April 30, 2021

John Warner: Who is falling behind what?

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Like many other educators, John Warner has a  personal background to draw from when considering the terrible spectre of learning loss.

The year was 1975, the place the auditorium of Greenbriar School in Northbrook, Illinois, and the problem was that I could not cut or color. These were two of the core skills at the pre-Kindergarten screening being conducted, meant to test my fine motor abilities. I was lacking. For coloring I was working outside the lines. For cutting, I could not seem to find the line.

My gross motor skills were good (walking on a low balance beam), but the experts were apparently concerned that my lack of fine motor development might make things like learning to write my letters, a key component of one’s Kindergarten education at the time, too tough.

This next part may be partial family apocrypha, but as I understand it, as there was a debate with my mother about whether or not I should be given time to ripen further so I could hack the Kindergarten curriculum, she pulled a book out of her purse and asked if it mattered that I had already been reading for quite some time.

Couldn’t cut, couldn’t color, but I could read because I was literally raised in a bookstore my mom had started when I was a year old.

If education was a race, I was trailing the pack on some important metrics, while miles ahead on others. Thankfully, no one at the time was viewing it as a race, so me and my shortcomings were allowed to start school with all my existing neighborhood friends my age.

So that’s the question–how do you measure how behind a student is if there are a hundred different dimensions for their growth?

Read the rest of the post on his substack.

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