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Showing posts from August, 2013

Uncommon Culture and Common Core

Much is being written about the Common Core State Standards and the implied transformation and reformation of public education. For over 20 years, school reform has been a hot topic that has embraced everything from standards and accountability to career technical education to tech integration and more.

     And now, we have a new system that has been embraced by almost the entire nation, state by state. Seemingly, it is a move in the right direction. Under the new standards, the focus is on critical thinking, divergent answers, as well as processes and application. Again, this makes sense. Our previous implementation of standards focused on low-level rote learning that did not allow for in-depth analysis or higher-level learning. Although there are a lot of unanswered questions about the implementation of the CCSS, most have high hopes that it is a move in the right direction – at least in terms of the power of any set of standards.

     There is the rub. How powerful…

Rigor Redefined

For years now in education, one of the biggest buzzwords has been “Rigor.” It was universally agreed, or at least seemingly so, that all students need to be challenged. Students need hard work and need to be worked hard. In theory, this sounds good and probably is good.

     However, it seems that educators and lay people alike might have interpreted “rigor” as just more of the same. If a test has 50 questions, then 100 are more rigorous. If a student might normally write a five-page essay, then a 10-page one is more rigorous. If a student might have two hours of homework, then four hours is more rigorous.

     Some of this classic definition of rigor was also related to the bell curve. In other words, only a handful of students could actually reach the top, be academic or be working at rigorous levels. Indeed, there was a built-in elitism here in that most people were not supposed to make it.

     The 21st century workplace and educational system cannot afford to have peo…

All Students Need A Major - Long Before You Get To College

For those of us who have been to college in our lives, do we not remember when we were able to “declare a major” as one of the most important and exciting times of our educational lives.I remember being an 18-year-old freshman that got to take one intro course in my major along with my required General Education classes.It was exciting and exhilarating.It was a class that seemed real, had immediate connections to the real world and what I wanted to do.There were older students in there as well who had just declared their major.

    And although I eventually changed that major (as is often the case), I remember that being such an exciting journey.I remember feeling that I had arrived at my life finally.Some of us got that feeling when we discovered that cool elective in high school or maybe had that first part-time job.But when we had a major in college, we were finally somebody.We were starting a career and that gave us identity, purpose and a mission.

     The problem with that ty…