At the end of my recent keynote on the power of reflection at TechitU, I closed by saying something to the effect "… as a teacher you get to reinvent yourselves every year … if you want to change the status quo at school, know that everything is conspiring against you … testing, parent expectations, curriculum mandates, etc … so perhaps you'll need to be a bit subversive."
If state testing went away tomorrow, would we actually teach differently?
Since I made that "subversive" comment, I've been thinking about reflective questions that would challenge the status quo in school. My list was getting rather long, so I decided to split it into two posts. This post focuses on reflective questions for teachers to consider when thinking about their approach to instruction. Its companion post, 14 Provocative Questions for the Faculty poses disruptive questions for teachers and administrators thinking about reforming their school at the program level.
- If a question has a correct answer, is it worth asking?
- If something is "Googleable" why would we spend precious class time teaching it?
- When we ask students to summarize, do we actually want to know what's important to them?
- What do you suppose students think they are supposed to be doing when we ask them to analyze?
- Do you ever ask your students questions you don't know the answer to? Why not?
- Think about all those things we teach kids claiming "you'll need to know this someday." With the exception of teaching it, when's the last time you needed to know any of that stuff?
- Do your students need more information, or skills in how to critically evaluate the information that surrounds them?
- How much of what's really important in life, is taught in a classroom?
- Why do we usually teach all the boring facts first and save the interesting stuff for later?
- When we cover material, what is it that we think we have accomplished?
- Is being told something the same as learning it?
- What would content area teaching look like if it were taught the way an art teacher teaches art?
- If state testing went away tomorrow, would we actually teach differently?
Add your subversive questions in the comment section below!
"Subversive" inspired by "Teaching As a Subversive Activity" by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner. You should read it.
"13" is a cool number and people love reading blog posts that are enumerated lists.
Image credit: Banksy subversive street artist.
Your students explore their world with an expectation of choice and control that redefines traditional notions of learning and literacy. Increasingly educators are discovering that they can motivate students with a PBL approach that engages their students with the opportunity to think like professionals while solving real-world problems. This workshop gives participants the why, what, and how (to get started) of PBL. Includes my resources and notes for my day-long workshop at SW Wisconsin Business and Education Summit.
Most of our students get a steady diet of force-fed information and test taking strategies. We’re giving a generation of kids practice for predictable, routine procedures. Here’s thoughts on how you can begin to “be less helpful” and give students practice in “figuring it out” for themselves. That’s where the real learning will take place.
The school workstation doesn’t “know” students as well as their smartphone does. Their mobile carries a wealth of information that’s important to them. And the school computer doesn’t do “place” at all. That’s a stark contrast to students’ mobiles, which geo-browse via the growing number of locational apps and geo-tagged information stream.
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.
Unless we institute more genuine assessments, our measures of student achievement will be as inspiring as a steroid-tarnished home run record.
In the coming weeks, schools across the country will reopen. I feel badly for the many teachers and students who will return to the grueling routine of test-prep. Perhaps they have convinced themselves that the foundation of teaching is to tell students something they did not previously know. As Donald Finkel has described it – teaching as telling.
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?
The Boston Globe (October 30, 2008) recently reported on efforts to redirect district curriculum to "skills the district has deemed necessary for survival in the 21st century, including critical thinking, invention, problem-solving, and multicultural collaboration."In a town known for top-notch schools, a Sharon School Committee member has launched a grassroots movement that she and other [...]
In a recent Education Week, ‘A ‘21st-Century Education’: What Does It Mean? Marion Brady writes: What, exactly, is a “21st-century education”? The short answer, of course, is that it’s whatever those use the phrase happen to be selling. Sample the nearly 200,000 hits the words produce when Googled, and it’s obvious that current dialogue about [...]