Thursday, March 11, 2010

Different paths, different outcomes--

Elimination of funding for the National Writing Project—

Common Core Standards proposals--

National Educational Technology Plan—

Seemingly very different paths, different outcomes-

Sensing some tensions here, some real disconnects?

Despite many sources and opinions available, feeling compelled to add my voice to the mix---

The National Writing Project -- The proposed national budget would eliminate funding for the National Writing Project. That would be a great loss. Don’t reading and writing and thinking, more reading, revising and thinking lead to good learning? Bud Hunt here and here, Brian Crosby, and Zachary Chase are some of the many seeking to change this. Add your voice; our government needs to understand the importance of writing and the positive impact of this project.

Common Core Standards-- The draft of the Common Core Standards is available for comment. The New York Times says:

The new proposals could transform American education.

Believing in my heart that diversity has lead to the richness of underlying values of our nation and really questioning here the wisdom in striving for such conformity--- especially from each youngster at a specific time in their lives, when developmentally perhaps it really isn’t just right for them? And appreciating the following perspectives:

The goal here isn’t to nourish children’s curiosity, to help them fall in love with reading, to promote both the ability and the disposition to think critically, or to support a democratic society. Rather, a prescription for uniform, specific, rigorous standards is made to order for those whose chief concern is to pump up the American economy and triumph over people who live in other countries.

If these standards are more economic than educational in their inspiration, more about winning than learning, devoted more to serving the interests of business than to meeting the needs of kids, then we’ve merely painted a 21st-century facade on a hoary, dreary model of school-as-employee-training.

The debate about national standards should really be a debate about what education is, what kind of skills and knowledge should be taught, and what truly are essential for our children to succeed in the 21st century. We cannot simply look at what is taught in a subject area. We must consider the meaning of education. After all, what we want is the big watermelon, not the tiny sesame seed.

About the National Educational Technology Plan from THE Journal:

If there were any doubts about the Obama administration's intentions toward education technology, the United States Department of Education settled them Friday with the release of the first public draft of the National Education Technology Plan (NETP). The 114-page document reveals an intent not only to infuse technology throughout the curriculum (and beyond), but to implement some major--sometimes radical--changes to education itself.

You can find the entire plan here. Will Richardson’s summary mirrors my surprise, excitement, and wonder. This snippet from his post captures the good stuff in the plan:

* Personalized learning

* Learning that is “lifelong and life-wide and available on demand.”

* A device and ubiquitous access for every student and teacher.

* Professional development that focuses on “connected teaching” in “online learning communities” (Sounds familiar.)

* Professional learning that is “collaborative, coherent, and continuous.”

* Learning that is “always on”

* Learning that is no longer “one size fits all.”

* Student work on the cloud

* Student managed electronic learning portfolios

* Students as “networked learners”

* Broadband everywhere

* Open educational resources

* Creative Commons licenses

* Changes to CIPA and FERPA to open up access

* Rethinking the “basic assumptions” of schooling

Given these, wouldn’t all children have opportunities to realize their fullest potential? Won’t individual talents, creativity, and innovation grow and flourish in such an environment?

Now I’m wondering here -- how do national standards and “Learning that is no longer ‘one size fits all’.” co-exist with each other? Or can they? Or maybe I shouldn’t even get stuck there but be energized to move forward, to move beyond hope to the work at hand, as I consider the possibilities that can abound as we travel the path of the National Educational Technology Plan which seems to me can lead to far richer and far more abundant outcomes?

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