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Posted by on in Assessment

standardized test

Don't show Mama Our Nation's Report Card. Not so good. 

Tonight I'm sharing my opinions, not a major statistical treatise, but I will toss some information into the bowl, like Strega Nona, and let's mix it up, and put a little honey on top. 

Tonight I offer heartfelt, plain talk about yesterday's shocking headlines, or not so, really, that our kids have failed. Or at least, didn't show any growth in fourth and eighth grade reading. Goodness. Yet here we are in America, right in the middle of endless standardized testing.

Now this. Drat. Flat scores. The sideways. Up scores, like Florida. Down, like second language learners and special needs labeled students.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

After fourteen years of teaching child care professionals and teachers about preschool learners, one of my college students, with sweet, enthusiastic innocence, told me that her threes understood the word “hypothesis.” That in her center, they teach a “word a week” to the children. And their philosophy? Their motivation? “We have to get them ready for being four.” I suggested that the children are learning to be three. Why push them?

Her program is called an Academy. That says a lot. A Facebook friend, who owns a center, confessed that using the word “Academy” in her school’s title was a marketing decision. She is uncomfortable with it because her program is a process-oriented, creative program where children learn organically—through play experiences, with teachers as guides. But she bit the bullet and chose that word—Academy—to bring parents in.

“Academies” ask two-year-olds to glue noodles to a paper plate, then ask the teacher to glue on the letter “N. They display these almost identical pieces on a bulletin board in the classroom so parents will think their toddlers are learning something (they’re not). They call this academics. Many parents believe that an early academic start (mimicking public school) is good for their children. You can’t blame them. They so want to believe they are giving their children a jump start. All they know is from their own experience, and they don’t remember school any further back than early elementary school. These are the biases they base their choices on. These biases don’t come from developmental theorists, or from the hallowed history of child care and early education. They certainly don’t come from today’s leaders in the educational field. They come from the cultural memory of the industrial age. Ken Robinson calls this a mechanistic approach to education. This approach is outmoded.

We want to prepare young children by allowing them to grow organically, and learn through curiosity, imagination, and creativity. These three qualities are immensely important. They won’t perpetuate the mechanistic, industrial world view of the 19th and 20th century, but will prepare a generation to become the talented, productive, individual human beings that we will need in the future. How can we educate parents to demand the best for their children? By educating them about what the best is.

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Posted by on in General

StopTellingKidsToThinkOutsideTheBox.jpg

Tripping on 'shrooms in Prague once I stopped by an art gallery window and saw it. It was an orange dog; the tiniest of canines. A stain of fluorescent orange paint in the bottom right corner of a sizable painting of some natural scenery. I remember the grass, the trees, and the people in it but in that moment all I could focus on was the strange orange dog.

I was 23, window shopping, and laughing too hard at a silly little orange dog on an otherwise green painting. Later, I was examining people's faces on the metro ride back to the Airbnb-style room I booked. Being aware I'm influenced I felt I could look into anyone's soul and know who they were. It was like a superpower that allowed me to see them for who they really were; if they were good or bad.

And in case the good people in my school district's HR department are reading this occurred 17 years ago, happened before I became a teacher, and was the last time I used psychedelics. It's just that I still remember that dang dog and wonder if my memory would be so vivid had my consciousness not been altered. For some reason, my mind decided it was significant enough to keep and maybe it uses it somehow to this day without me even realizing.

Using More Of The Brain

Steve Jobs, Richard Feynman, Jimi Hendrix, Jean-Paul Sartre, Bill Gates, John Coltrane, and The Beatles have 2 things in-common; they changed the world by being the GOATs (greatest of all time) of their respective crafts and they operated outside of the realm of conditioned and compliant thinking. Oh, and they all used psychedelics, so that would make it three things I suppose.

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Posted by on in General

teacher with gun 2 opinionatedmale com

Here is a wild idea! Let’s arm teachers! Just give them a few hours of training and tack onto their paychecks a few hundred dollars as a “bonus” to do the job of someone else who is actually qualified to protect the public. Just think of how much money we can save!

Why not? Our teachers have a pretty easy work schedule - seven hours in a classroom a day, lots of half-days and holidays, and summer vacation to boot. What exactly DO they do for their money anyway?

I’ll tell you what they do. A little bit of everything. All...at...once...

Making sure the kids get their breakfast. Making sure they get their lunch as well. Lesson planning. Creating meaningful activities from scratch. Modifying those activities to meet the needs of all kids. Disciplining kids. Counseling kids. Assessing kids. Calling parents. Attending meetings. Breaking up fights. Directing traffic. Cleaning up messes. Bandaging cuts from recess. Handing out mints to a child with a sore throat. Holding a trash can while a child pukes. Buying pencils and paper and glue sticks and scissors and books and anything else that the school budget cannot support. Smiling all the while a child talks back and then again as his parent yells that you are picking on her baby. Staying late to tutor struggling readers. Going home with only a few hours left to spend with your own family before they all go to bed and leave you working on tomorrow’s plans until you start to fall asleep at the computer.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

As parents, we are quick to protect our children. When a physical ailment pops up, like a high fever, a strange rash, or broken bone, we take the child to the doctor. These things are easy to see and we immediately react. It can be different when a child begins having random outbursts, trouble at school, becomes noncompliant, or distant. These kinds of things leave parents, as well as teachers, confused and unsure about what to do.

door

It may be that the child seems fine most of the time, but these behaviors pop up on occasion. Despite hearing from colleagues, friends, relatives, or even the family doctor that this is just a “stage,” your gut feeling tells you something just isn’t right.

And, frankly, we can’t afford to let it slide. Statistics from NIMH are staggering.

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