December 2, 2022

Steve Nelson: Skip the Apple – Pay the Teacher

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On his substack, Steve Nelson reacts to an Ed Week report on a webinar offered by a set of reformsters who declare that the standards movement missed a big piece. He has a few thoughts about the many missing pieces.

Even though these Gates and Walton-funded wizards throw in an occasional “differentiate” to nod toward the possibility that children are not robots, the entire “Standards Movement,” and its evil twin “Accountability,” are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of kids, learning, the purpose of education and the profession of teaching. Often designed by economists, standardized methodology assumes without a scintilla of evidence, that human learning is essentially mechanistic. Design the right inputs, run them through those little brains, do quality control at the end of the assembly line, declare victory, and apply for more funding.

And Nelson offers some specific mistakes that the movement might have missed.

In many schools, teachers, with or without the good fortune of a subversive administration, close the classroom door and do as little “standard curriculum” and prep for tests as they can get away with. I’ve written and droned on about this for so long that even I tire of my words, but these things bear repeating:

  • Learning is active, not passive.
  • Children are not standard, so expectations cannot be either.
  • “Instruction” should be a dirty word, replaced by “discovery” in all classrooms.
  • Children learn through their interests and passions, not those of the curriculum architects.
  • The teacher’s voice should be heard less; student voices more.
  • Every school and class has an organic identity which should inform teachers’ intentions
  • There is no such thing as “grade level.”
  • Every good teacher assesses every student every day. They don’t need Pearson’s help.
  • Imagination and expression are suffocated by education policy.
  • Curiosity is beautiful until sterile classrooms snuff it out. It is gradually eroded until about 8th grade, when it’s gone almost entirely.
  • Class size matters a great deal. Relationships are at the center of learning.

Read the full post here.


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