Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Wendell Berry

The complexity of our present trouble suggests as never before that we need to change our present concept of education. Education is not properly an industry, and its proper use is not to serve industries, either by job-training or by industry-subsidized research. It's proper use is to enable citizens to live lives that are economically, politically, socially, and culturally responsible. This cannot be done by gathering or "accessing" what we now call "information" - which is to say facts without context and therefore without priority. A proper education enables young people to put their lives in order, which means knowing what things are more important than other things; it means putting first things first.”

And done rightly--according to this approach, it is very difficult to numerate, measure, count and standardize teaching and learning, at least not in the way we endeavor to do with the Common Core and the attendant testing process.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Flies, Redux

It's that time again.  I've written before about how my colleague and I let our classes elect a chief, as the boys do in Lord of the Flies.  It's an interesting, if somewhat frustrating, pedagogical "moment."  Every year--indeed, every class period--is different, but we have always found benefit in doing this exercise.

It replicates some of the aspects of youngters living unsupervised, bringing some of the themes of the book more obviously to life.  This happens most clearly when you try to look at the story through a thematic lens of human nature--what people are like in difficult circumstances.

It's satisfying when you see confirmed before you your expectations of which students will hum along just fine without any real supervision...about as much as it is strangely compelling when those students you think will completely exploit the system and do absolutely nothing confirm your worst fears.

I admit, it's also pleasantly affirming when the student chief stands before the class and explains his/her frustrations with what the students are doing.  We've heard more than one, "I have a new found respect for the teachers."

And then sometimes it's just fun.  Today, one class had a sit-in protest.  (We just did a unit on civil rights, and I think they got the idea from that.)  They succeeded in removing their interim chief (the regular chief is absent) for the remaining 9 minutes of the period.

I've lost track of how many coups we (my colleague and I) have had, sponsored or fomented.  Almost no classes make it more than 3 days without some sort of distress.  One year, one class finally got so annoyed with all that was happening that they held a new election...and I won, even though I wasn't running.  Like Sally Field, "I have to admit it...you like me.  Right now, you really really like me."

Ultimately, the exercise and the book are particularly worthwhile...and I'm sure they meet some Common Core Standard or other.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Spelling and Proofreading Matter!

I hope this student has a permit for that!

Our leadership class made encouraging/inspirational balloons for every locker in school.  I think they meant "I am caring," but you can see where they missed.