Blue Serials (10/18/2015)
I made the mistake last weekend of suggesting that we should consider the possibility that there's more to a fulfilled, meaningful life than that which is measured by the state tests required to graduate high school. You'd think I'd declared all math an abysmal waste of time, all science a fraud, and recommended the ideal path to a diploma would consist primarly of smoking a little weed and lying around in a pile naked.
I am a product of my presumptions, to be sure. I see the world through the filters of my experience and my convictions - we all do, I suppose. For those of us swimming in a reality defined by data-based such-and-such or assessment-driven so-and-so, the line between 'higher scores' and 'happy future' quickly blurs. It's the only way to explain how otherwise sensible people working within the bureaucracy of public school systems in the heart of the midwest can insist with conviction that they are doing so despite global competition for their position - and only holding their own because of their ability to answer grammar trivia on a computer screen under tightly controlled conditions.
There are, nevertheless, plenty of successful people who could not currently pass OK EOI exams - and far more whose success is built on things we clearly don't consider priorities, judging by what's mandated and tested. While I didn't realize what a controversial statement I was making by suggesting such things, I still insist that - if this particularly limited, distorted, and obsessive body of knowledge is SO ESSENTIAL to anyone getting a job, finding love, or deciding between Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime - the legislators mandating the exams should gladly take the tests themselves to establish their own worthiness to hold the very positions from which they issue such dictates.
Can you imagine testing day at the Capitoll?
There are some people with the credibility to talk to us about school, however - and in case you missed it, here's some of the best of what they had to say this past week...
Scott is a Wannabe Innovator - Scott Haselwood on Teaching From Here is pretty sure we all need to get a bit more serious about #edtech. He shares some of his experiences leading into this, and issues a challenge to the rest of us to step up our risk game a bit. I was so startled I nearly dropped my chalk into the mimeograph machine! I may not always understand Haselwood when he gets all post-20th Century on us, but he's Charter #11FF and therefore absolutely correct about everything he suggests. Find Scott on this very modern 'Twitter' thing using one of your 'computers' or 'smart phones' at @TeachFromHere. #oklaed
So What Are We Doing Here? - I don't know if Haselwood and Link Lowe of Donuts In The Lounge are besties or not, but they do seem to be on the same screen when it comes to tech. Lowe challenges us to look at available tech "just as we do any other tool in our #edutoolbox. If it is the best tool for the job, let’s absolutely use it but if it’s not, then you’re using a screwdriver to saw wood." Use your tool to find Lowe doing the Twitters with great effectiveness at @MrLoweOfficial. #oklaed
Wordsworth's "The World Is Too Much With Us" - Like Haselwood, JennWillTeach is flagship #11FF and wisdom therefore flows from her loins like honey from a comb. (See? Anyone can be poetic if they try. I was hoping it wouldn't end up quite so laden with innuendo, of course - but who am I to question the Muse?) On her JennWillTeach blog, she shares what I hope will be the first of many insights into favorite content pieces and how she helps break them down for students. As someone born with a bad case of Poem Illiteracy, I can't tell you how gratifying it is to read something like this and feel both smart and challenged at the same time. If Jenn had been my teacher in high school (despite her being about eight years old at the time)... well, I'd probably still have been in trouble all the time and failed that unit. But it would have been much more fun along the way. Follow @JennWillTeach on the Twitters. #oklaed
We should check in and see how that core curriculum assessment is going with our legislators...
Huh. Well, that does explain the whole 'tax cuts for prosperity' approach, I guess.
Carrying Each Other - On a bit heavier note, Rebecka Peterson on One Good Thing reminds us of something none of us like to admit - we can't fix it all. All the struggles, all the people, all the nightmares... we're just teaching a little school and hoping it's enough. Peterson suggests, though, that it's not always about the fixing so much as the mourning with those who mourn. Yeah, I know - serious stuff. But well worth the read. Rebecka is on Twitter at @RebeckaMozdeh. #oklaed
And When This Is Done... - To wrap things up, Sherri Spelic at The Edified Listener looks at her plate, and decides that maybe she has more control over what goes on it and how she frames those things than perhaps any of us generally admit. I'm not so good at the thoughtful-wise-sharing thing myself, so I'm glad a treasured few others are. She's one of them. Think back at her on the Twitters at @edifiedlistener.
Surely things are going better in OKC by now. One last look at the powers-that-be and their no-doubt-ample-success with the required curriculum...
Huh. Oh well.
Go be amazing, my darlings! You are a big friggin' deal this week, and every week thereafter! Reward yourself with a hot, fluffy biscuit.