To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. - Ecc. 3

El Yunque, Puerto Rico

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"real" school reform

some days i wake up and read the paper and i want to go marching around the capital with a sign and a list of demands; some days i'm too tired for all that because i'm actually doing my job (novel idea for some teachers).  in Education Week James Farwell wrote this article called "What Would Real School Reform Look Like? usually i'm not one for reform debates because i get so frustrated that i want to bulldoze right through the DOE and start fresh (rev·o·lu·tion: an overthrow or repudiation and the thorough replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed.). emphasis added by yours truly because, as stated by Mr. Einstein: "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
so in the article Farwell presents his  idea for what real school reform would have to look like. after dismissing current reform attempts as ineffective he makes some good points. Here are some favs:

"We need to view our children as the unique and special people that they are. Our schools need to become the “neighborhoods,” to use the late Fred Rogers’ term, that create the means for each child’s uniqueness and potential to be realized.
One qualification for anyone who works in schools should be a love and respect for children. Anyone lacking in these two areas should be asked to seek employment elsewhere.
We need to approach each child as a whole person, as someone who has physical, emotional, social, intellectual, artistic, and spiritual needs. Children are more than just brains to be filled and candidates for the job market.
We need to realize that not all children are developmentally ready for learning basic skills at the same time, nor do they learn in the same way. Moreover, they cannot show what they have learned by using only one means for measuring learning success."

Basically that's all the lovey dovey, soft stuff, he goes into some hard facts and ideas about how to equally share the financial burden of a quality education in a "village" model and while that interests me/is important what good teaching and good schooling really boils down to (and i have held this opinion since i began working with kids) is KNOWING YOUR STUDENTS. period. that's all. not even close to rocket science.  just know them. know where they're from, what they like, who they are, how many siblings, who they live with, why they don't like bananas, what kind of music they like, how they learn best, whether they have difficulty in social interactions, why and it goes on and on but this is the only way to ensure that you can best teach them.  and love them.  love them love them until your heart is full and teaching/giving them a little of what you know is all that can make it bigger and make more space for what they have to teach you.  they are people, not statistics and even when all odds are against you and it seems like those talking heads on capitol hill (and down the hall in the principal's office) will never get it together, fight the good fight in your own classroom with weapons of knowledge and love.

- a 20-something hopeful....and i'm not changing for nobody.

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