16 years of education, and not a single memorable worksheet

Tonight, Dayton has the opportunity to hear one of those “experts” come in and tell us the secret to education. This one is a “Sir” as in knighted by the queen, as an “educationalist.”

Sir Kenneth Robinson will be giving a free talk at the UD Rec Plex gym at 7:30 pm. But, you can watch these two videos and get a good idea of what he’ll say.

Sir Ken’s specialty is talking about the teaching of creativity. The arts- the non-mass production of education. To bring passion back into learning and the educational process. And while I agree that creativity is one of the most undervalued skills in education these days- and, possibly in life, the problems of our education system may well be mostly moot compared to research about talking to your child before age 5, as pointed out in an opinion piece in today’s NYT:

the key to early learning is talking — specifically, a child’s exposure to language spoken by parents and caretakers from birth to age 3, the more the better. It turns out, evidence is showing, that the much-ridiculed stream of parent-to-child baby talk — Feel Teddy’s nose! It’s so soft! Cars make noise — look, there’s a yellow one! Baby feels hungry? Now Mommy is opening the refrigerator! — is very, very important. (So put those smartphones away!)…

All parents gave their children directives like “Put away your toy!” or “Don’t eat that!” But interaction was more likely to stop there for parents on welfare, while as a family’s income and educational levels rose, those interactions were more likely to be just the beginning.

The disparity was staggering. Children whose families were on welfare heard about 600 words per hour. Working-class children heard 1,200 words per hour, and children from professional families heard 2,100 words. By age 3, a poor child would have heard 30 million fewer words in his home environment than a child from a professional family. And the disparity mattered: the greater the number of words children heard from their parents or caregivers before they were 3, the higher their IQ and the better they did in school. TV talk not only didn’t help, it was detrimental.

via The Power of Talking to Your Baby – NYTimes.com.

What kind of change could we make in Dayton Public Schools performance by rewarding neighborhoods that set up neighborhood reading sessions for pre-k kids every day? A community that reads together may create the kind of learning community that can start to overcome the obstacles of poverty that have proven to decrease student performance.

But, thinking back over my own education- there is one indisputable fact: I remember about half a dozen teachers/professors profoundly- Susan Forde, Steven Young, Larry Geiger, David DiCarlo, Dr. Cleary, Dr. Jacobs- but I don’t remember a single worksheet, standardized test, or even textbook.

Great teachers, who stir up emotions, who challenge you to think, to come up with answers that aren’t fill in the blank, or memorization exercises, are the ones who made the difference.

Our new “Common Core” still suggests that one-size fits all, and that people need to know certain things- instead of how to solve uncertain problems.

Life isn’t as easy as fill in the blank. There are always many different solutions to every problem. That’s why I’m interested in hearing Sir Kenneth tonight- to see if he can make me think about things just a little differently. I hope I see you there.

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4 Responses

  1. truddick April 16, 2013 / 12:19 pm

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  2. joe_momma April 18, 2013 / 7:58 am
    But many will insist that educaation is not a responsibility nor a means to the common good, but rather an individual entitlement–and that parents know more about education than professional educators.  Until that notion, so widely expressed by voucher supporters, charter-school advocates, and other educational “reformers” (whose reforms inevitably channel dollars into their own pockets) is thoroughly rejected, we’ll make little progress on the issues. –trudick
    Being able to choose where I send my kids to school has about as much to do with me knowing more about education than me changing proctologists because I know more about a$$holes.  The reason for choice is accountability, just as it is for every other service and product the public consumes.

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  3. truddick April 19, 2013 / 7:34 am

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  4. joe_momma April 19, 2013 / 1:46 pm
    I’m all for due accountability, Joe.  So tell me, how many charter schools have been found to be cooking the books?  How many closed in mid-year, dumping the students they’ve neglected onto the school district?  I’m not claiming that traditional public education is perfect, but allowing parents to “choose” in many cases makes us pay for the opposite of accountability.  And that’s the shame of our fractured systems. – truddick
    Excuse me….cooking the books is by no means monopolized by Charter schools.  Some in public education have proven themselves quite capable in that department.
    Willful exchange between two parties drives accountability.  One party dictating the terms and conditions does not.   

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