Archive for the ‘Education Reformation’ Category

When searching for what made school effective, I found this (http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_What_Makes_School/) article. This article points out great ways on how to be an effective school, and I thought I’d share my thoughts on it as a student.

The author’s first point is that the school must be a safe and organized place. I totally agree. Although I think there’s a difference between being safe and organized, and feeling safe and organized. If schools are safe and organized, it usually means they’re pretty well off. They have their rules, they have their ideals, and they keep things in line. But students might still feel in danger of other kids. In order to feel safe, the teachers must be caring and compassionate without being patronizing. They should treat us like the people we are — Children, adolescents, or young adults. And then the students feel comfortable in class, and they know they have at least one higher up to go to with problems.

Point two: Have high expectations for the students. I agree and disagree with this one. I agree that teachers and leaders shouldn’t just let us slide with whatever, but they need to push and motivate, not just expect and give bad grades if it doesn’t happen. There’s one teacher of mine that just recently… “Left” his job, that comes to mind. He would let you work on things until you were done. He didn’t just expect you to have this done, and then give a grade based on the finished product. He kept up on how things were going, he pushed you to finish and have a quality result, he was great. Then there are other teachers (I’m looking at the math teachers here) that just toss a whole lot of homework at you, give a depthless, “half-baked” lesson, and leave you for dead when you show up sleep deprived and only half done. Have high hopes and motivate us. That’s how we work, or else we grow up never living up to anyone’s expectations. And that’s very unsafe.

Three: Have a relatable leader. I give a “yay” on this one. My principle isn’t around a whole lot, but he’s there when he needs to be. He’s pretty laid back, he’s up for chatting, and so are many of the other teachers and leaders. And that’s important, as I stated in the first point. It lets the kids know that they have leaders to go to, to look up to. It gives them actual teachers, not just people who lecture.

Up next is having a clear mission. I don’t really care much or hear much about our school’s mission, but I know that having one at least gives the school’s administration something to enforce and come up with rules by. It gives a little bit of a backbone for the rules, some structure. That’s all I have to say about that, just because I don’t hear much of my school’s.

The authors fifth idea, is to monitor the students’ progress. I think this goes back to having the teachers push and motivate us. It just comes with pushing the students to do better. It’s common sense.

We’re almost done here, second to last point: Provide an opportunity to learn. That doesn’t just mean be open, but it means being efficient in class. Providing an opportunity must be worked for, not merely given.

Lastly, the author says there must be a partnership between the school and home. And that is completely true. There needs to be a constant drive for success. Constantly pushing, constantly motivating.

Notice how there’s no “Have lots of homework!” or “Be cruel!” It’s all easy going. It’s all well driven, and structured around the students and the relationships the students have with the administrators. There needs to be a relationship, not just a student and a teacher.

“Sir Ken Robinson outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish — and how current education culture works against them. In a funny, stirring talk he tells us how to get out of the educational “death valley” we now face, and how to nurture our youngest generations with a climate of possibility.”

As a kid, what kinds of things do you want to do? Probably eat, sleep, playing games (Video or physical), make messes, and be loud. Our parents teach us constructive ways to make a mess (Art) and constructive ways to be loud (As a drummer, I can confirm this, haha). They teach us to play games, teach us mind games to help remember how or when to do things. And then they feed us and put us to bed. If, and when, we do something wrong, we’re disciplined. We should all be turning out pretty great, right? Yet we don’t. Why? All of these things are creative, and school sucks the creativity out of us. In math, there might be more than one way to do things, but you have to do it the same exact way as the teacher, in order to not get a bad grade. In English, you have to write and rewrite papers in the same format, the same pattern, over and over, in order to not get a bad grade. We’re not allowed humanity because the average student spends 3-15 hours of homework. And why? You guessed it. In order to not get a bad grade. 

We started out without a lot of homework. We, with an almost unanimous decision, decided homework until 3rd grade was not allowed, and we preferred if there were no homework until 7th grade. Homework, as we know it, started out in our country as a way to compete with Russia in the Cold War era, as adults were worried that their kids would not be adequately prepared for the future, as technology and society had begun to evolve rapidly. After periods of fluctuation, we have settled once again on heavy amounts of homework, and it has yet to be adequately challenged. Why is this, though?

“Moralistic Views: Who We Believe Students Are… … Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, and therefore children should not be idle. This philosophy assumes not only that children don’t want to learn but also that learning is inherently distasteful.

“The Puritan Work Ethic: Who We Want Students to Be… …’Get busy!’ The tenets of the puritan work ethic most evident in homework culture are the following:Hard work is good for you regardless of the pointlessness of the task. Hard works builds character. Hard work is painful; suffering is virtuous… …The premise of Corno and Xu’s article is that “homework is the quintessential job of childhood”—as though children need a job. Which begs the question: Is our job as educators to produce learners or workers?”

“Behaviorism: How We Think We Can Control Students… …No philosophy is more firmly rooted in education than behaviorism. The idea that behavior can be controlled by rewards and punishment is so embedded in the day-to-day practices of school, one rarely even notices it (Kohn, 1999). Discipline, grades, attendance policies, honor rolls, and even the way teachers use praise and disapproval—all reflect this philosophy that behavior can be controlled by external stimuli. So it’s no surprise that teachers believe rewards and punishments are the way to makestudents do homework. When punishments don’t work, teachers often increase the punishment, as if more of the same will accomplish the goal.”

This whole idea that homework is required is completely flawed. Some homework? Sure. If you just need the students to read something occasionally, or to look something up, or just give themselves background knowledge. That’s totally fine. But 1-3 hours a night? 4-15 a night? That’s insane. That’s inhumane. That’s not what school should be. “People don’t go to school to learn. They go to get good grades, which brings them to college, which brings them the high-paying job, which brings them happiness, so they think.” (Pope, 2001, p. 4)

“The premise of Corno and Xu’s article is that ‘homework is the quintessential job of childhood’—as though children need a job. Which begs the question: Is our job as educators to produce learners? Or workers?

“Membership.” The Cult(ure) of Homework. Web. 13 May 2014. <http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/108071/chapters/The-Cult(ure)-of-Homework.aspx&gt;.

 

 

Jane McGonigal: The game that can give you 10 extra years of life

Here’s a transcript for the talk, if you’re more of the reading type: bit.ly/QEM5OM

Video games have become such a prevalent aspect in our lives that it simply can not be ignored. Every kid from the first grade girl playing barbie on the web, to the college student playing the latest Battlefield or FIFA on his platform of choice plays them. Even my dad has some fun with his iPhone, playing Angry Birds, Swordigo, or UnBlock Me. The point is that video games are everywhere, and they’re an embedded part of our culture now. So my question is, why aren’t they being utilized in school? There are some schools that in Physics class, they play a modified version of the game Portal, from the Valve Corporation. In the game, players use different game tools such as bouncing, sliding, absorbing, portals, and speed, to achieve certain objectives. The player is then rewarded with a trophy of sorts, as well as  continuing the story of the character. Some civil engineering classes use the game Minecraft, from Mojang, to design buildings and other structures. These are just two examples as to how games are used already, but there are so many other possibilities. Make a game about shooting orbs around other, differently sized orbs, and trying to hit an object. This is exactly how gravity works in an astronomical proportion, to be used in Astronomy, or again in Physics.

There are so many different ways to make games a part of school. And there’s a lot of reasons WHY it’s worthwhile to do so. The human body, mentally and physically, loves games. It loves the sense of achievement, and it ends up making us happy. Happiness is a big deal to us. “Hospice workers, the people who take care of us at the end of our lives, recently issued a report on the most frequently expressed regrets that people say when they are literally on their deathbeds. And that’s what I want to share with you today – the top five regrets of the dying. Number one: I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. Number two: I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. Number three: I wish I had let myself be happier. Number four: I wish I’d had the courage to express my true self. And number five: I wish I’d lived a life true to my dreams, instead of what others expected of me.”

She goes on to say that playing games, and in today’s terms, video games, be it mobile, on a computer, Playstation or Xbox, games allow us to not have any of these regrets. In playing games, we don’t work as much. We spend time with our kids, with our spouses, with ourselves. We stay in touch with friends, competing for high scores, working together to achieve an objective (Portal is two player!). We allow ourselves to take off our stress “playing” sports, blowing things up, things like that. We get to express our true selves, through talking, through avatars, through play styles and strategies. Living true to our dreams has never been easier, merely spending some free time doing what we want, being who we want with the people we want to be with. It lets us take control of something. Video games have just solved all 5 of people’s regrets. And now we won’t have any.

For today’s students, we’ll still have a lot of these regrets because of how hard school pushes us, and the way that they push us. It’s unhealthy. But I know that putting video games into a curriculum would not only be fun for kids, but it would also make them happier in the long run. It would make school easy for everyone.

Works Cited

“Video Games Play May Provide Learning, Health, Social Benefits, Review Finds.” http://www.apa.org. Web. 13 May 2014. <http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2013/11/video-games.aspx>.

“The Game That Can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life.” Jane McGonigal:. Web. 14 May 2014. <https://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_the_game_that_can_give_you_10_extra_years_of_life>.

 

 

In my posts of articles, I tend to focus on math class a lot. Math, of any level, is a class that most students will unanimously agree is filled with extra-ridiculous homework assignments, boring lectures, and mind-numbing amounts of information that is all just so vaguely similar to the other information, that it all blends together. So, in the spirit of trying to change math class, here’s a TedTalk about changing that class.

Dan Meyer

“Today’s math curriculum is teaching students to expect — and excel at — paint-by-numbers classwork, robbing kids of a skill more important than solving problems: formulating them. In his talk, Dan Meyer shows classroom-tested math exercises that prompt students to stop and think.”

Education Reform

Posted: April 26, 2014 in Education Reformation

This poem says it all.

Education Reform, The Poem

Used as a shield by some and others a sword

Wielding it at will toward targets galore.

Teachers, unions, schools, and more.

You have militants firing teachers,

Politicians being preachers

About the features of the leechers–stealing money

That’ll meet your students’ needs

(Long as there’s no disabilities)

Using inequalities to show supremacy

With stats that can only be perceived

As fictionality.

How is one to see (or better yet believe)

That to hold a lottery

Is the way for things to be?

And they’re waiting for that hero,

Gonna rescue all the children

By taping our mouths shut

To gain their (her) control.

Funny how it grows

How it goes, taping the mouths closed.

Started off with children

Then she rose and rose and rose

So she’s trying it with those who oppose.

And then there are the

Gates slamming closed, slamming closed.

Oops! There a finger goes, or even worse a nose.

Simply doesn’t matter when the

Gates are growing fatter

Saying size it doesn’t matter

Let ‘em grow, let ‘em grow

Until the classes aren’t just full,

They’re unbelievable

With the masses we’ve enrolled

Sitting ten to twenty-fold.

Doesn’t it get old

Watching all the money roll

From sea to shining sea

Gaining publicity

From Hollywood TV,

Print complicities,

Hinting demonocracy

For those like you and me?

Where does it all stop

So our children get the best instead of tests?

It’s like the wild west with guns a’ blaring

Scaring people staring

At the stats that seem so glaring

Especially comparing

Us to them

And them to us–

Number one’s so far away

But what those stats don’t say,

You and I can say

If we ever get a say

Instead of pushed out of the way.

So the wheels of reform can churn

As we watch the system burn

So quickly to the ground.

Happen? Yes, it’s bound

Unless something quick is done

Time to shine some sun

On that evil word reform

Make it be reborn

With thoughts that we have torn

From our minds

And then adorn

The reformers who reform

With common sense and more.

Because public education needs us

To step up,

Make a fuss–

Who else do you trust?

Isn’t this a must?

Don’t you feel the need

To do this righteous deed?

Stand up

One and all.

Don’t let this nation fall.

It’s the only one we have

The only one we need.

Need to keep united

Stop from becoming so divided.

Starting with our children is the key to moving on.

Forward, never back.

Reform to change,

Not attack.

 

Talk by Tyler DeWitt, filmed at TEDxBeaconStreet