Develop a classification system - analyze patterns, create a schema, evaluate where specific elements belong. Sounds like a very sophisticated exercise. Not really, young toddlers do it all the time - sorting out their toys and household stuff into groups of their own design. They may not be able to explain their thinking, but hand them another item and watch them purposely place it into one of their groups. They have designed a system.
Humans experience the world in patterns, continually trying to answer the question - what is this? Remembering where we've encountered things before and assessing new items for their similarities and differences. Someone once asked Picasso if it was difficult to draw a face. His reply, "it's difficult not to draw one." We see "faces" everywhere.
Filling out a Venn diagram isn't analysis - it's information filing.
It's unfortunate that student don't get to use their innate perceptual skills more often in the classroom. Instead of discovering patterns on their own, students are "taught" to memorize patterns developed by someone else. Rather than do the messy work of having to figure out what's going on and how to group what they see - students are saddled with graphic organizers which take all the thinking out of the exercise. Filling out a Venn diagram isn't analysis - it's information filing. Instead of being given a variety of math problems to solve that require different problem-solving strategies, students are taught a specific process then given ten versions of the same problem to solve for homework. No pattern recognition required here - all they have to do is simply keep applying the same procedures to new data sets. Isn't that what spreadsheets are for?
'Don’t Teach Them Facts – Let Student Discover Patterns' continued...
A march for: Equitable funding for all public school communities. An end to high stakes testing for student, teacher, and school evaluation. Curriculum developed for and by local school communities. Teacher and community leadership in forming public education policies
In recent years, many high schools have stopped offering AP courses, and a growing number of universities have raised AP score requirements or no longer award credit for the test. Memorization might have been a valued skill when AP testing began in 1956, but today many AP courses have become little more than relentless test prep.
The latest results from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) are public, and already some pundits are declaring it “a Sputnik wake-up.” Others shout back that international comparisons aren’t valid. Rather than wade into that debate, I’d rather look more closely at the questions in the PISA test and what student responses tell us about American education. You can put international comparisons aside for that analysis. Are American students able to analyze, reason and communicate their ideas effectively? Do they have the capacity to continue learning throughout life? Have schools been forced to sacrifice creative problem solving for “adequate yearly progress” on state tests? PISA provides some answers to those questions and offers an insight into the type of problem solving that rarely turns up American state testing. Here’s a sample PISA question that gives some insights into what American students can (and cannot) do.
Let’s see how the Duncan sidesteps the issue of testing and innovation – while US students spend endless hours honing their test taking skills, the demand for routine skills has disappeared from the workplace. Anyone know of a meaningful and rewarding career that looks like filling out a worksheet? Maybe Friedman will be willing to tackle the stifling impact of testing on creativity thinking among our students.
I’m pleased to have been invited by the educators at the Smithsonian Institution to do a guest blog post using museum resources. I was attracted to the Smithsonian Bicycle collection because the images could be analyzed by students without a great deal of background knowledge. Students can use historic photographs of bicycles to answer critical thinking questions focused on the theme of continuity and change.
Analysis – What patterns do I see in the bicycles – construction, design, features, uses? What elements do they share in common? How do they differ?
Evaluation – In my own judgment, what elements are changing? Which are staying the same?
Creating – What have I learned about continuity and change in the history of the bicycle? How can I represent what I’ve learned to share with others?
American education has been hijacked by policy makers who don’t trust teachers, unions that are over-protective of job security, a private sector eager to privatize, and a standardized testing regime that rewards test prep over genuine learning. In the middle of it all, bored students disconnect from school as they realize that their main function is to be trivialized into a source of data for adults looking for someone to blame. While America educational leadership offers hollow sound bites about life-long learning, Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence offers us insight into what American kids are missing. This video produced by the Scottish program offer a quick introduction to three project-based approaches.
I’ve been invited by the folks at the education department at the Smithsonian to do a guest blog post. I have an idea for a document based question (DBQ) that explores the historic perspective of continuity and change. I thought I’d “crowdsource” my idea to my readers for some feedback.
While NCLB began with the admirable goal of narrowing demographic performance gaps and putting an end to sorting kids on the “bell curve,” because of it’s myopic reliance on standardized (we don’t trust teachers) testing – it has failed. And the great irony is that while our students spend endless hours honing their test taking skills, the demand for routine skills has disappeared from the workplace. Anyone know of a meaningful and rewarding career that looks like filling out a worksheet?
I worked with a talented group of teachers and administrators from Helena – West Helena School District in Arkansas. We put the finishing touches on plans for a new ninth grade academy. Here’s our planning guide, mission and key features.