Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Race to Homogenize the Human Mind....

I came across this unfinished painting recently and thought it was interesting.....

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dwindling Creativity Development Opportunities In Our Schools....

Data driven education rules in today's U.S. classrooms. Children spend much of their time in school participating in information processing activities or paper and pencil selected response work sheets designed as preparation for high stakes testing events. The fine arts, have never before become so important to the schooling experiences of children. When I read articles like this, I become very, very concerned.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Arts Education Inequities in the Windy City? The Chicago Public Education Story from Chicago Teachers

To say that teachers voices have been suppressed by the corporate news media in this age of corporate driven education reform is an understatement. 
I have yet to hear teacher's concerns expressed appropriately in main stream media news broadcasts. This video by the CTU, eloquently shines a light on children's inequities for learning opportunities in the fine arts,  lack of resources and support from administrators and policymakers who govern Chicago Public Schools!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The High Costs of Standardized Testing in Indiana....

State treasure: Indiana tax payers are out of $46,229,751.00 in education funding diverted last year from public schools and paid to out-of-state standardized test publishing companies.

Time: six weeks of test prep substituted for new learning across the curricula? Get the details here at Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education.

Top that off with the physiological toll high stakes test stress has on America's children and one has to ask this question: Is the runaway train that is high stakes testing good for the educational and psycho-emotional development of students in U.S. Public Schools?

If you would like to express your concerns with the Indiana Education Select Commission, you can contact them here:
Rep. Robert Behning, Co-Chairperson h91@IN.gov
Rep. Rhonda Rhoads--h70@in.gov,
Rep. Timothy Brown, h70@in.gov
Rep. Edward Clere h72@in.gov
Rep. David Frizzell h93@in.gov
Rep. Kathleen Heuer h83@in.gov
Rep. Cindy Noe h87@in.gov
Rep. Jeffrey Thompson h28@in.gov
Rep. Greg Porter h96@in.gov
Rep. David Cheatham h69@in.gov
Rep. Clyde Kersey h43@in.gov
Rep. Vernon Smith h14@in.gov
Rep. Shelli Vandenburgh h19@in.gov
Sen. Dennis Kruse, Co-Chair Senator.Kruse@iga.in.gov
Sen. Carlin Yoder Senator.Yoder@iga.in.gov
Sen. James Banks Senator.Banks@iga.in.gov
Sen. James Buck Senator.Buck@iga.in.gov
Sen. Luke Kenley Senator.Kenley@iga.in.gov
Sen. Jean Leising Senator.Leising@iga.in.gov
Sen. Scott Schneider Senator.Schneider@iga.in.gov
Sen. Earline Rogers S3@iga.in.gov
Sen. Frank Mrvan s1@iga.in.gov
Sen. Timothy Skinner s38@iga.in.gov

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Creativity, Innovation and didactic learning....

A young boy creates a machine to experiment with force and gravity in his art class.
 Recently, I participated in WFYI's Teacher Voices, Conversations About Education Forum at the Marion County Public Library. The focus of the discussion was to center on improving high school graduation rates. I made several discussion points during the event. My first comment centered on an examination of the student comments from the High School Survey of Student Engagement. Over 350,000 graduating high school seniors have taken the survey since 2006. Nearly 70 % claim they have been cognitively disengaged with their learning experiences in school. Why? A closer look at the survey data and student comments will shed light on this issue. Students love hands on learning, project based learning, collaborative learning, fine arts learning and learning experiences that are personalized. What turns students off? Didactic, rote based learning.

If the goals of improving student engagement, critical thinking and innovation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is a national goal, then project based, hands on learning must be central to any kinds of reform effort. But it isn't.

Data driven, didactic educational experience is the only way educators can efficiently prepare students for high stakes testing.  High stakes testing is the driver of learning experience. What does that mean? Pencil and paper seat learning is the rule and multi-sensory hands on project based learning is the exception.

I have written about Bill Gates childhood learning experiences before and how his foundation's education initiatives are not conducive to promoting innovation and creativity. Back in 2001, I read a biography of Gates: Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the making of the Microsoft Empire. According to the descriptions of Gates formative years provided by authors James Wallace and Jim Erickson, Gates learned computer programming through constructivist and self directed learning experiences supported and nurtured by the teachers, administration and community at the elite private Lakeside School in Seattle.

So I ask myself why? Why would Mr. Gates advocate for a standardized curriculum and high stakes testing  for other people's children?  He knows fully well, that was not the approach to learning that he participated in when his teachers engaged him in constructivist learning activities during this critical period in his life. The learning experiences that provided him with opportunities to develop his computer programming skills are diametrically opposed to the authoritarian, narrow, didactic, rote based, depersonalized learning experiences he now advocates for other peoples children.

By leveraging billions of education reform dollars through the Gates Foundation into education policy initiatives and insisting on mandated standardized testing across the K-12 public school curricula in order to evaluate teacher performance, policy makers have ensured that educators will continue to use data driven, didactic test prep in order to prepare students for high stake testing.

Until policy makers change the way teachers are evaluated without the heavy reliance upon high stakes standardized tests, educators will continue to teach to the test and creativity in our schools will continue to be pushed aside.