Cuban’s Guiding Principles

In a recent post, Larry Cuban described his “guiding principles on teaching, learning, and reform”. They could be mine as well. Below I have included his points & a few comments. Be sure to read the entire post – context matters!

  1. No single way of teaching works best with all students. Because students differ in motivation, interests, and abilities, using a wide repertoire of approaches in lessons and units is essential. …

  2. Small and slow changes in classroom practice occur often. Fundamental and rapid changes in practice seldom happen. … Over the decades, experienced teachers have become allergic to reformer claims of fast and deep changes in what they do daily in their classrooms. As gatekeepers for their students, teachers, aware of the settings in which they teach, have learned to adapt new ideas and practices that accord with their beliefs and that they think will help their students. …

  3. School structures influence instruction. The age-graded school structure, a 19th century innovation that is now universally cemented to K-12 schooling across the U.S., does influence what happens in classrooms in expected and unexpected ways, depending on the context. …

  4. Teacher involvement in instructional reform. … The history of top-down classroom reform is a history of failed efforts to alter what teachers do daily.

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Evaluating Teaching

An interesting article on how one teacher became ‘great’ and his reflections on teacher evaluation & education reform.

Is the present fixation on teacher characteristics reinforcing teacher-centered education rather than student-centered education? Are “effective” teacher qualities the same from kindergarten through 12th grade? Are the walls being erected by present reform efforts so high that real improvement is even farther out of reach?

And what explains the fascination with and faith in data and quantification that’s driving education “reform” … Is there something in our shared cultural heritage that causes us to think that everything can be measured and a useful number attached to it?

The new big thing in reform circles is that every education-related decision must be data driven. Why do we resist the fact that, more often than not, the inherent complexity of quality makes it impossible to quantify it?  Is resistance to that fact a crippling cultural trait?

from The Answer Sheet in the Washington Post.

Corner Stones

The main lesson from Finland is that there is another way to transform current education systems than that based on standardization, testing, accountability and competition. Finland also shows that we don’t need to rely on corporate school reform models to achieve our goals. Finnish lesson is that good policies and overall well-being of people, including poverty reduction, are the corner stones of sustainable educational success.

This passage says a lot.

(from: What Can the U.S. Learn from Educational Change in Finland? (Pasi Sahlberg) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice)

Ed Reform?

It’s not so much about tools and technologies as it is about that learning thing. To be honest, I think we’ve all got to stop cranking out blog posts and Tweets that tout new tools and the “10 Best Ways…” and instead begin to make the case in our blogs and in person that technology or not, this is about what is best for our kids. That in this moment, 20th Century rules will not work for 21st Century schools. That direct instruction and standardization will make us less competitive, not more.

A thought provoking post by Will Richardson (“My Teacher is an App”) about the state of education reform in the US (it applies to us too!). This excerpt is part of Richardson’s advice, but you should read the entire post to fully appreciate it. Educators need to resist the corporatization of education – what do you think?