professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Thinking it through

I spent the better part of today working on some upcoming presentations in April (not waiting until the last minute for a change). As I was organizing my thoughts, I turned to the concept of STORY. What story do I want to tell the folks at the session at IRA? How can I best tell that story? What are the elements that need to be there in order for it to be effective.

Instead of a string of facts and figures, it is the STORY of the people behind it all that ultimately are important. That is why this tremendous emphasis on data worries me. If books cannot be reduced to lexiles and reading levels without losing sight of what is important between their covers, how can we reduce kids (and teachers, too, for that matter) to numbers, measures, figures? There is a move in many states to send data for students to one giant clearinghouse. Here is the link: Certain phrases here worry me even more. The announcement that all of this dat will PERSONALIZE education (oxymoronic much?) is one. It reminds me of the post about George Orwell and education.

My feelings are best summed up with the quote that ends this article:

"The hype in the tech press is that education is an engineering problem that can be fixed by technology," said Frank Catalano of Intrinsic Strategy, a consulting firm focused on education and technology. "To my mind, that's a very naive and destructive view."

There is the core concern: that teaching, learning, and kids can all be reduced to an engineering problem; that there is a formula for it all. If this were possible, if there were a magic bullet or ONE solution, I think we would have happened upon it alredy. Truth is that teaching and learning and being human are all messy and inexact and without order. Many of us enter into the profession for that reason. We love the challenge of reaching kids however and wherever and whenever we can. We exult in successes and worry horribly about the kid we seem not to reach. We scour shelves looking for the "just right book." We hear about a new movie or TV show and think about the student who would love it. We connect on so many different levels, levels not even explored and labeled and identified and normed.

So I come back to story. Whose stories need to be told? How can I tell them?
Tags: data

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