Can’t win the game if you don’t know the rules

If some students, families, and communities begin the game having written the rule book, others having access to it, and others being ignorant of it, then some students, families, and communities will win, others will pass, and still others will loose.

Why is there only one rule book and only some winners?

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Do schools promote teaching and learning or bureaucrating and administrating?

Schools, as we know them today, were born in a time when economies and societies depended on agriculture rather than service and manufacturing.  In the 19th century one-room multi-grade schoolhouses served small close-knit communities that were self-reliant and shared a common identity. At this point schools tended to be governed by a single trustee; often the same person who taught.

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Multiple Choice: A) Funding B) Ranking C) Economy D) Time E) All of the above at the expense of teaching and learning

More often than not the assessments used to measure the academic achievement of schools (firstly) and students (secondarily) measure students receptive competencies through multiple-choice questions/extremely short responses. When these assessments measure a students productive competencies through extended response, their marking rubrics privilege content at the expense of structure, crafting and text features.

Being standardized, these assessments are cheap to develop, administer, and score.

Let’s assume that this model embraces and prioritises the wellbeing of students and teachers.  Let’s further assume that teachers teach five classes and that each of the classes consists of 30 students and meets five times a week for 60 minutes.  Continue reading

“A Talk to Teachers” by James Baldwin

(Delivered October 16, 1963, as “The Negro Child – His Self-Image”; originally published in The Saturday Review, December 21, 1963, reprinted in The Price of the Ticket, Collected Non-Fiction 1948-1985, Saint Martins 1985.)

“Let’s begin by saying that we are living through a very dangerous time.  Everyone in this room is in one way or another aware of that.  We are in a revolutionary situation, no matter how unpopular that word has become in this country.  The society in which we live is desperately menaced, not by Khrushchev, but from within.  To any citizen of this country who figures himself as responsible – and particularly those of you who deal with the minds and hearts of young people – must be prepared to “go for broke.”  Or to put it another way, you must understand that in the attempt to correct so many generations of bad faith and cruelty, when it is operating not only in the classroom but in society, you will meet the most fantastic, the most brutal, and the most determined resistance.  There is no point in pretending that this won’t happen.

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Whose story is it?

Politicians and government officials make their appearances at community centers and churches.  They show up routinely during their 2 or 4 -year election cycles.

University researchers arrive in ‘low-income, multi- lingual, multi-cultural’ communities and schools saying they’ll gather the necessary data to affect change and social policy. Continue reading