The original target of this SQUINTS was a normative perspective of the data gathering, experimental research, and technology assessments needed to improve K-12 strategies and classroom learning.
Search was executed, ideas were put on paper, but along the way there was a pretty grim realization – aided and abetted by several posts by resources with deeper K-12 roots than this writer, and Mr. Obama’s Wednesday SOTU address that on education was massively contradictory – that those ideas would have as much impact on a US K-12 system, mostly on rails leading nowhere good, as confetti tossed into a gale or the vitriolic breeze from the current Republican presidential debates.
Without further delay, here are the disruptive items worth reading, inviting reflection, even if you’re on a Bill Gates’ payroll. Some perspective, they may cause you to pause with wonder, and some disgust, for a now bulldozer of so-called “corporate reform” of US K-12 schools that elicits about the same credibility and integrity as Gingrich’s proposal to colonize the moon. The technology may be attainable, but some argue we’re still having a little difficulty intelligently colonizing the earth.
The links are here to the referenced publications by recognized educators Anthony Cody, Marion Brady, Eric Shieh and Larry Cuban.
Overall byproducts of the search for content for today’s originally proposed SQUINTS were also a bit jarring: The observation that for the last several decades journal articles and related publications about K-12 classrooms reflect roughly two references to classroom management and discipline for every one reference to the substantive methods of achieving learning; simultaneously, the observation by a long time educator that our schools of education have spent a century teaching teachers how to allegedly teach, but didn’t bother providing knowledge content for those processes; that we know less factually about our K-12 schools and their operations than we know about the next pop artist to hit the charts; and lastly, that in the last two decades the number of solid experimental research efforts to measure and project what really works in the K-12 classroom might fit on a small handful of postcards.
A half century ago, along with other green university faculty, the writer rejected with contempt an offer by the university’s school of education dean to create a compact teaching methods development seminar for incoming business faculty. The offer was prompted by observations that our best and brightest were actually classroom disasters. That arrogance, the opposite of the K-12 case, featured teachers loaded up with newly minted doctorates and knowledge, but clueless how to transfer that learning; it persists in US universities to this day, compounded by the continuing failure of US universities to tackle reform of promotion and tenure.
The week’s collision of ideas by chance also spanned a dialogue with Dr. Roger Jenkins, dean of Miami University’s Farmer School of Business, about the need for improving higher education classroom learning (thereby measurable outcomes and ultimately productivity impacting costs and tuition) before the K-12 alleged reform movement mutates and overtakes our universities. The early rumblings and outgassing of that volcano are already in the wind. The challenge of that opportunity goes well beyond the creativity and courage exercised in most of our universities for decades, perhaps ever.
But the rotating quote that was featured at the time on Roger’s email form was prophetic – by William Butler Yeats: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” The jury is out whether Miami, and the Farmer School, though it has demonstrated perspicacity and leadership in featuring undergraduate work, can find some matches that aren’t soggy?