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It’s Time to Stop Pretending

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November 2011

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Day #22: When it comes to education, what are the things that we have to stop pretending?

This is a tough question for me, because I feel like it is so subjective.  Each district, each school, and even each department has it’s own climate and culture.  These belief systems (and subsystems) vary so much that it’s difficult for me to make a mass judgement on what we need to stop pretending in the realm of education.  So, here is my disclaimer: I am in no way saying that my opinions are happening in every school, everywhere.

  1. Stop pretending that one standardized test can measure a student’s learning.  I really don’t think that I need to expand on this one.  Plus, it’s a state-level problem, and not one at the school-level.  Teachers and school administrators know this is an issue.  They aren’t the ones pretending anything here…
  2. Stop pretending that all students want to learn about the same topics in the same manner.  Too many schools/teachers are still teaching in the same manner as 1800s-era classrooms.  Instruction needs to be differentiated – period.  This means by topic, ability level, and learning style.  A great way to do this is through the use of formative assessments, and student-directed learning.
  3. Stop pretending like using technology in the classroom is an option.  Technology is a part of first-world life.  (To be quite honest, I have seen it in plenty in some second and third-world conditions, as well)  It’s time for teachers to let go of the fears that some have surrounding the use of technology in their instruction.  There are so many benefits from embracing this resource.  “I need more training,” is really not a good excuse either.  I’m positive that there are other teachers/administrators/support staff in each building that are tech-savvy and willing to help fellow educators.  If that is not happening, then Google anything you want to know.  And then realize that the kids can probably show you, as well.  Be the learner and let them be the teachers.  It’s okay.
  4. Stop pretending like an “A” is the best showing for mastered learning.  Too much emphasis is placed on traditional letter grades in most schools.  Parents understand the system, it’s easier for teachers to manage, and students have been conditioned to work for them.  But when teachers give grades for participation, homework, reading logs, etc. is that really showing what that student has learned?  And why should one student get penalized if it takes her three times to learn something if she still ends up mastering it by the end of the class?  Standards-based grading, please.  The End.
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