Monday, November 3, 2008

School choice and the state of education

I have to comment on the old adage - "you don't throw the baby out with the bath water". I agree with most of what is discussed in class - we are missing the target in education and we are not preparing students for their educational futures, or careers for that matter. There are some basic fundamentals that I can see would be missed in an educational setting such as proposed in the Phoenix Odyssey. We're presuming that somehow students interested in attending the Phoenix Odyssey would be able to read the brochure to contact someone for services - that they would have that basic fundamental skill. Not only that, the idea of a voucher system in American education, is not appealing to me. There are disparities in education as it is right now - just wait until folks get a voucher and then the providers will take their vouchers and then some more money for a truly "quality" education. An individualized education plan for every student? Are these people providing it qualified to do so - we're talking millions of students here. The sheer amount of time this would take is mind boggling. We think high school teacher-to-student ratios are bad as it is with an average teacher seeing over 200 kids a day. Where would we get all of these folks for the one on one attention? If they were a dime a dozen, I'm sure it wouldn't be too difficult. The "how" in education still hasn't changed (as proposed in Dewey's writings over 100 years ago and the "Tap into Learning" constructivist article), it's the "what" and although I propose some radical changes to education - vouchers are not one of them.

Another interesting article titled "How We Don't Learn" published in ACSA's November/December 2008 Leadership publication by Laurel Schmidt supports social construction of knowledge. The author cites Dewey, Friere, Gardner, and Vygotsky to make the point that students have never learned by sitting quietly in straight rows and "maintaining a church like silence". The author simply purports that teachers can work their students like "rented mules", but if "their working against the brain, using strategies that ignore the natural learning cycle in children" - ultimately the goals of learning will not be reached.

I also enjoyed looking at the "i" software from Mac - although both of my districts are PC's and all the computers I have at home are PC's. I don't know that I'd have time to learn how to use an entirely new software to produce a multimedia presentation by the end of this quarter - that would take some training, time, and assistance.

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