Educators love to talk. It's what we do. Also, as people grow more and more critical about the state of education, there's lots of people talking ABOUT education. We have flow charts, we have evaluation systems, we have rubrics, all this stuff ABOUT education that is somehow going to magically FIX education. You know what I would prefer? Stop talking ABOUT what you want to see and SHOW me what you want to see. Honestly, I don't think the people that generate some of these statements have any idea what they look like in a classroom.

From a @ddmeyer tweet the other day:


•Throughout K-12, have clear learning goals, a model of how learning is expected to develop, & assessments to measure & guide student progress.

•Employ curriculum & instructional programs with research-based teaching methods:

  • Using multiple and varied representations of concepts and tasks
  • Encouraging elaboration, questioning, explanation
  • Engaging learners in challenging tasks, while supporting them with guidance & encouragement to reflect on their own learning
  • Teaching with worked examples and cases, modeling step-by-step
  • For motivation, connect topics to students' personal lives & interests & engage them in collaborative problem solving
  • Using formative assessment to make learning goals clear; continuously monitor & guide learning progress; promote self [cutoff]

Now, this is a bit out of context. I don't know how the presentation concluded. Perhaps they dove into what formative assessment looks like, showed off a challenging task, or how to model step-by-step. Or maybe they didn't. I have sat through a lot of similar presentations where they don't. My engineer brain goes "shut up and show me" at this sort of thing. You can talk and describe and use all the flowerly language you want, but to convince me that what you're getting at makes sense, you need to show me the intended output. Because I'm not sure you know.

My favorite are rating standards with phrases like "students effectively create new projects and solve problems using available technology resources" versus "students create new projects and solve problems using avaiable technology resources" or the oh so great "students consistently solve real world problems by conducting research, choosing appropriate digital tools, and presenting their ideas in a variety of formats."

What does any of that mean? How is a new project created effectively? Where does the time come from to do all this research? How would they even know where to begin? You realize these kids are amateurs, right? What do you consider a real world problem? Is it one of these junk activities from TI? The kind with a dozen steps and all the questions are fed to them?

If I wanted to live up to the goal of student-centered research and student-generated projects that really solved a real world problem, not some junk out of a TI workbook, I'd need a school year that was 3 times as long or a content list that was 3 times shorter. Real, genuine mastery that can generate this kind of work takes way more time than you think.

I'm willing to listen, I want to improve my lessons, but throwing words like "consistently" and "real world" at the problem and staring like you've handed me the one true solution does me NO GOOD AT ALL.

AuthorJonathan Claydon