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View Diary: A Response to TeacherKen and Dailykos Community (357 comments)

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  •  Ok, so if (none)
    existing comparisons are invalid then by what measure do we determine if education system is working at peak efficiency or not? I can tell you it is not from anecdotal and personal experience but I cannot quantify that and draw conclusions other then the one's I posted above.

    So what is a valid and useful measure?

    •  why peak efficiency (none)
      human beings are not efficient  nor can they be treated as cogs in a machine   -  efficiency does cost -benefit analyses, may of which are often quite flawed because they do not account either for all costs or for all benefits.

      What value do you lace on understanding if you cannot measure by a test?  A tacher who knows his students can measure it by the dawn of recognition that spreads across a students' face when s/he suddenly graps a concept that has eleuded him/her.

      part of what is wrong with our entire testing regiome is that it is prmsie on efficiency - we want to emasure as much as possible at the loewset cost.  In the process we lose much information.  We seek to use questions that have one "right" answer (and I will not even go into the bias in many such questions, the improper construction of stems that sllow for multiple interpretations) even though much of the life for which we are ostensibly preparing our students does not have one right answer out of a choice of four or 5 -- in fact it may have no correct answer and one has to make the best choice one can with incomplete information.

      I refuse to accept the premise of your question.   If you want to know, spend time in schools.   See if children are engaged, challenged.   See waht they talk about when they go home, probe, and see if their minds are being pushed.

      Tests provide SOME information, but incomplete information.

      Also, I might note that your argument about peak efficiency does not in anyway seem to relate to absolute scores in international comparisons such as TIMMS -  those scores are not compared on a knowledge gained versus money spent basis, they are not on a knowledge gained versus academic effort basis.  In fact, there is no element of efficiency at all in those comparisons.  So why are you know asking about efficiency?  And what if anything does that have to do either with international comparisons or learning?

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

      by teacherken on Sun Oct 09, 2005 at 08:53:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ok, did I like... (none)
        ... push a button unknowingly or something?

        Like I said in my first note... I am not and educator. Let me expand that to say explicitly that which was implied in the first statement... this is not my area of expertise.

        My personal observation of our educational system is that it is not so good. My observation of the knowledge, and more importantly the ability to learn and analyze of many Americans, is that our educational system is failing to teach some pretty critical things to most folks.

        I get the feeling that I pushed a button of yours and am getting a tangential response and not your full view of the situation. I say this because if I take your two posts here alone you seem to be arguing for the status quo and saying everything is just hunky dory. I assume that is not the case. My apologies if I stepped in something here. I am simply trying to understand how we can improve our schools and they do need improving.

        As far as efficiency and testing are concerned... I'm a computer guy. Part of my everyday work is to get things running at peak efficiency. People aren't machines but systems are the same everywhere. Systems need to be designed with efficiency in mind. It is not necessarily the number one thing... achieving the outcome the system is designed to achieve is the number one thing... but efficiency is important. Testing is also important. Testing, of some sort (I am not advocating any existing testing over or under any other as I know nothing about them), is a necessary ingredient else we are down to the "trust me honey" the bushies like so much. I'm fairly certain that is not what you are advocating.

        A system also needs to be designed to work for all people. Not just the rich or well off. Hence the need for a system and not a "trust me honey" approach. That does not mean being ignorant of local, cultural, or language differences, systems need to be flexible as well, but it means being designed to strongest where the need is strongest.

        Anyhow... I think you read a lot more into what I wrote then was really there. My apologies.

         

        •  only time for a couple of quick comments (none)
          first, you should know that I spent 20+ years of my life in various roles in data processing, from programmer, through analyst, through manager and consultant.  With computers efficiency might well be the key.   But with children it cannot be, or you lose sight of the individual child, and then you might well lose that child.  That is why I have a visceral reaction when people start to apply models that are in fact educationally and psychologically inappropriate to schools.   On this subject I believe I can speak with a certain amount of credibility.

          I do not disagree that the perception is that there are major problems with our schools.   I will tell you that perception is not necessarily the same as reality.   There are bad schools, bad systems, bad teachers, bad administrators.  I will grant all that.   But it is not that ALL or even MOST schools, systems, teachers, or administrators are bad.  We have been making educational policy by anecdote, with a cherry picking of the anecdotes that show schools in the worst possible light.   We have people in the general press writing about education who lack understanding  -- of education, of statistics, of the methologies of doing studies.  Part of the reason I agreed to engage in the dialgo with Tom Vilsack was that it was an opportunity to change the frame in which we view - and talk about - education.  

          Understand this   -- the political and religious right made a concerted effort to delegitimize the public schools several decades ago.  It was the clear intent of the Reagan administration before they came into office to dismantle the Federal Dept of Education.   "A Nation at Risk" was suppoed to be the cudgel by which they bludgeoned public education into submission, but it didn't work, and not just because teachers' unions were too politally powerful (that's actually a bad joke  --  in Virginia you can belong to a union but you have no right to collective bargaining, which is officially barred for all public employees, and even in Democratic Maryland teachers lack the ability to strike -  not that I ever would).

          It seems to me that far too many of the discussions about education lack the voices that may matter the most -- those of teachers, and of the students they teach.  

          In an ideal world, I would not need to give a child a report card, because I can with all 155 or so students that I teach, without going to my grade book, tell you now after 8 weeks their strengths and weaknesses in my class, what they struggle with, how often they tend not to do assignments, and what they and I need to do to help them achieve success.

          But everyone wants to reduce everything to numbers that they can compare.  So who has learned more, the student who comes into my class doing A- work and raises it to a solid A, or the student who has been failing miserably and manages to get to a C-?  Of whom should I be more proud?  My answer is, NEITHER, because that kind of comparison is a zero sum game in which someone has to lose, and the purpose of education should NOT be to determine winners or losers, but to help ALL develop to the best of their potential, whatever that is.

          It is not that you hit a nerve per se, although I appreciate your willingness to consider the possibility.  I may have reacted on autopilot because I hear the same thing over and over.

          Right now I should be making up a test - I will turn to that anon.  But because I can articulate some of these things in a way that others can comprehend, I feel I have an obligation to devote some time and energy to using that ability in a way that helps broaden our understanding and improves the quality of our discussions about education.  That is why I began the process of discussion - on phone and electronically - with Tom VIlsack.  And that is also why the requests I have received to republish all or part of the pice I wrote to which the Governor responded mean that I will grant permission - to the NEA in TN and to the Assoc of Secondary School Principals in Kansas, to republish what they find useful.  

          I am always somewhat amazed when something I write has that kind of effect, honored in fact that others may consider my words worthy of such distribution, or - as in your case - detailed response.

          So I thank you for what you posted, both before and after my previous comment on this part of the thread.

          And now I really must go make up my test.

          Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

          by teacherken on Mon Oct 10, 2005 at 05:17:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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