Monday, June 09, 2014

NRU, mostly education

I am not a big proponent of lawsuits as a way to solve education system problems.  Most of the last few in California have been funded by anti-teacher, anti-public school foundations with the thin veneer of parent empowerment.  This one, however, gets my tentative thumbs up.  Lawsuits help most as consciousness raising not for implementing change in the classroom.  The current anti-union lawsuit out of LA relies on the fact that it will change state law -- but suggests it will create tangible change in the classroom.  I call bullshit on that.  But if folks learn about all the issues that create lost class time in these low-performing schools, perhaps we could stop blaming parents and teachers for all the problems in schools.  The issues raised in this article, and presumably in the lawsuit, demonstrate these are systemic problems.  Of course, these problems persist because there are not spotlights placed on the issue, so, maybe this lawsuit will work...maybe.

This is a charming, if not illuminating for lack of detail, article about a private school who tries to teach their pre-K students about social class (or at least open the conversation) by having students host their peers in their own homes.  Each student offers a snack and the kids check out any part of the living space they want to ... the visits have been pared down from the whole class to only 5.  I can only imagine the great fun this had been to watch.  I love this age.

Apparently hand-writing is good for more than just writing! I love it because I swear that I do remember by recalling how my hand wrote the words.  I cannot get behind the hand-wringing about not teaching cursive for the sake of posterity.  But if these studies are true, then it make sense to let students learn to write by hand at least until they are in the fifth or sixth grade and then integrate hard core keyboarding.  Of course, places with infinite time can do both. I didn't learn to type until I was in the eighth grade and I am doing just fine with the keyboard and the hand writing. On the other hand, they could include hand writing in an art curriculum and stretch the brain in many ways at the same time!

I am deeply troubled by attempts to further segregate autistic children, though I do acknowledge that we need to do a better job of including them in classrooms.  So, I listened with interest to this report.  Whereas I agree that it is troubling when the school forgets to get nametags or swag for the special education children, I am more interested in the training provided, whether or not it leads to better assimilation into adult society, and how if it is working in "specialized" schools that might be translated into public school inclusion.  Let's just say that many parents recognize that their children need more than feeling comfortable at school -- and that bullying is a real problem that needs to be addressed every day in school.  How will further segregation provide either of those two goals?  Could we opt for providing an environment of compassion?  Could we insist that teachers, principals, counselors and parents engage children in discussions about difference and tolerance?  Look back at the article about children hosting their peers in their homes ... this is a solution to a real problem that might not be possible in large scale, but it can certainly at least be simulated with earnest conversations and role playing in the classroom.  I call for compassion to be a common core our children will be exposed to and trained in during their time at school  Of course, we also need to work on the real training that autistic children/adults need to feel safe and comfortable in our society -- and be productive as a by product of that safety and comfort.

This one just has to be listened to ... I still can't say how I feel about it.  Moving to all charters is fraught for many reasons -- some of which are addressed in the piece and others are not at all raised.  We need to think seriously about what we are doing if we move all schools to charters because we want principals to have the ability to choose curriculum ... couldn't we just go back to the way schools were before we decided to "standardize" to the point of telling teachers when to be on which page and for how long?  It seems like an extreme response to a serious issue ... and attaching the label 'charter" to all of it a convenient way to pretend that we don't know what the problem is.

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