Before I start, I would like to extend my previous blog entry and add on two more events for which I earn American points: 

1. The local town Peanut Festival–30 points.  20 for going, 10 for sitting at the info table and looking like a local.

2. Attending/serving gate duty for the high school homecoming football game–10 points.  I will never understand the football culture.

And finally, a disclaimer: as a recent college grad, I am no expert on educational reform.  I merely think a lot and convince myself that I am right about many things, which I know is not always true.

Recently I’ve started cracking open my education textbooks again and doing more research into what everyone recommends as the most effective teaching strategies.  Seeing as these are how I will be evaluated, and given the fact that I am always looking for more teaching strategies, I found this a useful and remotely relaxing way to spend some of the smallish snippets of free time that come my way in my first year of teaching.

The new emphasis on 21st century skills brings with it many components, some of the most important ones being cooperative learning, hands-on activities, and the learning experience as a whole.  All well and good.  I would agree that this is what students remember better, as well as how to teach them higher level thinking skills.

However, I foresee a slight problem.  Another emphasis in organizations like the one I have joined and among schools themselves is the phrase “college readiness.”  All that we do for these high schoolers is supposed to be preparing them for college.  Good idea, since in the world today you need at least a bachelor’s degree to get anywhere.

However, I’m slightly confused with how “college-readiness” and 21st century skills are supposed to mesh.  Based on the college experience that I just left, there was a very heavy emphasis on reading texts independently, on sitting through lectures, on absorbing information and spitting it back out on tests and that writing papers with very little guidance.  Not very much of this cooperative learning stuff, constant feedback, many chances for mastery sort of thing.  If students graduate high school, then, and are unable to sit through a lecture and pick out the main ideas, or learn in classes that don’t necessarily accommodate multiple learning modalities, are we really preparing them for college?

If elementary and high school reform is going to be effective, this country may need to revisit the college standards for education also.

Just a thought…not passing judgment or anything.

Educational Reform

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