Thursday, August 11, 2016

Schools Matter: Facebook Bamboozles the New York Times Again About What Goes On In Schools

Schools Matter: Facebook Bamboozles the New York Times Again About What Goes On In Schools:

Facebook Bamboozles the New York Times Again About What Goes On In Schools



 NOTE: Following Stephen Krashen's injunction that Somewhere/Sometime Someone at the New York Times reads the letters we send, and that's why we must keep sending them, I sent a very much shortened version of this piece. Long or short, I know that few people can grasp what student choice means in the classroom.

 by Susan Ohanian

What passes for student choice in this  Facebook- Summit charter school set-up (Facebook HelpsDevelop Software That Puts Students in Charge of Their Lesson Plans) described in the New York Times illustrates how easily some people are bamboozled by technological pizazz. Offering a 12-year-old the option of spending three days  on a lesson module on the Roman Empire  instead of one day or six-- before he slogs on to the required study of medieval Europe, then Islam, the Aztecs, Reformation, Renaissance, and the Scientific Revolution--is serving up refried E. D. Hirsch imperatives, not choice. Because New York Times education coverage is devoted to tidiness, the reporters fail to notice that the  power of technology is being trivially used just to help children rearrange the deckchairs on the Titanic.

To embrace student choice is to embrace messiness.

For those interested in actual student choice for the long haul and not just small options for tomorrow's output, once again  I offer Jack, the most obnoxious kid in an alternative public high school filled with obnoxious kids kicked out of the regular high school. When I showed Jack  an article in Harper's about Scrabble hustlers in New York City, he noted that serious players preferred the Funk and Wagnall's Dictionary. I insisted that  our American Heritage Dictionary would surely be adequate for launching his Scrabble career,  but Jack pestered until I ordered Funk and Wagnall's.  Admittedly, I felt pretty good about telling my supervisor that a student had requested a dictionary recommended in Harper's.

Jack took the Scrabble board and the new dictionary to a back corner of the room and he stayed there all day, every day, for six months. Drawing my teacher savvy from psycholinguist Frank Smith's observation that when a student persists at the same irregular activity, doing it over and over, he isn't wasting time, isn't trying to get out of real work;  he persists at that activity 
Schools Matter: Facebook Bamboozles the New York Times Again About What Goes On In Schools:

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