Thursday, April 1, 2010

What is achievement?

Posting might be a bit slow around here today--we appear to have been hit by the stomach flu--so I'm passing along Deb Meier on "achievement" and what it means.

Teachers should have higher expectations? Probably, but when we focus on testing we offer lower expectations, above all to the least advantaged kids. That's what I discovered in my two years of subbing in Chicago K-8 schools nearly 50 years ago, pre-Reform. Their very lively intelligence was not tapped beyond first grade. Teachers were programmed way back then--with a few exceptions in every school who closed their doors and ignored the lesson plans. No, it's only secretly rebellious teachers who have ever done right by our least advantaged kids. That's why, Diane, I disagree with your title ("the main idea"). It was never a "great system" for most of those who bravely stepped into their first grade classroom. Teachers were never respected.

It's what all our new fancy Reforms aren't tackling. How can we use schools as places where teachers, parents, and kids engage in serious intellectual challenges, respectful of their own histories and inclinations, buttressed by the vast knowledge and know-how of many others, past and present? Plus, the confidence, perseverance and curiosity to push beyond their boundaries. That's what drives some kids to spend hours throwing basket after basket, others to practice the clarinet long after their parents might like them to stop, and on and on. Even David Brooks agrees--social trust is at the crux. ("The Sandra Bullock Trade,"The New York Times, March 30, 2010.)

1 comment:

T-Traveler said...

Ravitch on the second segment of the Emily Rooney podcast on April 6 (radio version)

still slogging through her tome, although the "brushes with greatness" parts are fun