Charting the Course of Teaching and Learning in a Networked World
On Monday, June 13 I'll be giving a talk to my School Board on the "Passion-Driven School." We're making plans to move toward a standards-based system, and I'm going to call for the inclusion of some system for finding interests/passions of children and giving them the time and resources within the system to pursue them.
There's a lot of support on my Board, but there will be objections that I'm trying to anticipate. One is: "In a passion-driven, personalized school, what happens with the kid who just doesn't feel like learning math or science? We've hired these teachers, and we can't just get rid of them. We have all this curriculum and we can't just forget about it!"
There's a strong feeling in my district that if you don't make kids do things they don't want to do, the whole system will spin out of control and kids won't learn anything.
I could use all the input I can get -- my talk will go through some of the neuroscience of education, the need for transformation, need to respect kids, the role of teachers, etc.
Any input would be so helpful!
You can respond here or on my blog, http://mindsofkids.blogspot.com
I am uncertain how you differentiate between your passion model and the effort to move to an outcome or competency based model of education.
No matter how students learn- self-driven by carrots or externally driven by teacher mandates, if the students can't demonstrate the ability to use the materials other than passing a test, the system fails. The latter model, or std model, which you face has failed even the unmotivated kids who just "do" or dig in their heels. It has and is failing. it is the status quo that needs to be on the defensive and not your model. George Land has a wonderful book, Grow or Die, which basically points out that change frightens us. Those who are able to embrace it will make the leap or transition. Those who fall back to the old paradigm in order to try to feel as if they are growing are caught in the loop of failure where the old method repeated and repeated spirals into destruction. The current system is in that spiral and those that argue for it need to explain how they will get beyond by "more of the same"
There is a book called "Why Work Sucks" which shows that an entire corporation can move towards a results-only work environment. You can come and go as you please as long as you deliver (there is more obviously) . It has worked so well that companies are moving to adopt this idea which is competency or outcome based, the ideas behind your "passion".
The key is to identify the possibilities and not emphasize the problems before they appear- It's taking an idea and shooting it full of holes and then saying: hmm, maybe there was some merit here. What is there to like and how might that address the current system which is obviously failing in today's world.
I would love to take a few minutes with you to talk about this. I just finished a really interesting book: Polarity Management, and I think there is a principle in the book which would really help in such a discussion. If you're around this weekend, you can call me at 916-283-7901. Good luck!
Thanks, Steve! I will be around tomorrow. I get upset when parents tell me what they want is more of something that I believe to be actually harmful to kids (i.e. "merit" trips, tracking, more homework, etc.) and I wonder if they will be open to the possibility that they need to step outside of their perception of school, into something new, where all kids' passions are valued and where they are given time and resources to pursue them. It's hard to envision it if you've never been exposed to the ideas. It's also hard to give up on the thing that your own education was based in. Reaching across the divide of opinion and experience is difficult.
It's something to think about. I find it hard, personally, to find anything good about the traditional model, but then I am rejecting what other people value.
Sigh. I keep telling the folks I'm working with on this that I am NOT their ideal leader and it would be lovely if someone else stepped forward to play point on this.
Hi, Lisa , How was your Board Meeting ?
It went well. I have been having some trouble - -or rather, my son is -- getting the video off his ipod and up on YouTube. Rather than a dialogue it was very much a lecture, mainly because of my nerves as I plowed through the material. There were no questions afterward, which was disconcerting, but we will talk about it more at the next board meeting.
Thanks so much for asking!