Between poverty and impoverished pedagogy there is a high correlation. Quality of education goes down with income. Wealthier children go to better schools, and children who grow up in poverty have a very high probability of getting a bad education. We all know this.
Then we adults make the standard mistake of turning correlation into causation, Continue reading
Late in the fall two middle school teachers came to my office with a dilemma: “We don’t want to be guilty of grade inflation, but the grading system isn’t fair. Sara, for instance, works really hard. She always does her homework and participates in class. She is actually a great student, but she is math-phobic. She keeps failing her tests. We don’t know what to do.”
I asked, “Well, you say she is a great student. What does that look like? What does ‘participates in class’ look like?”
“She’s just great at working with others.”
“Yes, but what does that look like? If we can describe it we can measure it, if we can measure it, we can grade it.”
“Well, she builds on other people’s ideas…” Continue reading
How to Exercise Authority
Of the 20 schools I visited last fall, two stand out. Any parent would know in the first five minutes of each visit what I knew: I want my child in school A, and I will fight like hell to keep my child out of school B. One was a place of education and one felt like a prison. I will call one The Learning Academy and the other Brand X.
In The Learning Academy all kids were on a mission, they seemed lit from within with the joy of learning. In two hours I saw no bored or unhappy students, and they were all engaged in challenging academic work. Each classroom exuded creativity—in every corner of every classroom.
In Brand X I saw three students Continue reading
Let Go and Listen
Thirty-two years ago, when my son Peter was eight, we were driving south from downtown Kansas City to our home at 3600 Charlotte. At 27th street we saw an enormous wrecking ball smashing into a ten-story building.
“Dad, can we stop?”
“No. We have to get home for dinner,” I said.
“Rats,” he said, and the simplicity of his reply went straight to my heart. The car hadn’t gone a hundred feet before I realized that “no” was the wrong answer. But momentum is a funny thing, and I just kept driving.
During my 44 years as father I have worked with thousands of other people’s children. Almost all the parents were good parents. Many of them are simply marvelous parents, Continue reading