Thursday, December 18, 2014

Achievement gaps

third in a series of position papers on the APS School Board race.

Achievement gaps are individual.

All you get when you add together all the individual achievement gaps of students of a particular ethnicity and divide by their number is statistically defensible but otherwise educationally useless number.

It doesn't make any difference what the student looks like or where they live.  If the student is standing behind a screen, any good teacher can figure out after awhile, what that individual students problems are.

Any good teacher would address those problems individually (if they could) and that student's individual educational gap will close.

When all student's individual gaps close, groups of them divided by their number will take care of themselves.  Why do we even do that; if group fixes of individual ignorance worked, public education as we know it, would be working.

There is no group fix for individual problems.  If there were, the educational model we're still using; cemetery seating and thought choirs exploring, thinking and learning in unison for twelve years, would be producing better results.

People talk of "herding kittens"; which is exactly what we expect teachers to do; take 30 children with nothing in common but their age and the neighborhood they live in, and expect them to learn together, in unison, each on the same page in the same book on the same day.  All while maintaining and supporting and nurturing their kitten-like curiosity and motivation.

When our mission changes to;

create independent learners at the earliest opportunity
there will be no talk of gaps based on ethnicity or anything else except on each student's ability and motivation.

There is no such thing as a disengaged learner.

You cannot make a student "engage" any more than you can make a horse drink water.  We have abandoned the exploitation of an an intrinsic, absolutely natural curiosity and motivation to explore and learn, in favor of standardizing performance on standardized tests.

Enough already.

They say there is no stopping an idea whose time has come.
As a matter of fact, it was Victor Hugo who said it first, link,
“On resiste a l’invasion des armees; 
on ne resiste pas a l’invasion des idees.”*
*if you don't read in french;
“Nothing is more powerful than an idea
whose time has come.”
Ched MacQuigg; individual
lifelong learners at the earliest
It is time to let students learn
as fast and as furiously
as they are able.

Let them follow their nose,
keep them out of trouble,
point them only if you really,
absolutely, have no other choice.

photo Mark Bralley

No comments: