Drowning on Dry Land

February 16, 2007 at 9:18 am 2 comments

Okay, so I admit that I borrowed the title of this post from the episode of Grey’s Anatomy that aired last night. It describes my current state of mind pretty accurately!

I have had a lot swimming around in my brain for the last couple of days – so much that I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep last night.

I added some new blog feeds to my netvibes account and along the way, saw a lot about “school 2.0” – which I won’t even attempt to define because it has, thus far, refused to be defined in concrete terms.

In all my reading, several things stood out. I loved this quote from Wesley Fryer’s blog:

How many more wealthy families will abandon public education and opt for home-schooling or private schooling before our leaders get the message? Are the children and grandchildren of the authors of this report going to U.S. public schools now? Are they enjoying the fear, the worksheets, the countless “benchmark” tests, and the general lack of ENGAGEMENT, fun, and authentic learning which tends to predominate in many classrooms? I doubt it.

In the same post, Mr. Fryer articulated what I’ve been unable to when he said:

It’s not time to improve NCLB. It’s time to repeal it and start reinventing the U.S. public education system based on the realities of the 21st century and the information economy, rather than the 19th century and the industrial revolution.

On my drive home Wednesday afternoon (post-laptop trauma), I called my dad. My husband was at work – at a new(ish) job – and therefore unavailable. I tried my mom – she’s an administrator in the same district where I work – but she didn’t answer. So my poor father had to listen to me sob about high-stakes testing and the general “beat down-ness” of my students. I’d read this post by Will Richardson. (My friend Angela wrote about the same article he did; you can read her thoughts here.) I was frustrated that the general consensus around these parts seems to be that we need to restrict our students’ access to social networking sites by using web filtering programs and the like. We need to kill access to web browsers other than Internet Explorer because other browsers make it easier for students to access content that violates the district Acceptable Use Policy via proxy servers.

Here’s my problem. Students get around our network security anyway. Even if we take away their access to these programs/websites, they’ll find a way to get to them. Why are we wasting time and money restricting them when we should be teaching them how to use these tools responsibly? Wouldn’t that contribute to a more positive environment in our schools? Wouldn’t that help us teach critical thinking and problem solving skills more effectively than the current system, which is basically to say, “No! Bad student! No more internet for you!”? Is that really a productive use of our time? We’re fighting a losing battle, so I propose – as many others have – that we change our strategy. Why can’t we work with our students rather than against them? We keep telling them we’re on their team, don’t we?

Like Mr. Richardson said in his post, I’m not expecting 2007 to be “The Year” when everything changes. I understand that in the big scheme of things, it’s really up to the federal government to recognize this grandiose, albeit noble, notion of not leaving children behind might not be working. But I also believe (because I’m young and naive, remember?) that the system still works. It is still the job of my government to listen to what I have to say and take my opinions into consideration.

I’m just thrilled to finally be a part of the conversation.

(And on a side note, the tech guys were able to save ALL of my files!!!)

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Entry filed under: Education, Relevance, School 2.0, Technology, Wesley Fryer, Will Richardson.

Disaster! I Heart Unfair, High-Stakes, Standardized Tests

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Welcome « Musings from the Academy  |  February 18, 2007 at 8:31 pm

    […] on February 18th, 2007 There is a new voice in the edusphere.  Head on over to The Other Side of the Desk and give it a […]

  • 2. Miguel Guhlin  |  February 21, 2007 at 11:59 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thinking. Resistance is futile, didn’t you know? Surrender and you’ll become even stronger than Darth Vader could ever imagine (smile).

    Obi Wan
    a.k.a.
    Miguel
    Around the Corner
    http://www.mguhlin.net

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