http://www.wholechildreform.com

Sunday, August 18, 2019

What kind of nut case believes all kids will be proficient at the same time?



Children are different!  They aren't robots! To fully understand this, we must first understand that ALL children are different.  In the words of Dr. Howard Gardner "The biggest mistake of past centuries in teaching has been to treat all students as if they were variants of the same individual and thus to feel justified in teaching them all the same.”  The answer to the afore mention question is yes for both!  Because children are different, for some, under the current system of education, poverty becomes destiny due to the enormous obstacles put in their way.  Obstacles, like childhood stress, literally slows the brain.

According to Dr. Kara Fitzgerald; “So essentially what we saw, that a stressful environment really coordinates three kinds of responses in the body: an immune response, a metabolic response, and a behavioral response. ….When something stressful or threatening happens, it’s not just our brain that is involved. We have to recruit everything from the immune system, to the fat system, to the heart. And therefore, what I believe is early in life, children are getting this information, life is going to be tough. And they are kind of altering multiple systems to deal with hard life. And hard life involves social threat, it involves food threat, lack of food. It involves bacterial infestation, so it prepares for all of this.”

With these obstacles, learning becomes difficult.  On the other hand, the answer is also yes, many of those in poverty are protected from obstacles that impede learning and therefore poverty does not become destiny.  They learn in a normal manner.

Significant is that when we generalize terms, it is easy to infer anything we want and justify anything we want.  It is easy to dive fully into the confirmation bias and give more weight to those ideas that confirm what we already believe and less weight and even ignore ideas or facts that don’t.

By generalizing poverty, combined with continued large class sizes, it is difficult for the classroom teacher to determine which children are learning slow due to obstacles or those who are simply perceived as learning slow due to their zip code.  This, then often leads to unnecessary low expectations.

When we understand that all children are different, we come to the realization that as a classroom teacher, we don’t know who is affected by the obstacles and who is not.  Therefore, it is essential to have high expectations for every child that enters the class.  That is easier done when we have a plan for students who don't meet those expectations, as well as those who advance beyond expectations. 

No longer may we give students progressing slower a failing grade which, in their minds, calls them stupid.  Nor may we pass them on with a D- that increases their potential for failure in the future.  Instead, we don't give them a letter grade.  We do devise a system of education that builds "failure" as a part of the learning process, a lesson to build on.  Children then maintain hope as they continue to move forward at their best rate in the way they learn best.

And no longer may we hold back the advanced student.  They too must be allowed to progress at their best rate even if it means taking university classes earlier. 

With smaller class sizes teachers can not only work closer with the students learning styles, but they can better understand the different background information of each student.  Thus they can teach all children in the way they learn best.

Currently the system of education gives teachers two major choices for those who progress slower.  Students can pass or fail.  If they fail, they move on to the next chapter never learning the needed information.  This leads to another dilemma.  At the end of the school year they can either pass without learning or fail back to repeat the whole grade or subject over again.  After this happens twice, they will realize, in high school, that they are too old and out of place and thus will drop out.  They have either been failed into oblivion or given a fake diploma, so the school records look good.

To resolve this problem systemic change must occur.  That is when grade levels, letter grades and an artificial system of failure must be replaced by a system that better serves all students.  Demonstrated proficiencies allow learning to be demonstrated in many ways; grade levels become age levels, not indicators of achievement; and a new system allows failure to be an integral part of the learning process as it is in life.  We all learn through failure except in school which equates failure with stupidity and eventually pushes children into the school to prison pipeline. 

Envision a MAP (My Action Plan) where students are allowed to re take an assessment after they were unsuccessful and learn from their failures constantly moving forward to ultimate success.  Those assessments will allow students to be monitored as they move forward in the process enhanced by small pre and post-tests readily available to teachers to compare with their daily progress in the classroom.  Assessment is only as good as the information gathered and its application to the education of the child.  Remember, the teacher sees the child a couple hundred days in a year while the artificial standardized test sees the student a couple hours a year and is long delayed getting information back to teachers.  This renders the big test more useless than it already is.

At what point do we determine the requirements for graduation.  This has always been a concern as the community needs of students vary.  Now it is time to use your imagination.  The MAP is a portfolio of learning throughout the school years.  What if a student, at any age, would present that portfolio to a university for acceptance?  That University would then analyze it, accept the student or, if not accepted, would identify skills to be gained.  The student could then return to high school of go to a community college to enhance those skills.  

The same would be true for an employer.  Is the student ready for hire or do they need to enhance their skills.  This way students could hang on to their dreams and continue to move toward their goal in life. They may choose a different course to follow but either way, their decision would be based on information relative to their future, not just an SAT or other artificial tests.  The decision is with the student along with parents and trusted friends and professionals. 
 
Children might not get to the end result at the same time as everyone else.  They aren’t robots.  But they will get to the end result, a successful education and hope for their future in their world.

Eldon “Cap” Lee
414-852-3044


Monday, June 24, 2019

The Greatest Enabler of Racism


THE MOST PREVELANT ENABLER OF RACISM IS THE CURRENT SYSTEM OF EDUCATION!

Whether it is believing everyone in poverty will have their learning negatively affected or that no one in poverty will (poverty isn't destiny), the system is ill equipped to serve all children in the way they learn best.  Everything from low expectations for those in poverty who are fortunate enough to avoid the roadblocks poverty causes to unrealistic expectations for those who are devastated by roadblocks such as childhood stress, to malnutrition, to drinking too much Flint Michigan water, to sleep deprivation, to Racism, the  systems response is inadequate.  And that inadequacy in itself is Racism!

When black children, with help from family and others, avoid the afore mentioned roadblocks, it is easy to dump them into the generalization of poverty thus leading to low expectations.  However, when black children are devastated by those roadblocks, and the system puts them into a pass or fail mandate without teaching them in the way they learn best, and without waiting for them when the need arises, the schools systematically destroy them.  THAT IS SYSTEMIC RACISM AND IT HAPPENS EVERY DAY IN ALMOST EVERY SCHOOL.

The biggest mistake of past centuries in teaching has been to treat all students as if they were variants of the same individual and thus to feel justified in teaching them all the same.”  Dr. Howard Gardner

Envision a school where all children have equal access to a quality education, taught in a way that is real, taken from “where they are” on their pathway to success at their best rate. Where learning opens doors to the dreams of every child, recognizing that no one will ever know where or when genius will unfold until it evolves.

Imagine a school where assessment is not cheapened by the narrow scope of the standardized test but broadened to become a stepping-stone for the whole child learning experience. A school where, as in life, learning is a constant flow of problem-solving experiences driven by the reality that failure is not only an option but an integral tool, guiding students on their pathway to success. And where teachers have the freedom to innovate in the best interest of their students.

A solution is to subvert the system, for the agenda of children, beginning in the trenches.  This is not as difficult as it seems, but it will take guts.  I developed a fully public school (Milwaukee Village School), years back, that proved that much of the change I recommend in this book can be implemented.  

This book will give teachers in the trenches a pathway to subverting their schools for the betterment of children while giving future teachers an eye opening experience.

Stop Politically Driven Education
Subverting the System to Build a New School Model

More info as well as a link to the book at www.wholechildreform.com




Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The University System is Stuck in Stupid


The University system is stuck in stupid with the latest fiasco being the “adversity score”.  They drive k-12 education to bow down to the big test demanding children to be obedient servants rather than creative thinkers.  As long as students can kiss ass and regurgitate what they are told, they are college bound.  Or if they can donate big bucks.

The new "adversity score" assigned by the College Board on the SAT exam is no more than shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.  Simply giving points to students based on family income, environment and educational differences, pigeon-holes the students based on generalities rather than the skills and abilities of the students themselves.  A test score is not an indicator of success in a College or University! 

In order to assure Colleges and Universities have sufficient information about a student, there must be systemic change at the secondary school level.  Envision a MAP (My Action Plan) as a portfolio where students constantly move forward documenting their success through demonstrated assessments.  In the process they are allowed to re-take assessments when they are unsuccessful and learn from their failures. Those assessments will allow students to be monitored as they move forward in the process enhanced by small pre and post-tests readily available to teachers to compare with their daily progress in the classroom. 

Those pre and post-tests, would replace the standardized test that is rendered useless in this process.  It is important to understand that assessment is only as good as the information gathered and its application to the education of the child.  Remember, the teacher sees the child a couple hundred days in a year while the artificial standardized test as well as the SAT sees the student for a couple hours.

Now we must determine the requirements for graduation.  This has always been a concern as the community needs of students vary.  Now it is time to use your imagination.  The previously mentioned MAP is a portfolio of learning throughout the school years.  What if a student, at any age, would present that portfolio to a University for acceptance?  That University would then analyze it, accept the student or, if not accepted, would identify skills needed for acceptance.  The student could then return to high school or go to a community college to enhance those skills.  The University would then be able to re-assess the student for possible acceptance.

This way students could hang on to their dreams and continue to move toward their goal in life. They may choose a different course to follow, but either way, their decision would be based on information relative to their future, not just an SAT or other artificial tests.  The decision is with the student along with parents and trusted friends and professionals. 

Children might not get to the end result at the same time as everyone else.  They aren’t robots.  But they will get to the end result, a successful education and hope for their future in their world.

WWW.WHOLECHILDREFORM.COM

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The MAP to college, not SAT!



To determine real achievement in school, each child has his or her own MAP as a guideline to their success.  This MAP takes the form of a proficiency (or learning goal) checklist developed by educators with support from parents and the student.  This checklist is personal as it gives direction to the curriculum and therefore to daily projects.  As they complete this check list, they know they are learning what is necessary for their future.  Each check has an assessment attached to it which may be geared to a group or in some cases an individual.

The student then continuously moves forward making grade levels as well as letter grades, moot.  If they “fail” a proficiency assessment, they don´t get failed into oblivion.  They learn from their failure, just as we do in life, and they challenge the proficiency when they are prepared. And if it takes a little longer to learn, we wait for them.  They might complete their education a week later, a month later or whenever they achieve real proficiency.

If students move through the system faster, no longer are they held back just to look good getting straight A´s, those students haven´t been challenged.  They might even move to a nearby university class in the area in which they excel.  Under this plan, the genius in every child will come out when it is ready, and failure becomes a learning experience.  Similar to the university system, students will have time to progress on their pathway to success.  If they take longer to learn, they will be able to go to school longer at an alternative site.  If they drop out of school, they are welcomed to return at these alternative sites to follow their pathway to success.  Their MAP follows them wherever they go, and they finish school at whatever age they are ready.

The question then may arise, where do students with special needs fit in?  This group, often forgotten or pushed to the side, will fit perfectly into the new system of education.  Remember, we now take kids from “where they are” following their MAP and serving the needs of all.  And what is a MAP? It is an IEP used to guide the special needs students on their pathway to success.  Now everyone has that MAP/IEP:  Now students with special needs are no longer branded on their foreheads for all to see.

To prepare students for employment, skills training or a university, high schools will provide information on specific skills needed for student success.  This is not an SAT!  This is real information.  Imagine this.  Upon applying for a college or university, a student provides them with their MAP showing what skills they have achieved.  Students are then accepted based on facts.  Of course, other concerns would be addressed.  However, if they are denied, the college or university would indicate the short comings.  At that point the student could either choose a different college or university, or they could go to a community college or alternative site to improve the skills necessary and re-apply at a later date.

This can also work for employment.  Students present their MAP to the employer.  The employer than decides if the student has sufficient skills for the job.  If more skills are necessary, the student gains these skills and re-applies.

Isn’t it time to even the playing field and make education real?  Go to www.wholechildreform.com for information on my new book “Stop Politically Driven Education”.