A climate of change in US schools

It’s no secret that students attending US schools score lower than their peers in countries such as Finland, Korea and China on international aptitude tests. In 2009, students in the United States placed 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math among the 70 countries who took the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Currently, there is research underway that is surveying this trend in order to better understand student performances. In an article published earlier this year, Marc Tucker, the president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, stated that U.S educators and policy-makers have traditionally been unreceptive to adopting teaching strategies and practices from top-performing countries. Among other practices, Tucker sites the push to evaluate teacher and school performances based on standardized test scores as one that is uniquely American and “downright bizarre” to many education leaders in high-performing countries. Similar to the “downright bizarre” practice of over-testing students is the more recent practice of blaming teachers (rather than the overall system) for student’s lack of success. In 2010, President Obama suggested that all bad or failing teachers be fired for not fostering student’s success. Read that article in the Politico here.

There is a climate of change happening in schools and education departments across the United States and it appears to be one that includes an over saturation of testing and a whole lot of finger pointing.

While government leaders are busy blaming teachers for student’s scores on tests like the PISA, they are failing to address the larger problem that exists, which includes (among others) a systematic curriculum failure. Rather than (mis)placing their focus on standardized test scores, policy makers and education leaders need to figure out how to adopt a mastery-based approach to teaching and learning. Create a standard guide to instruction that encourages and enables students to develop, create, produce and question more. The most important academic areas for students to master today include science, technology, engineering, mathematics and reading/literacy. Policy makers have already acknowledged that these are the most important content areas for students to learn in order to compete in the globalized, 21st Century. Now they need to reform the curricula that guide these areas of instruction. And yes, creating a common core, national curriculum that mirrors those of high-performing countries would be a step in the right direction. Policy makers could even take things a step further and offer training on best practices, better pay and a bit more respect to teachers. But to continue pointing the finger at teachers while spending more money on shiny new testing programs is a continued step in the wrong direction.

 Instead of playing the blame game, lets use our understanding of this issue to push leaders toward adopting mastery-based approaches to teaching along with a more relevant national curriculum that promotes the success of our students.

Advertisements

Fearless

 Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.

-Anais Nin

Live fearlessly. Sometimes, during retrospection I think of different chapters in my life and believe that I have done that, lived fearlessly. Other times I feel still and wonder why I have not lived larger. Those times make me sit down to wonder, “what am I afraid of that keeps me from moving closer to what I want?” Considering this question also allows me to answer it and identify my insecurities. I fear-

rejection

abandonment

critique

loneliness

evil

stagnation

and

losing one’s love.

My path to this discovery began a few years ago when I found myself lost after college. I wasn’t sure who I was, where I should go, whether I was worthy of love, or whether I could even make the smallest contribution in someone’s life. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I felt subjected to my fears listed above. Too many fights with friends and him and family members. Too many tears. Too much running. Too much doubt. Too much searching in circles only to find myself where I’d initially begun. It was a hard time and I found myself deeply selfish and self-destructive.

Through intervention and support I began to set foot on the path to find and love me. The path to My Purpose. I am hugely grateful for the people who helped me along that path. Those that listened to me, gave me a tissue, their bed, their heart, a meal, a card, a picture, patience. Many people came to me along that path and positively impacted my life over these last 5 years. To say thank you to them would almost be insulting; they deserve more than that.

Over time, healing took place and allowed me to see the value of people in a way that I had never seen before. I also began to see the value in fearlessness, Ordered Steps and taking risks. It’s scary to step out of one’s comfort area, to change one’s conduct. We all know that destructive behavior is often the most addictive. It takes guts to stop bad habits when you’re not ready, but it’s necessary.

So this being said, today I acknowledge my gratitude and use my life to give thanks for the Village that surrounds me and allows me to be fearless. I consider myself a work in progress, but it feels like I’m on the right track. My faith allows me to believe that I will continue to be surrounded by Good and protected on my journey.

My plan is to take each person who came along my path at some point, as well as Mrs. Nin’s words as I journey on my process of becoming fearless.


About The Cosmopolitan Educator

The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word Cosmopolitan as:

1: having worldwide rather than limited or provincial scope or bearing

2: having wide international sophistication : worldly

3: composed of persons, constituents, or elements from all or many parts of the world

If you’re interested in reading the definition for yourself, you can find the it here.
Some related words you may use for cosmopolitan include:
worldly
cultured
global
polished
sophisticated
well-traveled
broad-minded
_________________________________________________________________
This idea of cosmopolitanism is the foundation for how I’d like to establish my life and classroom in my approach to living and teaching. I want to have an international sophistication that allows me to build a global classroom. While I know this may seem a bit utopian, I hope that I can translate my travel experiences into small learning activities and lessons that will help to build my student’s world-view and promote an inquiry-based and critical way of thinking.
 
I decided on the name, The Cosmopolitan Educator for my blog because I think it reflects a big part of who I am. I am an Educator with a wide view of how I see people, systems and interactions in the world. I believe that cultures are way more closely-connected than people think. I enjoy learning about cultural anthropology, sociology, linguistics, history, economics, how cultures collide today and what that means for the future of mankind.
 
Only time will tell the longevity of this blog, but for now I am excited by the idea of researching and writing on global education.