#OklaEd 'King for a Day' Submission

 King for a Day Challenge

I must confess I like the responses so far, most of them more than whatever I’m about to say. Scott Haselwood’s is one I could particularly get behind – I was tempted to simply cut’n’paste it here and claim it was ‘group work’. 

But in the interest of adding to the conversation rather than simply standing on the shoulders of giants, here are the approximately two things I’d sweepingly reform were I sovereign #oklaed ‘King for a Day’, in, um... six hunmumblemurmer or so words (hey, Common Core math).  I eagerly await the letter from Congressional Republicans reminding the rest of #edreform that my efforts will probably be reversed as soon as the next ‘King for a Day’ takes office. 

#1 – Eliminate the Cult of College Readiness. 

Not everyone needs to go to college. Not everyone needs 4 math credits, 3 science credits, 3 history credits, etc. Sure, in an ideal universe I’d endorse every United States citizen having a comfortable familiarity with every core subject. In that ideal universe, every child can learn everything about everything in their own unique way while held to universally high standards. 

But you’ve all had those conversations, sometimes in conspiratorial whispers - “look, we’re just trying to get this kid through – we’re not doing him any favors by trying to go by the book…” We constantly circumvent the system even while demanding it be reinforced, because of all of the ‘exceptions’. 

Which are MOST of our kids, if we’re honest. 

We juggle our convictions regarding what SHOULD happen in theory with our concerns about what’s actually GOOD for the real kids in front of us. Let’s stop. 

Our terror of tracking is valid, but it’s led us to overstandardize curriculum and students in a way which is not only harmful, but doesn’t actually work. We’re hurting the top kids in various academic and ‘extra-curricular’ realms in order to pretend that if we just grunt harder, the kids who can’t or won’t engage will rise towards excellence and discover how truly fulfilling it is to argue themes in a self-selected novel. 

#2 – Get rid of semesters and required cores.  

Four week units, one week off between each, teacher and student-selected. Students are offered a wide range of teacher and subject options created by teachers according to their own interests and abilities, and we do our best to work in some reading, writing, and other essentials through these. 

But oh! The gaps in knowledge! The missing essentials! 

Have you seriously talked to a single high school student or adult ever? They’re not all emerging as Renaissance Peeps, dear – there’s little danger of things getting worse and much potential that given the choice to teach something you care about or learn something you’ve chosen from actual options... well, real education might happen. 

How do we maintain ‘high standards’ while we do this? I have no idea. But if you reject it on that basis, you’ll need to first demonstrate there’s something currently successful that we’ll be losing in the effort. 

#3 – Allow kids to fail. 

Yeah, I don’t like it either, but the problem with eliminating failure is that success becomes impossible as well. As I type this, March Madness is killing productivity in offices across the country. For every game played, the failure rate is 50%. Given those numbers, how are all of the teams involved SO good? Excellence matters, and that requires falling short be a real possibility. 

School isn’t a competitive sport, but the mechanisms necessary for dragging everyone across the finish line willingly or not prevent anyone else actually running, or falling, or getting up, or getting faster or better at anything. You cannot be both a baby and an adult effectively. 

We’re stuck in our efforts to maintain the illusion we’re promoting struggle and growth while focusing most of our energy and other resources towards dragging along the least engaged portion of our populations. Not only is it disingenuous, it doesn’t work – the bottom isn’t becoming the top and the top isn’t fooled as they sink towards mediocrity, frustrated by trying to beat a game whose rules most of them recognize as well-intentioned lies. 

Other Responses from #OklaEd Bloggers (Please let me know who I've missed):

Fourth Generation Teacher / Claudia Swisher - #oklaed Queen for a Day

OkEducationTruths / Rick Cobb - Blogging from a Prompt: If I Were King 

Teaching From Here / Scott Haselwood - If I Am The #Oklaed King for a Day!

Tegan Teaches 5th - Queen for a Day!

Nicole Shobert, Thoughts and Ramblings - If I Were Queen of Education for the Day

Choosing the Road Not Taken / Shanna Mellott - Another Brick in the Wall

A View From the Edge / Rob Miller - If I Were King of #Oklaed

The Principal's Cluttered Desk - King for a Day of #OklaEd

Thoughts on Oklahoma Education / Jason James - King for the Day

RELATED POST: This Week in Education / Dr. John Thompson - Schools and L'Dor V'Dor; From Generation to Generation

Comments

You humble me with your super kind words...since you did that I am plugging myself. Read my thoughts on failure here: http://wp.me/p3FTs5-ec

Love this - us #oklaed bloggers should get together and create the best damn school in the nation! I am already drooling...

I love this paragraph, Dallas: We juggle our convictions regarding what SHOULD happen in theory with our concerns about what’s actually GOOD for the real kids in front of us. Let’s stop.

This is so true. Every kid should be treated as an individual, an exception. This is the key to effective engagement and meaningful learning.

I also thought Scott was right on on his proposed changes to high school. There are schools doing this in America. However, they are typically charters and private schools that have the freedom to innovate. These are the type of reforms we could get behind!

Stop the college prep goal. This one thing would then allow teachers to take each child as we find them, and take them as far as we can.

So did you know there is a new "requirement" for next year. HS grad bound Ss will need to take a semester of CPR?

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