robertogreco + grading   181

David F. Noble: A Wrench in the Gears - 1/8 - YouTube
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5 days ago by robertogreco
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 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Intrinsic motivation in the classroom is key – but schools kill it
"Intrinsic motivators can be key to student achievement – but extrinsic motivation dominates classrooms"



"Destiny, 18, is like most students in the United States. Surveys reveal a steady decline in student engagement throughout middle and high school, a trend that Gallup deemed the “school engagement cliff.” The latest data from the company’s Student Poll found that 74 percent of fifth graders felt engaged, while the same was true of just 32 percent of high school juniors.

One of the key components of engagement is students’ excitement about what they learn. Yet most schools extinguish that excitement.

It all comes down to motivation. In many schools, students do their work because their teachers tell them to. Or because they need to do it to get a certain grade. For students like Destiny, getting a good grade and outshining their peers – not learning itself – becomes the goal of school. For other students, they need minimum grades to be on sports teams or participate in extracurricular activities or please their parents, and that becomes their motivation. Students who do their work because they’re genuinely interested in learning the material are few and far between.

But that’s exactly backwards.

The teacher demands, the grades, the promise of additional opportunities – they’re all external rewards. Decades of research, both about educational best practice and the way the human brain works, say these types of motivators are dangerous. Offering students rewards for learning creates reliance on the reward. If they becomes less interesting to the student or disappear entirely, the motivation does, too. That’s what happened to Destiny in middle school when she no longer got the reward of being celebrated as the top of her class.

Inspiring students’ intrinsic motivation to learn is a more effective strategy to get and keep students interested. And it’s more than that. Students actually learn better when motivated this way. They put forth more effort, tackle more challenging tasks, and end up gaining a more profound understanding of the concepts they study.

Still, Deborah Stipek, a Stanford University professor of education and author of the book “Motivation to Learn: From Theory to Practice,” is pragmatic about the role of extrinsic motivation.

“I think most realistic people in the field say that you’ve got to have both,” Stipek said. “You can rely entirely on intrinsic motivation if you don’t care what children learn, but if you’ve got a curriculum and a set of standards, then you can’t just go with what they’re interested in.”

The problem is that the balance, in most schools, is way off. While some schools around the country are trying to personalize learning and, in doing so, to tap into students’ interests, Stipek estimates that most teaching minimizes students’ internal desire to learn.

In traditional schools, it’s easier to offer a steady stream of rewards and punishments to keep students in line. And preparing students to succeed on state tests tends to discourage the lessons that let them explore their own interests. Teachers who want to inspire intrinsic motivation have to swim against the current.

That’s not the case everywhere, though. Destiny’s trajectory of diminishing engagement took a turn in high school. Instead of getting increasingly uninterested and disconnected from school, she became more engaged. That’s because she enrolled in the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center, a public high school district in Rhode Island that goes by ‘The Met.’ She is now a senior.

The Met is at the extreme when it comes to tapping into intrinsic motivation. Students don’t take traditional classes. They spend virtually all of their time learning independently, with support from advisors or at internships. Students all have individual learning plans and accumulate credits toward traditional subject areas through projects, self-directed study, internship experience and dual enrollment with local colleges. Almost everything they do, all day, connects to a personal goal or something they’re interested in.

That’s what inspired Destiny to enroll at The Met. “I thought, oh my God, I have all this power to choose what I want,” she remembers.

Education researchers have been studying student motivation for decades, identifying the best classroom strategies to promote an intrinsic drive to learn. The Met puts many of them to use. Students learn through real-world, hands-on problem-solving; they tackle open-ended assignments that require sustained effort; they get the power to choose what and how they learn; they finish projects with something to show for their learning in portfolios and concrete products; they set their own academic goals; they need never focus more on a grade than the process of learning because they don’t get traditional grades. All of these things come straight out of playbooks for inspiring intrinsic motivation, including Stipek’s. And the impact on students can be profound.

Destiny started high school with the academic zeal she left middle school with – meaning very little. Her freshman-year report card reflected that. While The Met doesn’t give out traditional grades, students do get assessed on their mastery of the goals they set for each subject. The dominant note on Destiny’s report card from ninth grade is “meeting expectations.” She had very few instances of “exceeding expectations” and in some subjects, her mastery was only “in progress.” In her sophomore year, things started to shift, and “exceeding expectations” started to become a more common assessment. By junior year, Destiny exceeded expectations in almost every subject and “in progress” was nowhere to be found on her report card. Gone was the middle schooler who didn’t want to be in class. In her place was a driven young woman who again liked school.

Destiny’s experience is common for Met students. On state surveys, these students report being more interested in their coursework, more convinced that what they’re learning will matter to their futures, and more supported at school than their peers in almost every other district in Rhode Island. She and other students at The Met continually bring the conversation back to how much difference it makes to be in control of their learning."



"It tends to take a little while for students to rise to the challenge, though.

Beccy Siddons, Destiny’s advisor, considers watching that trajectory to be one of the most exciting parts of her job. As the main contact for an “advisory” of about 16 students who stay with her for their entire time at The Met, Siddons guides students through their internships, all of their academic work and, eventually, their college applications.

“Ninth graders who have spent their whole life being told what to learn, some of them don’t even know what they’re interested in because they haven’t been given the opportunity,” Siddons said.

That was Destiny as a freshman. Her first internship was at an elementary school in a bilingual classroom, a safe, familiar choice for the native Spanish- and English-speaker. Looking back, she’s grateful that experience made her realize she didn’t like teaching. But at the time, she didn’t know what to try next. As a sophomore, she saw another student present about an internship at the New England Aquarium, and it piqued her interest. She first worked there as a junior and quickly discovered a deep love of sea life. She now has a favorite creature she didn’t even know existed before: the puffer fish. And she has a career interest she otherwise might not have found until college, if ever: environmental science.

Siddons routinely oversees such meandering paths, and a key part of her job is helping students discover passions they didn’t know they might have. The freshmen she welcomes to The Met are a far cry from the seniors she sends out into the world.

The early part of that transformation does take work, though. And while it isn’t typical for schools to orient themselves around intrinsic motivation, hundreds do attempt it. Next Generation Learning Challenges has grown into a network of about 150 schools, all of which focus on tapping into students’ intrinsic motivation in one way or another. The Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools represents 102 school districts doing similar work; EdLeader21 has another 300 districts, many of whom aim to inspire students’ intrinsic desire to learn. And the Big Picture Learning network, built around the success of The Met, now counts more than 60 schools in the U.S. (and another 100 abroad)."
instrinsicmotivation  motivation  schools  schooling  schooliness  extrinsicmotivation  grades  grading  2019  taragarcíamathewson  deborahstipek  education  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  rhodeisland  providence  deschooling  unschooling  deprogramming  interestdriven 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Mαtt Thomαs on Twitter: "Gonna try to live-tweet @Jessifer’s talk at @uiowa today: “Designing Assignments: Redesigning Assessment.”"
"Gonna try to live-tweet @Jessifer’s talk at @uiowa today: “Designing Assignments: Redesigning Assessment.”

.@Jessifer begins by talking about some personal stufff, as a deliberate tactic to situate himself as a human being amongst other human beings. Something to also do on the first day of class, etc.

.@Jessifer says he doesn’t use the LMS at his school because he doesn’t want students to encounter and interface with it before him, a person.

.@Jessifer points out that today syllabuses are often generated from required, stock, auto-generated templates. This sort of “scaffolding,” however, presumes a lot of things about how learning happens that might not be useful.

For instance, many of us (read: teachers) are designing courses and assignments for students we don’t even know yet. To bring in the work of @saragoldrickrab, we need to design for the students we have, not the students we wish we had.

What happens, for instance, when you learn that 1 in 2 students face food insecurity issues? How might that change how you design courses/assignments?

.@Jessifer moves on to talk about grades. They’re not some universal constant, but rather a technology that we have to learn to use, or perhaps not use.

Grading reduces learning to a transaction instead of a set of human relationships.

College teachers have often internalized ways of grading that they can perhaps free themselves from. @Jessifer says we need to “raise a critical eyebrow” at our own grading practices — e.g., our rubrics. He argues against scale, for a return to subjectivity!

In the gradebook students are reduced to rows, in the rubric reduced to columns.

Especially important things to think about, @Jessifer points out, now that almost all colleges have adopted Learning Management Systems, course “shells,” and standardized syllabuses.

.@Jessifer has recently moved to shorter-worded assignments that ask for non-traditional products. Reconceptualize the internet using analog tools, re-order the words of a poem — then document your process!"
jessestommel  mattthomas  2019  rubrics  grading  teaching  syllabus  assessment  howweteach  howwelearn  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  humanism  lms  templates  standardization  writing  howwewrite  form  alternative  syllabi 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Recommendations for an optimal conclusion to Hampshire College (opinion)
"Hampshire College: Fold, Don’t Merge: Michael Drucker proposes what he thinks would be an ethical conclusion to the experimental college."



"When I say my alma mater is an experimental college, I mean it literally. No grades. No majors. No tests. We are different by design and intention.

My academic adviser would ask me, “What are you curious about in the world?” and “How are you going to find the knowledge you need to answer those questions?” Since we have no majors, we have no list to follow telling us exactly what courses to take to complete our degree. Students must not only study the material in their chosen areas of concentration but also figure out what that will be. Simply being a student at Hampshire College is an act of experiential education.

Hampshire’s educational philosophy asks: What is possible if students are studying for the sake of learning instead of competing for letter grades? What is possible if students are studying not only for the sake of learning but also for innovative, interdisciplinary applications of that knowledge?

Do Not Resuscitate

In January, President Miriam E. Nelson announced the search for a long-term strategic partner for Hampshire and questioned first-year class enrollment. Student activism ignited. Alumni, faculty and staff comments in support and dissent flooded in. A petition calling for shared governance collected thousands of signatures within days. On Feb. 1, Hampshire announced it would enroll only early-decision admits and students who previously deferred.

A partnership, or a merger, could be great if I’m allowing myself to be optimistic. But it’s increasingly difficult to sustain optimism, as my idealism feels more like naïveté with each passing day. Staff layoffs may begin as early as April. Early-decision admits are told a new affiliate will likely control how any diploma they earn will be awarded. Notable alumnus Jon Krakauer writes in The New York Times that in the merger “it is not at all clear how much of the Hampshire philosophy -- to say nothing of the Hampshire soul -- will survive.”

I feel more and more confident that Hampshire’s soul will not survive. If that’s the case, I do not want to keep our institution on life support. I respectfully submit my request to the Hampshire Board of Trustees to consider ordering a DNR for our beloved and complicated alma mater.

Without our educational “soul,” what remains is still something beautiful: a liberal arts campus with provocative course material, progressive ideologies and the harmonious clashing of overlapping countercultures. But that’s something students can find at many other colleges around the world. It’s not enough for me to want Hampshire to continue for the sake of its name living on.

The pedagogical tenets of our educational experiment make us who we are. Without them, we are not Hampshire College. Some might ask if it’s really that bad to have majors, grades or tests. No, it’s not the end of the world, but it is the end of Hampshire.

I’m only 27, and I’ve lost both of my parents. My dad died when I was a third-year student at Hampshire. The day he passed, I was at ACPA’s annual convention with Hampshire student affairs representatives. My first professional mentor was there and consoled me the night I found out. My mom passed in the summer of 2017 -- too young and too soon.

I know what loss, mourning and grief mean. I’ve already begun mourning Hampshire as I’ve done before while preparing myself emotionally for the painful departure of a loved one. I do not want Hampshire to close, but I know that it is an option. My personal experiences make it easier for me to consider it as a viable one. I’m not afraid of it.

My preference for Hampshire to close, rather than merge, is not about me throwing in the towel on a good fight to save our college. It’s about respecting its legacy. It’s about preferring to honor it in memory rather than seeing it diluted in its new form. It’s about thanking Hampshire for what it has been and letting it pass peacefully.

It may be over, but it’s not a failure. We had 50 years of magic. We existed. We were here. It mattered. It will continue to matter.

An Ethical Conclusion

Closing Hampshire College is not as simple as one human being dying (which is, of course, not simple at all). Closing the college would have an immense economic effect on its employees and the local Amherst community. It has four classes of active students to consider. But I would support closing rather than merging if we could spend our energy and resources developing the best conclusion possible. There is potential here for us to truly live out Hampshire’s philosophy until the end.

From what I can gather, however, what is happening right now is not an ethical termination. Amherst College faculty members wrote an open letter to President Nelson criticizing the recent decisions made without adequate faculty input, noting, “No leader in any field can violate long-standing professional norms for long without compromising his or her credibility and losing the confidence of core constituencies.” Hampshire’s Executive Committee of the Faculty authored their own letter declaring that the president’s Jan. 15 announcement considering not accepting an incoming class “turned a financial crisis into a catastrophe” -- in essence making it so that Hampshire then had no choice but to fulfill this self-defeating prophecy and spiral down toward helplessness. The staff, faculty and administrators are now in the midst of learning of layoffs. Those who must leave have only 60 days to prepare; those who stay are headed into the unknown. Either way, there is harm done. It seems the employees and students living and working on the campus right now are being neglected in the shuffle.

Do this, but do it right. Gather all Hampshire constituencies for planning the conclusion of Hampshire in the spirit of shared of governance. Generate ideas, cross over disciplines and break boundaries -- discover the beauty in something tragic. Lengthen the window of time for shutting down. Create a four-year plan for closing up shop. Do everything we want to do in that time.

Provide accurate information to all employees with at least six months' notice, if not more, for changes or termination. Use your remaining resources to financially ease the transition for all your employees.

Let current students grieve and be angry. Offer them what you actually can offer them. Don’t hold out with information you know is inevitable. If current first-years need to transfer to have full college experiences, tell them as soon as possible and help them do it. Learn from other colleges that have closed. Replicate their better practices and learn from their shortcomings.

Last, let’s throw Hampshire the most perfectly Hampshire going-away party we’ve ever seen. Let’s celebrate what we’ve done. Let’s document our innovations and accomplishments. Let’s show others how to resurrect what Hampshire did if the financial and political tides turn. Invite alums back to campus for a weekend of acknowledgment, celebration and community. If we were to lean into this direction now, we have the potential to do something extraordinary.

Before anything, the people making the decisions need to reveal the status of the merger’s development. The board and senior administrators must gamble on showing their cards. It would take a radical amount of vulnerability to show us all what our options are -- and an even greater amount would be to let us all have a say in which direction we go.

The students organizing in Hamp.Rise.Up are demanding just that: a say in what’s happening. It’s not typical for a college to do that in this dire situation, but we’ve never been typical. What would it mean to have a Hampshire-wide democratic vote on the future of our college? Even if we vote to close the institution in light of unfavorable mergers, what could we teach to the rest of higher education by the process through which we got there?

We are a college that lives our motto, Non Satis Scire: “to know is not enough.” So far, we don’t know much, and that is clearly not enough. But given the chance, what could we create?"
hampshirecollege  2019  michaeldrucker  alternative  education  learning  howwelearn  highered  highereducation  maverickcolleges  experience  experiential  grades  grading  ethics 
march 2019 by robertogreco
The Trouble with Knowledge | Shikshantar
"First Main Trouble with Knowledge and Education is Dishonesty

I do believe that one aspect which characterizes education, development and the production and dissemination of knowledge, in today’s world, is the lack of intellectual honesty. This belief is an outcome of reflecting on my experience during my school and university years and my almost 40 years of work. The dishonesty is connected to the values, which govern the thinking and practice in the fields of education, knowledge and development (mirroring the values in dominant societies and serving mainly the lifestyle of consumerism): control, winning, profit, individualism and competition. Having a syllabus and textbooks, and evaluating and judging people (students, teachers, administrators, and academics) through linear forms of authority and through linear symbolic values (such as arbitrary letters or grades or preferential labels), almost guarantee cheating, lack of honesty, and lack of relevance. (The recent reports that cheating and testing are on the rise in the Maryland and Chicago areas are just one example that came up to the surface. And of course teachers, principles and superintendents were blamed and had to pay the price.) I taught many years and put exams both at the level of classrooms and at the national level, and I labored and spent a lot of time and effort in order to be fair. But, then, I discovered that the problem is not in the intentions or the way we conduct things but, rather, in the values that run societies in general and which are propagated by education, development and knowledge -- among other venues. Thus, the main trouble with knowledge and education, is not so much their irrelevance or process of selection or the issue of power (though these are definitely part of the trouble) as it is with the lack of intellectual honesty in these areas. Giving a number or a letter to measure a human being is dishonest and inhuman; it is a degrading to the human mind and to human beings. Grading, in this sense, is degrading. It is one of the biggest abuses of mathematics in its history! Moreover, as long as the above-mentioned values remain as the governing values, education will continue to be fundamentally an obstacle to learning. Under these conditions, talking about improving or reforming education is naïve at best and hypocritical at worst. At most, it would touch a very small percentage of the student population in any particular region. Of course, we can go on putting our heads in the sand and refusing to see or care. But one main concern I will continue to have is what happens to the 80 some pecent of students whom the “compulsory suit” does not fit. Why imposing the same-size suit on all bodies sounds ridiculous but imposing the same curriculum on all minds does not?! The human mind is definitely more diverse that the human body.

Labeling a child as a “failure” is a criminal act against that child. For a child, who has learned so much from life before entering school, to be labeled a failure, just because s/he doesn’t see any sense in the mostly senseless knowledge we offer in most schools, is unfair – to say the least; it is really outrageous. But few of us around the world seem to be outraged, simply because we usually lose our senses in the process of getting educated. We are like those in Hans Christian Anderson’s story that lost their ability to see and had to be reminded by the little child that the emperor is without clothes.

Most people in the educational world (students, teachers, administrators, scholars, suprintendents, …) are dishonest (often without realizing it) either because we are too lazy to reflect on and see the absurdities in what we are doing (and just give to students what we were given in schools and universities, or during training courses and enrichment seminars!), or because we are simply afraid and need to protect ourselves from punishment or from being judged and labeled as inept or failures. This dishonesty prevails at all levels. I had a friend who was working in a prestigious university in the U.S. and who often went as an educational consultant and expert to countries to “improve and develop” their educational systems. Once, when he was on his way to Egypt as a consultant to help in reforming the educational system there, I asked him, “Have you ever been to Egypt?” He said no. I said, “Don’t you find it strange that you don’t know Egypt but you know what is good for it?!” Obviously, the richness, the wisdom and the depth of that 7000-year civilization is totally ignored by him, or more accurately, cannot be comprehended by him. Or, he may simply believe in what Kipling believed in in relation to India: to be ruled by Britain was India’s right; to rule India was Britain’s duty! In a very real sense, that friend of mine does not only abstract the theories he carries along with him everywhere but also abstracts the people by assuming that they all have the same deficits and, thus, the same solution – and that he has the solution.

Let’s take the term “sustainable development,” for example, which is widely used today and it is used in the concept paper for this conference. If we mean by development what we see in “developed” nations, then sustainable development is a nightmare. If we all start consuming, for example, at the rate at which “developed” nations currently do, then (as a friend of mine from Mexico says) we need at least five planets to provide the needed resources and to provide dumping sites for our waste! If “developing” nations consume natural resources (such as water) at the same rate “developed” nations do, such resources would be depleted in few years! Such “development” would be destructive to the soil of the earth and to the soil of cultures, both of which nurture and sustain human beings and human societies. The price would be very high at the level of the environment and at the level of beautiful relationships among people. Thus, those who believe in sustainable development (in its current conception and practice) are either naïve or dishonest or right out indifferent to what happens to nature, to beautiful relationship among people, and to the joyful harmony within human beings and between them and their surroundings. Nature and relationships among human beings are probably the two most precious treasures in life; the most valuable things human beings have. The survival of human and natural diversity (and even of human communities) are at stake here.

We do not detect dishonesty in the fields of education, knowledge and development because usually we are protected (in scools) from having much contact with life, through stressing verbal, symbolic and technical “knowledge,” through avoiding people’s experiences and surroundings, through the means we follow in evaluating people, and through ignoring history (history of people, of ideas, …). The main connection most school textbooks have with life is through the sections that carry the title “applications” – another instance of dishonesty. During the 1970s, for example, and as the head supervisor of math instruction in all the schools of the West Bank (in Palestine), one question I kept asking children was “is 1=1?” 1=1 is true in schoolbooks and on tests but in real life it has uses, abuses and misuses, but no real instances. We abstract apples in textbooks and make them equal but in real life there is no apple which is exactly equal to another apple. The same is true when we say that Newton discovered gravity. Almost every child by the age of one discovers it. (When my grandson, for example, was 15 months old, I was watching him once pick up pieces of cereal and put them in his mouth. Everytime he lost a piece, he would look for it down, never up!) By teaching that Newton discovered gravity, we do not only lie but also fail to clarify Newton’s real contribution. Similarly with teaching that Columbus discovered America …. Everyone of us can give tens of examples on dishonesty in the way we were taught and the way we teach."



"Second Main Trouble with Knowledge and Education: Lack of Connection with the Lives of the Social Majorities in the World"



"Building Learning Societies

From what has been said so far, two main approaches to knowledge and learning can be identified: (1) learning by doing; i.e. by the person being embedded in life, in one’s cultural soil. In this approach, learning is almost synonymous to living, and (2) the formal approach, which usually starts with ready pre-prepared content (usually fragmented into several subjucts, and usually put together in the absence of the two most important “actors” in learning: teachers and students). This approach also embodies tests and grades."



"Finally, I would like to affirm -- as a form of summary -- certain points, and point out to the need of dismantling others:

1. We need to dismantle the claim that learning can only take place in schools.

2. We need to dismantle the practice of separating students from life For at least 12 years) and still claim that learning is taking place.

3. We need to dismantle the assumption/ myth that teachers can teach what they don’t do.

4. We need to dismantle the myth that education can be improved through professionals and experts.

5. We need to dismantle the hegemony of words like education, development, progress, excellence, and rights and reclaim, instead, words like wisdom, faith, generosity, hope, learning, living, happiness, and duties.

6. We need to affirm that the vast mojority of people go to school not to learn but to get a diploma. We need to create diverse environments of learning.

7. We need to affirm our capacity for doing and learning, not for getting degrees.

8. We need to affirm and regain the concept and practice of “learning from the world,” not “about the world.”

9. We need to affirm that people are the real solution, not the obstacle and … [more]
munirfasheh  education  unschooling  schooling  schooliness  deschooling  diplomas  credentials  wisdom  degrees  faith  honesty  generosity  hope  learning  howwelearn  love  loving  lving  happiness  duties  duty  development  progress  excellence  rights  schools  community  learningcommunities  lcproject  openstudioproject  grades  grading  assessment  dishonesty  culture  society  hegemony  knowledge  influence  power  colonization  globalization  yemen  israel  palestine  humanism  governance  government  policy  politics  statism  children  egypt  india  westbank  religion  cordoba  cordova  gaza  freedom  failure  labeling  canon 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Opinion | What Straight-A Students Get Wrong - The New York Times
"A decade ago, at the end of my first semester teaching at Wharton, a student stopped by for office hours. He sat down and burst into tears. My mind started cycling through a list of events that could make a college junior cry: His girlfriend had dumped him; he had been accused of plagiarism. “I just got my first A-minus,” he said, his voice shaking.

Year after year, I watch in dismay as students obsess over getting straight A’s. Some sacrifice their health; a few have even tried to sue their school after falling short. All have joined the cult of perfectionism out of a conviction that top marks are a ticket to elite graduate schools and lucrative job offers.

I was one of them. I started college with the goal of graduating with a 4.0. It would be a reflection of my brainpower and willpower, revealing that I had the right stuff to succeed. But I was wrong.

The evidence is clear: Academic excellence is not a strong predictor of career excellence. Across industries, research shows that the correlation between grades and job performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial within a handful of years. For example, at Google, once employees are two or three years out of college, their grades have no bearing on their performance. (Of course, it must be said that if you got D’s, you probably didn’t end up at Google.)

Academic grades rarely assess qualities like creativity, leadership and teamwork skills, or social, emotional and political intelligence. Yes, straight-A students master cramming information and regurgitating it on exams. But career success is rarely about finding the right solution to a problem — it’s more about finding the right problem to solve.

In a classic 1962 study, a team of psychologists tracked down America’s most creative architects and compared them with their technically skilled but less original peers. One of the factors that distinguished the creative architects was a record of spiky grades. “In college our creative architects earned about a B average,” Donald MacKinnon wrote. “In work and courses which caught their interest they could turn in an A performance, but in courses that failed to strike their imagination, they were quite willing to do no work at all.” They paid attention to their curiosity and prioritized activities that they found intrinsically motivating — which ultimately served them well in their careers.

Getting straight A’s requires conformity. Having an influential career demands originality. In a study of students who graduated at the top of their class, the education researcher Karen Arnold found that although they usually had successful careers, they rarely reached the upper echelons. “Valedictorians aren’t likely to be the future’s visionaries,” Dr. Arnold explained. “They typically settle into the system instead of shaking it up.”

This might explain why Steve Jobs finished high school with a 2.65 G.P.A., J.K. Rowling graduated from the University of Exeter with roughly a C average, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. got only one A in his four years at Morehouse.

If your goal is to graduate without a blemish on your transcript, you end up taking easier classes and staying within your comfort zone. If you’re willing to tolerate the occasional B, you can learn to program in Python while struggling to decipher “Finnegans Wake.” You gain experience coping with failures and setbacks, which builds resilience.

Straight-A students also miss out socially. More time studying in the library means less time to start lifelong friendships, join new clubs or volunteer. I know from experience. I didn’t meet my 4.0 goal; I graduated with a 3.78. (This is the first time I’ve shared my G.P.A. since applying to graduate school 16 years ago. Really, no one cares.) Looking back, I don’t wish my grades had been higher. If I could do it over again, I’d study less. The hours I wasted memorizing the inner workings of the eye would have been better spent trying out improv comedy and having more midnight conversations about the meaning of life.

So universities: Make it easier for students to take some intellectual risks. Graduate schools can be clear that they don’t care about the difference between a 3.7 and a 3.9. Colleges could just report letter grades without pluses and minuses, so that any G.P.A. above a 3.7 appears on transcripts as an A. It might also help to stop the madness of grade inflation, which creates an academic arms race that encourages too many students to strive for meaningless perfection. And why not let students wait until the end of the semester to declare a class pass-fail, instead of forcing them to decide in the first month?

Employers: Make it clear you value skills over straight A’s. Some recruiters are already on board: In a 2003 study of over 500 job postings, nearly 15 percent of recruiters actively selected against students with high G.P.A.s (perhaps questioning their priorities and life skills), while more than 40 percent put no weight on grades in initial screening.

Straight-A students: Recognize that underachieving in school can prepare you to overachieve in life. So maybe it’s time to apply your grit to a new goal — getting at least one B before you graduate."
education  grades  grading  colleges  universities  academia  2018  adamgrant  psychology  gpa  assessment  criticalthinking  anxiety  stress  learning  howwelearn  motivation  gradschool  jkrowling  stevejobs  martinlutherkingjr  perfectionism  srg  edg  mlk 
december 2018 by robertogreco
We can’t educate our kids out of inequality
"Those who tout the advantages of a good education like to conjure an image of some future society full of educated professionals all working stable, fulfilling, and salaried jobs. But even the worst students can look around the world and see through this. They can see the economic instability facing most people, and they know that a good education won’t undo the vagaries of the gig economy, or replace the protections of a union. But, they’re told, if you do well enough in school, then hopefully you won’t have to worry about that stuff.

This false promise was more disheartening that any other realization I had while working with students. Unfair tests, confusing admissions policies, unequal schools — all that is bad but sadly unsurprising, so you can prepare yourself for it. On the other hand, I was not prepared to lie to students about how, if they just figured out trig functions, then everything would be OK.

Education fetishism gives the illusion of fairness to society’s inequalities. Grades and test scores and college rankings mirror the stratification of the economy, and apply a thin veneer of meritocracy to that hierarchy. What students internalize about school is that it is primarily about ranking people. So attempts to improve education are really attempts to make those rankings more accurate, instead of making them less determinative. As long as this is true, then education is not really the solution to society’s problems. Even bold steps to improve schools and bring down college costs will not fix the problem of inequality, since status and sorting are also the results of education in America.

None of this is to say that education is bad or that schools should not be improved for their own sake. Learning things, after all, is fun. Education is great when it’s about teaching people stuff they want to know. But because school has to serve this burden of fixing social problems it is not equipped to fix, it cannot simply teach students interesting things they want to learn. Students should learn trig functions because they are an elegant solution to a complicated problem. They should read Hamlet because it’s a good play. They should learn things because there is value in learning them.

Instead, educators have to rend these subjects apart, breaking them into supposedly marketable skills like “reading comprehension” and “analytical reasoning” so that they can be used to demonstrate a student’s market value and justify patently unjust economic outcomes. As long as this is the case, then not only will inequality fail to get better, but education will continue to get worse. Instead of insisting we can educate ourselves out of the social problems capitalism creates, we should learn something new."



"This false promise was more disheartening that any other realization I had while working with students. Unfair tests, confusing admissions policies, unequal schools — all that is bad but sadly unsurprising, so you can prepare yourself for it. On the other hand, I was not prepared to lie to students about how, if they just figured out trig functions, then everything would be OK.

Education fetishism gives the illusion of fairness to society’s inequalities. Grades and test scores and college rankings mirror the stratification of the economy, and apply a thin veneer of meritocracy to that hierarchy. What students internalize about school is that it is primarily about ranking people. So attempts to improve education are really attempts to make those rankings more accurate, instead of making them less determinative. As long as this is true, then education is not really the solution to society’s problems. Even bold steps to improve schools and bring down college costs will not fix the problem of inequality, since status and sorting are also the results of education in America.

None of this is to say that education is bad or that schools should not be improved for their own sake. Learning things, after all, is fun. Education is great when it’s about teaching people stuff they want to know. But because school has to serve this burden of fixing social problems it is not equipped to fix, it cannot simply teach students interesting things they want to learn. Students should learn trig functions because they are an elegant solution to a complicated problem. They should read Hamlet because it’s a good play. They should learn things because there is value in learning them.

Instead, educators have to rend these subjects apart, breaking them into supposedly marketable skills like “reading comprehension” and “analytical reasoning” so that they can be used to demonstrate a student’s market value and justify patently unjust economic outcomes. As long as this is the case, then not only will inequality fail to get better, but education will continue to get worse. Instead of insisting we can educate ourselves out of the social problems capitalism creates, we should learn something new."
education  inequality  tutoring  schools  2018  hierarchy  economics  admissions  class  meritocracy  sorting  johnschneider  schooling  society  capitalism  gigeconomy  colleges  universities  grades  grading  learning  deschooling  unions  socialsafetynet  testing  bias 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Eugenia Zuroski on Twitter: "In yesterday’s #CSECS18 roundtable on “Decolonizing ... Practices from the Perspective of C18 Studies,” @ashleycmorford pointed out that decolonization cannot happen within the university, but /1… https://t.co/InSKAfPp
"In yesterday’s #CSECS18 roundtable on “Decolonizing ... Practices from the Perspective of C18 Studies,” @ashleycmorford pointed out that decolonization cannot happen within the university, but /1 https://twitter.com/zugenia/status/1050378780328497152
Doing antiracist/anti-imperialist work within existing institutions is good but it is not decolonizing work. Decolonizing Turtle Island means restitution of land and Indigenous sovereignty. Making colonial institutions better is at odds with removing them. We have to see this. …

a commitment to unsettling, anticolonial pedagogy could teach the people who will go forward and take up decolonization. This morning I’m thinking about this alongside Moten and Harney’s “The University and the Undercommons”—of teaching toward a “fugitive enlightenment” /2

that must steal knowledge from the institution and take it away from there, out of there, so as to put it toward something that doesn’t reproduce the institution/profession, but that thinks collectively toward what would replace the institution’s mode of organizing power. /3

Anticolonial pedagogies that are practiced in relation to decolonization must therefore inhabit, as Tuck and Yang point out, a particular temporality—one that doesn’t just reject the kind of constant clocking in for quantified “marks” that prove the labor of learning is /4

already being translated into wealth for someone (else), but that commits to Indigenous futurities over the future of “the profession,” and locates the value of teaching in preparing students for a better world than the institution either represents or materializes. /5

The university has an important role to play, in other words, but it can’t fulfil its obligations without committing away from itself—without giving up what it holds and regenerates to those who will “waste” it (Moten and Harney) on not becoming “Enlightened” subjects. /6

Anyway, my thanks to @ashleycmorford and the other people who contributed to yesterday’s conversation, which has helped me think about teaching not as “decolonizing” practice but as the (de)forming of subjects capable, in various ways, of decolonization. /6

Also thanks to @morganevanek for her comments on university teaching as a form of “hospicing work” (I didn’t write down the citation for this—?) on bad culture, and for this reminder, which it seems to me is one pragmatic thing we should all do immediately: [image: some notes including "ABOLISH GRADING"]

I’ll be on a roundtable this afternoon (Friday, 4:45, Niagara Room), where I’ll speak about collectives and #BIPOC18 and venture some thoughts on Twitter as an “Undercommons of Enlightenment” that will likely be messy and wrong, should be fun, you should come #CSECS18

I want to clarify that working toward these ends, as an academic, does not mean divesting from the university. It is still the site of our work and we have to fight to maintain/create better structures for doing that work effectively, non-exploitatively.

I will continue to advocate for resources for researchers, teachers, editors, for more hires of BIPOC, queer, disabled, trans scholars, for fair working conditions and best practices toward just institutional co-existence. Absolutely.

But I am beginning to understand these commitments—which are likely lifetime ones for me—as “harm reduction measures” (Tuck and Yang) along the long path toward a future that is not mine or my profession’s."
decolonization  highered  highereducation  eugeniazuroski  2018  fredmoten  stefanoharney  undercommons  messiness  academia  education  grades  grading  colonialism  colonization  fugitives  hospice  pedagogy  unschooling  deschooling  impericalism  sovereignty  institutions  ashleymorford  power  control  future  enlightenment  fugitiveenlightenment  indigeneity  anti-colonialism 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Is grade inflation just another way for privileged kids to get ahead? — Quartz
"He found the median grade point average (GPA) rose in all schools. But it rose by 0.27 points in affluent schools, compared to just 0.17 points in less affluent ones. On average, students who scored higher on the end-of-course exams also earned higher grades. But plenty of kids with good grades did poorly on the exam; more than one-third of the students who received B’s from their teachers in Algebra 1 failed to get a “proficient” score on the end-of-term exam.

Gershenson can’t say for sure why this has happened but he suspects that it’s because parents of privilege are not afraid to wield it. “Wealthier parents have more time and more confidence to be pushy and to challenge teachers, either proactively or reactively,” he said. They might argue to get a B turned into an A, or teachers may sense the threat of overbearing parents and be more lenient to avoid confrontation.

One possible explanation for this phenomenon could be that students at better-resourced schools become more engaged, and thus improve their performance and get higher grades. But Gershenson controlled for attendance levels, often used as a proxy for engagement, and found the same outcomes. That suggests a boost for those better off, which may in turn influence their college acceptances and future careers."



"So what should be done about the troubling relationship between grade inflation and wealth? For one thing, Gershenson recommends that schools keep using both grades and test scores to assess students, since they measure such different things. In addition, he says it’s important to let teachers, principals, and colleges know that poorer kids’ grades may not have not been as inflated as their richer peers. One idea? A grade deflator tool, similar to a GDP deflator, to account for the discrepancy. “That might help students and parents and colleges make better decisions,” he says."
gradeinflation  2018  wealth  inequality  education  schools  grades  grading  sethgershenson 
september 2018 by robertogreco
How He's Using His Gifts | Akilah S. Richards [Episode 12]
"We explore…gifted students, twice exceptional students, educators who shift from traditional to self-directed education, civic connections, the truth about college, and giving black and brown children more access.

Anthony Galloway wasn’t willing to be another cog in the system.

He’s a smart, twenty-something year old African-American man who chose to go into the field of education. He came up through the system, and learned how to excel in it. He also knew that he wanted to be part of the change in public education that allowed children of color access to the same resources and opportunities as children in white schools or private ones.

Anthony co-founded an Agile Learning Center, now facilitated by both him and long-time educator, Julia Cordero. I think you’re gonna find this discussion interesting because Anthony’s an educator who saw the school system for what it was and is, and started his own school to create something better."
akilahrichards  anthonygalloway  schools  education  unschooling  deschooling  gifted  juliacordero  race  schooling  self-directed  self-directedlearning  lcproject  openstudioproject  children  howwelearn  learning  praise  comparison  alternative  grades  grading  curiosity  libraries  systemsthinking  progressive  reading  howweread  assessment  publicschools  elitism  accessibility  class  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  unpaidinternships  studentdebt  testing  standardization  standardizedtesting  agilelearning  community  collaboration  sfsh  tcsnmy  freeschools  scrum  cv  relationships  communities  process  planning  documentation  adulting  agilelearningcenters 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Children, Learning, and the Evaluative Gaze of School — Carol Black
"That's when I understood: when you watch a child who is focused on learning, and you let them know you’re watching, and you let them know your opinion as though your opinion matters, you just took that thing away from them. You just made it yours. Your smell is all over it now.

The evaluative gaze does the greatest harm, of course, to the kids who live under a biased eye; the ones who enter school with a test score or a disciplinary record or a skin color that shades the gaze against them. Once an assessment of a child's ability has been made, positive or negative, that child will feel it; if you think you can conceal it from them, you're wrong. They know. They always know. Studies have shown that even lab rats learn more slowly if their researchers believe that they aren't smart rats. The kids who grow up under a negative gaze, the ones who day after day, year after year, feel themselves appraised and found wanting –– these kids pay the greatest price, their psyches permanently damaged by it, their futures irrevocably harmed. (The fact that our appraisals are shown again and again to be wrong never seems to discourage us from making them.) But even the kids who get the good grades, the high scores, the perfect "10's" –– even they are subtly blighted by it. They've won the prize, and lost their power.

Why is it clear to us that it's degrading and objectifying to measure and rank a girl’s physical body on a numeric scale, but we think it’s perfectly okay to measure and rank her mind that way?

Over the years I've watched the many ways that children try to cope with the evaluative gaze of school. (The gaze, of course, can come from parents, too; just ask my kids.) Some children eagerly display themselves for it; some try to make themselves invisible to it. They fight, they flee, they freeze; like prey animals they let their bodies go limp and passive before it. Some defy it by laughing in its face, by acting up, clowning around, refusing to attend or engage, refusing to try so you can never say they failed. Some master the art of holding back that last 10%, of giving just enough of themselves to "succeed," but holding back enough that the gaze can't define them (they don't yet know that this strategy will define and limit their lives.) Some make themselves sick trying to meet or exceed the "standards" that it sets for them. Some simply vanish into those standards until they don't know who they would have been had the standards not been set.

But the power of the gaze goes beyond the numbers and letters used to quantify it. It exists in looks and tones and body language, in words and in the spaces between words. It is a way of looking at another human being, of confronting another human life; it is a philosophical stance, an emotional stance, a political stance, an exercise of power. As philosopher Martin Buber might have put it, the stance of true relationship says to the other, "I–Thou;" the evaluative gaze says "I–It." It says, "I am the subject; you are the object. I know what you are, I know what you should be, I know what 'standards' you must meet." It is a god-like stance, which is actually a big deal even if you think you are a fair and friendly god.

The evaluative gaze of school is so constant a presence, so all-pervasive an eye, that many people have come to believe that children would actually not grow and develop without it. They believe that without their "feedback," without their constant "assessment," a child's development would literally slow or even stop. They believe that children would not learn from the things they experience and do and see and hear and make and read and imagine unless they have an adult to "assess" them (or unless the adult teaches them to "self-assess," which generally means teaching them to internalize the adult gaze.) For people whose experience is with children inside the school system, it may seem self-evident that this is true. For people whose experience is with children outside the school system, it may seem like believing that an acorn would not grow into an oak tree unless you measure it and give it your opinion. Because an oak tree does not actually require your opinion, and believe it or not, 90% of the time, neither does a child.

A pot boils whether you watch it or not. It just needs water and fire.

There are ever-increasing numbers of people raising their kids outside this Panopticon of constant evaluation and measurement and feedback, and what they find is simply this: they grow and develop very much like other kids. Like other kids, they don't all conform to the same "standards;" like other kids, they are individual and diverse. Like other kids, they have triumphs, and struggles, and doldrums, and passions, and frustrations, and joys. "Assessment," or the lack of it, seems to have remarkably little to do with it. Because what an oak tree actually needs is not your opinion but soil and water and light and air, and what a child needs is love and stories and tools and conversation and support and guidance and access to nature and culture and the world. If a kid asks for your feedback, by all means you can give it; it would be impolite not to. But what we should be measuring and comparing is not our children but the quality of the learning environments we provide for them. "
carolblack  canon  unschooling  deschooling  evaluation  assessment  schools  schooling  schooliness  cv  petergray  judgement  writing  art  sfsh  rubrics  children  childhood  learning  howwelearn  education  discipline  coercion  rabindranathtagore  panopticon  observation  teaching  teachers  power  resistance  surveillance  martinbuber  gender  race  racism  measurement  comparison  praise  rewards  grades  grading  2018 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Fred Moten’s Radical Critique of the Present | The New Yorker
"He is drawn to in-between states: rather than accepting straightforward answers, he seeks out new dissonances."



"“I like to read, and I like to be involved in reading,” he said. “And for me, writing is part of what it is to be involved in reading.”"



"For Moten, blackness is something “fugitive,” as he puts it—an ongoing refusal of standards imposed from elsewhere. In “Stolen Life,” he writes, “Fugitivity, then, is a desire for and a spirit of escape and transgression of the proper and the proposed. It’s a desire for the outside, for a playing or being outside, an outlaw edge proper to the now always already improper voice or instrument.” In this spirit, Moten works to connect subjects that our preconceptions may have led us to think had little relation. One also finds a certain uncompromising attitude—a conviction that the truest engagement with a subject will overcome any difficulties of terminology. “I think that writing in general, you know, is a constant disruption of the means of semantic production, all the time,” he told me. “And I don’t see any reason to try to avoid that. I’d rather see a reason to try to accentuate that. But I try to accentuate that not in the interest of obfuscation but in the interest of precision.”"



"“The Undercommons” lays out a radical critique of the present. Hope, they write, “has been deployed against us in ever more perverted and reduced form by the Clinton-Obama axis for much of the last twenty years.” One essay considers our lives as a flawed system of credit and debit, another explores a kind of technocratic coercion that Moten and Harney simply call “policy.” “The Undercommons” has become well known, especially, for its criticism of academia. “It cannot be denied that the university is a place of refuge, and it cannot be accepted that the university is a place of enlightenment,” Moten and Harney write. They lament the focus on grading and other deadening forms of regulation, asking, in effect: Why is it so hard to have new discussions in a place that is ostensibly designed to foster them?

They suggest alternatives: to gather with friends and talk about whatever you want to talk about, to have a barbecue or a dance—all forms of unrestricted sociality that they slyly call “study.”"



"Moten’s poetry, which was a finalist for a National Book Award, in 2014, has a good deal in common with his critical work. In it, he gathers the sources running through his head and transforms them into something musical, driven by the material of language itself. "



"And he’s still trying to figure out how to teach a good class, he said. He wasn’t sure that it was possible under the current conditions. “You just have to get together with people and try to do something different,” he said. “You know, I really believe that. But I also recognize how truly difficult that is to do.”"
2018  fredmoten  davidwallace  poetry  fugitivity  betweenness  liminality  dissonance  reading  howweread  fugitives  blackness  undercommons  education  highereducation  highered  stefanoharney  sociality  study  learning  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  teaching  howweteach  pedagogy  criticalpedagogy  grades  grading  conversation  discussion 
may 2018 by robertogreco
The Problem With “Measure” – Teachers Going Gradeless
"Measurement requires a standard unit, a recognized standard that can be objectively applied in a context. I can measure my bike ride to school in units of length. If I share that measurement with my colleague who also bikes to school, we can objectively determine who travels the greatest distance each day. What isn’t measurable is the peace that twenty minute ride brings to my day.

When it comes to measurement, learning fits into the same category as love, pain, anger, joy, and peace of mind. Learning can’t be objectively measured. There is no standard unit of measurement to apply to learning. A skill can be demonstrated, progress can be noted, understanding can be communicated and shared, but technically this evidence of learning isn’t measurable."
measurement  assessment  teaching  learning  unschooling  deschooling  grades  grading  scotthazeu  2017  objectivity  subjectivity  skills  standardization  standards  understanding  love  pain  anger  joy  peaceofmind  emotions 
april 2018 by robertogreco
How to Ungrade | Jesse Stommel
""I can't think of a more meaningless, superficial, cynical way to evaluate learning."
~ Cathy N. Davidson

The work of teaching shouldn't be reduced to the mechanical act of grading or marking. Our talk of grading shouldn't be reduced to our complaining about the continuing necessity of it.

If you're a teacher and you hate grading, stop doing it.

Across education, we've normalized absurd levels of grading, test-taking, and standardized assessment. And yet letter grades are a relatively recent phenomenon. They weren't widely used until the 1940s. In “Teaching More by Grading Less,” Jeffrey Schinske and Kimberly Tanner cite the first “official record” of a grading system from Yale in 1785. The A-F system appears to have emerged in 1898 (with the “E” not disappearing until the 1930s) and the 100-point or percentage scale became common in the early 1900s. According to Schinske and Tanner, even by 1971, only 67% of primary and secondary schools in the U.S. were using letter grades. The desire for uniformity across institutions was the primary motivator for the spread of these systems.

As I was preparing to write this piece, I looked through the sections on grading from a dozen or so U.S. teaching and learning centers. What I noticed across the lot of them is how their language around grading emphasizes “efficiency” (the word repeated incessantly) while reducing individual students to cogs in a machine that ultimately seems to have little to do with them. The work of grading is framed less in terms of giving feedback or encouraging learning and more as a way of ranking students against one another. Nods to “fairness” are too often made for the sake of defensibility rather than equity. What disturbs me is how effortlessly and casually this language rolls off Education's collective tongue. And I'm even more disturbed by how many otherwise productive pedagogical conversations get sidetracked by the too easily internalized ubiquity of grades.

The page from the Berkeley Graduate Division offering “Tips on Grading Efficiently” is pretty standard fare. The very first bit of advice on grading for new graduate student instructors raises more anxiety around grades than it alleviates. And at the same time, as is all too common, grading is something new teachers are encouraged to spend as little time on as possible: “Too often, time spent grading takes away from time spent doing your own coursework or research.”

Without much critical examination, teachers accept they have to grade, students accept they have to be graded, students are made to feel like they should care a great deal about grades, and teachers are told they shouldn't spend much time thinking about the why, when, and whether of grades. Obedience to a system of crude ranking is crafted to feel altruistic, because it's supposedly fair, saves time, and helps prepare students for the horrors of the “real world.” Conscientious objection is made to seem impossible.

I've been leading workshops on grading for years, and when I talk about why I don't grade, I often hear back some version of, “but I have to grade” ... because I'm an adjunct ... because my institution requires it ... because grading is necessary in my discipline ... because wouldn't you want your heart surgeon to have been graded? The need to navigate institutional (and disciplinary) pressures is real, but I would argue teachers grade in many more situations than grading is useful and/or actually required by institutions. And, as I've said before, I care less that my doctors are graded and more that they've read all the books of Virginia Woolf or Octavia Butler, because critical thinking is what will help them save my life when they encounter a situation they've never encountered before.

Peter Elbow writes in “Ranking, Evaluating, Liking: Sorting Out Three Forms of Judgement,” "Let's do as little ranking and grading as we can. They are never fair and they undermine learning and teaching." I believe pedagogy is personal and idiosyncratic. My approach won't necessarily work in each classroom, at every institution, for all teachers, with every group of students. My hope with this and my previous posts about grading is to challenge stock assumptions, describe what has worked for me, and explore alternatives that might just work for others."
jessestommel  grades  grading  education  schools  teaching  ranking  2018  standardization  efficiency  institutions  sorting  ungrading  assessment  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  excuses  process  rubrics  highered  highereducation 
march 2018 by robertogreco
How to Build Castles in the Air – Teachers Going Gradeless
"One of the more profound ironies of “going gradeless” is realizing just how fundamental grades are to the architecture of schools.

Grades undergird nearly everything we do in education. By threatening late penalties and administering one-shot assessments, we focus our famously distracted students on the task at hand. By regularly updating our online gradebooks, we provide an ongoing snapshot of student performance so precise it can be calculated to the hundredths place.

Grades inform our curriculum and instruction too. Because so much rides on them, it’s essential we build upon the rock of “objective” data, not the shifting sands of human judgment. Thus, we limit ourselves to those kinds of learning that can be easily measured and quantified. A multiple choice quiz testing students’ knowledge of literary devices can be reliably scored by your 10-year-old daughter (not saying I’ve ever done that). A stack of bubble sheets can be scanned on your way out of the building for the summer. Check your results online in the driveway, then go inside and make yourself a margarita.

If you want to evaluate something more complex, like writing, you had better develop an iron-clad rubric and engage in some serious range-finding sessions with your colleagues. Don’t put anything subjective like creativity or risk taking on that rubric — you’re already on shaky ground as it is. Make sure to provide an especially strict template so that the essay is fully prepared to “meet its maker.” Word choice, punctuation, sentence variety, quote incorporation — these are the nuts and bolts of writing. If the Hemingway Editor can’t see it, isn’t it just your opinion?

Hopefully, you see the irony here. Grades don’t communicate achievement; most contain a vast idiosyncratic array of weights, curves, point values, and penalties. Nor do they motivate students much beyond what it takes to maintain a respectable GPA. And by forcing us to focus on so-called objective measures, grades have us trade that which is most meaningful for that which is merely demonstrable: recall, algorithm use, anything that can be reified into a rubric. Grading reforms have sometimes succeeded in making these numbers, levels, and letters more meaningful, but more often than not it is the learning that suffers, as we continually herd our rich, interconnected disciplines into the gradebook’s endless succession of separate cells.

So, as I’ve said before, grades are not great. Nor are the ancillary tools, tests, structures, and strategies that support them. But as anyone who has gone gradeless can tell you, grades don’t just magically go away, leaving us free to fan the flames of intrinsic motivation and student passion. Grades remain the very foundation on which we build. Most gradeless teachers must enter a grade at the end of each marking period and, even if we didn’t, our whole educational enterprise is overshadowed by the specter of college admissions and scholarships. And since grades and tests rank so high in those determinations, we kid ourselves in thinking we’ve escaped their influence.

Even in a hypothetical environment without these extrinsic stresses, students are still subject to a myriad of influences, not the least of which being the tech industry with its constant bombardment of notifications and nudges. This industry, which spends billions engineering apps for maximum engagement, has already rendered the comparatively modest inducements of traditional schooling laughable. Still, the rhetoric of autonomy, passion, and engagement always seems to take this in stride, as if the Buddha — not billionaires — is behind this ever-expanding universe.

Let’s go one more step further, though, and imagine a world without the tech industry. Surely that would be a world in which the “inner mounting flame” of student passion could flourish.

But complete freedom, autonomy, and agency is not a neutral or even acceptable foundation for education. The notion of a blank slate on which to continuously project one’s passion, innovation, or genius is seriously flawed. Sherri Spelic, examining the related rhetoric of design thinking, points out how “neoliberal enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and start-up culture” does little to address “social dilemmas fueled by historic inequality and stratification.” In other words, blank spaces — including the supposed blank space of going gradeless — are usually little more than blind spots. And often these blind spots are where our more marginalized students fall through the cracks.

Even if we were able provide widespread, equitable access to springboards of self-expression, autonomy, and innovation, what then? To what extent are we all unwittingly falling into a larger neoliberal trap that, in the words of Byung-Chul Han, turns each of us into an “auto-exploiting labourer in his or her own enterprise”?
Today, we do not deem ourselves subjugated subjects, but rather projects: always refashioning and reinventing ourselves. A sense of freedom attends passing from the state of subject to that of project. All the same, this projection amounts to a form of compulsion and constraint — indeed, to a more efficient kind of subjectification and subjugation. As a project deeming itself free of external and alien limitations, the I is now subjugating itself to internal limitations and self-constraints, which are taking the form of compulsive achievement and optimization.


One doesn’t have to look too far to find the rhetoric of “harnessing student passion” and “self-regulated learners” to understand the paradoxical truth of this statement. This vision of education, in addition to constituting a new strategy of control, also undermines any sense of classrooms as communities of care and locations of resistance.
@hhschiaravalli:

A5. Watch out for our tendency to lionize those who peddle extreme personalization, individual passion, entrepreneurial mindsets. So many of these undermine any sense of collective identity, responsibility, solidarity #tg2chat


Clearly, not all intrinsic or extrinsic motivation is created equal. Perhaps instead of framing the issue in these terms, we should see it as a question of commitment or capitulation.

Commitment entails a robust willingness to construct change around what Gert Biesta describes as fundamental questions of “content, purpose, and relationship.” It requires that we find ways to better communicate and support student learning, produce more equitable results, and, yes, sometimes shield students from outside influences. Contrary to the soaring rhetoric of intrinsic motivation, none of this will happen by itself.

Capitulation means shirking this responsibility, submerging it in the reductive comfort of numbers or in neoliberal notions of autonomy.

Framing going gradeless through the lens of extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation, then, is not only misleading and limited, it’s harmful. No teacher — gradeless or otherwise — can avoid the task of finding humane ways to leverage each of these in the service of greater goals. Even if we could, there are other interests, much more powerful, much more entrenched, and much better funded than us always ready to rush into that vacuum.

To resist these forces, we will need to use everything in our power to find and imagine new structures and strategies, building our castles in air on firm foundations."
grades  grading  equity  morivation  intrinsicmotivation  extrinsicmotivation  measurement  schools  schooling  learning  howwelearn  socialjustice  neoliberalism  arthurchiaravalli  subjectivity  objectivity  systemsthinking  education  unschooling  deschooling  assessment  accountability  subjectification  subjugation  achievement  optimization  efficiency  tests  testing  standardization  control  teaching  howweteach  2018  resistance  gertbiesta  capitulation  responsibility  structure  strategy  pedagogy  gpa  ranking  sherrispelic  byung-chulhan  compulsion  constraint  self-regulation  passion  identity  solidarity  personalization  collectivism  inequality 
february 2018 by robertogreco
It’s Time We Hold Accountability Accountable – Teachers Going Gradeless
"Author and writing professor John Warner points out how this kind of accountability, standardization, and routinization short-circuits students’ pursuit of forms “defined by the rhetorical situation” and values “rooted in audience needs.”

What we are measuring when we are accountable, then, is something other than the core values of writing. Ironically, the very act of accounting for student progress in writing almost guarantees that we will receive only a poor counterfeit, one emptied of its essence.

Some might say that accountability only makes a modest claim on teaching, that nothing prevents teachers from going beyond its measurable minimum toward higher values of critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity. Many seem to think that scoring high on lower-order assessments still serves as a proxy for higher-order skills.

More often than not, however, the test becomes the target. And as Goodhart’s law (phrased here by Mary Strathern) asserts, “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” What we end up aiming at, in other words, is something other than the thing we wanted to improve or demonstrate. When push comes to shove in public schools — and push almost always comes to shove — it’s the test, the measure, the moment of reckoning we attend to.

For most of my career, I’ve seen how a culture of accountability has caused the focus of administrators, teachers, and students to solidify around the narrow prescriptions and algorithmic thinking found on most tests. When that happens, the measure no longer represents anything higher order. Instead, we demonstrate our ability to fill the template, follow the algorithm, jump through the hoop. And unfortunately, as many students find out too late, success on the test does not guarantee that one has developed the skills or dispositions needed in any real field. In fact, students who succeed in this arena may be even more oblivious to the absence of these."
writing  howwewrite  teaching  accountability  2017  arthurchiaravalli  johnwarner  testing  tests  standardization  routinization  audience  measurement  metrics  rubrics  grades  grading  quantification 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Julia E. Torres on Twitter: "Ask a 4th grader whether they truly "like" school, then listen to their responses. It's heartbreaking. Rather than dealing with it, we too often dismiss their comments. We say, "No kids like school--they just don't like being
"Ask a 4th grader whether they truly "like" school, then listen to their responses. It's heartbreaking. Rather than dealing with it, we too often dismiss their comments. We say, "No kids like school--they just don't like being told what to do". Avoidance + dismissal=no change"
children  learning  sfsh  schools  schooliness  grades  grading  avoidance  authoritarianism  howweteach  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  2018  juliatorres 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Michael Ian Black on Twitter: "Getting a lot of grief from teachers for my earlier take on k-12 education. I meant no offense to teachers, who I think, by and large, do their best. My criticisms have to do with the whole dang public education apparatus, w
"Getting a lot of grief from teachers for my earlier take on k-12 education. I meant no offense to teachers, who I think, by and large, do their best. My criticisms have to do with the whole dang public education apparatus, which feels hopelessly outmoded and moribund.

I advocate an new model of education which focuses on two things: creativity and critical thinking. That's it. All else would be in service of those two skills. Why? Because the history of public education has been about readying workers to work in predictable industries.

Those predictable industries no long exist or are undergoing radical transformation. What cuts across all industries in this new economy are creativity and critical thinking. If you have those two skills, you can do anything.

Those skills also happen to be the most fun things to work on. "Draw something." "What do you think about you drew?" We're not grading you, we're asking your opinion. What works about this? What doesn't work? Exactly how tasks are approached in the workplace.

Also, why are we gearing everything to the tests? The tests are snapshots, rarely illuminating, and often overweighted. As testing has increased, childhood depression and anxiety has risen with it. For what? An extra hundredth on your GPA?

To what end? Why are moving these kids through the production line? My kids are in high school and I promise they aren't excited about anything they're doing. They can tolerate it. They like lunch. But they're mostly just moving through the day.

Wouldn't it better if they were excited to attend school because school was where they did all the cool shit they want to do? Play video games and read cool books and study music and, yeah, maybe write a paper about that cool video game, and maybe learn a little coding.

You want to play guitar? Great. Here's a guitar. Here's how music relates to math. Here's how math relates to science. How's the song coming? Take an hour for lunch. You want to leave early today? Leave early. Treat kids the way you want to be treated, excite them...

Connect them with experts in the fields they're studying. Develop mentorships, make sure they take a hike every day. Make school the place you wish you could have hung out when you were their age. Teachers can be guides, a support system, one-on-one counselors. it can work."

[previous thread: https://twitter.com/michaelianblack/status/955470909669892098

"Been thinking a lot about k-12 education since last night. (I mean, before that too, but I hadn't written about it on Twitter.) My conclusion: it's total shit.

I'm going to make some points that are probably obvious to most people but they're worth saying. First, the average education destroys children's natural inquisitiveness. "This rock is cool!" "Great. Memorize everything about its composition. then I'm going to test you on it."

Second, the grading system is meaningless. A good grade denotes mastery of a subject about as much as having shiny teeth means you eat a healthy diet.

Third, kids are bored because school is boring because the way things are taught is boring. It's not the teacher's fault. It's a system that values compliance over creativity. It teaches kids how to regurgitate instead of how to think.

Why isn't school fun? Why doesn't it look more like kindergarten all the way through high school? Why isn't it student-driven instead of administration-driven? After they know how to read and perform basic math why can't they pursue subjects about which they show interest?

If a kid likes to read, why can't she spend her time with other kids who love literature? If she likes science, why not spent her time doing science? Why funnel everybody through the same stupid curriculum that has no real-world application?

The goal of k-12 education should to nurture kids towards an excitement of lifetime learning instead of towards getting into a college they can't afford. Anybody who wants to learn something can learn it. But they need to want to learn. School kills desire to learn.

Would any adult choose to go back to k-12 schooling? No fucking way. For most people, it's an endless drudge. Why not preserve childhood as a time of exploration and joy? Who is well-served by this system?

We know k-12 education doesn't work well. Kids hate it. Parents hate it. Teachers hate it. Employers hate it. Everybody hates it. So why do we keep it? Why are we inflicting so much misery on ourselves?"]

[And a thread prior to that: https://twitter.com/michaelianblack/status/955263135254016006

"One of my life's great stress-reducing realizations is that I don't care about my kids' grades.

Not only do I not care about their grades, I honestly think I'd be fine with it if they decide to drop out before graduating. The way we educate kids is 100% garbage. (Maybe 75% garbage.)

Here's the only thing school needs to teach kids: reading, how to construct a coherent thought, and basic math. After that, kids should be free to pursue whatever interests them, supplemented with broad exposure to the humanities.

There should be more: art, music, game playing, movie watching, physical activity. Schooling through high school should bear more than a passing resemblance to kindergarten. The way we do things is stultifying and soul-crushing.

Everything I value as an adult was treated as extracurricular and slightly distasteful by the school administration. The arts had no "practical value," but somehow trigonometry did. It made no sense.

When I decided to become an actor, I was told (and believed) I would never make a dime. I took that trade-off to do what I wanted in exchange for little to no pay. But a funny thing happened. The gig economy of the actor became the gig economy of the entire country.

So I found myself much more comfortable in uncertainty as traditional occupational structures began falling by the wayside. I felt like I had the flexibility and creativity to tackle unfamiliar jobs with minimal training because I believed in my own adaptability.

The kids I see these days can do anything on a computer. They are good collaborators and their egos seem more in check than mine. They'll do fine in the coming years, but I'd like to see their kids the beneficiaries of this new kind of schooling, a student-directed schooling.

That draws from the expertise of the faculty to augment studies, but also to be able to access the world's great minds on your narrow question. Slow, non-grade work that moves towards a defining and meaningful goal/solution. Applied education. Seems like a better way to handled"]
michaelianblack  schools  education  grades  grading  homework  schooling  learning  children  parenting  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  2018  self-directed  self-directedlearning  howwelearn  freedom  autonomy  creativity  misery  sfsh  criticalthinking  middleschool  highschool  teachers  howweteach  schooliness  oppression  publicschools  childhood 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Engage – Michael Langan – Medium
"I know a science teacher who loves working with kids so much that he becomes depressed every June knowing that his current group of 8th graders are going to be leaving the middle school. This Science teacher has more high school kids come back to visit him than the rest of the staff combined.

Whats so special about this science teacher? He treats the kids like people. He talks with them like they are equals. He sits with them at lunch. He removes the authority boundaries in his classroom. He gives them freedom, as much as the system allows, during class.

This Science teacher stays after school with anywhere from 10 to 30 students four days a week so that the students can work on science projects for various regional and state science competitions. “If you really want to do science you have to stay after school,” the teacher often says to me with a grin.

When you walk by this science teachers class it is messy. Kids are in the hall throwing balsa wood airplanes, testing mousetrap cars, or working on the computer to learn the mandated “content.” Inside the room kids are everywhere. They are in the corners measuring levers, gluing, cutting, revising and testing. It is loud. It is chaotic and many traditional teachers in the building hate it and suggest that the “inmates are running the asylum” (real quote).

I visit often. I talk with him often. I try to relieve his angst often.
What does he have angst about? Two things usually.
The lesser of the two is the few judgmental adults. The adults that make comments. The adults that judge him passively and not so passively. The adults that remind him that their job is a bit harder because they have “rules” that need to be enforced in their rooms and its difficult “when they come from your room.”

Forget the fact that we have more regional science winners than ever before. Forget the fact that our kids are truly believing again (like they believed when they were much younger) that they like science.
None of that matters. What matters to these few angst causing adults is that the kids are harder to control due to the Science teacher giving the kids some control.

The main area where this teacher has angst is in figuring out how to engage the students. How to create an environment where all of them are in a totally absorbed state of mind without even realizing it. How does he get the kids looking and acting like a group of kids enthralled in a video game….while at the same time meeting the expectations of the institution?

How does he convince the kids to learn for the sake of learning while at the same time saying “clear your desks for the test?” How can he best keep the flow of the learning going while also making sure they know the vocab words that are on the common assessments and state tests?

I walk in this classroom nearly everyday, but when I walked in towards the end of one of his classes this past Wednesday the teacher was sitting down with the students and asking them, imploring them to help him figure out how he can engage ALL of them.
“When you think about learning, when you think back to the times that you were really motivated, what types of things were you doing?” He asked them.

A student answered, “friendly competitions.” Many other students perked up at this answer and chimed in “Yeah, like jeopardy type games, where we collaborate for the answer and stuff.”

“Or like when we made those Rube Goldberg machines and we were trying to beat the other groups.”

The bell rang and I stayed to debrief with the teacher about the conversation he just elicited.
He told me, “before you came in I was telling the students I really needed them to stop worrying about grades, and they told me “we have been taught since kindergarten that the most important thing is to get an A.”

“Yep,” I said. “getting the right answer and the importance of an A is pounded into them at school and at home.”

I continued, “what I realized, as the students were talking with you, was that they didn’t even comprehend what you were asking them. They can’t separate learning from a test. So when you ask them how can they be engaged they simply think about ways they are motivated to learn for the test.
Kids want the answer to “why are we doing this.” For some the motivator is simply for the grade. For others the motivator is, “to win the game,” or, “so I don’t get in trouble,” There are some that jump right in just for the sake of learning something new….but I don’t think there are a lot of those kids.”

Of course, saying this to the Science teacher caused him more angst. “I don’t know what I’m doing.” He responds. “I don’t know how much longer I can do this. School keeps getting in my way.”

“That means you’re doing it right,” I replied. “Its the people that have it all figured out that I worry about. The kids love you, and they respect you because they know you respect them. Plus, they love science again.”

“Yeah, but next year when they visit they are going to tell me how they are getting their teeth kicked in because Science is so hard. Am I doing them a disservice by not preparing them for that?”

“We don’t need to prepare kids to deal with things that suck. They had many classes that required them to sit, study, and regurgitate before they ever had your class. You are showing them what Science in school can be…and we never know which of your students may grow to be teachers themselves. Perhaps they will model your class.”

“Thanks bud.” He said, “But, I don’t know what I’m doing.”"

[via: "Great piece on the stress endured by teachers who try to buck the system to create better experiences for kids."
https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/947905528520249344 ]
education  teaching  howweteach  angst  2017  learning  children  empowerment  grades  grading  motivation  intrinsicmotivation  extrinsicmotivation  thewhy  deschooling  unschooling  michaellangan  testing  assessment  respect  science  lcproject  openstudioproject  stress 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Black Outdoors: Fred Moten & Saidiya Hartman at Duke University - YouTube
"The Black Outdoors: Humanities Futures after Property and Possession seeks to interrogate the relation between race, sexuality, and juridical and theological ideas of self-possession, often evidenced by the couplet of land-ownership and self-regulation, a couplet predicated on settler colonialism and historically racist, sexist, homophobic and classist ideas of bodies fit for (self-) governance.

The title of the working group and speaker series points up the ways blackness figures as always outside the state, unsettled, unhomed, and unmoored from sovereignty in its doubled-form of aggressively white discourses on legitimate citizenship on one hand and the public/private divide itself on the other. The project will address questions of the "black outdoors" in relationship to literary, legal, theological, philosophical, and artistic works, especially poetry and visual arts.

Co-convened by J. Kameron Carter (Duke Divinity School/Black Church Studies) and Sarah Jane Cervenak (African American and African Diaspora Studies, UNC-G)"



[Fred Moten (31:00)]

"Sometimes I feel like I just haven't been able to… well, y'all must feel this… somehow I just can't quite figure out a good way to make myself clear when it comes to certain things. But I really feel like it's probably not my fault. I don't know that it's possible to be clear when it comes to these kinds of things. I get scared about saying certain kinds of stuff because I feel like sometimes it can seem really callous, and I don't want to seem that way because it's not because I don't feel shit or because I don't care. But let's talk about it in terms of what it would mean to live in a way that would reveal or to show no signs of human habitation.

Obviously there's a field or a space or a constraint, a container, a bounded space. Because every time you were saying unbounded, J., I kept thinking, "Is that right?" I mean I always remember Chomsky used to make this really interesting distinction that I don' think I ever fully understood between that which was bounded, but infinite and that which was unbounded, but finite. So another way to put it, if it's unbounded, it's still finite. And there's a quite specific and often quite brutal finitude that structures whatever is going on within the general, if we can speak of whatever it is to be within the general framework of the unbounded.

The whole point about escape is that it's an activity. It's not an achievement. You don't ever get escaped. And what that means is whatever you're escaping from is always after you. It's always on you, like white on rice, so to speak. But the thing about it is that I've been interested in, but it's hard to think about and talk about, would be that we can recognize the absolute horror, the unspeakable, incalculable terror and horror that accompanies the necessity of not leaving a trace of human inhabitation. And then there's the whole question of what would a life be that wasn't interested in leaving a trace of human habitation? So, in church, just because my friend Ken requested it, fuck the human. Fuck human inhabitation.

It's this necessity… The phrase I use sometimes and I always think about specifically in relation to Fannie Lou Hamer — because I feel like it's me just giving a spin on a theoretical formulation that she made in practice — is "to refuse that which has been refused to you." That's what I'm interested in. And that doesn't mean that what's at stake is some kind of blind, happy, celebratory attitude towards all of the beautiful stuff we have made under constraint. I love all the beautiful stuff we've made under constraint, but I'm pretty sure I would all the beautiful stuff we'd make out from under constraint better.

But there's no way to get to that except through this. We can't go around this. We gotta fight through this. And that means that anybody who thinks that they can understand how terrible the terror has been without understanding how beautiful the beauty has been against the grain of that terror is wrong. there is no calculus of the terror that can make a proper calculation without reference to that which resists it. It's just not possible."
fredmoten  saidiyahartman  blackness  2016  jkameroncarter  fredricjameson  webdubois  sarahjanecervenak  unhomed  unsettled  legibility  statelessness  illegibility  sovereignty  citizenship  governance  escape  achievement  life  living  fannielouhamer  resistance  refusal  terror  beauty  cornelwest  fugitives  captives  captivity  academia  education  grades  grading  degrading  fugitivity  language  fellowship  conviviality  outdoors  anarchy  anarchism  constraints  slavery  oppression  race  racism  confidence  poverty  privilege  place  time  bodies  body  humans  mobility  possessions 
december 2017 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
Ana Mardoll on Twitter: "The thing about every "I did [ableist thing] and everyone was happy with me" article is that it relies heavily on human confirmation bias.… https://t.co/2wRZLAj4yF"
"The thing about every "I did [ableist thing] and everyone was happy with me" article is that it relies heavily on human confirmation bias. https://twitter.com/nrsmithccny/status/934032393572356096

Most humans are poised to believe that our decisions will have good outcomes. That's why we MAKE the decisions, after all. We pick what seems like the best decision and we hope it turns out well.

Recognizing that the decision was a BAD one in retrospect is REALLY HARD, and becomes even harder when we have to grapple with the fact that we hurt people in the process.

So when teachers ban laptops or fidget spinners or whatever, or when employers force everyone to wear fitbits and take the stairs, they're STARTING with the belief that this will have a good outcome.

Then we look at the words Nicholas has used there: "Low cost" to ban electronics. Well, for him it surely was!

For the students who had to scramble to buy paper and pens and bags to carry them in when they'd been EXPECTING to use the laptop they already owned... a bit more cost.

"Minimal Resistance". That isn't really surprising when we understand that disabled students aren't the majority--which is why they're so easy to stomp all over.

Also not surprising when we understand the high COST of "resisting". Easier to drop the class.

"Learning improved dramatically" but based on what? Knowing that this is a situation heavily prone to bias, how do we measure that?

This isn't pedantry. We're talking about a school. Research methods are important.

We also need to understand how fucked up it is when the goal is to maximize the experience for the geniuses in the class and if the bottom 10% drop out because it's too hard, that's considered a GOOD thing.

If banning electronics causes a "sharpening" of the grade curve--fewer "middle" students, but the higher ones get higher and the lower ones go lower--that means embracing the destruction of the weak in order to elevate your preferred students.

The American school system is competitive in really messed up ways, and electronics bans play into that. If you can't "cut it" with paper notes, you're left behind. Teaching as social Darwinism.

I am going to add, and folks aren't going to like this, that professors are some of the most ableist people on the planet. In my experience.

They've risen to the top of a heavily ableist system that is DEEPLY invested in pretending that it's merit-based.

In the midst of that merit-based pretense, they're also urged to believe that they're biologically better, smarter, cleverer, deeper thinkers.

So you have people who believe they are biologically better than disabled people but also think they know how to accommodate us. Red flags right there.

They're also steeped in a competitive atmosphere where learning takes a backseat to rankings and numbers games and competition.

So very quickly any accommodation seems like "cheating".

You need an extra hour to take the test? How is that FAIR to the OTHER students?

We wouldn't ask these questions if we weren't obsessively ranking and grading and comparing students to each other in an attempt to sift out the "best".

Why do we do that? Well, part of it is a dance for capitalism; the employers want a shiny GPA number so they know who will be the better employee.

But a lot of professors don't really think about that. They just live for the competition itself, and they view us as disruptive.

They also view us, fundamentally, as lesser. No matter how much we learn, we'll never be peak students because we're disabled.

That means we're disposable if we threaten the actual "peak" students and their progress.

That's why laptop ban conversations ALWAYS devolve into "but if you allow laptops for disabled kids, the able-bodied students will use them and be distracted!"

The worry is that the abled-kids who COULD be "peak" students won't be.

If the options are:

(1) Disabled kid, 3.5 GPA. Abled kid, 3.5 GPA.

(2) Disabled kid, 2.0 GPA, Abled kid, 4.0 GPA.

They'll pick #2 every time. They don't want everyone to do moderately well; they want a Star.

Professors want STARS, because a STAR means they're doing well. They're the best coach in the competitive sports they call "school".

Throwing a disabled student under the bus to make sure the able-bodied Star isn't distracted? No brainer. 9 out of 10 professors will do it.

I had very few professors--over 7 years and 2 schools--who recognized the ranking system was garbage.

One of them told us on the first day of class that we would all get As, no matter what we did. Told us that we didn't even need to show up, but that he HOPED we would because he believed we could learn from him.

I learned more from that class than maybe any other I took that year. The erasure of all my fear, anxiety, competition, and need to "win" left me able to focus SO much better.

It's INTERESTING that we don't talk about banning GRADES and instead we ban laptops.

We could improve learning dramatically if we banned grades. But we don't. Why not?

- Capitalism. We want employers to pick our students.

- Ableism. We LIKE ranking humans from better to worse.

- Cynicism. We don't believe students WANT to learn, we think we need to force them.

So in an effort to forced Abled Allen to be the best in a competition for capitalism, we ban laptops.

If Disabled Debbie does poorly after the laptop ban, it's no great tragedy; she was never going to be a 4.0 student anyway. Not like Abled Allen, the winner.

Anyway. Laptop bans are ableist. So is a moratorium on any notes whatsoever. Let students learn the way they feel comfortable learning.

And asking students to "trust" teachers will put disabled students first is naive in the extreme.

I don't "trust" a team coach to prioritize the needs of a third-string quarterback. Maybe some will, but most won't.

(Final note that there ARE good teachers out there and even good DISABLED teachers. I'm talking about systemic problems, not saying that all professors are evil. The problem is the system, not necessarily the people.)

(Although some of the people ARE trash. But only some.)

The original tweet is gone and please don't harass the teacher in question. Here's a screenshot for context, otherwise my thread makes little sense.

I want to add something that I touched on in another thread: Teachers are PROFOUNDLY out of touch when it comes to note-taking.

I guaran-fucking-tee these college teachers who "insist" their students note-take by hand aren't hand-writing to this extent.

For example, the quoted tweet has a professor saying "you just type whatever I say without thinking". That is so ridiculous.Ana My mobile still could load it.

Hardly anyone I know types fast enough to transcribe human speech.

When I take typed notes, I'm choosing what to include and what to leave out. Those choices are interacting with the material.

I'm not recording like a robot.

These professors have been out of the "student seat" for so long that they don't know what studenting is like.

They think we're transcriptionists when we're not. They think pen-and-paper students are paying perfect attention when they're not.

They think writing notes for 4-5 classes a day for 4-7 years is easy on the hands, when it's not.

They just don't KNOW, but (scarily!) they think they do."
notetaking  ableism  laptops  highered  highereducation  learning  education  meritocracy  capitalism  cynicism  grades  grading  sorting  ranking  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  disabilities  disability  transcription  typing  lectures  resistance  socialdarwinism  elitism  competition  anamardoll 
november 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
How U.S. News college rankings promote economic inequality on campus
"Once ladders of social mobility, universities increasingly reinforce existing wealth, fueling a backlash that helped elect Donald Trump."



"America’s universities are getting two report cards this year. The first, from the Equality of Opportunity Project, brought the shocking revelation that many top universities, including Princeton and Yale, admit more students from the top 1 percent of earners than the bottom 60 percent combined. The second, from U.S. News and World Report, is due on Tuesday — with Princeton and Yale among the contenders for the top spot in the annual rankings.

The two are related: A POLITICO review shows that the criteria used in the U.S. News rankings — a measure so closely followed in the academic world that some colleges have built them into strategic plans — create incentives for schools to favor wealthier students over less wealthy applicants.

Those criteria often serve as unofficial guidelines for some colleges’ admission decisions and financial priorities, with a deeply ingrained assumption that the more a school spends — and the more elite its student body — the higher it climbs in the rankings. And that reinforces what many see as a dire situation in American higher education.

“We are creating a permanent underclass in America based on education — something we’ve never had before,” said Brit Kirwan, former chancellor of the University of Maryland system.

For instance, Southern Methodist University in Dallas conducted a billion-dollar fundraising drive devoted to many of the areas ranked by U.S. News, including spending more on faculty and recruiting students with higher SAT scores — and jumped in the rankings. Meanwhile, Georgia State University, which has become a national model for graduating more low- and moderate-income students, dropped 30 spots.

Among the factors in the U.S. News formula are:

—Students’ performance on standardized admissions tests, which correlate strongly with family income, more than high school grades, which have less of a correlation.

— Having a lower acceptance rate, which many colleges have sought to achieve by leaning more on early decision admissions; this hurts lower-income students who apply to more schools in order to compare financial aid packages.

— Performing well on surveys of high school guidance counselors from highly ranked high schools, while many high schools in less affluent areas have few or no counselors.

— Alumni giving, which creates incentives to appease alumni by accepting their kids.

Meanwhile, there is no measurement for the economic diversity of the student body, despite political pressure dating back to the Obama administration and a 2016 election that revealed rampant frustration over economic inequality. There is, however, growing evidence that elite universities have reinforced that inequality.

Recent studies have produced the most powerful statistical evidence in decades that higher education — once considered the ladder of economic mobility — is a prime source of rewarding established wealth. One report by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation found that kids from the top quartile of income earners account for 72 percent of students at the nation’s most competitive schools, while those from the bottom quartile are just 3 percent. Fewer than 10 percent of those in the lowest quartile of income ever get a bachelor’s degree, research has shown.

The lack of economic diversity extends far beyond the Ivy League, and now includes scores of private and public universities, according to the Equality of Opportunity Project, which used tax data to study campus economic trends from 2000 to 2011, the most recent years available. For instance, the University of Michigan enrolls just 16 percent of its student body from the bottom 60 percent of earners. Nearly 10 percent of its students are from the top 1 percent."



"Alexander noted that a key to success in the rankings is paying higher faculty salaries and spending more per student overall, which drives up tuition in an era when sticker price has kept many low-income students from even applying to college.

Much of the score “is about spending the most amount of money on the fewest amount of students — and generally, students you already know are going to succeed,” Alexander said. “We’re spending more money on students who need it the least — and U.S. News gives you high marks for that. I call it ‘the greatest inefficiency ranking in America.’”

Carol Christ, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley — perennially near the top of the rankings — said the extent to which U.S. News motivates schools to pick wealthier students is “mind-boggling.”

“At a time when we should all be concerned about the financial efficiency of higher education, U.S. News rankings certainly don’t reward for that,” Christ said. “It’s so troubling to me.”

Kirwan cast the problem in simpler terms, saying that U.S. News creates the false impression that schools with the wealthiest students are, based on their criteria, the best.

“If some foreign power wanted to diminish higher education in America, they would have created the U.S. News and World Report rankings,” he said. “You need both more college graduates in the economy and you need many more low-income students getting the benefit of higher education — and U.S. News and World Report has metrics that work directly in opposition to accomplishing those two things that our nation so badly needs.”

An elitist equation

Higher education in America is a fiercely competitive enterprise. It’s a market-based system in which status is largely based on perception — a university’s prestige has an inordinate effect on who applies and how easily students are able to get jobs with lucrative employers. And the mark of prestige, in recent decades, has been a ratings system begun by the nation’s third-largest news magazine.

Mitchell Stevens, a Stanford University sociologist who has studied college admission practices, said the U.S. News rankings have evolved into nothing less than “the machinery that organizes and governs this competition.”

“They’re kind of a peculiar form of governance,” he said. “They’re not states, they’re not official regulators, they don’t have the backing of a government agency. But they effectively serve as the governance of higher education in this country because schools essentially use them to make sense of who they are relative to each other. And families use them basically as a guide to the higher education marketplace.”"
highered  highereducation  2017  usn&r  rankings  us  economics  inequality  elitism  colleges  universities  politics  donaldtrump  class  workingclass  benjaminwermund  testing  sat  act  admissions  grades  grading  socialmobility 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Subjectivity, Rubrics, and Critical Pedagogy – OFFICE OF DIGITAL LEARNING
"In “Embracing Subjectivity,”مها بالي (Maha Bali) argues “that subjectivity is the human condition. Everything else that attempts to be objective or neutral is pretense. It is inauthentic. It is not even something I strive towards.”

And yet we try very hard to be objective in the way we evaluate student work. Objectivity is equated with fairness, and is a tool for efficiency.

For too long—really, since its inception—instructional design has been built upon silencing. Instructional design generally assumes that all students are duplicates of one another. Or, as Martha Burtis has said, traditional design assumes standardized features, creates standardized courses, with a goal of graduating standardized students.

Despite any stubborn claims to the contrary, instructional design assigns learners to a single seat, a single set of characteristics. One look at the LMS gradebook affirms this: students are rows in a spreadsheet. Even profile images of students are contained in all the same circles, lined up neatly along the side of a discussion forum: a raised hand, a unique identifier, signified. “This is your student,” the little picture tells the instructor. And now we know them—the LMS has personalized learning.

This design is for efficiency, a thing that online teachers—especially those who design their own courses—desperately need. Digital interfaces can feel alienating, disconcerting, and inherently chaotic already; but add to that the diversity of student bodies behind the screen (an adjunct at a community college may teach upwards of 200 students per term), and staying on top of lessons and homework and e-mail and discussions feels hopeless at worst, Sisyphean at best.

And yet this striving for efficiency enacts an erasure that is deeply problematic.

Rubrics

Sherri Spelic writes:
Inclusion is a construction project. Inclusion must be engineered. It is unlikely to “happen” on its own. Rather, those who hold the power of invitation must also consciously create the conditions for sincere engagement, where underrepresented voices receive necessary air time, where those contributing the necessary “diversity” are part of the planning process. Otherwise we recreate the very systems of habit we are seeking to avoid: the unintentional silencing of our “included” colleagues.

If we are to approach teaching from a critical pedagogical perspective, we must be conscious of the ways that “best practices” and other normal operations of education and classroom management censure and erase difference. We must also remain aware of the way in which traditional classroom management and instructional strategies have a nearly hegemonic hold on our imaginations. We see certain normalized teaching behaviors as the way learning happens, rather than as practices that were built to suit specific perspectives, institutional objectives, and responses to technology.

The rubric is one such practice that has become so automatic a part of teaching that, while its form is modified and critiqued, its existence rarely is. I have spoken with many teachers who use rubrics because:

• they make grading fair and balanced;
• they make grading easier;
• they give students clear information about what the instructor expects;
• they eliminate mystery, arbitrariness, and bias.

Teachers and students both advocate for rubrics. If they are not a loved part of teaching and learning, they are an expected part. But let’s look quickly at some of the reasons why:

Rubrics Make Grading Fair and Balanced

Rubrics may level the grading playing field, it’s true. All students are asked to walk through the same doorway to pass an assignment. However, that doorway—its height, width, shape, and the material from which it is made—was determined by the builder. مها بالي reminds us that, “Freire points out that every content choice we make needs to be questioned in terms of ‘who chooses the content…in favor of whom, against whom, in favor of what, against what.'” In other words, we need to inspect our own subjectivity—our own privilege to be arbitrary—when it comes to building rubrics. Can we create a rubric that transcends our subjective perspective on the material or work at hand? Can we create a rubric through which anyone—no matter their height, width, or shape—may pass?

Recently, collaborative rubrics are becoming a practice. Here, teachers and students sit down and design a rubric for an assignment together. This feels immediately more egalitarian. However, this practice is nonetheless founded on the assumption that 1. rubrics are necessary; 2. a rubric can be created which will encompass and account for the diversity of experience of all the students involved.

Rubrics Make Grading Easier

No objection here. Yes, rubrics make grading easier. And if easy grading is a top concern for our teaching practice, maybe rubrics are the best solution. Unless they’re not.

Rubrics (like grading and assessment) center authority on the teacher. Instead of the teacher filling the role of guide or counsel or collaborator, the rubric asks the teacher to be a judge. (Collaborative rubrics are no different, especially when students are asked by the teacher to collaborate with them on building one.) What if the problem to be solved is not whether grading should be easier, but whether grading should take the same form it always has? Self-assessment and reflection, framed by suggestions for what about their work to inspect, can offer students a far more productive kind of feedback than the quantifiable feedback of a rubric. And they also make grading easier.

Rubrics Give Clear Information about What the Instructor Expects

Again, no objection here. A well-written rubric will offer learners a framework within which to fit their work. However, even a warm, fuzzy, flexible rubric centers power and control on the instructor. Freire warned against the “banking model” of education; and in this case, the rubric becomes a pedagogical artifact that doesn’t just constrain and remove agency from the learner, it also demands that the instructor teach to its matrix. Build a rubric, build the expectations for learners in your classroom, and you also build your own practice.

The rubric doesn’t free anyone.

Rubrics Eliminate Mystery, Arbitrariness, and Bias

This is simply not true. No written work is without its nuance, complication, and mystery. Even the best technical manuals still leave us scratching our heads or calling the help desk. Rubrics raise questions; it is impossible to cover all the bases precisely because no two students are the same. That is the first and final failing of a rubric: no two students are the same, no two writing, thinking, or critical processes are the same; and yet the rubric requires that the product of these differences fall within a margin of homogeneity.

As regards arbitrariness and bias, if a human builds a rubric, it is arbitrary and biased.

Decolonizing Pedagogy

Critical Digital Pedagogy is a decolonizing effort. bell hooks quotes Samia Nehrez’s statement about decolonization at the opening of Black Looks: Race and Representation:

Decolonization … continues to be an act of confrontation with a hegemonic system of thought; it is hence a process of considerable historical and cultural liberation. As such, decolonization becomes the contestation of all dominant forms and structures, whether they be linguistic, discursive, or ideological. Moreover, decolonization comes to be understood as an act of exorcism for both the colonized and the colonizer.

For Critical Pedagogy, and Critical Digital Pedagogy, to work, we have to recognize the ways in which educational theory, especially that which establishes a hierarchy of power and knowledge, is oppressive for both teacher and student. To do this work, we have to be willing to inspect our assumptions about teaching and learning… which means leaving no stone unturned.

With regards to our immediate work, then, building assignments and such (but also building syllabi, curricula, assessments), we need to develop for ourselves a starting place. Perhaps in an unanticipated second-order move, Freire, who advocated for a problem-posing educational model, has posed a problem. A Critical Digital Pedagogy cannot profess best practices, cannot provide one-size-fits-all rubrics for its implementation, because it is itself a problem that’s been posed.

How do we confront the classrooms we learned in, our own expectations for education, learners’ acquiescence to (and seeming satisfaction with) instructor power, and re-model an education that enlists agency, decolonizes instructional practices, and also somehow meets the needs of the institution?"
seanmorris  rubrics  education  pedagogy  learning  mahabali  subjectivity  objectivity  2017  grades  grading  assessment  marthaburtis  sherrispelic  inclusion  inclusivity  diversity  criticalpedagogy  classroommanagment  fairness  paulofreire  coercion  collaboration  judgement  expectations  power  control  agency  howwelearn  homogeneity  samianehrez  race  represenation  decolonization  hierarchy  horizontality  onesizefitsall  acquiescence  instruction  syllabus  curriculum  syllabi 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Saying ‘No’ to Best Practices – OFFICE OF DIGITAL LEARNING
"The worst best practice is to adhere to, or go searching for, best practices. I have been in countless rooms with teachers, technologists, instructional designers, and administrators calling for recommendations or a list of tools they should use, strategies that work, practices that cannot fail to produce results in the classroom. But digital tools, strategies, and best practices are a red herring in digital learning. Learning always starts with people. Instead of asking “What tool will we need?” ask “What behaviors will need to be in place?”

I emphasize and encourage a critical digital pedagogy—an approach to learning that grows from the work of writers and teachers like bell hooks and Paulo Freire, and that recognizes that in today’s world all learning is hybrid. But that approach never starts with the digital. It starts with the human. And I find that the most effective application of Critical Digital Pedagogy arises from a place of kindness, trust, and belief in students. With student (and teacher) agency as its aim, Critical Digital Pedagogy asks its practitioners to always, first and foremost, acknowledge that we are all in this room together—whether that room is a classroom or the whole wide web—and to act accordingly.

At a teaching workshop I was facilitating recently, I was pressed to offer a list of best practices. This is what I came up with. I offer these 10 best practices with what should seem like an obvious caveat. No best practices should ever go untested. I personally have tested each of these, but because learning and teaching are not homogenous experiences for everyone, I don’t encourage anyone to follow a best practice that doesn’t suit them.

Sean’s 10 Best Practices

Be yourself

While working with a group at the University of Delaware, I spoke to a graduate teacher whose upbringing in a Southern Baptist tradition sometimes leads her to present in her “preaching voice.” This is an authentic voice, and one that she’s very comfortable using; however, other teachers joke about it, or malign this aspect of her embodiment as un-academic. In digital spaces, she edits herself, creating a teacherly presence much more normative, almost unidentifiable as her.

In digital spaces, we tend to adopt mannerisms and a personality that are not entirely true to who we are. Be suspect of that, and watchful for it. In a classroom, we may perform ourselves in certain ways, but we are fallible, unedited, and vulnerable. These qualities make us better teachers. Don’t be afraid to be who you are in a digital environment as much as you are in your classroom.

Create trust / Be trusting

Jesse Stommel, Executive Director of the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies at the University of Mary Washington says,
Learning is always a risk. It means, quite literally, opening ourselves to new ideas, new ways of thinking. It means challenging ourselves to engage the world differently. It means taking a leap, which is always done better from a sturdy foundation. This foundation depends on trust — trust that the ground will not give way beneath us, trust for teachers, and trust for our fellow learners in a learning community.

Critical pedagogy assumes that students want and are motivated to learn. Only about 75% of teachers I’ve talked to feel this way. We need to change that for ourselves. Teaching is not only more effective when we trust students to learn (which I distinguish from following instructions or passing a test), but it’s also more fun, more satisfying, and less exhausting.

Grade less / Grade differently

Peter Elbow writes, “Grading tends to undermine the climate for teaching and learning. Once we start grading their work, students are tempted to study or work for the grade rather than for learning.” We all know this is true. Working for a grade undermines not only a lifelong attitude toward learning, but also student agency. A critical pedagogy asks us to reconsider grading entirely; and if we can’t abandon it whole-hog, then we must revise how and why we grade. Consider allowing students to grade themselves. Offer personal feedback on work instead of a letter, number, or percentage. There are lots of options to evaluating work without artificial markers.

Question deadlines

When pressed, most teachers have told me that they enforce deadlines because students will need to meet deadlines in the “real world.” There are no students in higher education who got there without meeting deadlines. Education need not be militaristic about deadlines. Ideas and creation are more important than timeliness. I wrote, in my post called “Late Work,”

We are put in the most unique spot of coaching learners into a world of knowledge. What we need to remember is that their world of knowledge may not align perfectly with our own, their process may not fit our schedules, their ideas may not synch with our own.

Think about what you are actually teaching and question whether you need deadlines, whether students need deadlines, and whether either of you benefit from them.

Collaborate with students

Learners are pedagogues in their own right. Chris Friend, Director of the Hybrid Pedagogy journal, writes:
If we give students the freedom to choose their own path, they might choose poorly or make mistakes on our watch. But we must be willing to allow them the challenge of this authority, the dignity of this risk, and the opportunity to err and learn from their mistakes. They learn and gain expertise through experimentation.

If pedagogy is the sole purview of the instructor in the room, students are asked to follow along a path predetermined by that instructor’s best (we hope) intentions. However, because students bring different levels of expertise to any material or discussion—and because their lives, identities, and intersectionality inform their learning—students should be as involved in their own learning as possible. From syllabus creation to grading, building rubric and assignments to self-assessment. As Daniel Ginsberg writes, “my students are the most central members of the community in which I learn critical pedagogy.”

Inspire dialogue

Very little can be accomplished through direct instruction. Bloom’s Taxonomy makes a show of positioning knowledge-level learning as the foundation of any learning experience. But learning is more chaotic, messier, and more confounding than taxonomies provide for. In “Beyond Rigor,” Jesse Stommel, Pete Rorabaugh, and I argue that:
Intellectually rigorous work lives, thrives, and teems proudly outside conventional notions of academic rigor. Although institutions of higher education only recognize rigor when it mimics mastery of content, when it creates a hierarchy of expertise, when it maps clearly to pre-determined outcomes, there are works of exception — multimodal, collaborative, and playful — that push the boundaries of disciplinary allegiances, and don’t always wear their brains on their sleeves, so to speak.

Simply put, learning happens outside the lines. It’s perfectly acceptable for instructors to provide lines, but whenever we do so, we must just as diligently encourage learners to leave those lines—to question, to redraw, to imagine, to refuse, to explore. When we do this, we inspire dialogue, not just between students, but between ourselves and students, between ideas, between the act of learning and the act of instruction themselves.

Be quiet

Generally speaking, teachers fear dead air. Silence in the classroom, or few to no responses on a discussion forum, can stir all kinds of thoughts and emotions—from “they’re not getting it” to “I’ve done something wrong” to “they’re bored,” and worse. But in truth, thoughtfulness and thoroughness takes time.

Janine DeBaise writes that: “Every student has something valuable to teach the rest of us. I’ve made that assumption for over thirty years now, and so far, I’ve never been proven wrong.” If at the core of critical pedagogy we believe that learners are their own best teachers—and if we have spent any time at all as teachers ourselves preparing lesson plans and discussions—then we can acknowledge that teaching takes time.

Filling silence may come out of a desperation to keep the class moving and to ensure that all ideas are understood, but it also reinforces the teacher’s voice as primary. When we are silent, we can hear what students have to say (even when they’re not saying it), and listen for the swell of understanding as it builds.

Be honest and transparent about pedagogy

Teaching isn’t magic. In fact, there are very good reasons for teachers to reveal their “tricks” to learners. I have, numerous times, sat on the desk at the front of the classroom and called attention to how that’s different to standing behind a podium, sitting in a circle with the class, or lecturing from notes. Not to qualify one over the other, but to reveal something about the performativity of learning and teaching.

Similarly, we should invite students into a discussion about the syllabus, the 15- or 10-week structure of a course, the usefulness or uselessness of grades, etc. Kris Shaffer, in “An Open Letter to My Students,” brings students in close to his teaching process:
I am not perfect. Nor are any of your other professors. We are experts in the fields we teach, and some of us are experts in the art of teaching. However, we make mistakes … and each pass through the material brings new students with different experiences, backgrounds, skills, sensitivities, prejudices, loves, career goals, life goals, financial situations, etc. There is no one way — often not even a best way — to teach a topic to a student.

There is power in secrecy, as any magician knows. But for a collaborative, critical pedagogy to work, that power must be shared.

Keep expectations clear

In digital learning, instructions are vital. If … [more]
bestpractices  education  pedagogy  teaching  howweteach  2017  seanmorris  learning  edtech  digitalliteracy  jessestommel  criticalpedagogy  sfsh  grade  grading  howwelearn  deadlines  collaboration  chrisfriend  hybridpedagogy  dialogue  peterorabaugh  rigor  janinedebaise  silence  quiet  listening  performativity  expectations  adamheidebring-bruno  change  thomaskasulis  maggiemaclure  krisshaffer  amycollier  jenross 
june 2017 by robertogreco
How Rutgers University-Newark's Approach to Admissions Helps Black Students Graduate - The Atlantic
"With the national college-graduation rate for black students half that of whites, this school is changing the rules of the game—and beating the odds."



"Protests focused on entrenched racism rocked campuses around the country this year. Many top colleges enroll small numbers of black students, and the four-year college graduation rate for black students is half that of whites.

In response, many admissions officers have been scouring the country—and the globe—to attract “qualified” black and brown students, striving to meet diversity targets while avoiding students they consider “at risk” of dropping out.

But a growing group of colleges and universities think that the calculation for who is “at risk” is fundamentally wrong. They not only accept students often turned away by other four-year universities, but also aggressively recruit them, believing that their academic potential has been vastly underrated.

Rutgers University-Newark in New Jersey has a graduation rate for black students that is far above the national average. But instead of offering out-sized athletic scholarships or perks to potential out-of-state students, the university is doubling down on a bid for students who are often ignored—low-income, urban, public high-school graduates with mediocre test scores.

Rutgers offers free tuition for low- and moderate-income Newark residents and local transfer students, regardless of their GPAs and test scores. Its newly minted honors program doesn’t consider SAT scores for admissions. It has put emotional and financial supports in place. Course offerings have been enhanced.

And administrators don’t see their efforts as charity.

“We’re a land grant public institution with a commitment to our state and our city, and that’s the talent we should be cultivating,” said Nancy Cantor, who has been chancellor at Rutgers-Newark for two years. “There’s phenomenal knowledge and talent out there, and that contributes so much to the institution. We don’t have the traditional view that we’re somehow ‘letting these kids in’ to be influenced by us.”

In 2015, Rutgers-Newark’s six-year graduation rate was 64 percent for black students and 63 percent for white students, according to administrators, compared with 40 percent and 61 percent respectively at public institutions nationally.

Among public universities whose student populations are at least 5 percent black and one-quarter low-income, Rutgers-Newark had the second-highest black male graduation rate in the nation in 2013 and the fifth-highest black graduation rate overall. It also had a much higher percentage of low-income students and African American students than the four universities above it.

“These are very talented students who, for a variety of reasons, rarely having to do with their own issues, are going to get bypassed if we don’t draw them into the education system,” Cantor said."
highered  highereducation  rutgers  2017  admissions  colleges  universities  diversity  inclusivity  grades  grading  standardizedtesting  standardization  race  racism  education  testscores 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Grades, Equity, and the Grammar of School – Teachers Going Gradeless – Medium
"Teachers lead a lot of change only to be bound by “grammar of school”, or the “organisational regularities” that largely lie outside of the control of individuals (David Tyack & Larry Cuban). Like Sparks, most teachers who aim to go gradeless in their classrooms still have to report grades because of the grammar of school."



"As we de-emphasize grades in our classroom, we still have a responsibility to make the larger grammar of schooling intelligible to our students so they can see a clear connection between our assessment and the numbers that will follow them around."



"Grades are part of what work to create the illusion that we live in a meritocracy, and so when people like Bock claim to have hit on practices that really help to discover merit, we also need to treat those practices with skepticism."



"Can we look forward to a ‘more flexible grading system’ in the near future? I hope so. But given that we live in a society where corporations turn bits of our lives into data points, we’ll need to help students navigate the new grammars of school."
grades  grading  benjamindoxtdator  2017  schools  schooliness  schooling  education  teaching  howweteach  assessment  meritocracy  skepticism  larrycuban  davidtyack 
may 2017 by robertogreco
The West Coast Design Program with a Messy Vitality | Eye on Design
[via: http://jarrettfuller.blog/post/161033290767/margaret-andersen-writing-for-the-aiga-eye-on ]

"“In the ’70s I wouldn’t have been allowed in the program,” says [Jeffrey] Keedy. “By the mid-’80s when I came to CalArts, most design programs were still strongly entrenched in Bauhaus modernist dogma that still holds sway today. The disruption that the transition to digital technologies caused in the profession created an opening for new ways of thinking about design, and CalArts has always been receptive to new ways of thinking. Given its history, it makes sense that it would become a stronghold for postmodernism in design.”

Despite changes to the program over time, Keedy notes that one fundamental idea that has remained constant since the beginning of CalArts is that “the school is founded on the premise of artists teaching artists, which in the graphic design school means that from day one, students ARE graphic designers. There is no undergraduate foundation year like at many other schools; it’s full immersion in the métier. The studio culture is an important component of this model; classes move together as a body through the program, as a studio. And then there is the intense and twice-weekly critique…“"

Those twice-weekly critiques, coupled with electives and extracurricular projects or initiatives, mean the design students rarely leave their studios. Since they are given 24-hour access to all facilities, each designer’s cubicle becomes a home away from home. Wacom tablets share desk space with rice cookers and coffee makers; books on design theory and typography compete for shelf space with cans of LaCroix and personal bric-a-brac.

A variety of well-behaved studio dogs, and even a cat named Phoebe, wait patiently beneath several desks while their owners tile posters or trim spreads late into the night. If students are ever stuck on a project, they’re just a cubicle away from their classmates for an informal critique, or they can visit Ed Fella who keeps open office hours in one of the MFA studios. Though he’s retired from teaching, Fella remains a creative resource and mentor to the students, and is always up for a friendly chat.

Dameon Waggoner, a current MFA1, loves the fact that students can have these informal conversations about design and process with living legends like Fella. “I went to university for my undergrad,” Waggoner says, “and it was much more of a hierarchic goal system there with professors vs. students. Here I feel like I can really access people, talk to them, and really get down to what matters.”

Anther Kiley says the small size of the program “allows for close faculty mentorship of students. All the GD faculty know all of the students, and there’s a sense of real care and responsibility for each student’s trajectory.”

Classes aren’t structured around a traditional grading system either. Students instead receive evaluations categorized by High Pass, Pass, or the dreaded Low Pass. “There’s an academic rigor here that is maybe unparalleled at other design schools,” says Waggoner. “For example, everyone’s required to take Design Theory, and I think that’s such an important part of figuring out who you are as a designer. What you’re doing, what you’re making, why you’re making it, what is interesting to you, knowing what’s come before, knowing and trying to understand how you can contribute to the future of the field. I love that this place is so academically rigorous but still has a freedom to really explore creatively, visually, and conceptually.”

For all the time spent working in the classroom or studio, there are still moments in the day for downtime, where students can take a nap under a tree or join in instructor Gail Swanlund’s “un-studio” class that, in addition to image-making projects, takes hiking field trips to the many nature trails just a few miles from campus. “There’s something unique but utterly day-to-day of everyone in proximity,” she says of life at CalArts. “The line between indoors and outdoors is slight, and with one step outside you realize the studios are surrounded by literally purple mountains, glittery sunshine, clacking crows, the expanses of over-watered, sodden lawns, and at night coyotes yipping nearby.”

Faculty member Colin Frazer says they are “dead set on building unstructured time into the curriculum. The notion that one should have time to ‘waste’—to ponder, to converse, to read, to let the mind wander—is truly becoming radical in a world defined by productivity, wealth creation, and efficiency. CalArts is not a place to come if you want someone to tell you what to do.”

Because the program is so small, Anther Kiley and Co-Director Scott Zukowski are able to keep the structure of the curriculum flexible, as they adapt to a changing landscape in higher education. “The challenge that all graphic design programs have been facing,” Kiley says, “is that the tools and media of design are expanding and changing so rapidly. The boundaries of the field are so amorphous and contested, that it’s less and less possible to cover all the bases. In addition, at the MFA level, the conventional two- or three-year residency model of graduate education (with its accompanying price tag) is being challenged by various alternative models.”

This might include “taking our grad students on the road for a semester of roaming residencies, launching an off-site lecture series, facilitating students in initiating experimental studio practices in lieu of a traditional thesis—all of this is very possible here! As a program we’ve always positioned ourselves in provocative tension with mainstream design pedagogy; I don’t think there’s ever been a sense of obligation to represent the field of graphic design in some sort of comprehensive way. Our focus has always been on rigorously informed formal experimentation, and I see that as continuing to be our hallmark.”

So where do CalArts graduates end up landing jobs once they enter the profession? “Our alumni are geographically and professionally all over the map,” Keedy says. “The undergraduates usually work in the commercial or corporate world, and the grads typically go into cultural or institutional practices. But they are just as likely to pursue an entrepreneurial venture or a combination of different roles over a varied career trajectory.” While there may not be a typical post-CalArts career path, Keedy says that “foremost among the skills we teach is the ability to teach yourself to evolve.”

Keedy recalls his former colleague Louis Danziger’s description of the spirited ethos of the school and student body. “We will always remember Lou for saying, ‘at CalArts, the monkeys run the zoo.’”"
calarts  2017  margaretanderson  jeffreykeedy  graphicdesign  louisesandhaus  kathycarbone  colinfrazer  antherkiley  scottzukowski  curriculum  artseducation  lcproject  openstudioproject  teaching  learning  howwelearn  grades  grading  practice  responsibility  care  integrated  unstructured  tcsnmy 
may 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
David Byrne | Journal | A Society in Miniature
"How does one learn to think different?

The Tate show is wonderful, even if it only covers a smattering of Bob’s prodigious output. The curator, Achim Borchardt-Hume, met my friend and I, and we began to ask about the place where Bob spent some of his formative years, Black Mountain College, in western North Carolina, near Asheville. We were curious what sort of place would nurture the innovation and free thinking of someone like Bob, as well as that of host of other writers, artists, architects, composers and choreographers who passed through that place. Ultimately one wants to know, can that spark be re-ignited, in a contemporary way?

That tiny place in Asheville North Carolina seemed to possess some magic ingredient during its relatively short life—pre- and post-WWII—that produced an incredible number of ground-breaking creators in a wide range of fields. It almost seemed as if everyone who was touched by that place, by their experience there, went on to a have a major impact in the 20th century, and beyond.

It was established in 1933, during the depths of the economic depression, and by the time the war was in full swing the faculty included an amazing group of people. Here is a partial list: Josef and Anni Albers, he a teacher and artist from the Bauhaus in Germany, she a textile artist; Walter Gropius, the innovative German modernist architect; painter Jacob Lawrence; the painters Elaine and Willem de Kooning and Robert Motherwell; Alfred Kazin, the writer; Buckminster Fuller the writer and architect—he made his dome there in ‘48; Paul Goodman, the playwright and social critic and poet Charles Olson. Poet William Carlos Williams and even Albert Einstein eventually joined the staff, as well.

The students were a hugely influential and innovative bunch, too. As word spread others visited there during their summer sessions to create new work—in 1952, John Cage came down and staged his first "happening" here while students Rauschenberg and Merce Cunningham assisted him with what later became known as performance art. There were painters Cy Twombly, Kenneth Noland, Dorothea Rockburne, Ben Shahn, Franz Kline, film director (Bonnie and Clyde!) Arthur Penn, writer Francine du Plessix Gray and poet Robert Creeley.

What kind of place could attract and nurture this diverse group of people?

One can’t help but wonder if there was a formula and if the kind of radical innovation that happened there and that was carried out into the world can be repeated. What was that formula? Was it the teachers? The location? The philosophy? The students—the self-selected types who opted to try that kind of experiment?

Here are the basics of the school’s philosophy. John Rice, the founder, believed that the arts are as important as academic subjects:

1. There was less segregation between disciplines than what might find at a conventional school.
2. There was also no separation between faculty and students; they ate together and mingled freely.
3. There were no grades.
4. One didn’t have to attend classes. During break sessions the faculty trusted the students, and, as a result—without the top down rules—the students worked harder than during normal class times.
5. Here’s what now seems like a really radical idea—manual labor (gardening, construction, etc) was also key. Try that at Harvard!. No one had outside jobs; they they all chipped in to build the actual school and to help serving meals or doing maintenance. The schools finances were somewhat precarious, so this was an practical economical measure as well as being philosophical. In order to allow for these daytime activities and work, classes were often scheduled at night!

A Society in Miniature—Created by its Members

It was also believed that the school community should be a kind of miniature society and to that end it should be democratic and communal. Students were on the school board and they chimed in on hiring and all the other decisions. All of these things—the work, play and learning balance, the non separation of disciplines and the self determination—were believed by the founders to be equally important. Students, Rice believed, learned better through experience than from the passing on of rote information. It was not a top down kind of education—it was non-hierarchical in that sense—and one was encouraged to discover things for oneself. Not all students are cut out for this (some kids do need discipline!), but the ones that did thrived. Needless to say, that also meant that as a result collaboration, experimentation and work across disciplines was all encouraged. The idea was less to turn out clever academics, but rather to help students find themselves and become a “complete person”. You weren’t learning a trade, but learning how to think, how to collaborate and cooperate.

The overarching theme as I see it (but maybe not explicitly expressed) is that students—with the help of the faculty—were here to create a kind of society in miniature. THIS was the deep and rich experience that they would take with them—something far more profound than specific lessons in creative writing, engineering or color theory.

I asked the curator, Achim, if these new ideas about progressive education and their implementation were what was primarily responsible for the explosion of creativity in this tiny school. He said, yes, those factors were influential, but just as much were other factors—the fact that many of the faculty were refugees (those pesky immigrants!) from the rise of nationalism and intolerance going on in Europe at the time. So you had this influx of some of the best and the brightest. The little college reached out for talent and they came to this little tolerant oasis in the Smoky Mountains. Oddly they did not end up at the big name universities—they gravitated to the mountains of North Carolina. (Though later some did end up at Yale and elsewhere.)

Rice himself asked Josef Albers to create the arts curriculum (though Philip Johnson made the recommendation), as the Bauhaus was being shuttered as Nazi influence grew across Germany. Albers was key in mixing disciplines in the arts department; there was little distinction made between fine and decorative arts (Ani Albers made nice rugs), as well none between architecture, theater, music, dance and writing. A writer in the literature deparment developed the pottery program. I personally find Albers artwork boring, but as pedagogical aids (and demonstrations of how our eyes and brains work) they are gorgeous. There’s an interactive tablet app version of his course available now—lots of fun.

Rauschenberg was very receptive to Werklehre, Albers's teaching method that incorporated design elements. In his teaching, Alber used various non-traditional art materials like paper, wire, rocks and wood to demonstrate the possibilities and limits of those various materials. He would have his students fold paper into sculptures so that they might understand the three dimensional properties of what is ordinarily seen as two dimensional. He had them solve color problems by devising situations in which colors are perceived differently in different environments. For a comparison, this was not about learning oil painting techniques

Bob hated Albers—he was too didactic for Bob’s freewheeling sensibility. But to his credit, Albers realized his limitations and brought in others who were very different in sensibility than he and his wife. He allowed for difference. Bob too adapted, he recognized the value of the discipline that Albers espoused.

Achim pointed out that these innovative artists allowed the Black Mountain students to experience the most innovative ideas that had been emerging in Europe firsthand (see learning by experience above). They were getting this stuff before many others and in a more visceral way. Intolerance was draining the sources of innovation from large parts of Europe and they would find roots in this odd corner of the New World.

The place Asheville was and still is an island of open mindedness and tolerance in a state that is fairly conservative. Other southern colleges were still quite segregated, but Black Mountain bravely bucked that tradition. They admitted Alma Stone Williams, the first black student to attend an all white educational institution in the South. I’m going to propose that the atmosphere in Asheville might have helped to allow these things to happen; in other southern towns Ms. Williams would have been hounded and possibly driven out. (That said, some of the locals thought the school as all about wild behavior and orgies.) The school wanted to bring the (NY-based black) painter Jacob Lawrence to visit, but busses, as we know, were segregated at the time, so they had a car drive him all the way down from NY. Homosexuality was tolerated there, as well, which, given that word of this tolerance might have gotten out, all of this may have encouraged young men who didn’t fit in to attend this college—a place where they wouldn’t be viewed simply as perverts and freaks. In this too I’d argue that Asheville had a tolerant hand.

Bob continued to be active post Black Mountain, and, though we might consider the idea naive, he believed in the power of art to bring people together. His series of international collaborations—ROCI—produced some wonderful work, but maybe just as important, his presence in many countries kick started a whole generation of younger artists in those places around the world.

Is This a Model for Today?

Are you kidding? Yes, in all ways—in the collaborations and the innovative work, in the tolerance and welcoming of the persecuted and unappreciated. We need to look to this place and time as a model for today—and boy do we need it now more than ever!

Why should we emulate this? Well, because it works! The ideas that flowed out of this place changed the course of 20th century innovation in a wide range of fields, and the influence is still being … [more]
2017  davidbyrne  bmc  blackmountaincollege  via:austinkleon  sfsh  education  thinking  learning  society  pocketsofutopia  utopia  roberrauschenberg  anialbers  josefalbers  achimborchardt-hume  jacoblawrence  diversity  johnrice  segregation  integration  agesegregation  hierarchy  horizontality  grades  grading  bauhaus  refugees  werklehre  asheville  almastonewilliams  alberteinstein  inclusivity  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  johncage  process  tcsnnmy  progressive  johndewey  work  community  democracy 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Austin Kleon — Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society Schools are...
"Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society
Schools are designed on the assumption that there is a secret to everything in life; that the quality of life depends on knowing that secret; that secrets can be known only in orderly successions; and that only teachers can properly reveal these secrets.

Intense book to add to the unschooling shelf. Published in 1972, probably still as radical now as it was then, as many of the “symptoms” of the schooled society he describes have only gotten worse. Some of the big ones, below:

“School is the advertising agency which makes you believe you need the society as it is.”
The pupil is… “schooled” to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is “schooled” to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work.

“School is an institution built on axiom that learning is the result of teaching.”
Teaching, it is true, may contribute to certain kinds of learning under certain circumstances. But most people acquire most of their knowledge outside school… Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting.

Most learning happens outside of the classroom.
Most learning happens casually, and even most intentional learning is not the result of programmed instruction. Normal children learn their first language casually, although faster if their parents pay attention to them. Most people who learn a second language well do so as a result of odd circumstances and not of sequential teaching. They go to live with their grandparents, they travel, or they fall in love with a foreigner. Fluency in reading is also more often than not a result of such extracurricular activities. Most people who read widely, and with pleasure, merely believe that they learned to do so in school; when challenged, they easily discard this illusion.

“The public is indoctrinated to believe that skills are valuable and reliable only if they are the result of formal schooling.”
School teaches us that instruction produces learning. The existence of schools produces the demand for schooling. Once we have learned to need school, all our activities tend to take the shape of client relationships to other specialized institutions. Once the self-taught man or woman has been discredited, all nonprofessional activity is rendered suspect. In school we are taught that valuable learning is the result of attendance; that the value of learning increases with the amount of input; and, finally, that this value can be measured and documented by grades and certificates.

“School initiates young people into a world where everything can be measured, including their imaginations, and, indeed, man himself…”
People who submit to the standard of others for the measure of their own personal growth soon apply the same ruler to themselves. They no longer have to be put in their place, but put themselves into their assigned slots, squeeze themselves into the niche which they have been taught to seek, and, in the very process, put their fellows into their places, too, until everybody and everything fits. People who have been schooled down to size let unmeasured experience slip out of their hands. To them, what cannot be measured becomes secondary, threatening. They do not have to be robbed of their creativity."
austinkleon  ivanillich  deschooling  unschooling  learning  schools  society  deschoolingsociety  life  living  self-directed  self-directedlearning  schooliness  fluency  reading  howwelearn  howweteach  education  sfsh  lcproject  openstudioproject  children  professionalization  ratings  rankings  grading  hierarchy  credentials  dependency  autoritarianism  freedom  autonomy  institutions  institutionalization  foreignlanguages  talking  specialization  personalgrowth  experience  experientiallearning 
november 2016 by robertogreco
College of Creative Studies - Wikipedia
"The College of Creative Studies is the smallest of the three undergraduate colleges at the University of California, Santa Barbara, unique within the University of California system in terms of structure and philosophy.[4] Its small size, student privileges, and grading system are designed to encourage self-motivated students with strong interests in a field to accomplish original work as undergraduates. A former student has called it a “graduate school for undergraduates”. The college has roughly 350 students in eight majors and approximately 60 professors and lecturers.[4] There is an additional application process to the standard UCSB admission for prospective CCS students, and CCS accepts applications for admissions throughout the year.

History

In the late 1960s, the Chancellor of UCSB, Vernon I. Cheadle, was looking for an alternative education program for undergraduate students which could embody the new thinking of the 60s and also attract attention to his growing university. He contacted a professor in the English department, Marvin Mudrick, to come up with ideas for this new program. In 1967 the University of California allowed funding for Mudrick to start up the most promising of those ideas, the College of Creative Studies.

The program started with approximately 50 students in 7 majors: Art, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Music Composition, Literature and Physics. The experimental program struck a chord with its students and faculty, and along with the powerful pushing of Mudrick as its provost, it secured its place at UCSB. The program grew over the years in student and faculty size and in 1975 found its home in a building at UCSB that dates from when the campus was a World War II marine base. In 1995 the college added the major of Computer Science. In 2005, with the retirement of Provost William Ashby, the title of the Provost was changed to Dean and the College was placed under the leadership of Dr. Bruce Tiffney.

The Art department includes the only undergraduate book arts program in the University of California system. Recently, the Physics program has become regarded as one of the best undergraduate Physics programs in the nation; its students attend graduate schools with percentages resembling those of Ivy Leagues. CCS students have won the UCSB Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research several times in recent years. Literature students run Spectrum, a literary magazine, and Into the Teeth of the Wind, a poetry review.

Philosophy

The philosophy of the College of Creative Studies is that certain undergraduate students are capable of rigorously exploring and adding to their chosen field of knowledge. Students skip introductory courses as appropriate and are encouraged to accomplish original work throughout their time at the College: Literature students compile a portfolio of writing, art students put on a minimum of two shows displaying their work, music students perform their own compositions, and science students enter labs by their sophomore years to conduct research and write scholarly papers for publication.

The College considers students to be the most important people involved, not the faculty or administration. It has a low student-teacher ratio, and each student is paired with a faculty adviser with whom they meet at least once a quarter.

Privileges and grading system

CCS students have few general education requirements and may take almost any course in the entire university, including graduate classes, without being required to complete the prerequisites. They can drop classes up to the last day of instruction in the quarter, a privilege intended to encourage students to attempt taking many units and advanced classes without being penalized in the case that they bit off more than they could chew.

In CCS classes, students do not receive letter grades. Instead, the College uses a sliding unit scale where if a student completes all the work for a class at a satisfactory level, the student receives a full 4 units for most classes. If the student completes less work, he/she would receive fewer units, and if the student goes beyond expectations, a professor may give student more units. This system aims to promote a non-competitive atmosphere that focuses more on the student learning the material rather than learning how to take a test.

CCS students are afforded many privileges to help in the pursuit of their education.

• Fewer prerequisites: If a CCS student can show a capability of taking an upper division or graduate class, even without the prerequisites, the college greatly facilitates the process of getting the student in that class.

• Drop class and change grading: CCS students may drop any class up until the last day of instruction. This privilege is given as a backup if a student happens to try taking advanced classes or more classes than the usual student. They may also change their grading between letter grade or pass/no-pass for classes outside CCS.[5]

• Priority registration: CCS students are among the first students at UCSB to sign up for classes each quarter. They sign up at the same time as honors students and athletes.

• Higher unit cap: CCS students have a unit cap of 95.5 units per quarter. However, most students take between 15 and 25 units a quarter.[5]

• Building access: All CCS students receive a key to the CCS building and have 24-hour access to it.

• Computer Lab: CCS students have 24-hour access to their own computer lab where they have free Internet access, printing and photocopying.

• Library checkout: CCS students get quarter-long check-out from the UCSB library and may renew materials up to five times."
srg  ucsb  ccs  alternative  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  grading  grades 
june 2016 by robertogreco
A Letter to Past Graduate-Student Me - The Chronicle of Higher Education
[via: https://twitter.com/davidtedu/status/746017338625953794 ]

[my response:
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/746022572936986626
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/746022887371345920

"Why this inventory first at grad school?
1. “grades are no longer the yardstick”
2. “be critical”
3. “colleagues-in-the-making”
4. “conversation between you & the other students”
5. “skimming”
6. “curtail your competitive nature”
7. summary: responsibility ]

"Your grades. I know you’re pretty pleased with yourself for earning an A- on your senior thesis, but you need to learn that grades mean something different in graduate school. Nearly everyone gets an A- or an A in every history class, and after a certain point everything will be pass/fail. Sure, if you decide to change programs, you’ll want a high GPA. But you should stop stressing over the outcome of each semester because your grades are no longer the yardstick by which your successes will be measured.

What your professors expect — more than anything — is for you to want to learn because you’re passionate about a topic, not because you’re passionate about doing well. Stop trying to figure out grading criteria, and start wrapping your head around new trends in your subfield. "Success" is measured, in part, by your ability to identify omissions in current scholarship, and to win funding to write about them and why they matter.

Your seminars. Another thing your professors will want you to be enthusiastic about is their seminars. The hours we spend teaching graduate students are when we as faculty are most able to draw upon our own research.

Go to class regularly but remember that, at this level, professors are not here to chase you about attendance. If you have to miss seminar for a reasonable reason (you’re legitimately sick, you have a job interview, or you have a childcare or family crisis), let us know, as most of us will be sympathetic. But if you need to miss seminar because you’re hungover, didn’t do the reading, or planned a vacation without looking at the semester’s calendar, don’t explain any of that to your professors. Just take the absence, and assume that it reflects poorly on you as a student.

When you do come to class, it won’t be the same as your senior-year seminars. You’ll encounter more challenging readings. Many professors use graduate courses to both run through established, canonical texts, and to catch up on the newest scholarship in the field. So get ready for some easy readings, some articles that will make you want to throw things, and some texts that will prompt you to question why you were asked to go through them at all. As you read, remember that graduate school should transform you into a good scholar and colleague. It’s OK to be critical of a book, but you need to learn how to be critical in a constructive, respectful way. (Keep in mind: The professor might be friends with the author.)

Our teaching style might also surprise you. If it does, it’s because we are thinking of you as colleagues-in-the-making, rather than students. That means: Expect less guidance on what to make of the readings, and minimal stretches of time when we seem to feed you information. Don’t count on being told whether your comments on the reading are on track or not — you may even find that you’re expected to lead discussion and to tell fellow students whether their assessments of the reading seem convincing.

Perhaps the most significant change is that you and your fellow students’ contributions are expected to fill almost the entirety of the seminar time. You are our peers-in-training, and we expect to hear you speak more than we do during these meetings. Don’t use class time to try to have an extended conversation featuring just you and the professor. Think of seminar as a conversation between you and the other students, with the professor there to moderate discussion.

Is there someone in class who always seems to have grasped the author’s argument and the book’s significance? You should be picking up tips for strategic reading from them, rather than wondering why no one else besides you had a problem with the footnote on page 394. And while we’re at it, learn to skim (and no, Past Me, "skimming" does not mean putting the book on your lap and turning the pages faster than usual), and become best friends with book reviews.

You should be getting the sense that graduate school — starting with the master’s — is about strategic study. Spend the most time with the texts and sources that interest you. But be smart about how what you’re reading will help you write your M.A. thesis, how it will help you study for comprehensive exams, or how it will aid you as you conceptualize the dissertation (if you plan to go that far).

Be deliberate about your end-of-semester research papers. Many professors will be willing to let you bend the chronological and geographic scope of our classes if it means you will write the seminar paper that is most useful for you in the future.

Your work versus your life. So, Past Me, that’s a lot of advice about coursework — but graduate school should have work/life balance.

You’ll need to curtail your competitive nature in graduate school. Don’t get me wrong: You can and should be aware of what other people in your cohort and the cohort above you are writing and planning to publish, and you should have a sense of the significant grants in your discipline and who’s recently won them. But do not try to write "better" or faster than other people. Figure out your writing and reading styles, do what works for you, and remember that a few of your fellow students might be future colleagues. Save your competitiveness for your department’s intramural sports teams, which will provide excellent opportunities to pursue work/life balance and to get humiliated by undergraduates who are in much better shape.
You should also be a good citizen. Turn up to departmental seminars, and, if graduate students are invited, to job talks. Seminars and university lectures are good opportunities to take the pulse of a given field, and sitting in the audience might spark research ideas you hadn’t considered for your own work. Attending job talks will give you an excellent opportunity to see what works — and what doesn’t — as A.B.D.s and new Ph.D.s try to sell themselves on the job market.

Finally, banish the following phrase from your vocabulary: "No one told me that …"

Graduate school is an exercise in people not telling you things. It’s also an exercise in learning when to ask questions, and whom to ask. Make it your job to be informed. Read your graduate school’s handbook, and go speak with your department’s amazing administrators if you have initial questions. They will not say no to chocolate. Read The Professor Is In, but also ask people who were recently on the job market whether her advice worked for them in your discipline. When senior scholars come to give talks, take the opportunity to go for drinks with them if that option is available to graduate students, and seek their advice about research and publishing. Read The Chronicle’s forums. Meet regularly with your adviser, but keep in mind that you are the one who should request those meetings.

Most of all, take responsibility for your graduate-school experience. It’s going to be tough; but it’s going to be fun, too.

Hugs, caffeine, and work/life balance,

Future Me"
via:davidtheriault  skimming  howwelearn  gradschool  responsibility  highered  highereducation  sfsh  conversation  learning  criticism  criticalthinking  competition  grades  grading  measurement  assessment  seminars  rachelherrmann  tcsnmy 
june 2016 by robertogreco
The Reading Rules We Would Never Follow as Adult Readers |
"Choice.

The number one thing all the students I have polled through the years want the most when it comes to reading. No matter how I phrase the question, this answer in all of its versions is always at the top. Sometimes pleading, sometimes demanding, sometimes just stated as a matter of fact; please let us choose the books we want to read.

Yet, how often is this a reality for the students we teach? How often, in our eagerness to be great teachers, do we remove or disallow the very things students yearn for to have meaningful literacy experiences? How many of the things we do to students would we never put up with ourselves? In our quest to create lifelong readers, we seem to be missing some very basic truths about what makes a reader. So what are the rules we would probably not always follow ourselves?

Removing choice. I have to start with the most obvious; removing choice in reading (and even in writing). We know that choice matters, we know as adult readers we revel in the sheer experience of being able to choose what we want to read. We take it for granted and will even rebel in small ways when someone says we have to read something. Choice is the cornerstone of our own literacy life, yet it is one of the first things we tend to remove for children, especially fragile or developing readers. And I get it, we think we know better when students repeatedly choose wrong, yet, it is in the selection process that students can uncover who they are as readers, if we give them time to discuss, reflect, and yes, even try the things they choose that may not be a great fit.

Forced reflection. We seem to be reflecting kids to death with our requirements to write a little bit about every book they read. Or having them keep a reading journal or having them write about the signposts or whatever else they are finding when they independently read. It is not that we shouldn’t have students reflect when they read, it is that we make these one-size-fits-all requirements where students cannot discover how they would like to digest their reading. How often do we as adults write a paragraph every time we finish a book? Or summarize it? Or make a diorama, (which yes, I made my students do)? While I know adults that would love to do all of those things, I also know many that would not. In fact, many adult readers I know would slow down their reading or hide their reading if they had to do all of that “work.” When I teach the signposts (from the excellent book Notice and NoteNotice and Note) I tell my students that they are not expected to find them when they are reading at home, but that they are meant to be able to find them when asked. There is a big difference in the way they feel about the task because it is not something they have to do all of the time.

Forced tracking. Oh reading logs, I am looking at you here. Yes, as an adult I track my reading on my Goodreads account. I even write reviews sometimes. But I don’t track my pages (unless I have a bigger purpose in mind and then it is for short amount of time), or time how long I read for, or even have my husband sign for me. I make time to read because I love reading. And while we can say that reading logs foster more reading because it is a check up system, it also kills reading for many. If you want to see if the kids are reading, have them read in class and pay attention to what they are reading. Allow students to track in a way that is meaningful to them; Goodreads, notebook page, poster, pictures of books on their phone, or even through conversations. There is no one system that fits all and if a system we have in place is even killing the love of reading for one child, then we need to rethink it.

Points and competition. Yes, AR, you have it coming. Plus all of the other initiatives that we put in place to urge students to read. And I get it; we desperately want students to become readers and to keep reading, yet this short-term solution can actually have a long-term consequence; kids who do not read for reading’s sake but for the prizes or honors attached to it. We know what the research says regarding motivation and reading and how it can actually have adverse effects, and yet, we continue to concoct programs to try to get them reading. How many adults though would read more because we then could take a computerized test that would give us points? How many adults would be okay with their reading lives on display for the world to see? Some would, while others would hate for the world to know something that they see as a personal discovery. Why do we assume that what might work for one child will work for all?

Limited abandonment. As an adult reader I practice wild book abandonment, passing books on when I know they are not right for me, yet as teachers, we often have rules for when students are allowed to abandon a book. I used to subscribe to the 50 page rule myself. Why? If a child wants to abandon a book, they are on their way to knowing themselves better as a reader. This is something to celebrate, not something to limit. If a child is a serial book abandoner, and yes, I have a few of those, then we should be asking them why, rather than just stopping them. What did they not like about this book? What do they need to look for instead? Help them explore their reading identity so that they can develop it rather than have them mimic yours.

Inane bookshopping rules. My students used to be allowed to bookshop on Fridays. That was it. Yet, as an adult reader I bookshop all of the time. I am constantly on the prowl for the next great read and my to-be-read list is ever expanding. I get that book shopping or browsing sometimes becomes an escape for a child when they do not want to read, but then we work with that one child, rather than impose limits for all. My students know that book shopping can happen anytime during our independent reading time, or even if they have completed other tasks. I would rather want children that want to look at books, than those who abhor it.

When my students started telling me their reading truths, I drove home in shame; how many of the very things they told me had killed their love of reading where things that I had done myself as a teacher? How many of the things was I still doing? Yet, within the words of my students, I found the biggest truth of all; different children need different reading experiences and so that means now is I try to create a passionate reading environment, where there is room and scaffold for all of my readers. Not just those that can work in one system concocted by me. I know that sometimes large things are out of our control, yet, there are so many small things that are. Think of what made you a reader or what stopped you from becoming one and then use that reflection to shape the way reading is taught and practiced in your own learning environment. Being a teacher means that we learn from our mistakes, I have made many, and it means that we continue to strive for better. We cannot do that if we don’t listen to the students. And you know what; don’t take my word for it; ask your own students. Then listen. Then do something about it.

PS: Today I pondered out loud on Twitter how many educators tell students to read at home or over the summer and never read themselves. Being a reading role model should be a requirement for all teachers of reading, it makes a huge difference."
reading  teaching  choice  education  howweteach  pedagogy  control  literacy  pernilleripp  learning  readinglogs  competition  grading  grades  howweread  tracking  reflection 
june 2016 by robertogreco
A Manager’s FAQ — The Startup — Medium
"How do I get employees to perform better? Tell them what they are doing well.

How do I give negative feedback? By being curious.

How do I decide what to delegate? Delegate the work you want to do.

How should I prioritize? Fix problems. Then prevent problems.

How should I grade employees? Don’t. Teach them to self-evaluate.

When do I fire somebody? When you know they can’t succeed.

How do I fire somebody? By apologizing for our failures.

Why can’t I just tell people what to do? Because the more responsibility you have, the less authority you have.

How do I know if I am a good manager? Employees ask you for advice.

How do I know if I have good management team? Shit rolls uphill.

***

[Each point elaborated upon like…]

How do I get employees to perform better?
Tell them what they are doing well.

Most managers attempt to minimize an employee’s bad work instead of maximizing their good work. When 98% of an employee’s work is great and 2% is not, managers give feedback on the 2%.

We do this because schools taught us to. Tests started with a maximum score of 100 and points were deducted for every wrong answer. If tests started at zero and awarded points for every correct answer, we would be encouraged to continue doing better. Instead, we learn to fear mistakes and point them out in others.

Startups start at zero and earn points along the way. We expand our strengths instead of minimize our weaknesses. There is no maximum score. Steady progress, not expected outcome, is the measuring stick.

Treat employees similarly. An employee has a finite amount of time. Doing more good work leaves less time for bad work. Double-down on what your employees do well.
It also creates a positive feedback loop. Reinforcing great work encourages more great work, which creates more reinforcement. When you try to correct bad work, the best you can hope for is to stop giving feedback.

Maximizing good work instead of minimizing bad work requires patience and confidence. Fight the urge to tell people to “do better.” Instead, tell employees when they do something well. It takes conscious effort to find these opportunities but with practice it becomes habit. And your people will be more effective for it.

[and…]

How do I decide what to delegate?
Delegate the work you want to do.

When I ask this question most managers respond with, “I delegated the call to Mary because she needs to learn how to handle an angry customer” or, “I delegated the report to John because he’s good at writing.”

It is funny how managers rationalize giving employees shitty work as a benefit to them. Mary’s manager delegated the call because he didn’t want to deal with the angry customer. John’s manager delegated the report because she didn’t want to write it.

Many managers treat their position as a privilege and delegating shitty work is one of the perks. They are lousy managers.

I can give you a simple rule to decide what to delegate. Delegate the work you want to do. There are reasons to do this:

1. Employees will love working for you. The work you want to do is probably the work they want to do, and they will be happy employees because of it.

2. You will train future leaders. They will see you doing the hard, miserable work that nobody wants to do. One day they will want to do it too. Not because they enjoy the work, but because they see you doing it as their leader, and they want to be leaders too.

3. You will grow. Most people want to do the work they are good at. If you delegate the work you are good at, the remainder will mostly be work you are bad at. You will struggle, suffer, and learn. That is where growth comes from.

To extend the eShares 101 sports analogy, hockey coaches talk about “skating to the hard parts of the ice.” This is the ice in front of the goal where defenders punish players. But this is where goals are scored, and those who suffer most score most. The best managers are always found on the hard parts of the ice.

[…and…]

How should I grade employees?
Don’t. Teach them to self-evaluate.

Employees often ask, “How am I doing?” I respond with, “How do you think you are doing?” Self-evaluation is the most important skill you can teach an employee. I am happy to offer my perspective, but only as feedback on theirs. They can evaluate themselves every day, minute, and second. I am lucky if I see their work once a week.

This may seem strange after years of receiving report cards and employee performance reviews. Companies (and schools) have convinced us we should be graded. It benefits the institution to do so. They can sort, rank, and filter employees. They can use it to decide who to fire and keep. They can set compensation against it. It is easer to manage employees as a distribution of scores rather than as unique individuals.

But employees gain nothing from it. It is selfish for us to reduce employees to a letter grade. Instead, we should become experts on our people’s strengths and weaknesses and help them become experts too.

We ask employees to have a ten-year career at eShares. If the only evaluation they come away with is a letter grade or employee rank, we have failed them as managers. They deserve more and the most valuable skill we can teach them is self-evaluation. They will carry that for the rest of their careers."
management  leadership  administration  howto  motivation  via:ableparris  tests  testing  grades  grading  howweteach  howwelearn  henryward  power  authority  evaluation  assessment 
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
9 Elephants in the (Class)Room That Should “Unsettle” Us - Will Richardson
1. We know that most of our students will forget most of the content that they “learn” in school.



2. We know that most of our students are bored and disengaged in school.



3. We know that deep, lasting learning requires conditions that schools and classrooms simply were not built for.



4. We know that we’re not assessing many of the things that really matter for future success.



5. We know that grades, not learning, are the outcomes that students and parents are most interested in.



6. We know that curriculum is just a guess. The way we talk about “The Curriculum” you would think that it was something delivered on a gold platter from on high. In reality, it was pretty much written by 10 middle-aged white guys (and their primarily white, middle-aged friends) in 1894 called “The Committee of Ten.” They were from some of the most prestigious schools and universities at the time, and they fashioned the structure of much of what we still teach in schools today. But we know that much of what every student in 1894 was supposed to learn isn’t really what every student in 2015 needs to learn. Yet we seem loathe to mess with the recipe. And as Seymour Papert so famously asks, now that we have access to pretty much all there is to know, “what one-billionth of one percent” are we going to choose to teach in school?

7. We know that separating learning into discrete subjects and time blocks is not the best way to prepare kids for the real world.



8. We know (I think) that the system of education as currently constructed is not adequately preparing kids for what follows if and when they graduate.



9. And finally, we know that learning that sticks is usually learned informally, that explicit knowledge accounts for very little of our success in most professions."
willrichardson  2015  education  schools  curriculum  engagement  2016  memory  content  boredom  schooling  schooliness  deschooling  unschooling  mitchresnick  seymourpapert  emilymitchum  grades  grading  parenting  lcproject  openstudioproject  committeeoften  matthewlieberman  franksmith  learning  forgetting  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  pedagogy  hardfun  sfsh 
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
Standards, Grades And Tests Are Wildly Outdated, Argues 'End Of Average' : NPR Ed : NPR
"Todd Rose dropped out of high school with D- grades. At 21, he was trying to support a wife and two sons on welfare and minimum wage jobs.

Today he teaches educational neuroscience at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He's also the co-founder of The Center for Individual Opportunity, a new organization devoted to "the science of the individual and its implications for education, the workforce, and society."

In other words, Todd Rose is not your average guy. But neither are you.

In fact, he argues, absolutely no one is precisely average. And that's a big problem, he tells NPR Ed: "We've come to embrace a way of thinking about ourselves as people that was intentionally designed to ignore all individuality and force everything in reference to an average person."

Admissions offices, HR departments, banks and doctors make life-changing decisions based on averages. Rose says that "works really well to understand the system or the group, but it fails miserably when you need to understand the individual, which is what we need to do."

Rose talked with us about his new book: The End Of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness.

Q: The opening example you use in the book is that in the 1940s, when the Air Force designed cockpits based on the average measurements of the pilots, there were an unacceptable number of crashes. But when they went back and measured thousands of pilots, across 10 body dimensions, they found that zero of them even came close to the "average" on all 10. So they concluded that they had to redesign the seats and so forth to be adjustable to each person.

A: Body size is a very concrete example of what I call jaggedness. There is no average pilot. No medium-sized people. When you think of someone's size you think of large, medium, small. Our mass-produced approach to clothing reinforces that. But if that were true you wouldn't need dressing rooms.

Q: So dimensions like height and weight and arm length and waist circumference ...

A: Yes, they're not nearly as correlated as you would think. Height is one-dimensional, but size isn't. People are jagged in size, in intelligence, everything we measure shows the same thing.

Q: I'm going to quote a line from the book, said to psychologist Paul Molenaar, who is arguing for a greater focus on individual difference: "What you are proposing is anarchy!" How do you make decisions about people if you can't use statistics and cutoff scores and compare them to averages?

A: People feel like if you focus on individuality, everyone's a snowflake, and you can't build a science on snowflakes. But the opposite has been true.

It's not that you can't use statistics, it's just that you don't use group statistics. If I want to know something about my daily spending habits, one straightforward way would be to collect records of what I spend every day. To take an average for myself would be perfectly fine.

Q: So you can generalize across time, but not across people?

A: We've got to let go of putting a group into a study and taking an average and thinking that's going to be close enough to universal insight.

Now we have something better. We have a natural science of individuality that gives us a surer foundation. We've gotten breakthrough insights in a whole range of research, from cancer to child development.

Q: How does what you term "Averagerianism" impact our school system both historically and today?

A: It's so ubiquitous that it's hard to see.

We design textbooks to be age-appropriate, but that means, what does the average kid of this age know and can do? Textbooks that are designed for the average will be a pretty bad fit for most kids.

Then you think of things like the lockstep, grade-based organization of kids, and you end up sitting in a class for a fixed amount of time and get a one-dimensional rating in the form of a grade, and a one-dimensional standardized assessment. It's everything about the way we test and move kids forward.

Q: With standardized tests, I often hear teachers talking about students being two months behind or ahead, as if there's a very fixed timeline for progress that all human beings should fit.

A: It feels comforting. But if you take the basic idea of jaggedness, if all kids are multidimensional in their talent, their aptitude, you can't reduce them to a single score. It gives us a false sense of precision and gives up on pretending to know anything about these kids.

Q: So alongside jaggedness, two other principles of individual variation you look at are "context-dependence" and "pathways." Talk about those.

A: It's meaningless to talk about behavior and performance without context. Let's take assessment. Carnegie Mellon [University] had this work showing that changing the way a question is asked can fundamentally alter how a kid performs. So if the [math] problem is about football players instead of ballerinas, you can't standardize on the item. That systematically affects the kids' ability to demonstrate what they know.

But at a macro level, I think [context] introduces an attention to things like the impact of stress and trauma.

Q: And what about pathways? This sounds a lot like the talk around personalizing learning using technology and allowing each student to learn at his or her own pace.

A: I think people who care about personalized learning talk about it as: If we just collect more data, we're going to have this personalization. And that's not clear to me at all.

I think when you look at the idea of pace, we are so convinced that slow means dumb and fast means smart. We feel justified in pegging the time to how fast the average person takes to finish.

But this is where, with a better understanding of this and realizing, "Oh, pace really has nothing to do with ability, people are fast at some things and slow with others," you would build a very different system than the one we have.

Q: Do you think the school system acknowledges the need to treat students as individuals?

A: Two years ago I would have said no. But my colleague Paul Reville, who used to be secretary of education in Massachusetts, he's rethinking the architecture of school systems. In most states, people have put on the books goals about meeting every kid where they're at. Even the "Every Student Succeeds" [ESSA, the new federal law] approach is based on the assumption that we're meeting each kid where they're at, to give them what they need to be successful.

But we haven't thought through the system design that needs to be in place to do that.

We're trying to have a system to do what it was never designed to do.

Q: What about in higher education?

A: In higher ed we have a brutally standardized system. It doesn't matter what your interests are, what job you want, everyone takes the same courses in roughly the same time and at the end of the course you get ranked.

This is personal for me. I have two kids in college. The idea that someone is going to click a stopwatch, compare you to other kids in your class, and the kids with the best grades can get the best jobs, that's not a good deal. I want my two boys to figure out what they love and what they're good at and be exposed to things and be able to turn that into a job.

Q: You talk about innovations that are starting to catch on, like competency-based education and credentialing — basically, accommodating different pathways and different balances of strengths and weakness.

A: There's plenty of ways we're making smaller units of learning to combine in ways that are useful to you. To me, competency based education is nonnegotiable. I don't think you can have fixed-time, grade-based learning anymore. I don't see how you justify diplomas.

It doesn't mean students can take forever, but allowing some flexibility in pace and only caring whether they master the material or not is a sound foundation for a higher ed system.

There are so many examples of a lot of really interesting universities trying these things.

Q: Yes, reading this book it struck me that in some quarters, it seems like we've already moved forward to a focus on individuality, innovation, creativity. You talk about how companies like Google are finding that GPA or school prestige or even ranking employees against each other is not useful, and instead they need to create, essentially, performance-based assessments for doing tasks in context.

A: There are bright spots where you can see the principles of individuality at work.

So for me it comes back to, well, wait a minute. So why is that not the mainstream?

What I think my contribution is, is to say: Our institutions are based on assumptions about human beings. Our education system is based on a 19th century idea of an average person and using 20th century statistics.

As long as people think you can understand people based on averages, or how they deviate from averages, it seems reasonable. It looks like accountability and fairness rather than absurdity.

Q: And you're trying to show that there's an alternative?

A: If we don't get rid of this way of thinking about ourselves and the people around us, it's hard to get the public demand to create sustainable change. That's the role that I and my organization want to play. We're making a really big bet."
anyakamenetz  toddrose  standards  grades  grading  averages  education  howweteach  schools  admissions  tests  testing  standardization  standardizedtesting  sameness  paulmolenaar  textbooks  behavior  performance  individuality 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Unspoken Rules | Practical Theory
"I love using this clip as a way to spur people to think about the unspoken rules, policies and procedures that exist in schools.

[embedded video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N16YkjFVAyE ]

The overwhelming majority of schools have a student handbook, codes of conduct, etc… but often, those are only the stated policies, and often, the unstated policies are as much what govern the school as anything else.

And while it’s my contention that we don’t want to create schools where every last behavior / idea / action is regulated by some 400 page handbook of student and teacher behavior, we also want to be aware of — and reflective about — the unspoken rules and practices of our schools. When we are, we create more intentional schools where the ideas and systems that power our communities are transparent and understood.

It’s worth noting, as well, another reason it is so very important to unpack unspoken policies. Schools live in the world – and that world is one where issues of racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism continue to do great harm. One very powerful way to combat the inequities of our world is through intentionality. When we examine the unspoken practices of our schools, we can unpack the questions, “Who is benefiting from this behavior? Who is harmed by it? And how can we ensure that the practices of our school are equitable?”

And, for me, this practice starts with adult behaviors and practices. It’s why I care so deeply about the relationship between a school’s mission and vision and the systems and structures that enable that mission. When mission and vision are shared and deeply understood and believed by everyone, and when the systems and structures that govern the school are aligned with that mission, then the practices – both those in the handbook and those that are not – can align and be understood by all.

There are ways to unpack the invisible or unspoken policies. Some questions a faculty can ask itself to spur the process:

• How are “everyday” decisions made at the school?
• Who is tapped to get work done when it falls outside the scope of an established job description?
• What voices are around the table when an issue arises?
• What is our first reaction to student behavioral issues?
• How are parents involved in the decisions of our school?
• Do we examine the mission of the school when we make big decisions? Small decisions?

And, inside the individual classroom, teachers can do this work as well with questions such as this (and these can be asked school-wide as well):

• How is the mission of the school made manifest in my class?
• Who does my grading policy benefit?
• How do students figure out how to succeed in my class?
• Why are the seats arranged in my classroom the way they are?
• Where is there space for students to influence the governance of my classroom?
• How does every student find space for their voice in my classroom?

And so on… I’m sure everyone can think of more questions to add to the list.

The purpose is that every school can be intentional in their process. We can unpack the unspoken (and spoken) rules such that we can create schools that more purposeful and more equitable in the ways in which they function."
chrislehmann  2016  schools  lcproject  vision  purpose  education  teaching  howweteach  rules  codeofconduct  studenthandbooks  behavior  power  community  communities  decisionmaking  voice  mission  grading  policy  grades  seating  governance  classrooms 
february 2016 by robertogreco
The Banal Uselessness of the Utopian Binary Critique | Hapgood
"I was watching Jesse Stommel at NWeLearn this past week give an excellent presentation on grading. In it he suggested a number of alternatives to traditional grading, and outlined some of the ways that traditional grading is baked into the system.

And the end of the talk, the inevitable hand: “Your presentation seems so BINARY,” says the questioner, “Why is it so either/or? Why can’t it be both/and?”

Sigh.

I outlined my vision of a different approach to networked learning last week to a number of people at dLRN, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. But the negatives were very negative.

“I think it’s utopian,” they said, “You’re not going to eliminate all online nastiness with a different software format.”

I looked over my presentation to try to find the spot where we reached the Age of Aquarius via some Node server installs. I saw a lot of places where I said we could be doing much better, but couldn’t find the places where we cured all ills.

I was watching someone give a presentation on the struggles of the non-traditional student. After the presentation people were talking. I’m worried about the binaries here, they said. Why do we talk about non-traditional vs. traditional? Why can’t we just talk about STUDENTS?

I got some great feedback at dLRN. And I love cynical feedback more than anything. My favorite comment was from Justin Reich who said “So you show how this different, older, way could preserve complexity. But maybe we abandoned it because we hate complexity, right?”

That’s a great comment. I actually can’t get it out of my head it’s so good.

You know what’s not a great comment?

• “How does this solve world hunger, sexism, and inequality once and for all?”
• “Why is this so either/or?”
• “Why is this so utopian?”
• “We need to get past these binaries.”

These aren’t really useful questions, and I’ve come to realize they aren’t meant to be. The issue with Jesse’s call to action and mine is the same — we’re both arguing for things which are so far out of the mainstream of practice you have to squint to see them.

Saying “Why is this so binary?” when presented with an alternate, minority vision is simply a way of supporting the status quo, by not engaging with the reality that the dominant paradigm is NOT “both/and” but rather “almost entirely this”. The world of the person making the “utopian binary” critique is one where they get to ignore the existing disparities the binary calls to light — a trick most recently seen in the ridiculous #alllivesmatter hash tag: “But why single out *black* lives?”

The “utopian” critique is very similar —
Them: “If this cannot solve all problems, then how can we be excited about it?”

Me: “But I didn’t say it solved all problems!”

Them: “Aha! So you admit it doesn’t solve anything!”

Me: “Um, which one of us is utopian again?”

This approach suffers the same affliction, assuming that we must compare a proposed solution against the standard of an imagined perfect world rather than a screwed up current state.

I’ve come to realize that, no matter how many caveats you add to your writing, people for whom the status quo works will always reply that your ideas are interesting, but why are they so binary, so utopian? I used to take these critiques seriously, but I don’t anymore. It’s simply a rhetorical move to avoid comparing your solution with a status quo that is difficult for them to defend.

It’s like replying to a presentation on solar-powered cars with “But why can’t we have both solar powered cars AND gasoline cars?” Or with “But there will still be pollution from BUILDING the cars so you haven’t solved anything!”

It’s like replying to a presentation on scaling down the American military in favor of increasing foreign relief aid with “But why can’t we have both the American military AND foreign relief aid?” Or with “But foreign relief aid STILL doesn’t always reach the most vulnerable, so you haven’t solved anything!”

It’s like replying to a presentation on Global Warming with “But why can’t find a balance between controlling global warming and protecting business interest?” Or “But global warming is going to happen anyway, so you haven’t solved anything!”

There’s as little chance that the world is going to go overboard on Jesse’s Peter Elbow inspired grading models as there is that we’re going to veer too much toward addressing global warming or decreasing U. S. Military funding (appx. $2,000 per capita) relative to our foreign aid (about $70 per capita). There’s as little chance that our “Pull to Refresh” obsessed culture is going to go overboard with wiki as there is that solar-powered vehicles will result in a war against gas-powered cars.

People who make such objections are not serious people, or in any not case serious thinkers in that moment. The reason we make binaries in our comparisons is to show how unbalanced the status quo is. The “binary” of pitting military spending against foreign aid is to show how out of balance out priorities are, just as the “binary” of Jesse’s holistic grading against more rigid models is to show how little time we spend on the whole student. And the reason we posit the binary of the “nontraditional student” against the “traditional student” is that 90% of policy and conversation right now is directed at the latter, and separating these details can show this.

The Garden approach I outlined at dLRN might not work, and holistic grading might fail at the scale people need to use it at. That solar car may run up against physical and environmental realities that make it unfeasible. Our policies to help the nontraditional student may solve the wrong issues, or assume a political climate we don’t have right now. Foreign aid may be better directed at world hunger or medical research, or perhaps there are good reasons for spending $800 billion on a military. Perhaps, far from making things better, a set of proposals would make things worse in ways the historically literate can predict. All these are interesting points, and great follow-ups to presentations outlining potential courses of action.

Additionally, some binaries are ill-formed, and give a distorted picture of reality. That’s an interesting point as well. Is androgogy/pedagogy a more helpful lens on a particular issue than first-generation/nth-generation? Does the research support a division like “Digital Natives/Digital Immigrants”? (hint: it doesn’t).

These are great questions too.

“Why so utopian?” and “Why so binary?” Not so much.

Here’s my pitch to you, and it is always the same. I think we can do substantially better than we do now, in a way that benefits most people. I think it requires rethinking some assumptions about how we teach and how we tech. I think the positive impact is likely relative to how deep we’re willing to go in questioning current assumptions.

So, if you like the status quo, or think it’s better than what is proposed, then defend it! If you think my ideas will not be adopted or will make things worse, then show me why!

But to the Utopian Binary comment crowd: Stop pretending people like Jesse and I are making utopian, either/or arguments. It’s a lazy rhetorical move, I’m tired of it, and you’re taking time from people with real questions."

[via https://twitter.com/holden/status/658310638662356992
via https://twitter.com/rmoejo/status/658314942123085824
via http://rolinmoe.org/2015/12/09/hourofteach-or-will-the-last-philanthrocapitalist-turn-out-the-lights/
via https://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hack-education-weekly-newsletter-no-140 ]
mikecaufield  2015  utopia  criticism  critique  binaries  education  change  cynicism  jessestommel  tcsnmy  cv  unschooling  deschooling  utopianism  rhetoric  minorityview  statusquo  justinreich  complexity  falsebinaries  criticalthinking  grading  grades 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Big Picture Program Focuses on Real-World Skills and Projects to Help Teenagers Who Struggle in Traditional Classrooms - The Atlantic
"Nothing in particular stands out about the two adjoining rooms at South Burlington High School, one littered with desks, the other lined with simple grey cubicles. Yet the 30 students working inside are taking part in a uniquely personalized curriculum unlike anything their peers—or most U.S. high-school students—ever get to experience.

Big Picture, a program with a chapter at South Burlington, bucks the traditional model of high-school learning. There are no tests, no grades, and, for some students, no traditional classes to sit through.

That’s because the program is centered around the concept and execution of self-directed learning. With input from advisors, working professionals, parents, and peers, each teen participant creates his or her own curriculum, tailored to fit personal interests.

Big Picture’s model is now used in more than 60 schools across the U.S. And in Vermont, it’s also a precursor to a new statewide mandate meant to take effect over the next three years: Public-school students in grades seven through 12 will soon be required to create their own personalized learning plans.

Within South Burlington’s larger student population of around 900, Big Picture accounts for just a small portion of students. The program is broken into two sections: Big Picture 101 for new participants, and a 201 level for upperclassmen and experienced participants. Students aren’t required to take classes like English or biology—though they can if they so choose.

Each Big Picture student comes up with a big idea, or hypothesis, for their year-long independent project, such as 17-year-old Joey Mount’s plan to design a clothing line and launch an accompanying website. Teens tap into their pre-existing interests, then come up with creative ways for the topic to be reimagined to gain proficiency in subject areas like science and math.

The goal is for students to stay motivated and learn while gaining real-world experiences—and honing the tricky art of time management. Four staff members help guide, coach, and hold students accountable: two advisors, one Americorps Vista volunteer, and one program director.

“Most students who find us, find us for a reason: School isn’t working for them.”
Over the course of each semester, projects are carefully vetted and executed according to reporting standards, which are also predetermined by students. It’s a process that the advisor Jim Shields said evolved over the program’s seven years at South Burlington.

“Most students who find us, find us for a reason: School isn’t working for them,” Shields said. “If you think of high school as having a ceiling and a floor, there’s the students who are struggling because they’re falling through the cracks in the floor. Then there’s the students who just wanna take the roof off, who are held back by high school.”

This year’s crop of Big Picture projects covers a diverse range of topics. Shields’s students are gaining the academic proficiencies required for them to graduate by studying artistic endeavors like blacksmithing, clothing design, e-games, and pinhole photography. One is conceptualizing and designing a card game meant to increase face-to-face interaction among participants; another is producing a film examining how depression and anxiety manifest in high-school environments.

To earn their proficiency-based diploma, which results in a non-traditional transcript, the program requires that students achieve “a minimum level of proficiency and competence when it comes to mastering the essential knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college, work, and life.” At South Burlington, those lofty concepts are measured with the help of a rubric.

Kids are also required to seek out mentors related to their topic of study—a professional photographer for a project exploring pinhole photography, or perhaps a coder for another tackling e-game design. Second-year students also spend two full days a week working at internships, putting in 80 hours each 12-week semester.

Furthering that community involvement, the introductory students are also immersed in planning a group project, which the entire Big Picture group executes together. This year, they’re trying to open a café in South Burlington.

Although Big Picture is self-selective and small by design, Shields said he doesn’t turn many interested students away. “We look at a lot of things,” he said, “grades being an indicator but not the most important indicator. They may have no good grades, but started their own rock band, and they tour.”

After filling out a paper application, potential program participants are invited in to interview. The applicants and their parents are both required to submit essays, in which they explain why they think the program will work for the student. The process culminates in a test of sorts. Applicants are given a choice of two prompts to answer, both of which require the teen to consider how, exactly, they might complete a structured project over the course of the semester.

Sam Caron, 16, said he had trouble staying focused in a traditional classroom. He’s a first-year participant, and this year, his project is the creation of a cider press.

Comparing a traditional high-school schedule with a self-designed Big Picture curriculum is like comparing “apples and oranges,” Caron said. “Here, what I put into it is what I get out of it. It’s just that with this, I want to be putting more into it, because it’s stuff that I’m interested in.”

So how does making a cider press earn the equivalent of an A in, say, chemistry or world history?

To fulfill science proficiency requirements, each participant enters Vermont’s annual state science fair. Their entry has to have an angle related to their independent project, forcing them to think creatively in order to come up with a scientific hypothesis that can be executed and tested.

Caron will be testing and designing a contraption to demonstrate how best to extract the most juice from a single apple for this year’s science fair.

A panel of judges consisting of scientists and science teachers review each experiment according to a rubric. For other students, science fair feedback is just constructive criticism. For the Big Picture kids, it effectively replaces their grades, proving or disproving their science proficiency.

Shields said Caron’s cider press project would fall under the Big Picture “reasoning and problem solving domain.” The 16-year-old will learn through research, gaining hands-on experience while using the scientific method.

Throughout the year, students assesses their own work to measure what they’ve learned and to make sure they’ve identified, mapped out, and realized plans toward achievable goals. They also participate in exercises like weekly “Socratics,” where they read, analyze, and discuss a news article or piece of literature chosen by advisors or peers. Reflection and self-assessment are key.

At the end of the semester, instead of grades, feedback for each independent project comes after an “exhibition of learning.” Students give presentations to their peers, parents, and the public on their topics.

On a recent Monday, Shields stood in the Big Picture 101 room, moving from teen to teen as they worked through the day’s plans on laptops. As the bell sounded marking the end of the two o’clock session, his seven students put on their jackets, grabbed clipboards, and walked outside into the crisp Vermont air.

Their destination? Three local supermarkets two miles up the road: Hannaford’s, a New England chain; Trader Joe’s; and Healthy Living, a pricier health-food store. The students were on a fact-finding mission to help build toward opening their café, the program’s collective community project. On this particular outing, their goal was to figure out which menu items would be the most affordable.

As the group distanced itself from the old brick school, Shields walked along the sidewalk, in the middle of the pack.

The teens led the way."
curriclulum  education  schools  lcproject  openstudioproject  2015  erinsiegalmcintyre  southburlingtonhighschool  projectbasedlearning  teaching  pedagogy  agency  unschooling  deschooling  curriculum  tcsnmy  bigpictureschools  testing  tests  standardizedtesting  grading  grades 
november 2015 by robertogreco
What one college discovered when it stopped accepting SAT/ACT scores - The Washington Post
"Hampshire College is a liberal arts school in Massachusetts that has decided not to accept SAT/ACT scores from applicants. That’s right — the college won’t accept them, a step beyond the hundreds of “test-optional” schools that leave it up to the applicant to decide whether to include them in their applications. So what has happened as a result of the decision?

For one thing, U.S. News & World report has refused to include Hampshire in its annual rankings. For another, Hampshire officials say, this year’s freshman class, the first chosen under the new rules, is more qualified by other measures than earlier classes.

Hampshire College was founded in 1970 as an alternative private liberal arts college that experiments with curriculum and relies on portfolios of work and narrative evaluations rather than distribution requirements and grades. It is one of the top colleges in the nation in terms of the proportion of its graduates who go on to graduate school.

Here’s an explanation of what the college did regarding SAT/ACT scores and why, from President Jonathan Lash, who is also a director of the World Resources Institute, a D.C.-based environmental think tank, where he previously served as president. He chaired former President Bill Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development and was Vermont’s environmental secretary and commissioner. He holds a law degree and master’s degree in education from Catholic University of America and a bachelor’s from Harvard College.

By Jonathan Lash:

You won’t find our college in the U.S. News & Word Report “Best Colleges” rankings released this month. Last year Hampshire College decided not to accept SAT/ACT test scores from high school applicants seeking admission. That got us kicked off the rankings, disqualified us, per U.S. News rankings criteria. That’s OK with us.

We completely dropped standardized tests from our application as part of our new mission-driven admissions strategy, distinct from the “test-optional” policy that hundreds of colleges now follow. If we reduce education to the outcomes of a test, the only incentive for schools and students to innovate is in the form of improving test-taking and scores. Teaching to a test becomes stifling for teachers and students, far from the inspiring, adaptive education which most benefits students. Our greatly accelerating world needs graduates who are trained to address tough situations with innovation, ingenuity, entrepreneurship and a capacity for mobilizing collaboration and cooperation.

We weighed other factors in our decision:

• Standardized test scores do not predict a student’s success at our college.

• SATs/ACTs are strongly biased against low-income students and students of color, at a time when diversity is critical to our mission.

• We surveyed our students and learned not one of them had considered rankings when choosing to apply to colleges; instead they most cared about a college’s mission.

• Some good students are bad test takers, particularly under stress, such as when a test may grant or deny college entry. Multiple-choice tests don’t reveal much about a student.

• We’ve developed much better, fairer ways to assess students who will thrive at our college.

In our admissions, we review an applicant’s whole academic and lived experience. We consider an applicant’s ability to present themselves in essays and interviews, review their recommendations from mentors, and assess factors such as their community engagement and entrepreneurism. And yes, we look closely at high school academic records, though in an unconventional manner. We look for an overarching narrative that shows motivation, discipline, and the capacity for self-reflection. We look at grade point average (GPA) as a measure of performance over a range of courses and time, distinct from a one-test-on-one-day SAT/ACT score. A student’s consistent “A” grades may be coupled with evidence of curiosity and learning across disciplines, as well as leadership in civic or social causes. Another student may have overcome obstacles through determination, demonstrating promise of success in a demanding program. Strong high school graduates demonstrate purpose, a passion for authenticity, and commitment to positive change.

We’re seeing remarkable admissions results since disregarding standardized test scores:

• Our yield, the percentage of students who accepted our invitation to enroll, rose in a single year from 18% to 26%, an amazing turnaround.

• The quantity of applications went down, but the quality went up, likely because we made it harder to apply, asking for more essays. Our applicants collectively were more motivated, mature, disciplined and consistent in their high school years than past applicants.

• Class diversity increased to 31% students of color, the most diverse in our history, up from 21% two years ago.

• The percentage of students who are the first-generation from their family to attend college rose from 10% to 18% in this year’s class.

Our “No SAT/ACT policy” has also changed us in ways deeper than data and demographics: Not once did we sit in an Admissions committee meeting and “wish we had a test score.” Without the scores, every other detail of the student’s application became more vivid. Their academic record over four years, letters of recommendation, essays, in-person interviews, and the optional creative supplements gave us a more complete portrait than we had seen before. Applicants gave more attention to their applications, including the optional components, putting us in a much better position to predict their likelihood of success here.

This move away from test scores and disqualification from the U.S. News rankings has allowed us to innovate in ways we could not before. In other words, we are free to innovate rather than compromise our mission to satisfy rankings criteria:

• We no longer chase volumes of applications to superficially inflate our “selectivity” and game the U.S. News rankings. We no longer have to worry that any applicant will “lower our average SAT/ACT scores” and thus lower our U.S. News ranking. Instead we choose quality over quantity and focus attention and resources on each applicant and their full portfolio.

• At college fairs and information sessions, we don’t spend time answering high school families’ questions about our ranking and test score “cut-offs.” Instead we have conversations about the things that matter: What does our unique academic program look like, and what qualities does a student need to be successful at it?

• An unexpected benefit: This shift has saved us significant time and operational expense. Having a smaller but more targeted, engaged, passionate, and robust applicant pool, we are able to streamline our resources.

How can U.S. News rankings reliably measure college quality when their data-points focus primarily on the high school performance of the incoming class in such terms as GPA, SAT/ACT, class rank, and selectivity? These measures have nothing to do with the college’s results, except perhaps in the college’s aptitude for marketing and recruiting. Tests and rankings incentivize schools to conform to test performance and rankings criteria, at the expense of mission and innovation.

Our shift to a mission-driven approach to admissions is right for Hampshire College and the right thing to do. We fail students if we reduce them to a standardized test number tied more to their financial status than achievement. We fail students by perpetuating the myth that high standardized test scores signal “better” students. We are in the top one percent of colleges nationwide in the percentage of our undergraduate alumni who go on to earn advanced degrees – this on the strength of an education where we assess their capabilities narratively, and where we never, not once, subject them to a numerical or letter grade on a test or course.

At Hampshire College, we face the same financial challenges as many colleges. But these challenges provide an opportunity to think about who we are and what matters to us. We can not lose sight of our mission while seeking revenues or chasing rankings. We are committed to remaining disqualified from the U.S. News rankings. We’re done with standardized testing, the SAT, and ACT."
hampshirecollege  colleges  universities  admissions  sat  act  education  grading  teaching  rankings  diversity  jonathanlash  standardizedtesting  tests  class  race  selectivity  fit  srg  edg 
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
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
Marc Tucker and the declension myth in American education debates
"It is a tempting story, because it is easier to argue that we have declined from some better point in the past than to explain consistently middling results. But it is the consistency of middling results that is the true history, and there never was a golden age of education in the United States. Tucker’s purported history is pulled from thin air and is wrong on several key points:

• Child poverty and family decline: Child poverty rates declined in the years when divorce was becoming more common (look at the 1960s and 1970s in the poverty-by-age chart from this source). Teen birth rates have declined dramatically in the past quarter-century, and there is pretty good survey evidence that there are other improving trends in risky behaviors for teenagers.3 We should be ashamed at the level of child poverty that exists, but that is a continuing issue rather than something that has dramatically increased in the past 50 years.4

• Grade inflation in high school from parental pressures: There is relatively little peer-reviewed research on high school grade inflation. One 2013 article used transcript data from several national longitudinal studies. Based on transcripts, the authors argue that there has been grade inflation at the secondary level since the early 1970s but that there has not been a huge change in the inferred meaning of grade differences–i.e., if there has been grade inflation, we may not need to be worried about it as a motivator or signal of achievement.

• Grade inflation and lowered standards in college: Tucker’s chronology is all wrong here: if there has been grade inflation in college (see a 2012 article in Teachers College Record), the bulk of the decline in C and D grades happened between the early 1960s and the mid-1970s, with more stable grading patterns for the following 15 years and then a different pattern of inflation since 1990. This does not fit with Tucker’s story: the end of the baby boom hit colleges in the grade-inflation lull, and grade inflation continued during the baby-boom echo’s “traditional age” college years, when the incentives should have reversed.5 Caveat: the 2013 article linked above claims that there is much less evidence of grade inflation in colleges than in high schools.6

• No Child Left Behind pushed states to lower standards for high school students and diverted energy from the standards movement: The mandated test grades in NCLB were 3-8, with one grade in high school (selected by the state). I may be wrong, but my strong impression is that in the years after NCLB’s enactment, most states were obsessed with elementary and middle school accountability much more than in high schools. While many states may have set the proficiency thresholds low because of NCLB, it is hard to argue that most states had accountability systems with higher expectations before NCLB and suddenly dropped those expectations. More to Tucker’s claim about diversion, it is hard to find a proponent of what he calls the standards movement in the late 1990s who was not in favor of NCLB in 2001. Many self-identified reformers have since backed away from NCLB, and we are seeing further backpedaling from Race to the Top with this spring’s test fiascoes. But as Paul Manna and others have written, at the time NCLB was a consensual policy change for those who called themselves as education reformers. If high-stakes testing is a diversion from standards, it was one fully endorsed by the bulk of those in the 1990s standards movement.

• A decline in the status of teachers: In every era, American teachers have been the target of criticism. See Dana Goldstein‘s The Teacher Wars for a recent book on the topic.

• Declining quality of teachers and enrollments in colleges of education: It is hard to parse out the relationship between greater job opportunities for college-educated women and college grads of color, which shrank the pool of potential teachers, and the greater numbers of college attendees with the baby boom, which expanded the pool of potential teachers. The decline in teacher education programs is very recent, essentially since the Great Recession, and is hard to put into a story of declining standards across decades.

• Declining vocational education: The late W. Norton Grubb was brutally honest about the historical failures of vocational education, from its uses in discriminatory tracking to the weak evidence of effectiveness in recent decades. Grubb and Marvin Lazerson’s The Education Gospel (2007) is the right source for this topic. The point is not that one has to agree with Grubb and Lazerson’s policy prescriptions, but that even in a narrow area such as vocational education, there has never been a golden age.

In the past few years, my morale about education policy has been boosted moderately by more recognition of history in education policy discussions, especially in Washington, DC. I thought the major inside-the-Beltway players understood that Dana Goldstein’s The Teacher Wars was mandatory reading, and also possibly Rick Hess’s The Same Thing Over and Over. So let me just put it out there more generally, as the object lesson from Tucker’s columns this month: if you are tempted to argue that there was a golden age of education, you have not read enough education history."
shermandorn  2015  education  history  policy  reform  edreform  nclb  danagoldstein  teaching  teachers  poverty  grades  grading  assessment  gradeinflation  divorce  pedagogy  curriculum  narrative  vocationaleducation  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  schools  publicschools  learning  us  rickhess  marctucker 
may 2015 by robertogreco
We will all be illiterate soon — Medium
"It all seems fairly intuitive: test the kids, measure their performances, find the pass rates for your teachers at each grade-level and school. A sixth-grader, after all, ought to do well on a sixth grade test.

But here’s the catch. At least in reading, schools and testing companies have been changing what it means to be on-grade-level from year to year. But how?

First, we must understand that schools’ tests are produced and marketed by commercial firms. Private companies like Pearson and Scholastic wield unconscionable powers of vendor lock-in, in public education. It’s not uncommon for school systems to buy products like leveled reading books, so-called “interventions,” curricula, electronic gradebooks, and student information management systems from the very companies that sell them tests. The resultant interoperability of these systems helps drive the sorting of our kids. Our kids’ test results drive the market for more Pearson and Scholastic products. We have legislated and acculturated ourselves to consumerist purchasing and sorting practices.

Next, it’s important to remember that reading levels are fairly arbitrary things. They’re social inventions. We didn’t have them once upon a time. They generally don’t account for growth without more context.

Most importantly, all of our tests reward privilege — and privileged kids generally don’t have much trouble scoring at or above grade level. Schools use tests to answer questions that inherently favor the privileged, like this: ‘Based on what we know about already successful readers, how should we judge the struggling ones?’ A better, more ethically sound question goes something like this: ‘How do make tests and schools that help all kids access everything we do (including reading), regardless of how well they read or perform on tests right now?’

And although we should know that reading levels are arbitrary and favor the privileged, we codify and enshrine them every chance we get."



Finally — and most insidiously — the SOL can be rewritten each year, changing the complexity of the tests. This lets us — or the interests we are beholden to — manufacture success and failure. Sometimes we do it for more ‘rigor.’ Sometimes we do it so that companies can field-test new products and technologies on our kids through tests we purchase from them. And I really can’t tell you more. I can’t even discuss a student’s performance with her parents in any meaningful way. If I look at a test item while a student is taking the test, I could lose my license. If I talk about the test with anyone, I could lose my license, too. I sign a paper that says I understand all of this weeks before I actually give any tests.

I cannot be clearer: these tests are designed to disempower schools and to convince us that we see and do during the school year is not what we have seen and done. It’s not a bad thing to want to make sure no child is “left behind” at school, but that is not what these tests do, despite all the double-speak we’ve heard about public education throughout its history in our nation.

Buy why does this really matter? Life goes on. School goes on. The kids on kid shows and the teens in teen movies go to school again and again and again. You can Netflix it.

It matters because schools are destroying literacy and imperiling our society more and more each day.

At the start of the 2012–2013 school year, my middle school English department colleagues and I got new Lexile cut-off scores that (we were told) our kids would have to reach, in order to stand a chance of passing their next SOL tests. When we looked at the scores, we saw that the new middle-school cut-off matched what had been defined, the year before, a 10th-grade reading level. Yes, we were told, that’s right, but the 8th grade reading test is now more rigorous because it’s written at a 10th grade Lexile.



"We have created a public education system designed to assess our students and teachers on measures we perpetually keep just out of reach, so that the most successful students, teachers, and schools have nothing to worry about while the least successful among us must worry constantly about whether we’re smart or not, under review or not, employed or not — worth something or not. We demand that the people we fail define self-worth as judged by us. Other kinds of literacy (or even last year’s literacy) simply need not apply.

With reading tests like this that at once erase meaningful, sustainable definitions of literacy and assure the privileged that they are the literate ones (whatever that may mean), we are creating a society that has no idea, generally, how people really learn or how we can learn despite our reading levels. We fetishize and gate-keep reading and writing, and behind the visible gates we’re building invisible ones. In the meantime, the privileged ‘literate,’ assured of their success, fail to see that they, too, are being cut off in the middle. On one side, the powerful keep them sated, at bay, entertained and provoked to look down on their fellows. On the other side, the disadvantaged, whose life experiences might help the broad middle question the ‘experts’ who run their lives, are held back by social structures like school as we have conceived it, and by the institutional prejudices those places breed. The institution here is not just school itself, but the white, middle class that has become its benchmark.

We are reinforcing a society in which the distant, powerful, and moneyed call the shots, in which the privileged middle classes believe they have power without knowing how, why, or what power is, and in which the disadvantaged, who understand all of this best of all, are cut off from the rest of society by tests — formal and informal — that say no matter what you’ve accomplished, you are not us. It’s gates and moving goalposts all the way down.

Those of us in schools, who live and work between the powerful and disadvantaged, have a special responsibility to cooperate in building communities instead of walls, to resist sorting mechanisms, and to teach the world as it is rather than as it’s portrayed in school media — both the materials we’re told to use in schools and the messages TV and cinema send about schools.

Otherwise, we will all be illiterate soon. We’ll continue building a system that assigns us our illiteracies at birth and reinforces them throughout our educations, careers, and civic lives, all in order to maintain the status quo."



"When people say we would have better schools if teachers did a better job, they miss the point. Teachers do an excellent job of doing what the system asks them to do. If we assessed teachers on how well they teach their assigned lessons, using their assigned texts, towards the taking of their assigned tests, we’d have to agree that our teachers do a wonderful job. That they do all of this and still don’t have the moving-goalpost test scores a politically-motivated, federal law from the 1990s tells us they should have is not a teacher problem. That they don’t have passion for a dispassionate machine isn’t a teacher problem. It is a system problem. It is a societal problem. It is an us problem. Only we don’t know it because, again, we will all be illiterate soon."



"When I think about the far future, I think about caring for others in the face of dying planets and suns, and about the kinds of wordless understandings and cooperation that we’ll have to maintain to partner with one another across incomprehensible distances, using technologies opaque to us and effortlessly transparent to our cosmic babies. I think that our present conception of literacy, for all the best reasons, will ultimately and rightfully be an impoverished one — or the root of a great and branching tree.

And though it seems at once a big thing for schooling to let go of power — to loosen its grip on a narrowly-defined literacy and a people being squeezed of life and meaning — it also seems like such a cosmically little thing to me, as just one teacher, that I wish I could give away so much more. Culpability and responsibility are only difficult to own so long as we insist on staying blind to the gifts they offer us — to readers’ inexhaustible capacity for change."
chadsansing  2014  testing  education  policy  privilege  literacy  corruption  sorting  grading  standardizedtesting  capitalism  lexilescores  publicschools  teaching  learning  schools  howweteach  howelearn  measurement 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Rox and Roll: Parents: let Harvard go
"I want to tell every parent reading this post that you need to assume, right now, that your child is not getting into Harvard no matter what he or she does. (And no, he's not getting into Stanford either, or Yale, or Dartmouth, or MIT. Probably not UC Berkeley either. No, I'm not kidding.) Your kid isn't getting into the college you think he is.

What? So-and-so's child is at Princeton right now? and got what on his SATs? and did those activities? Hmmm. Interesting. Sure, you can prove me wrong with some examples. And I can prove myself right with a hundred more. Stanford's rate of admission was below 5% last year. Do the math.

In the spirit of "I want to do something," I offer below some Q & A that I hope y'all read and take to heart. These are real questions asked by real parents of real kids I know within the past year. I didn't answer these questions at the time exactly like I did below, but I answer them here and now based on a combination of my expertise in admissions (noting that nothing I say here should be construed as official advice or information given on behalf of any school) as well as my experience as a community leader and parent.

And be forewarned: I'm going to be a bit of a wise-ass, 'cause we all need to calm down like Martha says, which also means "lighten up" in my book.

But also, I promise a reward at the end: questions that I wish people would ask me instead. And I think -- I hope -- it's some valuable stuff."



"Post-publication note: This posts seems to have reached a lot of people who have a lot of strong reactions to it. I think the comment that reached me most on another person's Facebook page is one from a parent who thinks I am encouraging mediocrity. The snarky part of me wants to tell the dude he's right, that I tell my kids "aim low." But the truth is, this post is far from encouraging mediocrity or "settling" for anything less than a child can feel good about achieving. As a Palo Alto parent, I am tired of our culture of 'achievement' as defined by grades, scores, college admissions, and the like. And I am unapologetic about that. I have worked with our community's teens as a coach, as a youth minister, as a mentor, and as a parent, and I encourage every kid to be their best self. That means being proud of their work, whether in the classroom, on the playing field, and/or in the world. Do I think they need to engage in competition for one of those 15 slots at Stanford (there is no fixed number, and I wouldn't know it if there were) by trying to outwit, outplay, and outlast (to borrow "Survivor" lingo)? Nope. And beyond that, there are going to be times when our kids just don't want to work hard because they're kids and continue to push boundaries. They're going to blow off studying for a test. They're going to fail something. Good. That's right -- I said good. Their mistakes teach them that actions have consequences and that their effort ties to their outcomes. We can't give them that with carrots or with sticks. They'll figure it out. They want to do well -- as they define it. (They know what's up with college admissions without us even getting involved, parents.) And the more they figure out for themselves, with no message from us other than "we take you as you are and want you to be healthy and fulfilled," the healthier our kids are going to be. I want nothing but the best for our village's kids -- for any kids-- and I stuck my neck out there with the post because I refuse to define the "best" as it has been anymore. The best for our kids is no more of them self-harming in any way, and I feel like we can alleviate some of that by changing our tone."
colleges  universityis  admissions  parenting  2014  via:willrichardson  stress  pressure  anxiety  aps  ivyleague  motivation  harvard  collegeadmissions  testing  standardizedtesting  success  achievement  mediocrity  grades  grading  standards  sleep  teens  adolescence  highschool  schools  education  competition  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  apclasses 
november 2014 by robertogreco
You Are Asking The Wrong Questions About Education Technology
"Education technology is trendy. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t read an article or have a conversation in which someone makes the familiar argument that “education is the one industry that hasn’t embraced the technologies of the 21st Century.” The world has changed–so the story goes–and while business has adapted, school hasn’t.

It sounds convincing. We should certainly embrace tools and technologies that will help educators become more impactful. But we should do it because it works, not for the sake of modern humanity’s obsession with progress, newness, innovation, and disruption. These buzzwords of the industrial age, let’s remember, paved the road that led to the current landscape of education.

The very notion of education as an industry is problematic. School is about transmitting values and principles from one generation to the next, not skillfully organizing labor toward productivity. Education is the child-rearing activity of civilization. We nurture our young into reflective citizens by teaching them the social and epistemological agreements of an increasingly global collective. Educators need to understand that reading, writing, and arithmetic are primarily just mutually agreed upon languages through which we make meaning out of human experience. These disciplines are essentially useful, but only fashionably industrial. That is to say: the languages themselves have much more longevity than the current applications.

For industry, however, applicability is always prioritized over ideology. Thus, running schools according to the wisdom of the business world is precisely the thought paradigm which led to the high stakes testing procedures that currently plague the United States. We account for learning outcomes as if they were profit margins. We measure the dividends returned on technology and infrastructure investments. We see children as industrial resources evaluated according to their ability to download ‘workplace skills.’ And for some bizarre reason–and despite all evidence to the contrary–we continue to expect that these metrics will somehow correlate with intelligent, ethical, and responsible adult individuals. We’ve chosen the wrong perspective.

Implicitly arguing that the problem is poor implementation of industrialization, education pundits around the world often blame inefficient government infrastructures for preventing schools from embracing the appropriate technologies. But when I look at the multi-national corporate world, I’m thankful that bureaucracy provides a necessary filter–it keeps us from moving too fast. After all, the global economy is itself evidence that the hastiness of the digital revolution has been as tumultuous as it has been beneficial. Popular technologies have, in many cases, increased corporate productivity and profitability at the expense of the humans who operate them.

What works for industry will not work for education because, as one recent New York Times article aptly noted, “teaching is not a business.” By now, we should know better than to transplant the intellectual structures of one human activity onto another. The trouble, however, is that we mistakenly believe we can separate the medium from the message.

The Making Caring Common Project at Harvard University’s Graduate School Of Education, has already explained that students see how adults’ actions can betray the intended rhetoric. Studies show that while adults say they value empathy, compassion, and critical thinking, children learn to value achievement measured by grade points. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Students read systems’ implicit messaging while ignoring the explicit talking points. When schools are run according to the conventions of for-profit organizations, we move with impressive efficiency toward a world full of graduates who mistakenly believe enterprising entrepreneurship is a defining value system rather than an important skill set.

Alternatively, we might understand that school is ultimately a ‘technology of the self’ (to borrow a phrase from Michel Foucault). Then, we would first focus on the systematic process through which we nurture individuals’ sense of agency, decorum, and responsibility. School itself becomes the tool which refines individuals into reflective citizens and prioritizes opportunities for emerging human dignity. Education becomes the structure within which narratives of personal and collective identity are contextualized using the intellectual structures and academic skills that we’ve inherited from preceding generations.

Digital tools have the ability to enhance these educational technologies of the self. But we need to make sure that these tools are also aligned with learning outcomes which prioritize human dignity rather than haste, consumption, and algorithmic metrics. Game-based learning is especially useful because the presence of avatars encourages players to step outside of their familiar perspectives and embody alternate ones. Therefore, they nurture the kind of intellectual self-reflection that education psychologists call “metacognitive skills.” Learning games make the question of identity development explicit and therefore truly empower students with the agency to construct their own personal narratives.

Thus far, however, we’ve unfortunately been brainwashed into thinking that educational technologies are neutral. We imagine that tablets and computers are merely tools that transmit unbiased academic content to students. On the contrary, they do much more than that. Embedded in every technological solution is a moral/ethical stance, an image of the good life, and a narrative of the idealized self. The worldwide success of Apple’s marketing is evidence enough that digital gadgets are not only tools with which we manipulate our environment, but also props in a performed identity narrative.

Technologies teach our children how to make sense of the world, how to think about knowledge and information, and how to relate to themselves and to one another. Making sure we agree, in principle, with the tool’s implicit messaging is the most important question we can ask. Yet, it is the one question we most often skip."
jordanshapiro  2014  edtech  technology  luddism  neoluddism  education  learning  howwelearn  ideology  empathy  compassion  criticalthinking  competition  grades  grading  efficiency  entrepreneurship  foucault  agency  decorum  humanism  responsibility  empowerment  games  gaming  howweteach  schools  children  slow  michelfoucault 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Why Girls Get Better Grades Than Boys Do - The Atlantic
[My tweet: https://twitter.com/rogre/status/512741051941924864 "“Why Girls Get Better Grades Than Boys Do” http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/09/why-girls-get-better-grades-than-boys-do/380318/ … Missing: Conscientiousness or deference? Innate or conditioned?"]

"This self-discipline edge for girls carries into middle-school and beyond. In a 2006 landmark study, Martin Seligman and Angela Lee Duckworth found that middle-school girls edge out boys in overall self-discipline. This contributes greatly to their better grades across all subjects. They found that girls are more adept at “reading test instructions before proceeding to the questions,” “paying attention to a teacher rather than daydreaming,” “choosing homework over TV,” and “persisting on long-term assignments despite boredom and frustration.” These top cognitive scientists from the University of Pennsylvania also found that girls are apt to start their homework earlier in the day than boys and spend almost double the amount of time completing it. Girls’ grade point averages across all subjects were higher than those of boys, even in basic and advanced math—which, again, are seen as traditional strongholds of boys.

What Drs. Seligman and Duckworth label “self-discipline,” other researchers name “conscientiousness.” Or, a predisposition to plan ahead, set goals, and persist in the face of frustrations and setbacks. Conscientiousness is uniformly considered by social scientists to be an inborn personality trait that is not evenly distributed across all humans. In fact, a host of cross-cultural studies show that females tend to be more conscientious than males. One such study by Lindsay Reddington out of Columbia University even found that female college students are far more likely than males to jot down detailed notes in class, transcribe what professors say more accurately, and remember lecture content better. Arguably, boys’ less developed conscientiousness leaves them at a disadvantage in school settings where grades heavily weight good organizational skills alongside demonstrations of acquired knowledge.

These days, the whole school experience seems to play right into most girls’ strengths—and most boys’ weaknesses. Gone are the days when you could blow off a series of homework assignments throughout the semester but pull through with a respectable grade by cramming for and acing that all-important mid-term exam. Getting good grades today is far more about keeping up with and producing quality homework—not to mention handing it in on time.

Gwen Kenney-Benson, a psychology professor at Allegheny College, a liberal arts institution in Pennsylvania, says that girls succeed over boys in school because they tend to be more mastery-oriented in their schoolwork habits. They are more apt to plan ahead, set academic goals, and put effort into achieving those goals. They also are more likely than boys to feel intrinsically satisfied with the whole enterprise of organizing their work, and more invested in impressing themselves and their teachers with their efforts.

On the whole, boys approach schoolwork differently. They are more performance-oriented. Studying for and taking tests taps into their competitive instincts. For many boys, tests are quests that get their hearts pounding. Doing well on them is a public demonstration of excellence and an occasion for a high-five. In contrast, Kenney-Benson and some fellow academics provide evidence that the stress many girls experience in test situations can artificially lower their performance, giving a false reading of their true abilities. These researchers arrive at the following overarching conclusion: “The testing situation may underestimate girls’ abilities, but the classroom may underestimate boys’ abilities.”

It is easy to for boys to feel alienated in an environment where homework and organization skills account for so much of their grades. But the educational tide may be turning in small ways that give boys more of a fighting chance. An example of this is what occurred several years ago at Ellis Middle School, in Austin, Minnesota. Teachers realized that a sizable chunk of kids who aced tests trundled along each year getting C’s, D’s, and F’s. At the same time, about 10 percent of the students who consistently obtained A’s and B’s did poorly on important tests. Grading policies were revamped and school officials smartly decided to furnish kids with two separate grades each semester. One grade was given for good work habits and citizenship, which they called a “life skills grade.” A “knowledge grade” was given based on average scores across important tests. Tests could be retaken at any point in the semester, provided a student was up to date on homework.

Staff at Ellis Middle School also stopped factoring homework into a kid’s grade. Homework was framed as practice for tests. Incomplete or tardy assignments were noted but didn’t lower a kid’s knowledge grade. The whole enterprise of severely downgrading kids for such transgressions as occasionally being late to class, blurting out answers, doodling instead of taking notes, having a messy backpack, poking the kid in front, or forgetting to have parents sign a permission slip for a class trip, was revamped.

This last point was of particular interest to me. On countless occasions, I have attended school meetings for boy clients of mine who are in an ADHD red-zone. I have learned to request a grade print-out in advance. Not uncommonly, there is a checkered history of radically different grades: A, A, A, B, B, F, F, A. When F grades and a resultant zero points are given for late or missing assignments, a student’s C grade does not reflect his academic performance. Since boys tend to be less conscientious than girls—more apt to space out and leave a completed assignment at home, more likely to fail to turn the page and complete the questions on the back—a distinct fairness issue comes into play when a boy’s occasional lapse results in a low grade. Sadly though, it appears that the overwhelming trend among teachers is to assign zero points for late work. In one survey by Conni Campbell, associate dean of the School of Education at Point Loma Nazarene University, 84 percent of teachers did just that.

Disaffected boys may also benefit from a boot camp on test-taking, time-management, and study habits. These core skills are not always picked up by osmosis in the classroom, or from diligent parents at home. Of course, addressing the learning gap between boys and girls will require parents, teachers and school administrators to talk more openly about the ways each gender approaches classroom learning—and that difference itself remains a tender topic."
gender  schools  boys  girls  education  homework  compliance  conscienciousness  angeladuckworth  2014  martinseligman  deference  authority  self-discipline  adhd  grades  grading  gwenkenney-benson  conditioning  goalsetting  persistence  lindsayreddington  connicampbell  disaffection  testtaking  timemanagement  studyhabits  learninggap  attention  distraction  academics  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  gendernorms  society  enricognaulati  assessment  standardization 
september 2014 by robertogreco
More Educator Luddites Please
"The educator luddites I have in mind are people who have always understood school to be more than test prep and who see themselves as far more than the agents of a standardized testing industry. I see them leading the way to create inquiry driven schools where students and teachers are not too busy to think. Schools where the technology serves the learning rather than drives the teaching and where the demand for original work is a collaborate effort to solve compelling problems to which no one present knows the answer. In such a school, the curriculum is not driven by the textbook, the flow of information is not unidirectional, learning is networked and students and teachers work together across the boundaries of age and experience as active seekers, users and creators of knowledge. In this rosy picture, individual schools form a kind of globally aware and networked cottage industry of creative learning.

In order to start that journey we need a collective effort to figure out how to negotiate the changing world and make sense of it. Here, in a small collection of nutshells, are some observations about the context for the work:

1. The web is changing (us). For the most part we are oblivious to the bigger picture as we take each new gadget, or shift, or industry upheaval for granted. For the cultural anthropologist Michael Wesch, the machine is us and the machine is using us. In his prescient and chilling short story written in 1906 “The Machine Stops”, E. M, Forster imagined a world dependent on an all-powerful, all-knowing machine where humans became shrunken, feeble underground creatures alienated from nature and the natural landscape. In Forster’s story, the machine falters and fails. In our world, it does not look as if the machine is going to stop anytime soon. And that, according to Professor Wesch, means we are going to need to rethink a few things, including: copyright, authorship, identity, ethics, aesthetics, rhetoric, governance, privacy, commerce, love, family and ourselves.

2. In the networked world of ubiquitous and mobile access, boundaries are fluid and hierarchies broken. The ownership of knowledge is changed and the flow multidirectional. Students come to school wired and ready to join the knowledge stream. Learning needs to be organized around these networks and not contained in the traditional one way flow of teacher to student.

3. We have to think off the world of the web and interactive technology as a new ecosystem – one in which any person, in any place, at any time can participate, contribute, communicate, produce, share, curate and organize. It’s an ecosystem that has the potential to make prosumers of us all. That is, producers and not just consumers of information and media content. Anyone with a connection can generate content and the tools of social media mean it can be Stumbled, tagged in Delicious, uploaded to YouTube, sampled in Moviemaker, voted on at Digg, pushed in an RSS feed, shared on Facebook and Tweeted to the world. And then someone can create an interactive commentary, put it to music and turn it upside down, again. This interactivity blurs boundaries. As the New Yorker cartoon put it: “On the net, no one knows you are a dog”. Expertise and value may be perceived without the limiting filters of age, status, nationality or appearance.

4. We have both an explosion of creativity and an incessant need for problem solving and ethical thinking. Information, misinformation and disinformation are fast moving and in fluid abundance. In Teaching as a Subversive Activity Postman and Weingarten wrote of the need to develop “crap detectors” to filter the disinformation, propaganda and hype. To some www means a world wild web of mayhem, mischief and malice. But with a sense of purpose, and the skills of filtering and information navigation, it also holds great promise and potential.

5. Reading and writing are becoming less of a solitary and silent activity characteristic of the print era and more of a social activity. E-reading enables readers to interact with each other as well as the text and digital text is always on the move.

6. We are headed toward ubiquitous access and ever more speed. As quotidian objects such as umbrellas and shopping carts become digitized we are being linked with products just as we are linked with each other. Building community and creating relationships are what people, and social media, do well.

This then is the sea in which schools can swim, or – if they allow themselves to become irrelevant – sink. Professor Wesch had his list and here is my list of some of the things that schools may need to begin to rethink:

Classroom and school design; the school day and the schedule; segregation of learners by age and rather than by interest, passion and commitment; the segregation of knowledge into subjects; grading and assessment; social relationships, adult learning, the role of teacher, peer-to-peer learning and the isolation of the learner; textbooks, curriculum development and the sources of information; the nature of literacy; the nature of learning, creativity and the place of technology; citizenship and community; teamwork, collaboration, plagiarism and cheating; digital footprints, transparency and privacy; partnership with parents other adult learners; learning in the world and learning in school; what counts and what gets counted and how and by whom; and the dress code. (I added the last item because sometimes it’s useful to have a topic that gets everyone thoroughly engaged and busily distracted from important work.)

Above all it means a definition of education as going beyond the acquisition of knowledge. Critical thinking and digital literacy are essential but they don’t go far enough. We need to educate children for active and ethical participation. They need to be contributors and creators of knowledge and that means engaging in solving real problems from the very start.

Change is always hard. Socrates feared the effects of literacy on memory. He argued against it as harmful to young minds, short circuiting the arduous intellectual work of examining life. The scholar Elizabeth Eisenstein, who has written extensively on the effect on the world of the Gutenberg and the print revolution, has said it may be too soon to assess the full impact of that centuries old shift. If it’s too soon to gauge the effect of printing then we can only dimly imagine the effects of social media and the digital age.

Media has transformed our society before, but never at this dizzying rate. The unforeseen and unintended consequences of this revolution that sweeps all before it loom for many as dark clouds threatening the very roots of civilization. And here we are – smack in the epicenter. Unless we want to take ourselves right off the grid we had better start trying to make sense of it.

Educator luddites will be those who can learn with others, in and out of school, against the grain of narrowing definitions and toward what it means to be an educated citizen in a networked world.
I think it is our collective task to engage in the work of social imagination and envision our schools as we want, and need, them to be.

For schools it means some hard work and we are going to need all the help we can get."

[See also: http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/journal/toward-luddite-pedagogy/
via: https://twitter.com/JosieHolford/status/504761003876179968 ]

[Previously bookmarked here: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:726a0951079b ]
josieholford  2010  technology  luddism  michaelwesch  luddites  education  schools  schooling  change  media  internet  web  online  progressive  knowledge  learning  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  civilization  slow  sloweducation  slowpedagogy  criticalthinking  digitalliteracy  curriculum  howweteach  teaching  literacy  literacies  multiliteracies  cheating  plagiarism  creativity  purpose  values  grading  assessment  grades  isaacludlam  maxinegreene  socialimagination  civics  citizenship  writing  reading  networkedlearning  community  relationships  tcsnmy  neilpostman  charlesweingartner  crapdetection  social  socialmedia 
august 2014 by robertogreco
A Community of Artists: Radical Pedagogy at CalArts, 1969-72 (East of Borneo)
"In (and Out of) the Classroom

The academic program instituted in the first two years after the institute opened in 1970 responded actively to the radical critique of education, at the same time evincing a Romantic belief in the liberating and equalizing powers of art and artists. Early promotional literature explicitly redefined the notion of “school” or steered clear of the word altogether. As Judith Adler notes in her 1979 ethnography of CalArts, Artists in Offices, “reference to the new organization as an institute (with its connotations of scientific and scholarly prestige) and as a community implicitly distinguished CalArts from other schools where artists teach students.” 6 The CalArts concept statement explicitly stated that “students [were] accepted as artists […] and encouraged in the independence this implies,” while elsewhere faculty and students were described as “collaborators.” 7

The first admissions bulletin similarly highlighted the fact that there was to be no fixed curriculum at CalArts. Provost and dean of theater Blau advocated “no information in advance of need,” and dean of music Mel Powell called for “as many curricula as students.” The vision for critical studies outlined by dean Maurice Stein argued for doing away with courses altogether, because “courses really get nobody anywhere.” Powell’s vision for the music school was similarly anarchic and personality-driven: “We must know by now that curricula, or especially descriptions of curricula, are almost always humbug. What counts is the people involved. Expansion of musical sensibility, adroitness, knowledge, experience—that has to be operative, not catalog blather.”

Many of the radical pedagogical impulses expressed in these early admissions materials came to pass once the institute was up and running—in its first year, on a temporary campus at the Villa Cabrini, a former Catholic girls’ school in Burbank, and in its second year, on the permanent CalArts campus in Valencia. Although the school of critical studies did end up offering courses, the options might better be described as “anti-courses”—i.e., non-academic classes parodying academic classes or academic classes in subject areas considered unworthy of study by the academy, such as Advanced Drug Research, Chinese Sutra Meditation, Sex in Human Experience and Society or Superwoman: A Feminist Workshop. Across the institute, schedules were intentionally loose and attendance voluntary. 9 One of the course schedule bulletins that were mimeographed weekly and distributed on campus lists a range of classes and events, some of which repeat, others that do not: a lecture on “Epistemology of Design” is offered “at instructor’s home,” while Peter Van Riper is scheduled to lecture on “Art History or Whatever He’s Into”; a meeting with the dean of students is open to “all persons interested in discussing and working on untraditional ways of providing psychological services (Counseling, Group Therapy, Encounter Groups, etc.)”; the Ewe Ensemble (Music of Ghana) meets in parking lot W, at the same time that Kaprow offers Advanced Happenings; in the evening, a concert by Ravi Shankar."



"The Fluxus artists’ interest in a more open-ended, experienced-based pedagogy and their experiments with temporality and alternative uses of space dovetailed nicely with the administration’s desire to buck the bureaucratic conventions of schooling. 13 As the associate dean of the art school, Kaprow in particular had a powerful influence on the direction of the early institute. “Kaprow was the thinking behind the school as far as I’m concerned,” Knowles argues. “[He] had the vision of a school based on what artists wanted to do rather than what the school wanted them to do.”"



"Corrigan and Blau fought their dismissal, insisting that they couldn’t be fired by the Disney Corporation, only by the board of trustees—who to begin with refused to support the decision. Roy Disney modified his position to allow Corrigan to stay on until the end of the year, though he remained firm in his firing of Blau as provost. Blau rejected an offer to stay on as dean of theater and dance, and by the end of 1972, both Corrigan and Blau had been ousted, three years after they’d begun planning the new school and two years after it opened. The faculty was downsized, and numerous hires they had made were canceled or let go.

Notes from a faculty retreat convened in Idyllwild, California after the institute’s first year reveal that many of the original faculty and administrators themselves favored reforming the structure and curriculum of the institute, and one wonders how the school might have developed had Corrigan and Blau been allowed to stay and build on their experience. Blau, for instance, argued that “the faculty must be better structured to reflect more of a distinction between student and faculty” and “a better definition of competence, eligibility, and progress must be established” for students. He also suggested that “separate programs […] be introduced for students who are capable of directing themselves and those students who need more specific guidance.” Other faculty members cited “great dissatisfaction with the chaotic situation of the past year,” “a need for more pragmatism,” and a need to clarify “programs and degrees—their content and what they represent.”

Although by that time the Disneys had donated more than $30 million to the school, much of it had gone to fund the building, which was lavishly equipped for art making, and the institute soon found itself in financial trouble. After a brief interlude with Walt Disney’s son-in-law Bill Lund at the helm, CalArts got a new president in 1975, Robert Fitzpatrick, whose charge was to assure fiscal solvency to the institute and make “all the divisions separate, to give each dean complete autonomy in his field, and to make the intermingling available to the students who could profit by it as a resource, not an obsession.” 28 Fitzpatrick had little reverence for the institute’s founding vision—either Walt’s version or Blau and Corrigan’s: “The trouble with utopia is that it doesn’t exist,” he said in a 1983 interview. “And then there was this dream of the perfect place for the arts, with all the disciplines beautifully mingling, every filmmaker composing symphonies, every actor a perfect graphic artist. Sure, it’s a great idea as far as it goes. But nobody noticed that each of the arts has its own pace, its own rhythm, and its own demands.”

What is missing from Fitzpatrick’s own vision is any reference to the more Marcusian conception of the institute not just as the “perfect place for the arts,” but as an ideal community fashioned through the arts. As Faith Wilding reflects on her experience in the Feminist Art Program and the community that developed out of it:
What remains of primary importance to me […] is the sense that we were connecting to a much larger enterprise than trying to advance our artistic careers, or to make art for art’s sake. It was precisely our commitment to the activist politics of women’s liberation, to a burgeoning theory and practice of feminism, and to a larger conversation about community, collectivity and radical history, which has given me lasting connections to people and a continuing sense of being part of a cultural and political resistance, however fragmentary the expression of this may be in my life today.

Despite his own conflicts with the institute, Blau holds a similar perspective: “During the time I was there (I cannot speak for it now), it was—like the Bauhaus or Black Mountain—not only a school but very much what Disney wanted, a community of the arts, in which students and teachers trained together, performed together, constructed ‘environments’ together and even somehow managed—where the particular work was not of a communal nature—to leave each other alone.”

CalArts today is a school rather than an anti-school, with grades (low pass/pass/high pass), a timetable for graduation, and for the first time in its history, a syllabus in every classroom. Yet an investment in radical pedagogy persists, with a loose consensus that the educational situations that work best often involve field trips and social outreach, project-based learning, and “mentoring” as opposed to “teaching.” The notion that faculty are to treat students as artists and colleagues prevails, with its attendant benefits and difficulties. The question of what form the delivery of content should take is a live one. Time and space are continually contested, and an openness to what might be places constant pressure on what is.

Just last year, the institute carved out a “commons” time from the heavily scheduled individual school curricula in which students can come together across disciplines to collaborate—in some sense, a return to its origins. Although, to paraphrase Marcuse, an art school can only be truly free in a free society—i.e., art becomes life only when life is also opened up to creative change—the promise of this commingling endures. Indeed, the Gesamtkunstwerk that preserves a vision of emancipated social life in times of political conservatism holds even greater possibilities in our own era of renewed resistance and collective action."
calarts  cv  history  education  1960s  1970s  robertfitzpatrick  roydisney  waltdisney  robertcorrigan  mariosalvo  herbertblau  fluxus  judithadler  melpowell  janetsarbanes  mauricestein  feminism  freedom  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  alisonknowles  petervanriper  allankaprow  dickhiggins  emmettwilliams  jamestenney  namjunepaik  owensmith  judychicagomiriamschapiro  johnbaldessari  herbertmarcuse  art  arteducation  radicalism  communes  communalism  interdisciplinary  crosspollination  crossdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  experimentation  blackmountaincollege  bmc  pedagogy  teaching  howweteach  deschooling  capitalism  unschooling  power  control  democracy  anti-teaching  anti-schools  artschools  altgdp  activism  community  relationships  bauhaus  collectivism  society  grades  grading  schedules  timelines  syllabus  projectbasedlearning  2014  1969  1970  1971  1972  pbl  radicalpedagogy  artschool  syllabi 
august 2014 by robertogreco
A Classroom Leaves the Syllabus to the Students - NYTimes.com
"“We got a group together and said what we wanted to do, and the administration just said, ‘O.K., ask for any equipment or advice you need,’ ” said Colleen Perry, who is studying bioengineering. “We’ve definitely made mistakes, but it’s probably the first time in our lives that we’re not getting a grade and we don’t have anyone telling us what to do.”"



"A summer program with no course credit, no set curriculum to cover, no competing class schedule and no penalty for failure frees students to experiment, said Alan J. Snyder, a vice president and associate provost at Lehigh. Eventually, the university plans to offer the program year-round, with many more students involved.

“The lines between the classroom and the lab, the workshop, need to blur,” he said. “Especially in an era where the textbook is old before the ink is dry, students need to be independent thinkers, discoverers.”

A growing number of universities want to provide students with adaptable spaces for innovation, particularly for graduate students in applied sciences whose ideas might turn into businesses — such so-called incubator spaces are an integral part of Cornell’s plan for a new graduate school in New York City. Few schools have the extra room, but Lehigh does, in a former Bethlehem Steel complex on a hilltop just south of campus, which the university bought and has renovated over many years.

One building acquired last year, with open floors and high ceilings like an aircraft hangar, has become home to the mountaintop program.

Some of the projects here are based in the humanities, social science or business, but the largest number involve engineering and computing — on subjects such as robotics, composting, innovative playground structures, security for cloud computing, ventilation for cooking huts, water purification and a “smart house” controlled from the owner’s phone.

The teams have a small budget for supplies and travel, and each student receives a stipend — $450 a week for undergrads, $600 for graduate students — to make up for not having a summer job."
t  lecsnmy  openstudioproject  education  learning  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  curriculum  freedom  innovation  grades  grading  howwelearn  cv  lehighuniversity 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Why Kids Care More About Achievement Than Helping Others - Jessica Lahey - The Atlantic
"While 96 percent of parents say they want to raise ethical, caring children, and cite the development of moral character as “very important, if not essential,” 80 percent of the youths surveyed reported that their parents “are more concerned about achievement or happiness than caring for others.” Approximately the same percentage reported that their teachers prioritize student achievement over caring. Surveyed students were three times as likely to agree as disagree with the statement “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my class than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.”

Study author Richard Weissbourd says he was surprised by the results. As he wrote to me in an email:
We were especially surprised and troubled to find how many youth value aspects of achievement over caring and fairness. We were also surprised by what seems to be a clear gap between what parents say they're prioritizing and the messages that youth are picking up day to day. We need to take a hard look at the messages we're sending to children about success versus concern for others and think about how we can send different messages.

Child psychologist and author Michele Borba told me the study was “incredibly important,” a “wake up call to parents, a clear indication that we need to reprioritize our parenting agendas ASAP. The science reveals the irony of the situation: happier and more successful kids care about others, they are able to relate, be concerned, and respect differences, and a lack of empathy makes kids less successful, and less happy.” Her email went on to explain,
Studies show that kids’ ability to feel for others affects their health, wealth and authentic happiness as well as their emotional, social, cognitive development and performance. Empathy activates conscience and moral reasoning, improves happiness, curbs bullying and aggression, enhances kindness and peer inclusiveness, reduces prejudice and racism, promotes heroism and moral courage and boosts relationship satisfaction. Empathy is a key ingredient of resilience, the foundation to trust, the benchmark of humanity, and core to everything that makes a society civilized.

Children are not the only ones hearing parents’ implicit message. Educators, too, understand that parents value achievement and happiness over empathy and caring. When the study’s authors surveyed educators as part of their research, this is what they found:
The great majority of teachers, administrators, and school staff did not see parents as prioritizing caring in child-raising. About 80% of school adults viewed parents as prioritizing their children’s achievement above caring and a similar percentage viewed parents as prioritizing happiness over caring.

If there is any good news to be found in this report, it is that while we may value other things above empathy, we still care about it, and want our children to value it. While only 22 percent of the students surveyed ranked caring first on their list of priorities, almost half of them students ranked caring second, and 45 percent thought their parents would rank caring second as well.

The authors offer parents and teachers a number of guidelines. First, they suggest that parents give their children opportunities to practice being good, empathetic people. “Daily repetition—whether it’s helping a friend with homework, pitching in around the house, having a classroom job, or working on a project on homelessness” can give kids the skills they need to make caring a part of their day-to-day lives. The study also recommends that parents teach their children to see the world from multiple perspectives and help them find positive ways to channel negative feelings such as envy, shame, and anger.

As the report shows, simply talking about compassion is not enough. Children are perceptive creatures, fully capable of discerning the true meanings in the blank spaces between well-intentioned words. If parents really want to let their kids know that they value caring and empathy, the authors suggest, they must make a real effort to help their children learn to care about other people—even when it’s hard, even when it does not make them happy, and yes, even when it is at odds with their personal success. "
achievement  success  caring  empathy  parenting  character  charactereducation  2014  jessicalahey  hypocrisy  richardweissbourd  competition  grades  grading  micheleborba  education  schools  priorities  compassion  perspective  happiness 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Open Ed 12 - Gardner Campbell Keynote - Ecologies of Yearning - YouTube
[See also: https://storify.com/audreywatters/ecologies-of-yearning-and-the-future-of-open-educa ]

[See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steps_to_an_Ecology_of_Mind and
PDF http://www.edtechpost.ca/readings/Gregory%20Bateson%20-%20Ecology%20of%20Mind.pdf ]

[References these videos by a student: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmFL4Khu2yJoR0Oq5dcY5pw ]

[via: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:e91b15f323b8

"In his keynote at the 2012 OpenEd conference, Gardner Campbell, an Associate Professor of English at Virginia Tech, talked about the “Ecologies of Yearning.” (Seriously: watch the video.) Campbell offered a powerful and poetic vision about the future of open learning, but noted too that there are competing visions for that future, particularly from the business and technology sectors. There are competing definitions of “open” as well, and pointing to the way in which “open” is used (and arguably misused) by education technology companies, Campbell’s keynote had a refrain, borrowed from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”: “That is not it at all. That is not what I meant, at all.”"]

"30:29 Bateson's Hierarchy of learning

30:52 Zero Learning:"receipt of signal". No error possible

31:37 Learning I: "change in specificity of response by correction of errors of choice within a set of alternatives". Palov, etc. Habituation, adaptation.

32:16 Learning II: Learning-to-learn, context recognition, "corrective change in the set of alternatives from which choice is made, or.. in how the sequence of experience is punctuated". Premises are self-validating.

34:23 Learning III: Meta-contextual perspective, imagining and shifting contexts of understanding. "a corrective change in the system of sets of alternatives from which choice is made" Puts self at risk. Questions become explosive.

36:22 Learning IV: change to level III, "probably does not occur in any adult living organisms on this earth"

38:59 "Double bind"

44:49 Habits of being that might be counter-intuitive

51:49 Participant observers constructed Wordles of students' blogs"

[Comment from Céline Keller:

"This is my favorite talk online: Open Ed 12 - Gardner Campbell Keynote - Ecologies of Yearning +Gardner Campbell

This is what I wrote about it 7 month ago:

"Academia is to knowledge what prostitution is to love; close enough on the surface but, to the nonsucker, not exactly the same thing." Nassim Nicholas Taleb

If you care about education and learning don't miss listening to Gardner Campbell!

As described on the #edcmooc resource page:

"(This lecture)...serves as a warning that what we really want - our utopia - is not necessarily to be found in the structures we are putting in place (or finding ourselves within)."
Love it."

I still mean it. This is great, listen."]

[More here: http://krustelkrammoocs.blogspot.com/2013/02/gardner-campbell-sense-of-wonder-how-to.html ]
2012  gardnercampbell  nassimtaleb  academia  web  participatory  learning  howwelearn  hierarchyoflearning  love  habituation  adaption  open  openeducation  coursera  gregorybateson  udacity  sebastianthrun  mooc  moocs  georgesiemens  stephendownes  davecormier  carolyeager  aleccouros  jimgroom  audreywatters  edupunk  jalfredprufrock  missingthepoint  highered  edx  highereducation  tseliot  rubrics  control  assessment  quantification  canon  administration  hierarchy  hierarchies  pedagogy  philosophy  doublebind  paranoia  hepephrenia  catatonia  mentalhealth  schizophrenia  life  grades  grading  seymourpapert  ecologiesofyearning  systems  systemsthinking  suppression  context  education  conditioning  pavlov  gamification  freedom  liberation  alankay  human  humans  humanism  agency  moreofthesame  metacontexts  unfinished  ongoing  lifelonglearning  cognition  communication  networkedtranscontextualism  transcontextualism  transcontextualsyndromes  apgartest  virginiaapgar  howweteach  scottmccloud  michaelchorost  georgedyson  opening  openness  orpheus  experience  consciousness  pur 
may 2014 by robertogreco
No Courses, No Classrooms, No Grades — Just Learning | MindShift
"NuVu is the brainchild of Saeed Arida, a former PhD student from MIT who believes that young people should be taught to solve real-world problems, like using new materials to design higher-quality prosthetics.

“Studios are not subjects in the traditional sense, as they involve finding a solution for a very real human problem,” said Arida. “What students do here is a very different kind of educational experience.”

Here’s How NuVu describes the program:
NuVu is a full-time magnet innovation center for middle and high school students. NuVu’s pedagogy is based on the architectural Studio model and geared around multi-disciplinary, collaborative projects. We basically teach students how to navigate the messiness of the creative process, from inception to completion.

No Courses: Instead, we have studios. Around 12 kids work closely with their 2 coaches on solving big (and small) open-ended problems.

No Subjects: Instead, everything is fused together. Students find themselves moving between a studio that requires them to design a telepresence robot to another that requires them to re-imagine Boston with a cable car system.

No Classrooms: Instead, we have an open space that changes all the time to adapt to the needs of every studio.

No One-Hour Schedule: Instead, students spend two weeks from 9-3 solving one problem.

No Grades: Instead, we have portfolios that document students’ design decisions and show their final products.

But can anyone visualize this happening in today’s public schools? Project-based learning programs like NuVu are not particularly common throughout the U.S., with notable exceptions like High Tech High and New Tech Network. Most K-12 classrooms in America are fairly new to project-based learning, or don’t offer it at all. Typically speaking, only the most elite schools in the wealthiest neighborhoods can afford to experiment with PBL.

NuVu got its start by partnering with Beaver County Day School in Brookline, Mass., an elite independent school attended by the sons and daughters of Harvard and MIT graduates, which is positioning itself as digitally-savvy and progressive institution. Notably, it was the first U.S. school to make it a requirement for students to take computer programming lessons.

NuVu’s program doesn’t come cheap. It costs $8,000 per student per trimester. The company offers scholarships, and to Arida’s credit, he’s looking for ways to involve students from public schools in the area by forging partnerships with neighboring public schools to make NuVu available as an elective.

But for most entrepreneurs, selling schools (particularly budget-strapped public schools) on incorporating PBL programs into their core curriculum is an ongoing challenge.

“We haven’t seen many of these project-based learning programs scale rapidly,” said Michael Staton, an investor at education-focused venture firm Learn Capital. “Partnering with schools is fine if you can figure out how to do that efficiently,” Staton added. “But most entrepreneurs have no idea.”

The crux of the problem, according to Staton, is that most schools are sticking to core subjects and the bell system, which doesn’t leave much time for exploratory projects. Outside of school, most students can only access project-based programs online and in their own time. The best known services are DIY.org, an instructional guide for budding makers, and the various project-based learn-to-code courses from Code.org, General Assembly, and Khan Academy. But most high schoolers would tell you that they’re already overwhelmed with juggling college admissions, after-school, clubs, volunteering and homework. Good luck adding another project to their plate."

The Tide Is Turning

To make PBL more mainstream, the change may need to come from within. There’s a movement afoot to make project-based learning an integral part of every child’s education. Organizations like P21 (Partnership for 21st Century Skills) and Buck Institute are helping to bridge the gap between entrepreneurs, businesses, teachers and state superintendents. P21 partners with representatives in 18 states, including Arizona, California, and Massachusetts, and provides teachers with tools and resources for project-based learning. In addition, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation habitually provides funding to PBL schools, particularly those that foster digital skills. These organizations’ aim is bring PBL programs into classrooms, rather than expecting students to participate in their free time.

Schools don’t need to follow NuVu’s model to the tee. In fact, this approach may seem radical, as students do not receive grades or formal examinations and the learning doesn’t happen in physical classrooms. But teachers can take inspiration from NuVu and the various interactive online courses. For instance, Muscatine High School in Iowa has found success with its G2 Global Generation Exponential Learning initiative. High schoolers learn math and engineering in classrooms and by making water purification systems, or building statistical models for new bus routes. Younger students at middle school research trash statistics, and participate in oral history projects.
Arida hopes that NuVu’s program will pave the way for ed-tech entrepreneurs to launch similar ventures in other states.

“We’re presenting a different way to think about education, he said. “Students are empowered to be creative, and actually execute on their ideas. Isn’t that the lesson we should be teaching our kids?”"
nuvu  nuvustudio  openstudiproject  lcproject  saeedarida  grades  grading  projectbasedlearning  schedules  scheduling  studioclassrooms  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  transdisciplinary  design  designthinking  2014  learning  education  unschooling  deschooling  schools  pbl 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Wilson’s 1997 “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” (updated 2013)
[A comment in reaction to a post on Diane Ravitch's blog "The Fatal Flaw of the Common Core Standards", via Taryn who quotes Duane Swacker. Bookmark points to the comment.]

"the [grade/test score] becomes part of the story about yourself and with sufficient repetitions becomes true: true because those who know, those in authority, say it is true [...] true because if your mark is high you are consistently rewarded, so that your voice becomes a voice of authority in the power-knowledge discourses that reproduce the structure that helped to produce you"

[The full comment:]

"That educational standards, in this instance CCSS and standardized testing have “fatal flaws” has been know for quite a while. In 1997 Noel Wilson identified at least 13 epistemological and ontological “fatal flaws” that render the processes of the educational standards and standardized testing completely invalid. That this is not wider known is beyond me because it seems like common sense, but we know there isn’t much common sense in the Common Core. To understand why CCSS is such educational malarkey and, in reality educational malpractice read his “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” found at: http://epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/577/700

Brief outline of Wilson’s “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” and some comments of mine. (updated 6/24/13 per Wilson email)

1. A quality cannot be quantified. Quantity is a sub-category of quality. It is illogical to judge/assess a whole category by only a part (sub-category) of the whole. The assessment is, by definition, lacking in the sense that “assessments are always of multidimensional qualities. To quantify them as one dimensional quantities (numbers or grades) is to perpetuate a fundamental logical error” (per Wilson). The teaching and learning process falls in the logical realm of aesthetics/qualities of human interactions. In attempting to quantify educational standards and standardized testing we are lacking much information about said interactions.

2. A major epistemological mistake is that we attach, with great importance, the “score” of the student, not only onto the student but also, by extension, the teacher, school and district. Any description of a testing event is only a description of an interaction, that of the student and the testing device at a given time and place. The only correct logical thing that we can attempt to do is to describe that interaction (how accurately or not is a whole other story). That description cannot, by logical thought, be “assigned/attached” to the student as it cannot be a description of the student but the interaction. And this error is probably one of the most egregious “errors” that occur with standardized testing (and even the “grading” of students by a teacher).

3. Wilson identifies four “frames of reference” each with distinct assumptions (epistemological basis) about the assessment process from which the “assessor” views the interactions of the teaching and learning process: the Judge (think college professor who “knows” the students capabilities and grades them accordingly), the General Frame-think standardized testing that claims to have a “scientific” basis, the Specific Frame-think of learning by objective like computer based learning, getting a correct answer before moving on to the next screen, and the Responsive Frame-think of an apprenticeship in a trade or a medical residency program where the learner interacts with the “teacher” with constant feedback. Each category has its own sources of error and more error in the process is caused when the assessor confuses and conflates the categories.

4. Wilson elucidates the notion of “error”: “Error is predicated on a notion of perfection; to allocate error is to imply what is without error; to know error it is necessary to determine what is true. And what is true is determined by what we define as true, theoretically by the assumptions of our epistemology, practically by the events and non-events, the discourses and silences, the world of surfaces and their interactions and interpretations; in short, the practices that permeate the field. . . Error is the uncertainty dimension of the statement; error is the band within which chaos reigns, in which anything can happen. Error comprises all of those eventful circumstances which make the assessment statement less than perfectly precise, the measure less than perfectly accurate, the rank order less than perfectly stable, the standard and its measurement less than absolute, and the communication of its truth less than impeccable.”

In other word all the logical errors involved in the process render any conclusions invalid.

5. The test makers/psychometricians, through all sorts of mathematical machinations attempt to “prove” that these tests (based on standards) are valid-errorless or supposedly at least with minimal error [they aren't]. Wilson turns the concept of validity on its head and focuses on just how invalid the machinations and the test and results are. He is an advocate for the test taker not the test maker. In doing so he identifies thirteen sources of “error”, any one of which renders the test making/giving/disseminating of results invalid. As a basic logical premise is that once something is shown to be invalid it is just that, invalid, and no amount of “fudging” by the psychometricians/test makers can alleviate that invalidity.

6. Having shown the invalidity, and therefore the unreliability, of the whole process Wilson concludes, rightly so, that any result/information gleaned from the process is “vain and illusory”. In other words start with an invalidity, end with an invalidity (except by sheer chance every once in a while, like a blind and anosmic squirrel who finds the occasional acorn, a result may be “true”) or to put in more mundane terms crap in-crap out.

7. And so what does this all mean? I’ll let Wilson have the second to last word: “So what does a test measure in our world? It measures what the person with the power to pay for the test says it measures. And the person who sets the test will name the test what the person who pays for the test wants the test to be named.”

In other words it measures “’something’ and we can specify some of the ‘errors’ in that ‘something’ but still don’t know [precisely] what the ‘something’ is.” The whole process harms many students as the social rewards for some are not available to others who “don’t make the grade (sic)” Should American public education have the function of sorting and separating students so that some may receive greater benefits than others, especially considering that the sorting and separating devices, educational standards and standardized testing, are so flawed not only in concept but in execution?

My answer is NO!!!!!

One final note with Wilson channeling Foucault and his concept of subjectivization:

“So the mark [grade/test score] becomes part of the story about yourself and with sufficient repetitions becomes true: true because those who know, those in authority, say it is true; true because the society in which you live legitimates this authority; true because your cultural habitus makes it difficult for you to perceive, conceive and integrate those aspects of your experience that contradict the story; true because in acting out your story, which now includes the mark and its meaning, the social truth that created it is confirmed; true because if your mark is high you are consistently rewarded, so that your voice becomes a voice of authority in the power-knowledge discourses that reproduce the structure that helped to produce you; true because if your mark is low your voice becomes muted and confirms your lower position in the social hierarchy; true finally because that success or failure confirms that mark that implicitly predicted the now self-evident consequences. And so the circle is complete.”

In other words students “internalize” what those “marks” (grades/test scores) mean, and since the vast majority of the students have not developed the mental skills to counteract what the “authorities” say, they accept as “natural and normal” that “story/description” of them. Although paradoxical in a sense, the “I’m an “A” student” is almost as harmful as “I’m an ‘F’ student” in hindering students becoming independent, critical and free thinkers. And having independent, critical and free thinkers is a threat to the current socio-economic structure of society."
assessment  learning  tests  testing  authority  dianravitch  duaneswacker  measurement  1997  noelwilson  commoncore  stadards  standardization  error  epistemology  grades  grading  ranking  rankings  standardizedtests  dtandardizedtesting  hierarchy  hierarchies  via:Taryn  power  tcsnmy  criticalthinking  freedom  democracy  sorting 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Education Outrage: The top ten mistakes in education. Twenty years later.
"Twenty years have passed. Surely my writing about this and other’s re-posting and writing about this have had a big effect on education. Let’s look at them one by one:

Mistake #1: Schools act as if learning can be disassociated from doing.
Yes. Things have changed. They are worse. The latest horror is MOOCs which is just more talking and insists on the idea the education means knowledge transfer and that knowledge can be acquired by listening.

Mistake #2: Schools believe they have the job of assessment as part of their natural role
Yes. Things have really changed here. They are much worse. Before there were just a lots of bad tests. Now there are tests at every grade. Tests to get ready for the test. And now, teacher evaluations based on the tests.

Mistake #3: Schools believe they have an obligation to create standard curricula.
Wow! This one has gotten even worse than the others. Now it isn’t schools that create standard curricula it is Bill Gates, Common Core, the US Department of Education and every state Department of Education. We sure fixed that one.

Mistake #4: Teachers believe they ought to tell students what they think it is important to know.
I am not sure about this one. I don’t think teachers think much of anything anymore other than how to survive in a system where they are not valued and teaching doesn’t matter except with respect to test scores.

Mistake #5: Schools believe instruction can be independent of motivation for actual use.
No change. Still no use for algebra, physics formulae, random knowledge about history or literature. No use for anything taught in school actually after reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Mistake #6: Schools believe studying is an important part of learning.
No change.

Mistake #7: Schools believe that grading according to age group is an intrinsic part of the organization of a school.
No change.

Mistake #8: Schools believe children will accomplish things only by having grades to strive for.
No change.

Mistake #9: Schools believe discipline is an inherent part of learning.
Perhaps this has changed. There seems to be a lot less discipline.

Mistake #10: Schools believe students have a basic interest in learning whatever it is schools decide to teach to them.
Nah. No one believes that anymore.

I am not only one loudly talking into the wind. There are lots of people who agree with me and say thing similar to what I say.
Is there anyone listening?

Sure. Parents are noticing how stupid the test are and how stupid Common Core is. The kids are noticing, now more than ever. The teachers are upset.

Is anyone listening to them? No. There is big money at stake in keeping things as they are.

Well, that the report from 20 years on the front lines. We shall not retreat, but victory looks to be far away."
via:audreywatters  education  testing  standardizedtesting  2014  1994  learning  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  commoncore  grades  grading  motivation  assessment  schools  mooc  moocs  instruction  rogerschank 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Stanford: Tuesday, December 7 (Aaron Swartz: The Weblog)
"As usual, grades are about following orders, not doing something worthwhile"
grades  grading  stanford  aaronswartz  education  learning  authority  via:lukeneff 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Standards-Based Grading: The End | ThinkThankThunk
"The idea of remediation is a serious hang-up for those that like to have hang-ups about new ideas. At BIG, we’ve left this whole idea of scheduled learning–and therefore hacking scheduled learning–behind, which is all SBG really is, a nice hack of a broken system. Like sending Internet packets down phone lines.

Our students work towards a competency for the following reasons:

• Faculty take an enormous amount of time learning about the student’s passions, interests, and current projects.

• Our goal is to produce a resume-building experience and product the student can take with them long after they graduate.

• The student co-designs the projects, competencies, and work.

• Students seek out faculty time, and have significantly less required “seat time” than in a traditional environment.

• The pedagogy at BIG is wildly student centered

• Notable absence: for a grade

The last couplet of points is the most important. We’re seeing an insurrection of grading initiatives around the country, which almost by definition means that the whole thing is going to implode under the weight of poor implementations. Sad, but education is as education does.

So, why is SBG a gateway drug? Because the minute you admit that you’ve been grading ineffectively, you end up admitting all sorts of things are weird about school. Like schedules, like cookie-cutter assignments, like students doing work to be “done with it.”

It’s a gateway to student-centered pedagogy. It’s a gateway to asking what kind of projects can be done that envelope multiple standards. It’s an exercise in creating deadline-murdering, interesting projects."
remediation  grades  grading  education  teaching  learning  standards-basedgrading  assessment  competency  pedagogy  2013  schedules  standards  experience  shawncornally 
july 2013 by robertogreco
RADical Design for LEARNING -- Survey Seminar and Practical Action Laboratory
"Wtf is going on? Why are people limping out of 20 years of schooling without directed motivation, a solid internal compass, or a commitment to passionately pursuing their interests? Let's examine why in a cozy, edgy, authentic seminar where we balance theory with real-world action (praxis). We'll study the radical learning greats such as Illich, Papert, and Llewelyn, with focused readings and videos followed by discussion. Whenever possible we'll try to have the authors or their direct students available for Q&A&Q. And through hands-on labs and projects we'll design and enact experience-based transformations, like improvised music, consciousness altering strategies, electronics workshops etc. We can't wait to see you realize your wonderful ideas!"
unschooling  deschooling  education  syllabus  jaysilver  ericrosenbaum  mit  learning  mitmedialab  medialab  lifelongkindergarten  amosblanton  lego  seymourpapert  ivanillich  gracellewelyn  bilalghalib  jefflieberman  making  hackerspaces  lcproject  makerspaces  openstudioproject  grading  rubrics  assessment  diy  notbacktoschoolcamp  johnholt  piaget  mitchresnick  leahbuechley  eleanorduckworth  nuvu  nuvustudio  holeinthewall  sugatamitra  sprout  elsistema  theblueschool  computerclubhouse  drishya  bakhtiarmikhak  sudburyschools  sudburyvalleyschool  samcassat  seanstevens  frostburn  quaker  criticalmass  burningman  paulofreire  quakers  sprout&co  jeanpiaget  syllabi 
june 2013 by robertogreco
If students designed their own schools... on Vimeo
"The "best small town" in America experiments with self-directed learning at its public high school. A group of students gets to create their own school-within-a-school and they learn only what they want to learn.

Does it work? Charles Tsai finds out by spending a week with the Independent Project."

[Also here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RElUmGI5gLc ]
charlestsai  education  teaching  learning  schools  schooling  2013  democraticschools  democracy  self-directed  self-directedlearning  unschooling  deschooling  cv  tcsnmy  howwelearn  grades  grading  peerassessment  assessment  inquiry  inquiry-basedlearning  lcproject  openstudioproject  highschool  publicschools 
may 2013 by robertogreco
The case against grades: They lower self-esteem, discourage creativity, and reinforce the class divide. - Slate Magazine
"Abandoning grades would be a massive shock, but holding onto them has not forestalled decay, from waves of school closures for poor standardized test results to the trillion-dollar debt guillotine awaiting college students who'll struggle to win unpaid internships for all their hard work. Eliminating grades would not singlehandedly bring salvation. There is a whole new world of challenges and complications in a classroom without pedagogy and rank. But it would be an ideal place to start anew, to stop motivating students, teachers, and underperformers with the fear of being flunked, fired, or shut down. Without that dysfunctional ranking we could instead form a child’s education around his or her eagerness to discover, contribute, and share. An A-to-F grade scale is only a distraction from that process and in many cases an outright deterrent. It’s time to admit that system has no place in our future."
grading  education  pedagogy  grades  2013  michaelthomsen  assessment  tcsnmy  learning  schooling  schools 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Brown Alumna Recalls What She Failed to Learn - NYTimes.com
"Though I alone was responsible for insulating myself from challenge and failure and meaningful reward, an entire system buffers today’s children from such possibilities. Overprotective parents, schools dedicated to acing exams, a college preparatory system that offers zero capacity for error (unless it provides pathos fodder for the application essay) — all of these elements make it hard for the ambitious child to risk a misstep. There is no room for failure, let alone soap opera afternoons.

Today, perfect children check off boxes at all levels. At a Manhattan preschool last year, word spread about the magnificent child who had won acceptance at 12 — 12! — coveted kindergartens. “How did she manage it?” parents were heard to whisper. And then the answer was passed along the same gossip chain. “When asked to jump, my daughter will not only jump, she’ll ask, ‘How high?’ ” her mother explained."
universities  colleges  experience  riskaversion  fearoffailure  failure  competition  gamingthesystem  assessment  grading  grades  standardizedtesting  testcentricschools  collegeprep  missingthepoint  perfectionism  self-esteem  motivation  incentives  conditioning  checkboxes  schooliness  risktaking  learning  education  2012  princetonkid  pamelapaul  from delicious
december 2012 by robertogreco
Why Kids Should Grade Teachers - Amanda Ripley - The Atlantic
"A decade ago, an economist at Harvard, Ronald Ferguson, wondered what would happen if teachers were evaluated by the people who see them every day—their students. The idea—as simple as it sounds, and as familiar as it is on college campuses—was revolutionary. And the results seemed to be, too: remarkable consistency from grade to grade, and across racial divides. Even among kindergarten students. A growing number of school systems are administering the surveys—and might be able to overcome teacher resistance in order to link results to salaries and promotions."
why  leadership  management  administration  schooling  schools  students  grading  amandaripley  ronaldferguson  professionaldevelopment  pd  teaching  teacherevaluation  evaluation  education  from delicious
september 2012 by robertogreco
Now You See It // The Blog of Author Cathy N. Davidson » New post on DMLcentral: Standardizing Human Ability
"Here’s a list (in no particular order) of some of the changes in U.S. education, from kindergarten to professional school, either invented or finalized in the Taylorist era (the same era that produced the assembly line, statistics, standard deviation, spreadsheets, blueprints, punch clocks): mandatory public secondary schooling, research universities, majors, minors, divisions, certification, graduate school, collegiate law school, nursing school, graduate school of education, collegiate business school, degree requirements, grades, required courses, electives, distribution requirements, IQ tests, multiple choice tests, item response college entrance exams (SAT), school rankings, class rankings. And learning disabilities.

… these are invented things. … Like statistics and the assembly line, the system of education we have inherited is not “timeless.” It is an industrial age invention."
compulsory  certification  curriculum  assessment  rankings  grading  ranking  iqtests  sat  specialization  departmentalization  learningdisabilities  inventions  invention  learning  tcsnmy  lcproject  context  deschooling  unschooling  standardization  taylorism  2012  cathydavidson  history  education  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
Personal Learning and Creation Time in Middle School
"Children are often unfamiliar with the concept of selecting and pursuing a topic or project of their choice that has very few rules or bounds associated with it. As a result, they are often at a loss as to how to proceed. They can have difficulty with the concept of doing something at school that is not for a "grade."

This Instructable provides a framework for implementing personal learning and project time in a middle school setting, although it could easily be adapted for use at any grade level.

By participating in personal learning and creation time, learners will gain first hand knowledge and experience in bringing an original idea from concept to final product, which will serve them well for the rest of their lives."
google20%  via:rushtheiceberg  openstudio  tcsnmy  cv  howwelearn  learning  unstucturedtime  plp  grades  grading  freedom  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  2012 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Nine Dangerous Things You Were Taught In School - Forbes
"1. The people in charge have all the answers…

2. Learning ends when you leave the classroom…

3. The best and brightest follow the rules. You will be rewarded for your subordination, just not as much as your superiors, who, of course, have their own rules.

4. What the books say is always true…

5. There is a very clear, single path to success…called college. Everyone can join the top 1% if they do well enough in school & ignore the basic math problem inherent in that idea.

6. Behaving yourself is as important as getting good marks.
Whistle-blowing, questioning the status quo, & thinking your own thoughts are no-nos. Be quiet & get back on the assembly line.

7. Standardized tests measure your value…

8. Days off are always more fun than sitting in the classroom.
You're trained from a young age to base your life around dribbles of allocated vacation…

9. The purpose of your education is your future career.
And so you will be taught to be a good worker…"
lcproject  statusquo  rules  conformity  2012  jessicahagy  schooliness  schools  success  hierarchy  information  standardizedtesting  grading  grades  subordination  myths  tcsnmy  education  deschooling  unschooling  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
Responding to Responses to “What Automated Essay Grading Says To Children” | Bud the Teacher
"I wrote a post the other day about what I feel like the use of machine scoring for student writing looks like to children.  The responses were strong.  I thought it made sense for me to clarify what I was saying, what I wasn’t saying, and what I didn’t say. #

Let’s tackle the last one first.  I didn’t say that I’m unsympathetic to the idea that more writing would happen if there was less grading to do.  Certainly, one reason that writing isn’t happening enough in classrooms now is that there’s a perception that every piece written must be “marked” or “graded” or “bled upon” by a teacher.  That’s completely false and a terrible idea. #

What our students need isn’t so many end comments or suggestions for grammatical or technical correction, but they need to be responded to as writers by readers who are reading their work.  Peter Elbow says this far smarter than I ever could, but we teachers should be doing less evaluating and more responding. #

So, yes.  Teachers are taking too long with papers.  The answer isn’t to stop reading them. It’s to read them differently.  Or to have more teachers reading fewer students’ writing.  And we don’t need to read everything that a student writes.  We certainly don’t need to grade everything a student writes. #"
machinescoring  via:lukeneff  standardizedtesting  grades  grading  writing  assessment  teaching  feedback  cv  howwework  howwelearn  budhunt  automatedgrading  essaysgrading  essays  peterelbow  2012 
april 2012 by robertogreco