Sunday, March 10, 2013

Schools Cannot Do it Alone - Week 2.5?

I have to confess.  I did not carefully read through all of chapters 9 and 10 last week.  However, as I read them this week I discovered some comments that Vollmer made that really hit home.  For example, Vollmer states that, "Every educator knows that Americans invest in the things that they value.  They hear plenty of talk in the public arena about how important it is that we teach all children to high levels, and how critical teachers are to the education process.  A reasonable person could conclude that their budgets and salaries would reflect the public's professed regard for teaching and learning." Wow, what a loaded topic!  I happen to know from experience, however, that no educator gets into the profession for the fame and/or fortune.  When compared to the corporate, political, or entertainment worlds, educators make significantly less money for the responsibilities and expectations that they face from their customers.

Vollmer keeps talking about the need for change.  He also states that, "The vast majority of teachers, administrators, board members, and support staff are acutely aware that not all children are well served, and most are willing to undertake the substantial changes required to increase student success."  Notice that he did not say student "achievement," which eludes to academic ability, but success.  Each school district and school community has to decide what "success" looks like for their children.  Educators at NSE want to know what the parents and guardians of our students think success looks like.

This leads us to chapter 10 where Vollmer states, "What do our graduates need to know and be able to do when they graduate?"  I think about this every day.  Are we here to prepare our students to take a standardized test (PASS), or are we here to prepare them to be successful entrepreneurs, quality service providers, researchers, writers, designers, civic leaders, etc...  Unfortunately, the current system is designed to measure and instruct kids to be good test takers.  While standardized test scores are important, they are not the only measure as to whether a child is going to be successful when they graduate from school.

Vollmer states that, "The key to increasing motivation lies in changing the nature of the work that students were asked to do.  To paraphrase the great educational leader Phil Schlechty, if teachers and administrators were ever to inspire student fascination, or, at the very least sustained interest, they had to develop lessons and assignments that linked the things students cared about to the things they needed to learn."  I could not agree more.  I strongly believe that we need to understand and know the standards in which our students are measured.  However, these standards and skills can be taught much more effectively through paying attention to student interest and needs, rather than a textbook created by a for-profit publisher based on the state adopted standards.

I could go on and on about these two chapters, but I will continue to read on and post later on chapters 11-15.

Dr. "H"
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