The least productive current narrative about public education goes something like this. Our schools, especially high schools, are failing. There is a predominance of ineffective teachers. Short of closing bad schools, firing bad teachers and sending kids to charter schools, there is little we can do to change this. Most good teachers, buried alive in the testing mania, are impotent to deal with the system. For the general public this narrative, partially reinforced by films like Waiting for Superman, provides a misguided message of total failure. For teachers struggling in underfunded schools, it encourages anger and self-pity rather than productive action.
The tragic death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida reminded me of an incident that happened four years ago in the San Francisco Bay Area where racism reared its ugly head to a black teenager on his way to school.
A selective attentive focus and the ability to block out distraction are seminal executive functions that are minimally developed in youngsters. These functions gradually become stronger throughout the years of prefrontal cortex maturation, which last into the twenties. It is with regard to these executive functions that research about the "bilingual brain" is particularly exciting.
A selective attentive focus and the ability to block out distraction are seminal executive functions that are minimally developed in youngsters. These functions gradually become stronger throughout the years of prefrontal cortex maturation, which last into the twenties. It is with regard to these executive functions that research about the "bilingual brain" is particularly exciting. Read More
A core goal of education is to create lifelong learners. Success in the workplace requires an ability to pick up new high-quality knowledge. The foundation for these learning skills is the study habits that are acquired from early in school. After all, most learning in life takes place outside of the classroom.
David Brooks is at it again. His March 5, 2012 column in the NY Times, "The Rediscovery of Character," give strong intellectual, moral, and practical support for schools' considering Social, Emotional, and Character Development (SECD) as essential for and integrated with academic competence and success. The subtext of Brooks' article is that people are still slow to believe in the importance of character, social and emotional skills, even though the evidence surrounds us constantly.
In my last post, I gave three of the best alternatives to rewards. I was surprised at how many people read and enjoyed it. I'm grateful to all who commented on various platforms. Some, however, still want to know what's wrong with using rewards as long as they work. I'll explore that question more deeply here.
Encouraging ethical conduct in the classroom is critical to successful teaching. There are many theories about behavioral management; however, fundamentally each of them operates on the school's foundation of a common belief set.
The ability to think critically is one skill separating innovators from followers. Critical thinking reduces the power of advertisers, the unscrupulous and the pretentious, and can neutralize the sway of an unsupported argument. This is a skill most students enjoy learning because they see immediately that it gives them more control.
With academic time in school being so pressured to include topics relevant to standardized tests, systematic Social, Emotional and Character Development (SECD) efforts are increasingly relegated to after-school time. The question is, should we be elated or cautious?