Tag Archives: professional development

Betsy DeVos as Clickbait

[May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and during themed history months I endeavor to keep the focus on pedagogical materials related to the history of the group whose achievements and culture are observed. That said, occasionally a blog post comes along, such as the one below, that are simply too important to let pass. Jan Resseger has written cogently–I’m hard-pressed, frankly, to imagine how this case could be summarized more cogently, and I envy Ms. Resseger’s talent as a prose stylist–about the disaster that is Betsy DeVos. I believe her policies, particularly where the kinds of struggling learners I have served throughout my career are concerned, have already found a home in some schools. Indeed, the school in which I currently serve has a well-established track record of ignoring the special needs students who have enrolled in it.]

janresseger

It surprised me to hear the word “clickbait” in Betsy DeVos’s working vocabulary.  I wonder if it wasn’t put into her speech—on Monday in Baltimore at the Education Writers Association’s annual meeting—by one of her more with-it staffers.  I confess that as a retired person, I was slow several years ago to grasp the meaning of the term, but as a blogger I know I paid attention, even before I knew the word, to the number of people who click on posts about particular topics.  I realize, of course, that my purpose is to do justice, not to pay attention to the number of clicks on different subjects, but like all writers who post on-line, I notice.  And I grieve about the paucity of clicks on worthy topics.

As you have, no doubt, heard by now, Betsy DeVos went to the Education Writers Association and asked the nation’s education journalists…

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John Dewey Dissects Teaching “Content”

“From the standpoint of the educator…the various studies represent working resources, available capital. Their remoteness from the experience of the young…is real. The subject matter of the learner…cannot be identical with the formulated, crystallized knowledge of the adult…. Failure to bear in mind the difference…is responsible for most of the mistakes made in the use of texts and other expressions of preexisting knowledge.”

John Dewey

Democracy and Education

Excerpted from: Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 1998.

Jerome Bruner on Understanding and Interpretation

I. “Understanding unlike explaining, is not preemptive; for example, one way of construing the fall of Rome narratively does not rule out other interpretations. For narratives and their interpretations traffic in meaning, and meanings are intransigently multiple…. Since no one narrative construal rules out alternatives, narratives pose a very special issue of criteria.”

II. “In a word, narrative accounts can be principled or not but do not rest on stark verification alone, as with scientific explanations. Any constitutional lawyer worth his salt can tell you how Justice Taney’s way of construing history in the Dred Scott decision was excruciatingly tunnel-visioned, unmindful of competing perspective, and therefore lethal in its consequences.”

Jerome Bruner

The Culture of Education

Excerpted from: Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 1998.

John Dewey on Instructional Planning

“No experience is educative that does not tend both to knowledge of more facts and entertaining of more ideas and to a better, a more orderly arrangement of them…. Experiences in order to be educative, must lead out into an expanding world of subject matter…. This condition is satisfied only as long as the educator views teaching and learning as a continuous process of reconstruction of experience.”

Excerpted from: Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 1998.

Wiggins and McTighe on Coverage and Uncoverage

“We thus uncover for students what is interesting and vital by revealing it for what it is: a shorthand phrase for the result of inquiries, problems, and arguments, not a self-evident fact. A course design based on textbook coverage only will likely leave students with inert phrases and an erroneous view of how arguable or hard-won knowledge has been. Rather, students need to experience what scholars know if they are to understand their work: how key facts and principles are the revealing and powerful fruit of pondering, testing, shaping, and rethinking of experience….”

Excerpted from: Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 1998.

The “Exit Ticket”

[The “exit ticket” was all the rage in the last school in which I served in New York City. The peculiarity of the term notwithstanding, the concept is pedagogically sound—particularly when questions are both broad and focused, like these two, which are apparently in common use in classrooms at Harvard.]

  1. What is the big point you learned in class today?
  2. What is the main unanswered question you leave class with today?

Excerpted from: Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 1998.

Howard Gardner on Assessing for Understanding

“Whereas short-answer tests and oral responses in classes can provide clues to student understanding, it is generally necessary to look more deeply…. For these purposes, new and unfamiliar problems, followed by open-ended clinical interviews or careful observations, provide the best way of establishing the degree of understanding obtained.”

Howard Gardner

The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach

Excerpted from: Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 1998.