Thursday, January 2, 2014

Obsolete in Education - Part Three

Three years ago, predicted some things that were going obsolete. I think she's experiencing some edu-psychosis brought on by wishful thinking.

continued ...
15. Paid/Outsourced Professional Development
No one knows your school as well as you. With the power of a PLN in their back pockets, teachers will rise up to replace peripatetic professional development gurus as the source of school-wide prof dev programs. This is already happening.
Yep, PD is outsourced, and it doesn't look like it's going away any time soon. More's the pity. If we COULD get the administration to let go of the marionette strings, it would be a sea-change.  Let me know when they do ... but I figure I'll be retired by then. We've had some success in our building but then a new curriculum coordinator got hired and since he's being paid more than anyone in the building, he needs to justify his existence so ... protocols.
16. Current Curricular Norms
There is no reason why every student needs to take however many credits in the same course of study as every other student. The root of curricular change will be the shift in middle schools to a role as foundational content providers and high schools as places for specialized learning.
I've been asking for this for years. I'd prefer to split kids into "Hates Math" and "Loves Math" rather than College-prep and non-CP. The Common Core, however, is pushing directly against this, demanding that all kids are capable of everything in the CCSS if only the teachers would raise their standards and teach everything at a lower grade than is done now.
17. Parent-Teacher Conference Night
Ongoing parent-teacher relations in virtual reality will make parent-teacher conference nights seem quaint. Over the next ten years, parents and teachers will become closer than ever as a result of virtual communication opportunities. And parents will drive schools to become ever more tech integrated.
Except when they vote on the budgets, but that may be a Vermont thing. We have a much closer symbiosis with parents than other people do. The budget is a separate vote. They know what we spend. The "drive to become more tech integrated" is running against the extreme poverty in much of this state.

The other part of this idea is that parents and teachers will become closer than ever because of "virtual communication opportunities." Oh, Jesus.

I already talk to most of the parents at soccer games, talent night, fundraisers. They log on to Powerschool and see grades and notes. They email occasionally about which online practice quizzes sonny-boy needs to complete. They look over shoulders or ask for logins to the class Moodle ("No, their classmates need some privacy - I don't want parents critiquing other people's children's work and comments). There aren't many more "communications" we can have short of making them teachers, too. If they were so damned interested in teaching their kid, they'd have home-schooled, .... but they didn't. I got hired to do it.

As an aside, I would note that many juniors and seniors should be having LESS oversight from parents, not more. They're going to college soon and need to stand on their own, without helicopter parents checking on every detail and making sure that every item is handed in with t's crossed and i's dotted.
18. Typical Cafeteria Food
Nutrition information + handhelds + cost comparison = the end of $3.00 bowls of microwaved mac and cheese. At least, I so hope so.
Cost comparison? The kids aren't allowed off-campus, and if they could go, they can choose Subway or Pizza. Not much improvement. Handhelds? Again, if you have no choices, there's little you can do ... and some schools make it a suspend-able offense to post pictures of your lunch. Nutrition information? Since when has that been an exact science? There's more mumbo-jumbo in the lunchroom than in the classroom.  What is it nowadays, anyway? MyPlate or the Food Pyramid or the Circle of Life?
19. Outsourced Graphic Design and Webmastering
You need a website/brochure/promo/etc.? Well, for goodness sake just let your kids do it. By the end of the decade -- in the best of schools -- they will be.
Yep, and you get what you pay for it. Although, in our case, the students probably could do a better job, but the computer teacher doesn't know how to make webpages and the website is outsourced to a woman who isn't very good at it.
20. High School Algebra I
Within the decade, it will either become the norm to teach this course in middle school or we'll have finally woken up to the fact that there's no reason to give algebra weight over statistics and IT in high school for non-math majors (and they will have all taken it in middle school anyway).
Ignoring that it's pretty damned impossible to teach statistics and IT without algebra as a pre-requisite, I'd like to point out that algebra should be taught in ninth grade, by default. The superior students (10%-20%) can do it in eighth grade. The weak students, tenth grade.

Pretending that the fix for improving the learning of algebra (which you just said you didn't want to teach to everyone) is to move the course to younger students with less preparation and less maturity, while raising your standards .... is silly.

Stop it, people. Kids will learn algebra in good time.  Stop trying to force it. I'm good with changing the top course from Calculus to Statistics, but you don't need to shove algebra down the throats of thirteen year-olds.
21. Paper
In ten years' time, schools will decrease their paper consumption by no less than 90%. And the printing industry and the copier industry and the paper industry itself will either adjust or perish.
Or not. We're five years into this Brave New World of hers and I see few signs that paper is going away. Sure, amazon sends us an emailed receipt and our bills are starting to come that way, but a lot of the paperwork is still being done on paper. Much of the information is being stored on the cloud but that is increasingly problematic: Here's a recent study on security of schools' data from Fordham and this article from Business Wire. We're one major security breach away from a panicky, total withdrawal from the web.  Privacy laws in this country aren't yet ready for this. The daily classroom use of paper is lessening but only in certain classrooms.

#22 - The traditional, 8-3, monday-friday, school model that we see now. Like everyone else, I have questions about the whole childcare issue as well. But let's not conflate childcare with learning. Childcare is indeed necessary, but that can be provided for much less than what it costs to send an individual to school. So what can learning look like in 2020 given that we'll be able to provide some level of childcare? I'm not sure, but I don't see the traditional, 8-3, mon-friday, bell schedule model proliferating like it does now.
The reason that this is world-wide is because it works for most people. Unless you revamp your child labor laws and send them back to earning a paycheck, schools will be necessary if only to keep the kids learning something and keep them out of the way so adults can get some work done.

Let's not fool ourselves. Kids are not adults. In order for kids to become adults, they'll need certain classes, skills, and knowledge. We can discuss what those things should be, but to simply dump the kids into apprenticeships, or an elaborate childcare system, isn't going to satisfy anyone.
#22B - School buildings go multi use. they will include senior centers, preschools, homeless day shelters, employment training centers, or located on CSAs, organic farms, in museums, theatres, metropolitan libraries, music/video studios, also wharehouse/distribute recycled building materials, computers, ecofriendly building supplies, they will manufacture and innovate, build, reduce, reuse, and recycle. What is your fancy? With whom can you collaborate? Who will walk the halls with you? I would add marks/grades to this list as well. I believe our understanding for Formative Assessment will continue to grow - and one day it will eclipse our current dependence on Summative Assessment.
Holy mackerel, what a misty-eyed pile of crap.

Schools don't do well enough, so let's make them do more? Is this woman seriously suggesting that the best thing to do with your teenaged daughters and sons is to attempt to teach them in the same buildings as the homeless shelter and senior center?

These operations are separated now and there's a reason (senior centers, preschools, homeless day shelters, employment training centers, or located on CSAs, organic farms, in museums, theatres, metropolitan libraries, music/video studios, also wharehouse/distribute recycled building materials, computers, ecofriendly building supplies, they will manufacture and innovate, build, reduce, reuse, and recycle).

They are different.

The senior center is filled with people who would love a VISIT from their teenaged relatives, but would go apeshit if they had to be near the school for more than that.

Why does lumping this all together with a high school improve anything?  The answer: it won't.

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