Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Beatles, Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, and the mess we are in.
Looking to John Lennon to save us.

Famous sociologist and thinker Malclom Gladwell tells us that to become an expert requires more than talent it requires practice and lots of it. 10,000 hours = 3 hrs. a day for 10 years. The exceptionally talented Beatles put in way more than 10,000 hours before their assent to stardom.

"The greatest athletes, entrepreneurs, musicians and scientists emerge only after spending at least three hours a day for a decade mastering their chosen field.

Ability, according to Gladwell, is just one factor in success. Work ethic, luck, a strong support base and even being born in the right year play a far larger role."

I bring this up because today I listened to a bill proposing to allow principals to have "NO" teaching experience. That makes them 10,000 short on grasping instructional expertise at the expert level.

As ridiculous as this bill sounds it has its genesis in the Race to the Top Turn-Around models. When "low performing schools" must fire their principals, where will the new replacements come from? ....

The answer is the military and corporate board rooms and those exiting the world of business. Yes the search is for executive decision-makers. Again it must be that "process trumps content" mindset.

Beats me how knowing "essentially zero about a field" allows one to be a competent decision-maker. I guess watching the legislators make decisions without evidence much of the time, perhaps they might extend their process to principals and figure that principals could likely make decisions without much evidence or background knowledge also.

Check the results!!! Educational decision-making is pathetic at almost every level in the USA. The results in Washington State are abysmal in many areas.

The biggest scam is painting this as all the teachers fault. WOW check the administrative decision-making!!! Next up is more pointless wasteful spending on a higher level of bureaucrats to order us around (to produce improvement -- I am totally serious ... that is the "for" argument.) .... Well I can see why Rep. Santos does not want HB 1891 out of committee and getting a hearing as then folks would need to actually try to make sense out of the next horrible idea, the CCSS, in order to get it approved. No hearing and this $183 million expenditure just slides on by.

Far too often "educational decision-makers" do not have the slightest understanding or ability or maybe interest in making an evidence based decision in regard to education.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. Thus we have no improvement. We listen to supposed educators who in many cases possess but one real skill.... how to rise high in a system based largely on politics not achievement.

Bush's Rod Paige and Obama's Arne Duncan spring immediately to mind.

Oh yes lets all Race to the Top, or Race to the Bank or whatever .... but why?

It seems when it comes to education one really bad idea deserves another.

I just watched Rep. Eric Pettigrew explain how HB 1609 will close the achievement gap by allowing districts to use tools that are not developed and are completely unreliable to be used to make RIF decisions. .. Huh???

The real voice of sanity was the School Board President that testified: We should be avoiding litigation not making decisions that will surely windup in court.

Typical high stakes testing scenario ... but this time someone would get to lose their job because of an insane system that would use defective tools to make decisions. It was really interesting watching people testify for this bizarre proposal.

Well the 37th in Seattle has a big number of "the supposed failing schools" and 2 of the 47 failing schools in the state. Its Reps are Pettigrew and Santos, good well intentioned hard working nice folks, who apparently have no idea how to close the achievement gaps.

Rep. Santos is apparently blocking HB 1891 from getting a hearing. Thus instead of spending resources on students.... We will be spending $183 million on the next too early half-baked idea.

Why wait for two years to see what is happening? We can jump right in and make a giant costly mistake right now.
And the Achievement Gap gets bigger and bigger and Washington is #49 out of 51 states + WA DC in class size ranking. Thank God for Utah and California..... and Santos is all for spending $183 million on more administration instead of students .... and all done without a hearing on HB 1891 because she is blocking the hearing.


kprugman said...

School failure is like global warming, the increase in dropouts is imperceptible. After a few years, people adapt and get used to the idea that for the majority of students, school provides no academic benefit whatsoever. We can argue over standards and alignment, but the trend in the achievement gap remains incontrovertible.

Reform is like a pedant. Better he should go work in a stable talking to horses if only the horse would turn around and listen.

As directed by my Principal (Mr. Othello) I now have my textbook directed reading questions all on powerpoint presentations - with each question and answer tied to a daily task (there are 180 altogether and about 2000 questions).

To make my students accountable, Mr. O has purchased for our school a grade program and we use data director to do test item analysis. It counts student responses. We meet once per month to analyze data and align our tests. I am a department of one.

Imagine what happens in the classroom when you turn this monkey-ass machinery on and watch it go. In the first place, all the students have their ipods or cellphones out. Some students are chattering on about their lives with other students. Textbooks are open and they're supposed to be writing cornell notes.

I start by taking down names of students that are disturbing class and log them into the grade program. I use my slides to help keep me focused.

To check for understanding, each student has their name on a popsicle stick and I'm supposed to call on them at random. So with some practice, I've gotten pretty good at doing all this. This is what 'research' says works or so my supervisor, Ms. Magoo says.

Have I got news for them.

After five weeks, more than 80% of my students are earning f's or d's and its all in my grade program. No one's complaining - in fact I'm still the students' favorite teacher. The administrators are not complaining and the parents like the program. I catch cheaters all the time.

In summary, now my students are saying they knew all along they weren't ready for this school so they're moving to another school that will take them. My class numbers are dropping - I start out in the 40s and by June I will be down to 20 or so. If they think this is progress, then so be it. I'm open all day to help students, its the only way I can justify failing all those students and still keep my job.

kprugman said...

A pedant believes that learning can be multiplied. So if your multiplier is large enough, then your students will simply overwhelm the Test with their storehouse of knowledge.

You start with 10 standards, and write 20 objectives per standard or 2 chapters or 6 sections, and then writing 8 questions per objective (naturally blending it like chicken soup, using a balance of Bloom's taxonomy, sort of like finding one's pH). Who says apes aren't running the world already? Mr. O keeps a model p.... on his desktop to tell everyone what he used to teach. How a health teacher became master curriculum strategist reminds me of another dictator's life.

kprugman said...

Principal comments (Bloom's taxonomy is equivalent to handwaving)- If your student's didn't get it, its because you weren't following Bloom's taxonomy. Next time try varying your question-asking and wait longer so students can process better...

Psychologist comments: If the student is a selective mute, don't wait too long or student might feel some anxiety...

Reform it might be, but this is a duck waiting to get eaten.

I like this...in a pinch if an algebra class gets too unwieldy in the middle of the school year, then open a new class of extended algebra and put all the D's and F's and some unfortunate teacher in charge of it.

The counselor commented - Yes, only next time Mr. O decides to split a class, choose the one that was overfilled, not a class that didn't need to be split. In fact, none of the failing students wanted to go to the new class. Which tells you something - kids know what's up.

kprugman said...

Mr. O: You can lead horses to water; but you can't make them drink it.

Veronica: It depends on which end of the horse your leading.