Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Why just looking at outcomes is not a good thing

Note: A few years ago I almost left education and was renewed by the use of technology to change a classroom. I am again caught in the whirlpool of doubt. Not of changes that have been made, but where we seem to be going. This is a rant so bear with me.

We are missing the boat. Understanding by Design still is very powerful and a way to plan effectively for learning. I have taught for 21 years. I remember OBE. It has many of the same points as UbD. The problem is still the focus on outcomes.

I know we need to know where we are going to plan for learning.

But, when we worry just about outcomes we lose much of the process. That is where the learning happens.

There are also so many outcomes, it cannot be navigated effectively.

In the quest to the outcome, wemany times still do not get quite there.

The process is more important. Adam Savage from Mythbusters gets this. Here is his TED talk about his passage to unexpected learning. Most will not understand or appreciate the story. It is a rare person these days who can see this process and be excited by learning.

My son gets it. I was playing World of Warcraft one day. Solo. Without him (I tagged along his character for months as I learned.) My character died three times in 10 minutes that day. I felt like a failure. He said: "That is learning." My son is a teacher. (Note: My son may not fill his day with activities, but he fills his day with learning in a variety of tech and non-tech formats.)

Chris Lehmann writes here:
I've been feeling this for a while, lately... that the conversation at the local level is moving in the right direction in a lot of places. The tools are (not) new anymore, and many places have pockets of innovation and now many folks are asking how to do it systemically. And more and more administrators are looking at school change beyond just the test scores. We're not ignoring them, but I'm hearing principals and superintendents say things like, "Yes, we need to do well on the test, but we also need to do what's right for kids."

I want to believe him (and should, he is a role model for many and have had this vision long before me.) What if we don't see admin rolling up sleeves and working with us? What if test scores still reign supreme and there is no talk that anything else is important? For many, those specific outcomes are driving all the discussions. Talks of anything else are not happening. They are considered that other thing that is nice to saqy we do.

I know in my heart that driving the curriculum towards test outcomes is absolutely the wrong thing to do. I think most educators would agree and can feel it deep down. When did those voices quieten and our expertise and training no longer matter? What makes policy makers viewpoints on what should be learned more important? It is like watching a slowly occurring train wreck. It is painful to watch, and yet we are on it.

I know there is a big educational system bent toward this end of measured outcomes.

It is unyielding... deaf...

Some people want change but it is a foreign concept. I am beginning to think the concept of innovation that works is one where it "kills the mother ship."

1 comment:

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