American Education Reform

100619_142311_0.pngAmerican Education Reform -

While meandering around the web and reading FlipBoard, I discovered an article about Sir Ken Robinson's attitudes toward American education reform.  (Sir Ken Robinson - Reform)

The article was interesting on several levels.  The author, Valerie Strauss, refers to his book through an interview with him, an interview that is critical of current education reform efforts in the United States.

She quotes him as saying, "It's to make education more personalized for students and more customized to the community in which they are a part of. The reason I say that is that education has become, over the past 20 years particularly, increasing a strategic issue for governments." (Sir Ken Robinson - Reform)  This was an interesting comment as it reflects an increasing authority for government in the role they play in education.  Zhou, in Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon, would agree - that the role of government can minimize the creative impacts education might have as government oversight is by its inherent nature bureaucratic.

Robinson moves on to claim that the No Child Left Behind mandate has been a "catastrophic failure."  He then goes on to claim, "We have got and have had appalling high levels of non-graduation, terrible rates of turnovers and resignation among teachers and principals, and a profession that has been in many ways demoralized by the whole process. ... And what lies behind that is the standards movement. (Sir Ken Robinson - Reform)  Those are strong words.  

But most interesting to me are his remarks on Finland, especially as I'll be hosting two Finnish educators in a few weeks to look at digital learning here in the state of Maine.  Robinson makes the observation, "Finland has a negligible dropout rate and is consistently at the top of these international league tables. They have no standardized tests, with one exception, the end-of-school exams.  The don't prescribe in detail what has to be taught in schools."  

And so I am left with questions, always questions.  To what extent have some of our reform efforts turned teachers into content managers?  To what extent have teachers become managers of pre-determined lesson plans about which they have little real intellectual investment?  And, most importantly, whose job is it to oversee the educational vision of a district?  

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