"You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it."
-- Benjamin Mee, We Bought a Zoo
Life is scary. From grade school to retirement we are constantly thrust into a culture of comparison. Whether statistical stratification that comes from standardized testing ("I'm in the top 18% of my age group nationwide"), or job performance evaluations that identify whether or not we qualify for a management track, we are constantly being compared to other people. If we are not careful, we begin to invest in this comparative stock. If that happens, most of us start playing the game of life not to lose instead of playing to win. We maintain status quo to avoid being on the bottom, rather than innovating to try and rise to the top.
For a few years now, social media has been inundated with parents (and some teachers) flooding timelines and newsfeeds with viral images of edgy responses to apparently ridiculous strategies that are being taught under the umbrella of Common Core. I am no Common Core apologists and I still have some issues with agendas that have come out under the Common Core banner, but I think it is time to step back and reevaluate the scene.
I'm not going to address the troubling cultural implications of parents (in the "everyone deserves a trophy" generation) who would stoop so low as to encourage their child to blatantly disrespect a teacher by drafting and publishing such vial responses -- you know, the ones where they attack a teacher for attempting to teach modern, research-based solution strategies that were not developed, nor necessarily endorsed by that teacher. I'm not going to address the fact that US students have sharply declined in math and science globally in the last three decades while these parents were learning old techniques. I'm also not going to address the fact that Common Core is not a curriculum and does not promote any particular strategy -- rather, in math, it does suggest that students should develop problem solving skills based on a deep understanding (like adults have to do in the real world) instead of merely accepting and regurgitating facts and rules. I'm not going to address those issues, so you don't have to get mad.
Below is a list of a few of the EduMyths I held or witnessed through a least some part of my career, and the insights that helped me debunk them.
1) The student should leave more exhausted than the teacher.
There may be nothing that turns me off in a PD session faster than hearing the facilitator proudly exclaim that, "In the student centered classroom, the students should always leave more tired than the teacher. If you're doing the work, you're doing it wrong." The last time I checked the only people in the classroom that get paid to be there are the teachers. Why should a teacher ever leave work having done less work than the students. Phrasing like this turned me off to the student-centered model for years. I did not even pay attention to anyone clamoring for student-centered education until a phenomenal administrator (Pam Dantzler) explained true student-centered teaching to me in an evaluation.
Equity vs. Equality
If there is an overarching problem that plagues all of public education, it is rooted in the misbelief that equitable and equal mean the same thing--particularly with regards to teachers. It is perfectly reasonable to stand for equitable rights and opportunities for all people, but equity is not always synonymous with equality. According to Webster's Dictionary, equality is rooted in the idea that two things, ideas, or quantities are the same; not changing for each individual. Whereas equity refers to fairness or justice in the way people are treated. The contrast between the two terms is so minute that it can appear this is an argument about semantics. However, this is a BIG little difference. In public education, the erroneous interchanging of these two terms has led to a problem that may be crippling STEM education.
Why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 eight 9!
If you want to pick a fight in a room full of math teachers, whip out your TI-83 Plus and state an opinion about why you love or hate it. The ensuing feud will last for hours and people will inevitably leave the meeting with less information but far more angst than they came with.
As a tech enthusiast and math teacher for the better part of the last decade, I have spent a lot of time pondering the appropriateness of calculators in 9-12 classroom. Group conversations about this generate nearly as much animosity between teachers as the Hatfields had with the McCoys, but one-on-one questioning makes it easy to see that teachers essentially fall into one of two camps on the calculator's place in the classroom.
GE Foundation Leadership Summit
Leveraging Innovative Technologies for Learning
Texas Open Innovation Conference
Mar 27 - 29
Emerging Innovations in Education
Authentic Learning through PBL
FFT Leading & Learning
Connecting Global Education with the Tennessee Valley
reMake Education Summit
Sonoma County, CA
Keynote, Making Making Work in Education
National Governor's Association
Teaching Governor's to Code
US Dept of Education
Round Table with Secretary John King.
K-12 Pathways for CS
Ed Foo--Making in Education (breakout session)
K-12 Education Panels
Strategies for Reducing the Racial Gap in Computing
Boston Museum of Science
Teaching with Toys--Using Robotics as a Gateway for Computer Science
US Dept of Education
MSP Computer Science Proposition
§ The Great Miscalculation
§ Five Facts About Failing
§ Oh! That's STEM?
§ My Mom Isn't
an Engineer and That's