I Don’t Give a Crap

Cross Posted on the Huffington Post.
The PISA results were released this month and my overwhelming response was: Who cares? Many of my fellow Canadians were quite happy to be ranked sixth in the world. What does that even mean? Is that cause for celebration? Should we be upset? What would we do if we were first? (Hint: I’ve talked to many educators from schools with high test scores. They are the most resistant to try new things and be innovative for fear it will lower their test scores). Once again, these tests perpetuate the idea that:

  • Schools should measure math, reading and science only.
  • Arts, Health and Physical Education are not really necessary (rewatch Ken Robinson’s video on creativity).
  • Tests taken on a single day are a good and accurate measurement of student learning and achievement.
  • Rankings against other countries/districts/schools/classrooms/students is important because education should be competitive.

There are no questions on the test that measure creativity (if that can even or should be measured), collaboration, or media literacy, never mind their ability to learn or their understanding of their body. The other thing it doesn’t measure is whether or not students like school. I’d like to … Read the rest

Robbing Students and Teachers of Joy

Reading is FunMaybe I'm just too lazy or unimaginative so I stole the title of my last post to make this one. Whatever.

I'm not sure why but this topic runs pretty deep with me. I found Alfie Kohn's article this morning on twitter (I like the fact that he brings back stuff from the archives, I wish more people would do that. Old is not bad) and thought I'd highlight a few gems found inside it.

While I recognize many peoples opposition to Kohn's highly progressive, Deweyesque slants, I find myself more in agreement with him than opposition. In the case of this article, I find it hard to disagree.

I would begin by defining joy as a clear sense of satisfaction at the work or relationships that surround us. That's the definition, I'll use as I explore this idea. This does not equate with happiness, it's perhaps part of it but I'm talking about a sense of purpose and success. This is directly linked to a passion based learning environment.

Joy has been in short supply in some classrooms for as long as there have been classrooms. But I join Deborah Meier in wondering whether things are worse now, not

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All we are saying, is give Joy a chance

Maybe it’s the beginning of the school year but I seem to get especially idealistic about the possibilities of new learning opportunities for students. First beauty, now joy.

This month’s issue of Educational Leadership features a great article by Steven Wolk (someone get him a blog) on Joy in School. Wolk finds 11 things schools need to do to create joy in learning.

According to my Random House dictionary, joy means, “The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something good or satisfying.” Surely our schools can do some of that. Joy and learning—including school content—are not mutually exclusive. Many of our greatest joys in life are related to our learning. Unfortunately, most of that joyful learning takes place outside school.

Each one of the 11 ideas are worth doing. Of particular interest to me is Joy 10: Transform Assessment. The damage of poor and inappropriate assessments have done more to create joyless learners than just about anything. Reading Kathy Cassidy’s blog it’s not hard to see how understanding what good assessment looks likes can create confident, excited learners who already are experiencing joy.

Huge grins all around. The child who told me, “I don’t know how

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