Differentiated to death

Reblogged from edexcellence.net by David Griffith

Imagine you are a first-year social studies teacher in a low-performing urban high school. You are hired on Thursday and expected to teach three different courses starting Monday. For the first two weeks, you barely eat or sleep, and you lose fifteen pounds you didn’t know were yours to lose. For the first two months, your every waking minute is consumed by lesson prep and the intense anxiety associated with trying to manage students whose conception of “school” is foreign to you. But you survive the first semester (as many have done) because you have to and because these kids depend on you. You think you are through the worst of it. You begin to believe that you can do this. Then, the second semester begins…

Your sixth-period class is a nightmare, full of students with behavior problems that would challenge any teacher. But as hard as sixth period is, your third-period class is the most frustrating and depressing, because (for reasons only they are privy to) the Powers That Be have seen fit to place every type of student imaginable into the same classroom: seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshmen, kids with behavior issues, kids with attention issues, kids with senioritis, kids who have taken the class before and passed it but are taking it again because the registrar’s office is incompetent. And, of course, a few kind, sweet, innocent kids. Who. Cannot. Read.

This is impossible.

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Reblogged from Wired by Christian Jarrett

ON A SUNNY hike along a Madeiran levada a couple of years ago, I got chatting to a retired school teacher and I told him about the brain myths book I was writing. An affable chap, he listened with interest about the 10 percent myth and other classic misconceptions, but his mood changed when I mentioned learning styles. This is the mistaken idea that we learn better when the instruction we receive is tailored to our preferred way of learning. The friendly teacher was passionate about the concept’s merit – his own preferred style, he said, was to learn “by doing” and no-one would ever convince him otherwise.

How widely believed is the myth?
The teacher I met in Madeira is far from alone in endorsing the myth. It is propagated not only in hundreds of popular books, but also through international conferences and associations, by commercial companies who sell ways of measuring learning styles, and in teacher training programs.

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How to Be a “Great Student” and Learn Absolutely Nothing At All

Reblogged from Better Humans


If I wanted to find the smartest kids on the planet, where would I look?

Many people, I bet, would suggest the IPO — the International Physics Olympiad. Each year, high school students from around the world face off to hours and hours of difficult physics questions.

Only the best come out on top.

And for 11 of the last 25 years, the winners have come from a single country — China.

Why does China dominate?

One competitor from the UK comments:

“…the Chinese education system, coupled with discipline through fear works. … China starts preparation for the competition when their participants are just 8; they work ~16 hours a day on physics problems. The result? Winning with ease. … I’m currently [one of] the best physics students in the UK and I’d pay anything to have had an upraising like that, instead mine was consumed with PC games, and posting on forums.”

In middle school, I had my own taste of Chinese “discipline through fear.” In China for summer break, I joined a local swim team for a day. One of the girls was giggling to a friend’s joke. The coached walked up behind her, scolded her for having fun, and hit her on the head with heavy metal rod. She made sure not to laugh again.

Yes, when it comes to solving physics problems, the Chinese are the best in the world. But that leaves me with a question.

So what?

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South Bend schools face teacher shortage with 100 open positions

Reblogged from wsbt.com by Katlin Connin

SOUTH BEND — South Bend Schools are facing a teacher shortage. There are about 100 vacant positions throughout the district.
This isn’t just a local issue, but something many districts are seeing nationally.
The President of the South Bend’s Teachers’ Union, Jason Zook, says Indiana is one of the five worst states in the country for teacher retention.

He says teachers aren’t getting the resources or respect they need and deserve.

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The predictable result of demonizing teachers: Detroit schools face massive teacher shortage

Reblogged from Eclectablog

If you’ve been watching the ever-increasing demonization of teachers in Michigan over the past decade, you probably have asked yourself at one time or another, “Why the hell would ANYONE want to be a teacher in Michigan?” It’s a fair question. Republicans in our state legislature have cut their benefits, based their advancement on student progress when much of what contributes to progress is out of their control, and portrayed them as greedy leeches on the jugular vein of society for having the audacity to want to live (and then retire) in dignity. They’ve cut school funding and forced public schools to compete on an uneven playing field with better funded for-profit charter schools. Nearly every month we hear of some new indignity being forced upon our teachers.

Well, now those chickens have come home to roost in one of the hardest-hit districts in the state – Detroit Public Schools:

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Michigan failing its special needs children, parents and studies say.

Reblogged from bridgemi.com by Chastity Pratt Dawsey

Renee Honor knew something was wrong with her son, Nicholas, when he was struggling to read in third grade. She was upset his school didn’t catch it.

Honor, 43, of Detroit, asked his school to test him for special education and soon found out he had attention deficit disorder, a mild cognitive disorder, and is on the autism spectrum.

The diagnosis has turned Honor into something of an educational nomad. Over the past five years, she’s switched school three times in Detroit in hopes of getting better services, which have ranged from little intervention to a self-contained special-education class.

Now 15, Nicholas is heading to Mumford High next month with assessments that show he’s reading at a sixth-grade level, but a report card that says he’s passing all his classes. Honor says her son still confuses the letters “b” and “d” and struggles to count coins.

“They’re not giving him what he needs,” Honor said. “This is how a kid ends up wanting to drop out.”

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