Thursday, December 11, 2014

Classic Whateverness #3

     As we approach the end of the year, the time has come for another post in "Classic Whateverness" mode--those times when I do some mental de-cluttering. In these posts I rather randomly, though perhaps with some stream-of-consciousness logic flowing beneath the surface, briefly share thought which haven't grown into full posts. (Previous such posts: the first one; the second one.)

Whatever one may think about the Brown and Garner controversies, they capture why schools must have good digital literacy programs. We saw the best and worst of social media in action ... Speaking of these cases, really tests the ability to teach how to think, not what to think. Always was proud when students told me they couldn't really tell my stance on an issue ... When a school does not address such events in some fashion, we fail. We allow students' education to exist in a vacuum rather than have a larger purpose. Indeed, we even signal that it doesn't really matter in a larger societal context ... If teachers are to be judged on their students' standardized test scores, how far up the chain should we assign such responsibility? ... Not sure where I saw this, but love it: Why emphasize standardized testing unless you want standardized kids? ... Been thinking about what I would choose if I had to select a single word for what I want school to be. Current favorite is inspiring like how all-encompassing it feels ... I keep seeing the argument for changing certain practices in schools as "That's not how the real world works" or "Adults don't have to do that in their work." I understand that thinking and often agree. But we're talking about school and kids--not miniature adults. That was the thinking behind child labor over a century ago ... Along those same lines, that's one reason schools are not going extinct any time soon: the adults need something to do with the kids during the day ... I've decided I don't like how so many use the term "grit" for another reason: something that is gritty is abrasive and wears down whatever it's rubbing against. I much prefer determination, perseverance, or resilience. They seem more in line with my educational philosophy of steady growth in the face of regular, appropriate challenge ... Besides the complexities of human nature, two other things make working with teachers hard. They are accustomed to being the most knowledgeable (though not necessarily smartest) person in the room most of the time. They also spend so much of their time telling people what's wrong with something and how to fix it ... Has any school had as much giant, public stress as the University of Virginia over the past year--the board-president imbroglio, high-profile murder of a student, and now the apparently false story about rape on campus ... I saw an interesting note in a news article regarding a Plano, TX, ruling about equal rights for LGBQT people. Those opposed voiced their concerns via email; those in favor mainly used social media. There have to be some other demographics that align with this ... If I were truly brave--and I mean really, truly brave--and less of a realist, I'd eliminate grades. They inevitably frustrate everyone in some way, and I think they do more than anything else to obscure what learning should be about ... I've been thinking quite a bit lately about the inverse relationship between responsibility/supposed "power" and control. Seems the more of the latter you have, the less of the former you actually have. And I think that's necessary for effective leadership--that one doesn't try to control but instead empowers ... Fewer posts are showing up in my blog aggregator. I wonder if blogging is dying out, and maybe not so slowly ... Hmmm. So could/should each bit in here have been a tweet? ... I hope that's not true about blogging. I love the meditative quality of great posts. I can't recall the source, but some famous author once said, "I'm not sure what I think until I write it." ... So now I wonder: Should some  of these become full posts rather than pellets among scattershooting?

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