The Three Question Challenge

This is the shortest piece I’ve ever placed on this site.  In some ways it’s a lead-in to a larger piece that I’ve been working on for a while now.  In that piece I’ll explore in greater detail the benefits of using this incredibly challenging time to ask three critical questions based on our experiences as school leaders, teachers and parents and to find a safe way to educate our children: 

  1. What should we keep doing?
  2. What should we stop doing?
  3. What should we start doing?

One of the things we should stop doing and stop doing right now is the administration of large scale annual assessments across grade levels as a means of gauging student learning. This is wrong on two counts.  From a purely mechanical perspective, there is no way to administer these assessments fairly to kids who are in school, kids who aren’t in school, kids who have functioning internet access, kids who don’t have such access, etc.  But more importantly this time gives us the chance to look at what we wish to measure and what we actually measure with such assessments. What I’ll repeat here is what many of us know… Make no mistake, this is only marginally related to concern for student learning.  This is, rather, a continuation of the “reformer mindset” that seeks to bring business practices described as efficient (read less expensive) and free-market (read for-profit privatization and “charterization” of our system of public education) into the fabric of our educational system.

In her blog today, Jan Resseger reports on the pressure being applied by various educational organizations on the federal Department of Education to once again release states from the obligation to administer the annual large scale assessments.   Jan, as noted in earlier pieces, is a meticulous researcher and tireless advocate for the commitment to a system of public education.  Rather they are intended to call attention to the folly of US DE policy that equates the results of large scale assessments with desired student learning. 

Make no mistake, this is textbook example of Ackoff’s assertion about the difference between trying to do things right and doing the right thing.  The right thing involves finding ways to assess not student memorization or test-prep enhanced scores but genuine student learning… an outcome which has never been measured in the history of large-scale, standardized testing.Trying to do large scale assessment right in this time of pandemic only serves to highlight the problems that have been evident pre-COVID. It’s time to stop doing this!  It’s time to stop raising the ugly specter of “learning loss”. It’s time to keep building the relationships that many teachers and their kids have worked so hard to enhance when their contact is largely limited to Zoom calls.  It’s time to recognize that, as much as any time in our history, this is a time when kids are constantly learning. We and our kids are learning how to make sense of isolation, learning how to maintain relationships, learning how to process and understand why their lives have changed so much, learning how to understand how government works or why it doesn’t.  It’s time for us to start recognizing that these are legitimate (and critical) outcomes for education.  It’s time we stop thinking in terms of achievement and achievement gaps and start thinking and acting on opportunity and opportunity gaps.

Since the beginning of the so-called reform movement the engagement level of our kids has steadily declined while during this same time the reported rates of stress, anxiety and depression have dramatically risen.  The pandemic has opened a portal to new possibilities.  Many teachers and students have had experiences never before imagined.  We need to keep these!  Many of us long for the comfort of what was.  We need to recognize that ‘what was’ was not serving our kids all that well.  We need to stop wishing for the past.  We need to stop thinking of education as a way we pour measurable (and largely disconnected from life) knowledge (think Algebra II) into the heads of students. We need to start following our hearts and start focusing more intensely on the love of kids that brought us to teaching.

If you were to start a 3 question list based on learning from the pandemic experience, what would be the most important ones in each category?

Be well

2 thoughts on “The Three Question Challenge

  1. *KEEP *Examining, broadening, exploring all options for education ongoingly. (If we can have 85 gender types, we can have 85 curricula and learning styles). Being REALLY honest about what we are here for and realize that it is actually different for each family. *STOP * Holding one form of Education as correct and all others substandard alternatives. End immediately the abhorrence of conservative values when it is such values that maintain (conserve) an institution. Celebrate all liberal ideas equally, not placing importance on ONLY the most extreme. It is here that an institution evolves. Both perspectives, in balance, are necessary to keep an institution thriving and relevant. *START * Giving Parents respected Voice/Choice in all matters Public Education… including but not limited to Subjects taught, Health options (such as vaccines, quarantines etc), Religious practices, patriotism, in school or home attendance, etc. In other words, every student gets a PEP, designed with the direct input of the parents.

    One might say our Public Education System cannot handle that; insufficient funds, resources, etc. To which I say, Then what good is it? Move it to the scrap heap and start over. Or, wake up and get present to the uniqueness of each student, each parent and the remarkable contribution they are to your Paycheck. I mean Community.

    BTW… financial people use Algebra every day. Many families do when considering refinancing or purchasing a home. Why not teach Algebra to Seniors this way? Or future cost of college tuition as compared to earning power of a technical trade? In fact, if high school sophomores and juniors were taught Algebra as figuring out a monthly car payment, and the future value of their savings, they might light up when Algebra is taught. But then we would have to WANT to end up with financially literate, money saavy, competent citizens ready to make their way in the world.

    Forgive the digs. I’m passionate about this.

    Thanks for all you and the many great education professionals do. I wish you all the Courage to recognize and stand up to the flawed and greedy system in place designed to preserve itself at the cost of its customers. I believe when one does, the inspiring fulfillment you all desire will return to this, the greatest of all professions.

    Wishing you an open mind and Many Blessings.

    On Wed, Feb 3, 2021 at 11:55 AM Rethinking Learning… wrote:

    > richardteneyck posted: ” This is the shortest piece I’ve ever placed on > this site. In some ways it’s a lead-in to a larger piece that I’ve been > working on for a while now. In that piece I’ll explore in greater detail > the benefits of using this incredibly challenging time to” >

    Like

  2. *Keep *investigating acknowledgement and credit for the learning that happens outside the brick and mortar building, ie family trips, hobbies, club activities, youth groups etc.

    *Stop* Teacher > Student Learning model as if it happens no other way.

    *Start* involving the student FULLY in his/her own learning. What are his/her Passions? Talents? Gifts? Interests? Goals? Needs? Wants? Start listening. Involve the Parents. Expand Providing Leadership and Guidance instead of the service itself.

    *Keep* being accountable for the results of your educational services and efforts.

    *Stop* thinking that your responsibility ends with adequate grade scores, high school graduation or college acceptance. Stop the Accredited Fooled from teaching Accepted Foolishness creating Compliant Subservient Fools.

    *Start* looking at your output in the real world and start asking: Is this output of adults really what you want to live with in the world? How are they performing REALLY? What’s working for the long term? What’s not working as the now adult students enter society? Where have we failed to prepare these people to navigate our own complex competitive world? What’s missing in K-12 public education, the addition of which, would produce highly performing, socially aware, politically prepared, healthy functioning adults that we want and can depend on to perpetuate the best of our society for all Humanity?

    Sorry. You got me going.

    All the Blessed

    On Wed, Feb 3, 2021 at 1:01 PM Loretta Darling Nicola wrote:

    > *KEEP *Examining, broadening, exploring all options for education > ongoingly. (If we can have 85 gender types, we can have 85 curricula and > learning styles). Being REALLY honest about what we are here for and > realize that it is actually different for each family. > *STOP * Holding one form of Education as correct and all others > substandard alternatives. End immediately the abhorrence of conservative > values when it is such values that maintain (conserve) an institution. > Celebrate all liberal ideas equally, not placing importance on ONLY the > most extreme. It is here that an institution evolves. Both perspectives, in > balance, are necessary to keep an institution thriving and relevant. > *START * Giving Parents respected Voice/Choice in all matters Public > Education… including but not limited to Subjects taught, Health options > (such as vaccines, quarantines etc), Religious practices, patriotism, in > school or home attendance, etc. In other words, every student gets a PEP, > designed with the direct input of the parents. > > One might say our Public Education System cannot handle that; insufficient > funds, resources, etc. To which I say, Then what good is it? Move it to the > scrap heap and start over. Or, wake up and get present to the uniqueness > of each student, each parent and the remarkable contribution they are to > your Paycheck. I mean Community. > > BTW… financial people use Algebra every day. Many families do when > considering refinancing or purchasing a home. Why not teach Algebra to > Seniors this way? Or future cost of college tuition as compared to earning > power of a technical trade? In fact, if high school sophomores and juniors > were taught Algebra as figuring out a monthly car payment, and the future > value of their savings, they might light up when Algebra is taught. But > then we would have to WANT to end up with financially literate, money > saavy, competent citizens ready to make their way in the world. > > Forgive the digs. I’m passionate about this. > > Thanks for all you and the many great education professionals do. > I wish you all the Courage to recognize and stand up to the flawed and > greedy system in place designed to preserve itself at the cost of its > customers. I believe when one does, the inspiring fulfillment you all > desire will return to this, the greatest of all professions. > > > Wishing you an open mind and Many Blessings. > > > On Wed, Feb 3, 2021 at 11:55 AM Rethinking Learning… comment-reply@wordpress.com> wrote: > >> richardteneyck posted: ” This is the shortest piece I’ve ever placed on >> this site. In some ways it’s a lead-in to a larger piece that I’ve been >> working on for a while now. In that piece I’ll explore in greater detail >> the benefits of using this incredibly challenging time to” >>

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s