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Seven Wishes for Education This Holiday Season

Posted by on in What If?
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One of the very best Saturday Night Live holiday season skits is "A Holiday Wish." In it, Steve Martin expresses his wish that "All the children of the world join hands and sing together in a spirit of harmony and peace." Fretting the logistics of such an undertaking, Martin quickly loses interest in that wish in favor of all-encompassing power over the universe, revenge on his enemies, and other items that render the clip unsharable with students.

If I had a wish this holiday season, I would  look up at a star in the night sky and greedily make seven wishes.

For all children to feel safe and included in our schools

This is a pretty obvious wish but takes on even more urgency for students of color and LGBTQI students with Donald Trump about to assume the presidency. The Southern Poverty Law Center raises legitimate concerns about students' safety in the age of Trump. Let's hope this concern is unwarranted despite early evidence it is.

For schools to finally be integrated

It's hard to believe that Jonathan Kozol's The Shame of the Nation which documented segregation in the American schools is more than ten years old. Since then, little progress has been made integrating schools. It is doubtful that President-Elect Trump will address this issue. This is especially unlikely considering our last two Democratic Party presidents have not raised this issue.

For the demise of honors classes and tracking

Speaking of segregation, tracking causes it within seemingly integrated schools. Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler details how tracking hurts both high-need and high-achieving students. We either believe in Growth Mindset or we believe in tracking. We cannot believe in both. How about replacing tracking with completely heterogeneous grouping for K-10 and offer AP classes to any who students who want them in grades 11 and 12? Further, if students want the challenge of AP, let's honor growth mindset by admitting them and giving them appropriate support.

For the demise of standardized testing

Enough has been written about this so here is just one thought - instead of asking for standardized testing to be modified or updated, we need to push for abolition. It is completely unrealistic. Let's do it anyway. Momentum builds. You never know what the future holds when you fight for the kids.

For all electronic grade books to crash for one month

Imagine if no grades could be entered for one month. With no grades, how would we motivate students? Imagine if we used the time to give useful feedback instead of grading. Mathematical Mindsets documents how grades inhibit learning. Imagine the conversations teachers would have the day electronic grade books came back online. Would we go back to the old system? Would we change our practice so that students focus on learning rather than chasing grades? If nothing else, a potentially game-changing conversation would start.

For all teachers to become connected educators

Imagine if all teachers opened themselves up to the wealth of knowledge available to all connected educators. It is never too late. Make 2017 the year you become a connected educator.

For all teachers to become YouTube stars

Imagine the atmosphere in schools if every lesson ended with, "Be sure to like and subscribe." How might that encourage creativity in our students? How impactful would it be for students to see all their teachers on YouTube? Please consider starting a YouTube channel for free using only your laptop.

If I those wishes are granted this holiday season, I will wish for the demise of homework next year. What do you think of these holiday wishes? What are you wishing for in education when you look up at the night sky? Please comment below or tweet me @edtechtom. Thank you for reading!

Author's Note: I have no relationship, financial or otherwise, with Jo Boaler or Jonathan Kozol. 

Thank you, Canva, the tool I used to make the image for this post. 



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Tom Mullaney is a Digital Learning Integration Designer for the San Francisco Unified School District. Tom's education experience includes Special Education, Social Studies, and educational technology coaching in New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. He is a Google for Education Certified Innovator and Trainer. Tom hosts the Sustainable Teaching Podcast and contributes to the BamRadio Network EdWords blog. Use his TED-Ed lesson to teach your students about the French Revolution. Contact him on Twitter, @TomEMullaney or via e-mail, [email protected].

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Guest Tuesday, 23 July 2019