Good Afternoon Friends,
After an extended stay in San Diego and a brief vacation down the Jersey shore, I’m back to SCH to resume work duties. Leaving the perfect weather, great restaurants, and overall laid back lifestyle of the West coast to return to 100 degree weather in smog filled Philadelphia was an easy transition for me……….cough cough, sarcasm….Relaxing on the beach during the recent heat wave did make the SD to Phila. journey slightly easier. But now it’s back to business, and honestly I have to say I’m excited for what’s to come the rest of the summer at SCH. I will continue to develop several workshops for the SCH Summer CEL Sandbox #schsandbox. Next week Betty Ann Fish and I will co-facilitate a workshop where we will discuss creative usage of Evernote in the classroom, personal productivity, digital portfolios, add-ons, and more. Additional workshops that BA and I will co-facilitate include: the iPad Institute (7/25), iBook Creation with iBooks Author (8/1), and iPad App Search & Evaluation (8/7). I’ll also team up with Stephanie Moore for Project-Based Learning with iPads (8/16) and Jenn Vermillion for a Game-Based Learning Institute (8/23). So while visions of sandy beaches and waves crashing on my feet escape me, I look forward to working with some amazing educators this summer.
Back to my #iste12 musings. Day 2 of the conference kicked off with Dr. Yong Zhao’s keynote presentaion. Zhao, the presidential chair and associate dean for global education at the University of Oregon, discussed how education systems in the United States are misleading our students. A word that I’ve become familiar with in my experience in education, from grade school (which seems like a lifetime ago) up until my current role at SCH Academy is “assessment.” Zhao, who focuses on global education practices, talked about how the traditional model for assessment that we are accustomed to in the US doesn’t acknowledge the diversity of talents or passions of our youth.
Until Zhao’s keynote, I was somewhat unfamiliar with the Common Core Standards Initiative. I’ve worked in education for over a decade now, recently shifting my role from IT to the “educational” or “pedagogical” side of the school. I have heard of the Common Core, but have never given it much thought. A quote from Zhao that really hit home was “I would love common core standards if they weren’t common or core.” To me, this sentence summed up the entire keynote; how can we, as educators reach the full potential of our students if we’re not leveraging their creative or entrepreneurial talents? What is “common” or “core” about a student’s passion? Does a test score really reflect the intelligence of students? I was brought up to believe that failure was not an option in any capacity, in school, sports, basically everything I was involved in. To a certain extent, I still live by these rules. However, what I’ve learned from my experience in education is that we need to liberate both our students and ourselves from the traditional model of education that I was subject to. In the past I’ve thought of myself as a “right-brained” person that lacks creativity. Now it pains me to hear a person say “I’m not creative enough to do that.” What’s the reasoning behind a person to have such a thought process? Maybe they were taught that way…hmmmmm. Something to think about.
Zhao identifies key differences in the educational systems of the United States and China. He compares a strictly regimented system with too much formality to a system that does not hesitate to promote creativity and entrepreneurship. Zhao spoke to the correlation between PISA math scores and perceived entrepreneurial capability across the globe. He even quoted former Governor Ed Rendell on the canceling of an Eagles game…I almost broke out an E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES chant, but figured this wasn’t’ the crowd for that. I have to admit that I’ve grown tired of watching Rendell on Comcast Sportsnet and I don’t agree with his views on education.
“We’ve become a nation of wusses. The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything. If this was in China do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium. They would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down.”–Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell on the rescheduling of an NFL game, 2010 http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2010/12/ed-rendell-were-a-nation-of-wu.html
Below are a couple of graphics, one directly from Zhao’s presentation that shows the confidence level of students in their math scores in the US and in Singapore, the other illustrates the confidence of American students 🙂
Zhao, Yao “I usually do well in Math” zhaolearning.com
Sipress, David “It may be wrong, but it’s how I feel.” condenastore.com
I’ll end this post with a short video trailer for the book Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner that focuses on the importance of innovation for the future of America. Enjoy!!