of numbers is to be vulnerable to their misuse, a timely example being the pseudoscience of "value-added modeling" of test data, debunked by experts but continuing to sucker the credulous. The trouble, however, isn't limited to lying with statistics. None of these problems with quantification disappears when no dishonesty or incompetence is involved…"
objectivity  schooling  children  valueadded  schoolreform  winning  subjectivity  competition  rubrics  schools  assessment  learning  education  measurement  quantification  2012  alfiekohn  shrequest1  from delicious
september 2012 by robertogreco
Healthy Homework Guidelines: A New Vision for Homework - YouTube
"Together we can transform homework and encourage schools nationwide to reexamine and reimagine homework practices to better support student engagement, health and learning with healthy homework guidelines."
deschooling  unschooling  schooliness  schooling  schools  learning  teaching  families  education  alfiekohn  2012  homework  tcsnmy  racetonowhere  from delicious
june 2012 by robertogreco
Still a Badge Skeptic | HASTAC
"When we develop educational technologies & activities…we explicitly try to avoid anything that might be perceived as a reward…Instead, we're constantly looking for ways to help young people build on their own interests, & providing them w/ opportunities to take on new roles. In Scratch online community…members can become curators or moderators. These roles are different from badges or rewards, since they are associated w/ specific responsibilities in the community. People take on these roles because they want to contribute meaningfully to the community.

Will badges always, necessarily be perceived as rewards…crowd out other sources of motivation, undermining opportunities for learners to develop sustained engagement w/ the underlying ideas & activities? Perhaps not. But, at minimum…it’s critical for badge designers to think carefully about motivational consequences (sometimes unintended) of badges…take steps to reduce likelihood that badges will become central focus of motivation."
behavior  learning  2012  mitchresnick  alfiekohn  rewards  intrinsicmotivation  community  scratch  responsibility  motivation  bardges  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
Criticizing (common criticisms of) praise - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post
"Like much of what is called “overparenting,” praise doesn’t signify permissiveness or excessive encouragement; to the contrary, it is an exercise in (sugar-coated) control. It is an extension of the old-school model of families, schools, and workplaces — yet, remarkably, most of the criticisms of praise you’re likely to read assume that it’s a departure from the old school, and that that’s a bad thing.

Praise is typically faulted for being given out too readily (see point #2, above), with the bar having been set too low. We’re told that kids should do more to deserve each “Good job!” they get — which is a way of saying it should be more conditional. Again, this is exactly the opposite of my objection to the conditionality inherent in rewards. The problem isn’t that kids expect praise for everything they do. The problem is with our need for control, our penchant for placing conditions on our love, and our continued reliance on the long-discredited premises of behaviorism."
obedience  children  teaching  parenting  encouragement  control  manipulation  praise  caroldweck  alfiekohn  2012  behaviorism  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
Alfie Kohn: What We Don't Know About Our Students -- And Why We Don't Know It
"It was particularly disconcerting for me to realize that when the priorities of adults and kids diverge, we simply assume that ours ought to displace theirs. Stop wasting your time learning song lyrics when you could be doing important stuff -- namely, whatever's in our lesson plans: solving for x or using apostrophes correctly or reading about the Crimean War. We tell more than we ask; we direct more than we listen; we use our power to pressure or even punish students whose interests don't align with ours. This has any number of unfortunate results, including loss of both self-confidence and interest in learning. But let's not forget to number among the sad consequences the fact that many students quite understandably choose to keep the important parts of themselves hidden from us. That's a shame in its own right, and it also prevents us from being the best teachers we can be."
education  motivation  lcproject  alfiekohn  tcsnmy  learning  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  choice  students  passion  passion-based  student-centered  schooliness  schools  engagement  from delicious
september 2011 by robertogreco
YouTube - TEDxEastsidePrep - Shawn Cornally - The Future of Education Without Coercion
[These are killing learning in schools]

No product = Failure [Product is emphasized over process]

What if they don't do anything? [Worry that they won't learn anything if given control of their learning]

3.9 ≠ 4.0 [Loss of motivation, feeling beyond recovery, no meaning]
education  learning  schools  tcsnmy  success  failure  science  teaching  process  productoverprocess  processoverproduct  time  scheduling  schedules  classschedules  2011  shawncornally  inquiry  inquiry-basedlearning  questioning  student-led  student-initiated  openstudio  unschooling  coercion  deschooling  motivation  intrinsicmotivation  extrinsicmotivation  overjustification  schooliness  schooling  creativity  absurdity  wonder  colleges  universities  admissions  gameofschool  playingschool  alfiekohn 
june 2011 by robertogreco
The Case Against Standardized Testing
"high scores often signify relatively superficial thinking

many of the leading tests were never intended to measure teaching or learning

a school that improves its test results may well have lowered its standards to do so

far from helping to "close the gap," the use of standardized testing is most damaging for low-income and minority students

as much as 90 percent of the variations in test scores among schools or states have nothing to do with the quality of instruction

far more meaningful measures of student learning - or school quality - are available."
nclb  alfiekohn  testing  testscores  standardizedtesting  criticalthinking  meaning  measurement  learning  teaching  tcsnmy  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  achievementgap  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
Well, Duh! -- Ten Obvious Truths That We Shouldn’t Be Ignoring
1. Much of the material students are required to memorize is soon forgotten; 2. Just knowing a lot of facts doesn’t mean you’re smart; 3. Students are more likely to learn what they find interesting; 4. Students are less interested in whatever they’re forced to do and more enthusiastic when they have some say; 5. Just because doing x raises standardized test scores doesn’t mean x should be done; 6. Students are more likely to succeed in a place where they feel known and cared about; 7. We want children to develop in many ways, not just academically; 8. Just because a lesson (or book, or class, or test) is harder doesn't mean it's better; 9. Kids aren’t just short adults; 10. Substance matters more than labels"
education  alfiekohn  testing  discipline  interestdriven  teaching  standardizedtesting  learning  schools  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  memorization  toshare  facts  understanding  meaning  interests  coercion  childhood  parenting  policy  assessment  measurement  cv  progressive  classroommanagement  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
Videos tagged 'alfiekohn' on Vimeo
(For now), a set of videos of Alfie Kohn speaking at Constructing Modern Knowledge 2008 as posted by Gary Stager
alfiekohn  constructivism  teacherasfacilitator  teacherasmasterlearner  education  teaching  learning  motivation  assessment  grading  grades  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Change of Basis: Shift, paradigm, shift!
“Most cheating is undertaken as an act of desperation, a means of coping w/ failure as measured by receipt of lower-than-average academic grades. Cheating is a means of striving to succeed w/in a system which provides extrinsic rewards for optimal performance rather than intrinsic rewards for authentic mastery & authorship. I cannot but believe that the vast majority of students would welcome an academic system in which the goal is not to earn high marks but rather to learn, and that students accustomed to this system would see no need to game the system by cheating. I’m not so naive as to suppose that every student will respond well: there will always be those so acculturated by 13+ years of a largely competitive educational system that it’s in their blood to fight tooth and nail for every last percentage point that might tip them from a B+ to an A-…but I believe that even those who are very comfortable with this traditional system will abandon it if given the chance to do so.”

[via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/2071183818/most-cheating-i-truly-believe-is-undertaken-as ]
assessment  cheating  grades  grading  motivation  tcsnmy  alfiekohn  learning  competition  change  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
“It takes a lot to render me speechless, but . . .” « Re-educate Seattle
"When I finally finished speaking, I looked into the audience and saw a well-dressed boy of about 16 signaling me from the balcony. “You’re telling us not to just get in a race for the traditional rewards,” he said. “But what else is there?”

It takes a lot to render me speechless, but I stood on that stage clutching my microphone for a few moments and just stared. This was probably the most depressing question I have ever been asked. This young man was, I guessed, enviably successful by conventional standards, headed for even greater glories, and there was a large hole where his soul should have been. It was not a question to be answered (although I fumbled my way through a response) so much as an indictment of college prep and the resulting attenuation of values that was far more scathing than any argument I could have offered."
independentschools  education  learning  ratrace  csnmy  unschooling  stevemiranda  alfiekohn  fulfillment  rewards  life  deschooling  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
In Defense of the Progressive School
"Schooling, including in most independent schools, is still by and large a process of teacher-directed instruction; it is not about students making meaning. It's still not about students helping each other understand controversial ideas and moving off in unpredictable directions. It's still not based on the questions that students have, or their need to make sense of the world. It's still about a bunch of facts being transmitted to students who are viewed as empty vessels. … There are independent schools that have a tradition of progressive pedagogy but have lately been back-pedaling in a way that many of us find terribly discouraging … Thuermer: Does this entail a hands-off, laissez-faire approach to teaching? Kohn: Hell, no. That's a caricature of progressivism kept alive by traditionalists who want to make their own stultifying methods look better…"
alfiekohn  independentschools  education  progressive  tcsnmy  lcproject  cv  inmyexperience  back-pedaling  teaching  learning  student-centered  inquiry-basedlearning 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Gary Stager: Wanna be a School Reformer? You Better do Your Homework!
"Reading is important for children and adults alike. Therefore, I challenged myself to assemble an essential (admittedly subjective) reading list on school reform. The following books are appropriate for parents, teachers, administrators, politicians and plain old citizens committed to the ideal of sustaining a joyful, excellent and democratic public education for every child."
education  reform  garystager  books  toshare  topost  teaching  readinglist  alfiekohn  angelopatri  seymourpapert  seymoursarason  dennislittky  samanthagrabelle  deborahmeier  tedsizer  jonathankozol  herbertkohl  susanohanian  geraldbracey  juanitadoyon  progressive  unschooling  deschooling  learning  schools  policy  tcsnmy  lcproject  from delicious
october 2010 by robertogreco
Bad Signs
"I’d love to see a research study that counted the number of motivational posters (along with other self-help, positive-thinking materials and activities) in a school and then assessed certain other features of that school. My hypothesis: the popularity of inspirational slogans will be correlated with a lower probability that students are invited to play a meaningful role in decision-making, as well as less evidence of an emphasis on critical thinking threaded through the curriculum and a less welcoming attitude toward questioning authority. I’d also predict that the schools decorated with these posters are more likely to be run by administrators who brag about the school’s success by conventional indicators and are less inclined to call those criteria into question or challenge troubling mandates handed down from above (such as zero-tolerance discipline policies or pressures to raise test scores)."
alfiekohn  signs  motivation  intrinsicmotivation  education  learning  schools  administration  students  teaching  lcproject  tcsnmy  unschooling  deschooling  authority  whatmatters  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
Alfie Kohn: What Passes for School Reform: "Value-Added" Teacher Evaluation and Other Absurdities
"Of course people disagree about good education, just as they may not see eye to eye about which movies or restaurants are good. We may never change each other's minds, but we ought to have the chance to try, to discuss our criteria and reflect on how we arrived at them. As Deborah Meier likes to point out, disagreement is both valuable and inevitable in a democratic society. Undemocratic societies attempt to conceal the disagreement, imposing a single, simple standard from above -- and, worse, use that standard to make decisions that can ruin people's lives: which teachers will be humiliated or even fired, which kids will be denied a diploma or forced to repeat a grade, which schools will be shut down. A productive discussion about who's a good teacher (and why) is less likely to take place when the people with the power get to enforce what becomes the definition of quality by default: high scores on bad tests."
alfiekohn  nclb  rttt  education  standards  standardizedtesting  standardization  teachning  learning  policy  tcsnmy  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  arneduncan  joelklein  billgates  2010  latimes  valueadded  meritpay  schools  uniformity  reform  charterschools  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
How to Create Nonreaders
"The best teachers, I find, spend at least some of their evenings smacking themselves on the forehead – figuratively, at least – as they reflect on something that happened during the day. “Why did I decide that, when I could have asked the kids?” &, thinking about some feature of the course yet to come: “Is this a choice I should be making for the students rather than w/ them?” One Washington, DC creative writing teacher was pleased w/ himself for announcing to students that it was up to them to decide how to create a literary magazine – until he realized later that he had incrementally reasserted control. “I had taken a potentially empowering project & turned it into a showcase of what [I] could do.” It takes insight & guts to catch oneself at what amounts to an exercise in pseudodemocracy. Keeping hold of power – overtly for traditionalists, perhaps more subtly for those of us who think of ourselves as enlightened progressives – is a hell of a lot easier than giving it away."
pseudodemocracy  alfiekohn  democracy  education  learning  motivation  reading  research  teaching  topost  toshare  tcsnmy  progressive  schools  writing  coercion  democratic  student-centered  studentdirected  student-led  unschooling  deschooling  2010  majoritarianism  compromise  consensus  decisionmaking  rewards  punishment  assessment  autonomy  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
Turning Children into Data
"While some education conferences are genuinely inspiring, others serve mostly to demonstrate how even intelligent educators can be remarkably credulous, nodding agreeably at descriptions of programs that ought to elicit fury or laughter, avidly copying down hollow phrases from a consultant’s PowerPoint presentation, awed by anything that’s borrowed from the business world or involves digital technology.

Many companies and consultants thrive on this credulity, and also on teachers’ isolation, fatalism, and fear (of demands by clueless officials to raise test scores at any cost). With a good dose of critical thinking and courage, a willingness to say “This is bad for kids and we won’t have any part of it,” we could drive these outfits out of business -- and begin to take back our schools."
alfiekohn  assessment  children  education  testing  innovation  change  reform  2010  tcsnmy  lcproject  discovery  learning  teaching  autonomy  crapdetection  accountability  measurement  data  curriculum  meaning  achievement  purpose  shrequest1  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
Rethinking Rubrics in Writing Assessment by Maja Wilson - Heinemann Publishing
"The conventional wisdom in English education is that rubrics are the best & easiest tools for assessment. But sometimes it's better to be unconventional. Maja Wilson offers a new perspective on rubrics & argues for a better, more responsive way to think about assessing writers' progress.

Though you may sense a disconnect between student-centered teaching & rubric-based assessment, you may still use rubrics for convenience or for want of better alternatives. RRiWA gives you the impetus to make a change, demonstrating how rubrics can hurt kids & replace professional decision making with an inauthentic pigeonholing that stamps standardization onto a notably nonstandard process. With an emphasis on thoughtful planning & teaching, Wilson shows you how to reconsider writing assessment so that it aligns more closely with high-quality instruction & avoids the potentially damaging effects of rubrics."
majawilson  rubrics  assessment  writing  teaching  education  tcsnmy  evaluation  alfiekohn  standardization  process  books  pedagogy  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
Alfie Kohn: Competitiveness vs. Excellence: The Education Crisis That Isn't
"Even if we're talking only about economics, it's worth rethinking our zero-sum assumption. In an article in Foreign Affairs called "Competitiveness: A Dangerous Obsession," Paul Krugman showed why it's simply inaccurate to believe that other countries have to fail in order for our country to succeed. (The late economist David M. Gordon made essentially the same point in The Atlantic; his essay was entitled "Do We Need to Be No. 1?")…

The toxicity of a competitive worldview is such that even people who are reasonably progressive on other issues literally don't notice evidence that's staring them in the face -- in this case, showing that more & more of our population are getting college degrees with each passing year.

And when we're perpetually worried about being -- and staying -- king of the mountain, we find ourselves taking a position that leads us to view progress made by young people in other countries as bad news. That's both intellectually and ethically indefensible."
alfiekohn  crisis  economics  education  competitiveness  capitalism  testing  standardizedtesting  college  tcsnmy  deschooling  unschooling  progressive  paulkrugman  davidmgordon  excellence  schools  policy  politics  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
» Jesse Schell’s Recommended Reading - Long Views: The Long Now Blog
"During his Seminar, Jesse Schell recommended a number of books and other resources that have informed his conception of the Gamepocalypse. Here’s a list of the books for the curious:

Authenticity, by James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II; Finite and Infinite Games, by James P. Carse; The Singularity is Near, by Ray Kurzweil; The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Clayton M. Christensen; The Rational Optimist, by Matt Ridley; Good to Great, by Jim Collins; Punished by Rewards, by Alfie Kohn"
2010  books  games  gaming  longnow  jesseschell  alfiekohn  raykurzweil  rewards  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
Uniform National Standards Are Not Equal - Room for Debate - NYTimes.com
"The top-down, test-driven, corporate-styled “accountability” movement -- featuring prescriptive state standards -- has already done incalculable damage to our children’s classrooms, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. Just ask a teacher. It’s no coincidence that the most enthusiastic proponents of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, etc., tend to be those who know the least about how kids learn. And now they’re telling us that a single group of people should shape the goals and curriculum of every public school in the country.

What they don’t understand is that uniformity isn’t the same thing as excellence; high standards don’t require common standards. And neither does uniformity promote equity. One-size-fits-all instructional demands actually offer the illusion of fairness, setting back the cause of genuine equity."

[It's not long. Read the rest.]
alfiekohn  education  learning  national  standards  us  rttt  nclb  policy  schools  politics  competitiveness  equity  testing  accountability  standardization  standardizedtesting  tcsnmy  uniformity  commoncore  onesizefitsall  fairness 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Fear of Spoiling
"Even if a researcher did show that today’s youth were unusually self-centered, we might be inclined to attribute that to an extraordinary emphasis on achievement and winning in contemporary America, schooling that’s focused on narrowly defined academic skills, excessive standardized testing, copious amounts of homework, and a desperate competition for awards, distinctions, and admission to selective colleges. Indeed, earlier research has shown that competitive individuals -- or people who have been instructed to compete -- tend to be less empathic and less generous. In any case, neither logic nor evidence seems to support the widely accepted charge that we’re too easy on our children. Yet that assumption continues to find favor across the political spectrum. It seems, then, that we’ve finally found something to bring the left and the right together: an unsubstantiated critique of parents, an unflattering view of kids, and a dubious belief that the two are connected."
alfiekohn  education  entitlement  parenting  generations  2010  generationme  narcissism  spoiled  tcsnmy  toshare  topost  behavior  discipline  psychology  motivation 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Only for MY Kid
"upper-class, high-achieving parents who feel education is competitive, that there shouldn't be anyone else in same class as my child & we shouldn't spend whole lot of time w/ have-nots."

[Explains a lot of push-back progressive schools get from parents who tend to share political views. Read the whole thing. Via Gary Stager comment at: http://weblogg-ed.com/2010/a-summer-rant-whats-up-with-parents/ ]
toshare  tracking  education  tcsnmy  topost  unexpectedobstacles  alfiekohn  democracy  diversity  economics  parenting  privilege  schoolreform  schools  parents  parentdemands  gifted  policy  social  racism  classism  highered  k-12  teens  reform  elitism  ranking  grading  grades  admissions  collegeadmissions  statusquo  protectingthestatusquo  unschooling  deschooling  competitiveness  competition  giftedprograms  selfishness 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Alfie Kohn Interview 2/1/2010 - Dr. Ross Greene2 | Internet Radio | Blog Talk Radio
"In this program, Dr. Greene had the pleasure of talking with Alfie Kohn, author of Punished by Rewards, Beyond Discipline, and many other critical books. This was a fun and enlightening discussion about a variety of school-related topics, including school discipline, socially healthy classrooms, high-stakes testing...the whole gamut."

[via: http://twitter.com/joe_bower/status/17543978978 quoting "When you put autonomy and community together you get democracy."]
autonomy  topost  democracy  community  alfiekohn  education  progresive  tcsnmy  discipline  schools  teaching  learning  structure  responsiveclassroom  responsibility  trust  democratic  progressive  interviews  hierarchy  management  leadership  administration  coercion  learningcommunities  compliance  compulsory  authority  timeouts  punishment  classroommanagement  classroom  safety  comfort  care  culture  ethics  citizenship  caringcommunities  caring  classrooms 
july 2010 by robertogreco
For the Love of Learning: Rubrics - the predetermined space
"When school becomes more about following instructions and less about intellectual discovery, kids feel like this little girl on the bike. Rubrics do this too. We may like how rubrics provide students with such a clear and concise vision for what we expect, but it is rather ironic that their strength is also their weakness. The dangerous thing about taping a square on the floor, providing students with a detailed rubric or giving explicit instructions is the kids might actually only do what they are told and simply follow what we ask them to do. Do you create or remove predetermined spaces?"
joebower  rubric  assessment  grading  grades  alfiekohn  schools  teaching  motivation  tcsnmy  comments 
june 2010 by robertogreco
The 21st Century Classroom – Alfie Kohn — Open Education
"It is interesting to note that for many children, middle & high school becomes the place where school is no longer enjoyable. It is, of course, at that time that students traditionally have been subject to a shift from student-centered classroom to teacher-centered, content-driven academic approach. The result is that school, instead of being a place where students look forward to going each day because it features an exciting atmosphere where learning new things is enjoyable, becomes a chore at best, a problem at worst. At the very age when students most resist compliance & teacher-centered approaches, too many teachers, &, by default, too many schools insist on employing such a format. Because of the sophistication needed educationally, there is no doubt that 21st century classrooms demand shift from ‘sage on the stage’ to ‘guide on the side’ approach. That move is a requirement to produce the type of student that will excel in creative, technologically-rich world we face."
21stcenturylearning  professionaldevelopment  administration  pedagogy  learning  education  leadership  teaching  tcsnmy  lcproject  middleschool  progressive  student-centered  teacherasmasterlearner  schools  schooling  highschool  traditional  alfiekohn 
may 2010 by robertogreco
For the Love of Learning: Abolishing Grading
"I have had a number of people ask me to share a 'table-of-contents' for my blog posts on why and how we should abolish grading. Here is a list of blog posts that should help you gain insight into this whole abolishing grading topic. I will add more as I write them."
grades  grading  motivation  pedagogy  assessment  education  teaching  joebower  alfiekohn  tcsnmy  learning  evaluation 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Rethinking Homework Surveys
"It’s not uncommon for schools to distribute surveys to parents in an effort to learn more about families’ experiences with homework. While it might be even more helpful to ask the students themselves, it’s always commendable when someone wants to check out how a policy is affecting those on the receiving end. Unfortunately, what’s most striking about these surveys is the way they’re usually biased in favor of the status quo – both by the wording of the items and the topics that don’t appear at all."
homework  tcsnmy  learning  alfiekohn  education  schools  parenting  policy  statusquo  deschooling  unschooling  freetime  busywork  surveys  administration  teaching  time 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Alfie Kohn: “If rewards and punishments just make things worse, what should parents do?”
"absence of a step-by-step solution to parenting challenges can be terribly frustrating to people who believe that “practical” advice entails exactly that...really ought to be skeptical about advisers who do offer such solutions...Besides, one-size-fits-all strategies usually just turn out to be ways of doing things to children – in other words, variant of rewards (“positive reinforcement”) or punishments (“consequences”). By contrast, there are countless “working with” approaches...need to be worked out in each family. [can offer]...broadly conceived guidelines rather than specific instructions...ten examples. 1. Reconsider your requests. 2. Put the relationship first. 3. Imagine how things look from your child’s perspective. 4. Be authentic. 5. Talk less, ask more. 6. “Attribute to children the best possible motive consistent with the facts.” 7. Try to say yes. 8. Don’t be rigid. 9. Give kids more say about their lives. 10. Love them unconditionally."
alfiekohn  parenting  control  respect  tcsnmy  howto  guidelines  teaching  punishment  consequences  rewards 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Alfie Kohn is, I think, missing the point « Re-educate
"Here’s a letter written by Alfie Kohn. It’s for schools that don’t give grades to send off to colleges on behalf of their students. I like it, but I think he—just like almost every other education critic I’ve read—is missing the most important thing... The game-changing idea in reimagining our education system is that when you pressure kids with academics, it makes them not like it. However, if you engage the whole child—if you dedicate yourself to making the child feel safe, secure, and loved—those kids will tackle academics with a passion and purpose that will far exceed what they would do if you engage them only in academics."
alfiekohn  stevemiranda  pscs  pugetsoundcommunityschool  education  schools  learning  academics  whatmatters  grades  grading  self  tcsnmy  lcproject 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Standardized Testing: Separating Wheat Children from Chaff Children"
"Suppose next year almost all the students in your state met the standards & passed the tests. What do you suppose would be the reaction from politicians, businesspeople, & newspaper editorialists? Would these folks shake their heads in frank admiration & say, “Damn, those teachers are good”? That possibility, of course, is improbable to the point of hilarity. Every time I’ve laid out this hypothetical scenario, audiences tell me that across-the-board student success would immediately be taken as evidence that the tests were too easy.
alfiekohn  nclb  standardizedtesting  sorting  society  education  schools  standardization  politics  standards  accountability 
april 2010 by robertogreco
voiceofsandiego.org | Children Make the Rules at This School
"The method flies in the face of traditional school discipline. Child psychologists typically fall into two camps: Behaviorists believe in using punishments and rewards to train kids to follow directions from adults. Humanists deride them as bribes; they argue for building relationships with children to respect others' needs. David Strahan, a Western Carolina University education professor who has studied discipline, said most educators have only experienced a traditional classroom in which adults have control. It's more familiar -- and it can be much easier for a nervous teacher to handle.

Humanists have an uphill battle to convince others that their methods will work, said R.T. Tauber, professor emeritus of education at Pennsylvania State University. "To the uninformed, it sounds like you're turning over the institution to the inmates.""

[more: http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/education/schooled/article_226ca80c-4285-11df-a812-001cc4c002e0.html ]
innovationsacademy  alfiekohn  behavior  children  education  schools  tcsnmy  humanism  positive  discipline  teaching  learning  sandiego 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Alfie Kohn: A Letter for Colleges (from a grade-free high school)
"The enclosed transcript includes a wealth of other information about the applicant - a descriptive list of the courses s/he has completed and the special projects and extracurricular activities s/he has undertaken, as well as what selected members of our staff have to say about the student as a thinker and as a person. We believe that these data, together with the personal essay you may request and the interview we hope you will conduct, will give you a rich and complete portrait of this applicant such that a list of grades would add little in any case."
alfiekohn  assessment  pedagogy  highschool  highereducation  grading  grades  education 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Letter to NYT Magazine
"Notice that this kind of instruction does nothing to help children think critically, understand ideas, or (heaven knows) become excited about learning. Notice, too, that it’s an approach mostly applied to poor kids of color. As Jonathan Kozol has observed, “Children of the suburbs learn to interrogate reality,” while “inner-city kids are trained for nonreflective acquiescence.” What we’re being asked to celebrate here are 49 techniques for enforcing that acquiescence. So why is Lemov’s recipe described in breathless terms and billed as a better way to educate? Because success these days – everywhere, but particularly in the inner city – has nothing to do with thinking and everything to do with high scores on fill-in-the-bubble tests. As long as the objective is to pump up those scores, techniques for tightly controlling children will continue to seem impressive."
alfiekohn  schools  education  standardizedtesting  assessment  schooling  lemov  teaching  criticism  criticalthinking  rttt  nclb  instruction  learning  tcsnmy 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Tinkering and the grades question « Generation YES Blog
"Because often when we talk about doing something different in schools, we hear, “but how will that fit into the current classroom?” And that means everything from 42 minute periods to test prep to grades. But tinkering is one of those things that doesn’t fit in neatly. It takes time, doesn’t result in neat projects that work with canned rubrics, and might not have any impact on test scores. But should that matter? Can’t we help kids at least a little by making things more like tinkering and less contrived and pre-planned? ...Maybe we are asking the wrong questions. Maybe implementing “some tinkering” where kids are eventually graded, no matter how authentically, is a contradiction. Maybe even counterproductive if it confuses kids. Is it even worth doing?"
education  research  tinkering  grading  grades  assessment  alfiekohn  sylviamartinez  learning  schools  tcsnmy  innovation  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Summer Institute : Constructing Modern Knowledge
"minds-on institute for educators committed to creativity, collaboration and computing. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in intensive computer-rich project development with peers and a world-class faculty. Inspirational guest speakers and social events round out the fantastic event. Alfie Kohn, Deborah Meier, Dr. James Loewen and Peter Reynolds are guest speakers.

Rather than spend days listening to a series of speakers, Constructing Modern Knowledge is about action. Attendees will work and interact with educational experts concerned with maximizing the potential of every learner. ...

list of potential themes for exploration: Creativity and learning, Constructivism and constructionism, Project-based learning, 1:1 Computing, Problem solving across the curriculum, Student leadership and empowerment, Reinventing mathematics education, Computer science as a basic skill, Storytelling, School reform, Tinkering, Effective professional development, Sustaining innovation"
education  technology  summer  1:1  teaching  laptops  e-learning  conferences  events  2010  constructivism  alfiekohn  deborahmeier  math  compsci  creativity  learning  constuctionism  problemsolving  reform  schoolreform  tcsnmy  tinkering  innovation  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  1to1 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Trouble with Rubrics [not sure how this wasn't bookmarked earlier]
"when how’s of assessment preoccupy us, they tend to chase why’s back into shadows. So let’s shine a light over there & ask: What’s our reason for trying to evaluate quality of students’ efforts? It matters whether the objective is to 1 rank kids against one another, 2 provide extrinsic inducement for them to try harder, or 3 offer feedback that will help them become more adept at & excited about what they’re doing. Devising more efficient rating techniques & imparting a scientific luster to those ratings may make it even easier to avoid asking this question. In any case, it’s certainly not going to shift our rationale away from 1 or 2 & toward 3. Neither we nor our assessment strategies can be simultaneously devoted to helping all students improve & to sorting them into winners/losers. That’s why we have to do more than reconsider rubrics...have to reassess whole enterprise of assessment, goal being to make sure it’s consistent w/ reason we decided to go into teaching in 1st place."
rubrics  evaluation  assessment  tcsnmy  alfiekohn  pedagogy  writing  curriculum  teaching  learning  education  grades  grading  ranking 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Alfie Kohn News and Comments: "[R]esearch studies: Collectively, they make it clear that students who are graded tend to differ from those who aren’t in three basic ways."
"more likely to lose interest in learning...prefer easiest possible task...think in superficial fashion...forget what they were taught...When consultants offer elaborate assessment strategies, premise...only change the way [teachers] handle grading, tweaking methods or criteria...fool’s errand. Some even insist new techniques will ensure...“grading for learning”...like bombing for peace...1st step...call public & private high schools to make sure kids wouldn’t be penalized for having transcripts...w/out grades...assured her...not a problem...presented that info, w/ quotes from admissions directors, to faculty, board, parents & students w/ summary of research...nothing other than fear or tradition [left to argue against]...some resistance from students...told [for years]...whole point of school...get best possible marks...very different objective from understanding ideas...those conversations became productive learning experiences in their own right."
education  reform  grading  grades  alfiekohn  assessment  tcsnmy  schools  schooling  teaching  learning  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  efficiency  narrativecomments  tradition  research 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Debunking the Case for National Standards
"Are all kids entitled to a great education? Of course. But that doesn’t mean all kids should get the same education. High standards don’t require common standards. Uniformity is not the same thing as excellence – or equity. (In fact, one-size-fits-all demands may offer the illusion of fairness, setting back the cause of genuine equity.) To acknowledge these simple truths is to watch the rationale for national standards – or uniform state standards -- collapse into a heap of intellectual rubble. ... The goal clearly isn’t to nourish children’s curiosity, to help them fall in love with reading and thinking, to promote both the ability and the disposition to think critically, or to support a democratic society. Rather, a prescription for uniform, specific, rigorous standards is made to order for those whose chief concern is to pump up the American economy and make sure that we triumph over people who live in other countries."
assessment  education  alfiekohn  pedagogy  curriculum  change  reform  teaching  standards  poverty  politics  learning  criticism  nationalstandards  rttt  nclb  trends 
january 2010 by robertogreco
The Trouble with Pure Freedom: A Case for Active Adult Involvement in Progressive Education - Alfie Kohn
"progressive educators have long talked about learning by doing...But I don’t see much talk about teaching by doing...John Holt put it very well: “We adults so often present ourselves to children as if we were gods – all-knowing, all-powerful, always rational, always just, always right. This is worse than any lie we can tell about ourselves. So to counteract this, when I am trying to do something I am no good at, I do it in front of students so they can see me struggling with it.”...If our goals involve intellectual development & social development & helping kids to question the world as it is presented to them, then I think we are obliged to reject the traditional autocratic approach that is so depressingly pervasive in our society, but also to reject its mirror opposite of pure freedom where the adult merely observes or follows...we need to do the much harder work of figuring out...when to follow & when to lead, when to tell & when to ask & when to shut up"

[video: http://aeroeducation.org/2009/08/07/alfie-kohn-2005-aero-conference-keynote-video-free-two-hour-talk/ ]
alfiekohn  johnholt  education  tcsnmy  progressive  constructivism  learning  teaching  doing  facilitating  demonstrating  schools  freeschools  freedom  social  democracy  democratic  structure  control  authoritarianism  educationallibertarians 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Reaching those that don't care about grades - Home - Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog
"Here's what both Pink and Kohn both tell me as an educator. If you want permanent, long-term learning or behavioral change, you won't do it with M&Ms, a special event for doing well on a test, or even saying "good job." In fact we've all known lots of kids who were plenty smart but just didn't give a damn about what little letters appeared on their report cards...Many kids, possibly a growing percentage, will only be reached through the heart, not the head. Only when they care about the topic and understand its relevance, interest and meaning to them or those they care about, will they engage...Unfortunately Arne Duncan or Barrak Obama don't understand this. At all. I'm guessing they were both "good" students for whom it was all about scores and stars."
teaching  learning  danielpink  motivation  arneduncan  barackobama  education  pedagogy  grading  grades  incentives  assessment  rewards  alfiekohn  tcsnmy 
september 2009 by robertogreco
From Degrading to De-Grading
"Three Main Effects of Grading:...1. Grades tend to reduce students’ interest in the learning itself...2. Grades tend to reduce students’ preference for challenging tasks...3. Grades tend to reduce the quality of students’ thinking....More Reasons to Just Say No to Grades: 4. Grades aren’t valid, reliable, or objective...5. Grades distort the curriculum...6. Grades waste a lot of time that could be spent on learning...7. Grades encourage cheating...8. Grades spoil teachers’ relationships with students...9. Grades spoil students’ relationships with each other...Grade Inflation...and Other Distractions...Common Objections [to getting rid of grades]..."Elementary & middle schools that haven’t changed their practices often cite the local high school as the reason they must get students used to getting grades regardless of their damaging effects -just as high schools point the finger at colleges"...Making Change...In the Meantime" + "Must Concerns About College Derail High School Learning?"
grades  grading  assessment  evaluation  motivation  tcsnmy  alfiekohn  teaching  parenting  pedagogy  learning  education  competition  highschool  colleges  universities  admissions 
july 2009 by robertogreco
NPR: Compensation: Trying To Reward Teamwork
"company went through a lot of soul-searching about compensation...recommend Alfie Kohn's Punished by Rewards for our thoughts on compensation...kept running into problems with traditional model of pay tied to performance reviews for all sorts of reasons...that model...only discourages teamwork....pool of money for raises is fixed so the only way to get more money than your coworkers is to make sure they perform worse than you...some people aren't motivated by money & so micromanaging their jobs by dangling financial carrots...only rewards those who are good at playing the system. We opted for a pretty straightforward chart...four pay grades & your pay is based on years of experience. New hires don't necessarily start at zero...lowest pay grade is actually above-market because we even though market would allow us to pay our low-level administrative staff less than we do, we don't feel that's right...most employee's salaries are public information w/in company, because of the chart."
motivation  compensation  alfiekohn  competition  cooperation  collaboration  administration  employment  leadership  management  teamwork  rewards  salaries 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Borderland › Competitiveness and Excellence
"Competitiveness & excellence are not necessarily related. Competition may lead to excellence, but it may also lead to cheating & lying. Or it may lead to more benign perversions, like data mining & “public relations” initiatives that focus on quality indicators, rather than quality itself...story about how colleges may manipulate their rankings in US News & World Report’s list of top universities. But data mining and publicity campaigns aren’t always necessary for an institution to promote itself. Sometimes ideology alone is enough for a school to stand on. ... My own teaching philosophy and my reservations about using any form of coercion to get kids to learn runs straight back to my early years in school. The need for order has to be balanced with respect and a certain amount of freedom to direct our attention toward what interests us. The teacher has to figure out how to put that together, and the extent to which he or she can do that makes all the difference for kids."
education  tcsnmy  marketing  publicrelations  administration  management  philosophy  progressive  quality  freedom  traditional  alfiekohn  dougnoon  competitiveness  excellence  competition  datamining  colleges  universities  schools  teaching 
july 2009 by robertogreco
The 500-Pound Gorilla
"Indeed, we might even go so far as to identify as one of the most crucial tasks in a democratic society the act of limiting the power that corporations have in determining what happens in, and to, our schools. Not long ago, as historian Joel Spring pointed out, you would have been branded a radical (or worse) for suggesting that our educational system is geared to meeting the needs of business. Today, corporations not only acknowledge that fact but freely complain when they think schools aren’t adequately meeting their needs. They are not shy about trying to make over the schools in their own image. It’s up to the rest of us, therefore, to firmly tell them to mind their own businesses."
alfiekohn  2002  corporations  education  business  policy  politics  democracy  priorities  textbooks  tcsnmy  testing  assessment 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Progressive Education [don't miss the "sidebar"]
"It’s not all or nothing, to be sure. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a school — even one with scripted instruction, uniforms, and rows of desks bolted to the floor — that has completely escaped the influence of progressive ideas. Nor have I seen a school that’s progressive in every detail. Still, schools can be characterized according to how closely they reflect a commitment to values such as these: Attending to the whole child, Community, Collaboration, Social justice, Intrinsic motivation, Deep understanding, Active learning, Taking kids seriously...A school that is culturally progressive is not necessarily educationally progressive. ... What It Isn’t ... Why It Makes Sense ... Why It’s Rare ... A Dozen Questions for Progressive Schools"
progressive  education  learning  alfiekohn  nais  tcsnmy  philosophy  progressivism  politics  standards  teaching  schools  children  students  homework  schooling  lcproject 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Alfie Kohn on Merit Pay
"It’s telling that much of the research about education policy being published these days – or at least being featured in the popular press – isn’t conducted by people in the field of education but by economists. These are folks who tend to believe that human beings are driven by incentives. That’s not a hypothesis to be tested but a premise to be accepted on faith. All motivation is extrinsic, so it’s just a matter of getting the incentives right. Their discipline, including the hipper variant known as behavioral economics, is constructed on a decidedly outdated set of assumptions about human psychology."

[see also: http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/edweek/meritpay.htm ]
incentives  meritpay  teaching  policy  politics  economics  psychology  education  parenting  alfiekohn 
march 2009 by robertogreco
When 21st-Century Schooling Just Isn't Good Enough
"One last point. We will of course continue to talk earnestly about the need for a curriculum that features “critical thinking” skills – by which we mean the specific proficiencies acceptable to CEOs. But you will appreciate the need to delicately discourage real critical thinking on the part of students, since this might lead them to pose inconvenient questions about the entire enterprise and the ideology on which it’s based. There’s certainly no room for that in the global competitive economy of the future. Or the present."

[via: http://education.change.org/blog/view/standardized_incoherence ]
alfiekohn  snark  21stcenturyskills  schools  education  economics  21stcentury  competitiveness  satire  skills  humor  tcsnmy 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Studies Find Reward Often No Motivator
"a 1982 study...showed that any task, no matter how enjoyable it once seemed, would be devalued if it were presented as a means rather than an end...when verbal feedback is experienced as controlling, the effect on motivation can be similar to that of payment. In a study of corporate employees...those who were told, "Good, you're doing as you should" were "significantly less intrinsically motivated than those who received feedback informationally." There's a difference...between saying, "I'm giving you this reward because I recognize the value of your work" & "You're getting this reward because you've lived up to my standards." A different but related set of problems exists in the case of creativity. Artists must make a living...but..."the negative impact on creativity of working for rewards can be minimized" by playing down the significance of these rewards & trying not to use them in a controlling way. Creative work...cannot be forced, but only allowed to happen."
education  teaching  learning  schooling  rewards  motivation  productivity  alfiekohn  psychology  economics  management  philosophy  administration  leadership  via:rodcorp  creativity  brain  hiring  unschooling  deschooling  endsandmeans  parenting  glvo 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Beware School 'Reformers'
"Notice that these features are already pervasive, which means "reform" actually signals more of the same--or, perhaps, intensification of the status quo with variations like one-size-fits-all national curriculum standards or longer school days (or years). Almost never questioned, meanwhile, are the core elements of traditional schooling, such as lectures, worksheets, quizzes, grades, homework, punitive discipline and competition. That would require real reform, which of course is off the table. Sadly, all but one of the people reportedly being considered for Education secretary are reformers only in this Orwellian sense of the word. The exception is Linda Darling-Hammond...The favored contenders include assorted governors and two corporate-style school chiefs: Arne Duncan, whose all-too-apt title is "chief executive officer" of Chicago Public Schools, and his counterpart in New York City, former CEO and high-powered lawyer Joel Klein."
education  policy  reform  assessment  government  progressive  alfiekohn  change  gamechanging  deschooling  unschooling  schools  barackobama  2008  secretaryofeducation  homeschool  credentials  joelklein  arneduncan  lindadarling-hammond 
december 2008 by robertogreco
Why Self-Discipline Is Overrated
"Aside from its philosophical underpinnings and political impact, there are reasons to be skeptical about anything that might produce overcontrol. Some children who look like every adult’s dream of a dedicated student may in reality be anxious, driven, and motivated by a perpetual need to feel better about themselves, rather than by anything resembling curiosity. In a word, they are workaholics in training." ... "here’s some evidence that students with high grades are, on average, overly conformist and not particularly creative.[47] That students who are more self-disciplined get better grades, then, constitutes an endorsement of self-discipline only for people who don’t understand that grades are a terrible marker for the educational qualities we care about. And if girls in our culture are socialized to control their impulses and do what they’re told, is it really a good thing that they’ve absorbed that lesson well enough to be rewarded with high marks?"
alfiekohn  via:cburell  culture  society  grades  grading  schools  education  learning  control  reform  self-discipline  parenting  psychology  motivation  discipline  pedagogy  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  schooling 
december 2008 by robertogreco
Against Competitiveness
"Why Good Teachers Aren’t Thinking About the Global Economy"
alfiekohn  teaching  learning  schools  society  competition  globalization  learning2.0  philosophy 
april 2008 by robertogreco
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