Saturday, June 28, 2014


We are in the midst of a the testing bandwagon. People from all walks of life continually demonstrate that they know what is best for education. Everyone has an opinion. Often these opinions do not diverge from the experiences the individuals have.There are so many studies floating around concerning testing of students. There are studies that prove that it is needed, not needed, relevant, irrelevant. Studies can prove whatever the researcher desires. The reality is that each child is unique. Each child has different interests and learning styles that are developed over the course of their life. Each child responds in different ways to each situation much like adults do in their working environment. They can build on their experiences or flounder depending on their moods, whims and pressures. Children will never provide the empiric evidence that everyone wants to use to justify education. There are too many variables at play. In testing we lose the individuality of learner. In exchange we get a class model that is not open to experiences and an understanding of these experiences that builds character and a life.

Testing is a teacher centered activity. Teachers have to lead their classes towards the results desired on the tests. To those who believe in tests it is either you can or you can’t do well. And if you can’t do well we will develop programs to make you do better. As well meaning as all these programs are they are not designed to help a child to understand their strengths and weaknesses. They are designed, like the test, to get the desired outcome. Besides, if we are to be teaching divergent thinking, how can one test quantify this? Divergent thinking takes in a lot more information and uses it in many unique and thoughtful ways, something in our test mania world we will overlook in the desire to get the right outcome.

We need to be looking at kids for their individual needs. Too often we try to force them to meet our preconceived notion of what an education should be about. They are unique. We should be allowing students to follow their lines of interest, teaching what needs to be taught along the way so that they can better understand way they are learning. We teach individuals, not classes. Time to move in that direction.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Education Agenda

The sharing of knowledge has become a monetary event. Everyone is out to make a buck. The cult of education is about feeding at the trough. Computer corporations and book publishing companies are in it to make money. They have a cornered market and are increasing their share of it exponentially as they are becoming adept at presenting ideas that are money makers for them. They have a need to make money. In order to do this there is a need to control product and create markets. And since the market is well defined they are good at it. By influencing educational thinking they continue to make money

Who controls educational thinking? In Ontario the school boards and the Province think that they do but in the end how do these publishers crank out textbooks shortly after an announcement is made concerning curriculum?

We are constantly being told that our students are substandard and that there are problems with education, even though we have an 80% plus graduation rate in the province. Does this mean our standards are too low or heaven forbid, that we are doing a great job at educating students? According to recent studies employers are not happy with the level of education graduating students are receiving.

We live in a world where everyone will not meet the standards. When we allow for the diversity of our interests, our intellectual abilities, various disabilities, student defiance, boredom, or schools not meeting the needs or interests an 80%+ grad rate seems like a pipe dream. How can it improve when we take into nature the human condition. Even at that 80% sounds rather high. Some where around 70 - 75 sounds more appropriate.

The idea that we take physically active people, force them to sit in desks, read material not the are not interested in, answer questions about same material, listen to lectures and be subjected to the whims of people who have a goal and agenda that they cannot meet makes it seem even more sketchy.

As our educational systems are further battered by monetary whims rather than sound educational agenda how will we ever know if our students are making the grade?

Paper Airplane Discussion

Just witnessed two students discussing the invention of the paper airplane. Each cited their research and then concluded, the Chinese came first because they developed paper and origami. Da Vinci used it to study the principals of flight and then develop a glider. I love the fact that they were able to discuss their research and reach a reasonable conclusion.