Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Random Thoughts on Education

Ruby Payne versus Academia:  Anecdotes or Data?  Held down by the man or pulled up by the bootstraps?  It ain't either/or; it's all of the above.  Ruby Payne's giving people down in the trenches tools to figure shit out.  She repeats stereotypes of the poor, which is where academia started off too, might I remind you?  But she makes sense in a lot of ways to those of us gettin' our fuckin' hands dirty down here and you guys talk too much and do way too little and for all your blather about not objectifying the poor by imposing middle class constructs of thinking upon them, y'all ought to get down in the streets, ask some questions and start listening and helping 'stead of just talking all the time.  And I say this sincerely as someone who never knows when to shut the fuck up.  Entrenched poverty and failing public schools in this rich country are a damn shame, and it's all of our problem.  We need anecdotes and data, systemic change and personal responsibility.  Let's go.

No Child Left Behind:  Test scores are a bullshit way to truly measure all kids' learning.  If you teach kids, you know this.  However, this is 2009, people.  We do need to know WTF our kids are expected to be learning in our public schools and how well we're doing at it as a nation. That's basic accountability and it needs to happen if we're tryin' to run a halfway decent democracy here.  These are our tax dollars.  So teachers and administrators need to work heavily with policy makers to craft smart legislation that can give us research based ways of looking at this stuff.  It's out there; we just need people to do the heavy lifting and rework the legislation to reflect best practices.  Congresswoman?  Senator?  Who wants the ball?

Brain-based Learning:  One of the most exciting things happening in education.  We need innovative neuroscience and we need large scale, replicable studies and cumulative data.  We also need a prime time TV show to figure out a cool way to teach us about new developments in neuroscience because this is really fascinating stuff, and needs to be explained in laymen's terms.  If we understand how our brains work we can teach and learn so much more efficiently.  I usually prefer to make fun of science nerds (*ahem* my husband and more than one of my sisters), but I guess this is my own little kingdom of science nerddom.  Neuroscience.  See, doesn't it even make me sound smarter?

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