Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cheeky Grins

1. The gap between high school curriculum and post-secondary education is as wide as ever.

Well, according to Dartmouth University among other high institutions of learning. You know that I’m still fired up about this if I am talking about a story that made its waves in January. But the truth is, “Dartmouth’s Last Stand” against the College Board and AP tests is just the tip of the iceberg in this story. http://thedartmouth.com/2013/02/13/news/ap 

Dartmouth’s policy of no longer accepting AP scores as credit for college courses beginning in 2014 is beyond dumbfounding. Dartmouth statistics show that just 10% of students who pass these tests could pass the school’s placement exams. So that must mean Dartmouth’s curriculum is just that more comprehensive and avant-garde than what we do in high schools, right?


What most American high schools are doing to prepare kids for college and the real world is way more progressive that what our universities are doing. Work programs, co-ops, internships, and business partnerships formed by our high schools have given kids more opportunities than ever to advance their career before they are even old enough to watch an R-rated movie. Teachers that have worked within the structure of the College Board curriculum have not only given their college bound students a chance to be successful in passing these tests, but have made the curriculum relevant to their lives. So you tell me what is more progressive: A policy that suppresses student achievement  in high school in favor of collecting more tuition dollars, OR, a curriculum that is comprehensive enough to value achievement, encourage career paths, and motivate students to choose a job they will enjoy the rest of their lives…

2. No matter how spontaneous you are, structure is still important.

A while back, I wrote about how the model of classroom management established in Harry Wong’s, The First Days of School, was somewhat archaic and maybe even a regressive method for teaching a class. I am an educator who values creativity and capturing student attention because it helps my students learn more. I believe that.

But sometimes, structure is necessary, even with the smallest of things.

I am an ardent supporter of having my students stand and say the pledge of allegiance every day before 2nd period begins. From a legal perspective, I suppose they don’t have to- per their first amendment rights. But coming from a family with many veterans, I think it’s the least we can do to honor our country every day. I guess that is part of my not-so, “hidden curriculum.”

It took me 31 class days to figure it out, but today I realized my class was no longer saying the pledge. I was the only one belting it out this morning. My students were standing, half of them had their hands over their hearts, but I was literally talking to “Old Glory” by myself.

Then I realized that I never established that as a routine and a priority during the first few days of class this semester, and now I am paying the price. Harry Wong was right. The first few days of school are really, really important to your class functioning the way you want it to.

 3.       Don’t judge a book by its cover.

I’ll admit to falling prey to the occasional reality TV show my wife imposes on me. The Susan Boyle(a must watch video above) story on "Britain's Got Talent," eventually led us to watch "American Idol" and "The Voice." Although I remain steadfastly committed to anything that's on TV in the man-cave when the "Real Housewives" or "The Bachelorette" walk into my family room, I do find the signing competitions entertaining.

Not to sound holier than thou, but the Susan Boyle story is a constant reminder of this important message. Don't judge a book by its cover. Whether its administrators questioning a staff member, teachers judging a student, or educators who just over-value first impressions...there's a lot more to Susan Boyle than that "cheeky grin."

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