Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Improving education

The following we have heard off and on before. It bears repeating as we doubt ourselves and colleagues and parents can shake the very thought of what you believe. Not that I am in complete doubt or have shaken beliefs, but that we need to reaffirm often.

Thank goodness we have our network of giants to fall back on.

In Karl Fisch's post he makes some great points. Summing it up, he states

a. Grades are pretty much a non-factor in the hiring process.

b. Multiple choice tests are an unreliable predictor of success.

c. Employers are pretty much satisfied with the content knowledge of their employees and think assessments that cover content are relatively meaningless.

d. Employers want their employees to be more globally oriented, to take charge of their own job, and they must be able to communicate effectively through writing.

e. Employers prefer meaningful, relevant, experiential learning over an isolated, content-focused-only approach.

f. All of the above.

He also adds the following:

a. Since the primary way that many folks use grades appears to be superfluous, perhaps we need to take a hard look at the efficacy of grading in the first place, and perhaps switch to a focus on formative assessment versus “grades.”

b. Other than standardized test companies, politicians, and teachers who have a tight deadline to turn in final grades (see previous item), who’s really in favor of multiple choice tests? (Yes, I’ve ranted about this before somewhere, but I can’t find it at the moment.)

c. Content is necessary, but not sufficient, to be successful in the 21st century. So perhaps we should stop trying to “cover” the content, and instead focus on understanding the essential concepts and applying them in real world settings.

d. Constructivism. Blogs. RSS. Read/Write Web. Personal Learning Networks.

e. We need to take a hard look at our current system.

After being at Educon, I am more determined to model what Karl has to say as well as those great minds at Educon. It is a big change to be made but one that can be done if we stand firm, model best practices and continue the journey together with a community of those doing the same thing. In our own circle we can effect change with students, some parents, and a few of our colleagues. That is the beginning of success.

Tags: Karl Fisch, education, Authentic Instruction

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