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What I Wish I Had Known about Student Motivation
“You’re a smart kid; I just wish you’d apply yourself in my class.” Most teachers have uttered a similar phrase. I know I did. I remember one student particularly well; we’ll call him Jerry. His quick answers and witty insights—when he paid attention—told me he was smart enough to be doing better than he was. My pep talks with Jerry never did much good, though. Sometimes, the more I goaded, the less he tried, which frustrated my ambitions of channeling Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poet’s Society, inspiring students to hang on every word of Nathaniel Hawthorne or Emily Dickinson....
Posted Mar 15, 2012 at
Supporting the Whole Child, but Not with Arts Education
There is a lot of talk these days about meeting the needs of the “whole child.” Once past the bizarre visual image of a less-than-whole child that the phrase tends to conjure up, we understand its intent, and, in near unanimity, we agree there should be more student supports that actually prevent problems from arising in the first place. [To read what research says about whole-child student supports, download the summer issue of McREL’s magazine for education leaders, Changing Schools, here: http://www.mcrel.org/topics/products/437/ ] In April, the National Education Association convened a panel of 100 of the country’s top educators. Many...
Posted Jun 29, 2011 at
Georgia’s Vision Moving Closer to Reality
An earlier blog, The Power behind Envisioning, describes the Georgia Vision Project, one state’s effort to rally residents in support of a singular high-stakes cause—providing all children in the state with an excellent education so they can be successful in college, career, and life. A risky endeavor, you say? You bet it is, but so far, the response to the 45 recommendations has been great, say the planners. That response could be sheer luck, but it’s doubtful. Take, for instance, the fact that the George Lucas Foundation has tapped Whitfield County Schools in rural northwestern Georgia (where 66% of students...
Posted Apr 22, 2011 at
Move over Technology, Make Room for Liberal Arts
Americans always have been obsessed with time. In his book, Faster: The Acceleration of Just about Everything, James Gleick wrote over a decade ago that American society was moving ever-faster forward toward a pace that is so accelerated, we can’t slow down enough to realize it isn’t working. We are not saving time, using time more wisely, or creating more leisure time (although we like to think we are); we are just doing everything faster. And as author Nicolas Carr asserts in The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, technology and other advancements are now crowding out...
Posted Mar 8, 2011 at
The Power behind Envisioning
A coach says to an athlete, “Envision crossing the finish line. . .alone. . . far ahead of any other contender. . . victory is yours. . . feel it. . . taste it. . . claim it.” Through visualization, this athlete grows more focused, motivated, and confident, thereby increasing the likelihood of his or her success. If you’re thinking, “That is one powerful technique,” you’re right. So, if I’m feeling altruistic, can I just envision an end to poverty or hunger? What about education? Can envisioning work there? The state of Georgia thinks it can . . . sort...
Posted Feb 9, 2011 at
Worth is in the eye of the beholder
The simplicity of the idea behind the SAME (So All May Eat) Café in Denver, Colorado, is stunning—patrons pay whatever they want for a made-from-scratch, often organic meal. No one expected the restaurant to last six months, but it is now in its 5th year of operation and serving thousands every year.The café owners, longtime volunteers in soup kitchens and driven by a passion to solve a problem that big government and big money hadn’t, unabashedly took huge risks with their life’s saving to do something they thought they should: feed hungry people in a dignified and respectful environment and get paid what it is worth. Although running a non-profit restaurant is not exactly like funding education, there is a similarity worth noting.The “worth” of a good teacher is a much discussed topic in education. In Uri Friedman’s December 21 blog, he asks “Is a good teacher worth $400,000?” and sites the recent findings of researcher Eric Hanushek of Stanford’s Hoover Institution, whose new book Schoolhouses, Courthouses, and Statehouses: Solving the Funding-Achievement Puzzle in America’s Public Schools cuts to the chase about the lack of significant improvements in student achievement, simply stating that the incentives today do not focus on improved student outcomes. Hanushek suggests a performance-based system directly linking funding to success in raising student achievement will work better. Ahhh, the beauty of that conclusion reminds me of Keats, but with a twist: Simplicity is truth, truth simplicity.Is a good teacher worth $400,000? If students are learning what they need to be learning, then yes, paying the going market rate for high performance is logical. Too simple, you say? A couple of café owners might disagree.See what $125,000 a year is getting students in New York City here.Read an interview with University of Missouri-Columbia Professor of Economics Michael Podgursky about merit pay and teachers here.
Posted Dec 30, 2010 at
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