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Monday, March 14, 2016

ESSA: Kids get more tech, less teachers

We all have been wondering what the real story is with the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind. As I wrote about here, I subscribe to The Nellie Mae Foundation's emails to see what the enemies of public education are stirring up in their cauldrons. Promoted today was this post on how the highest education law in the country is opening the door on oxymoronic "personalized learning."



One of my education heroes, Alfie Kohn wrote here about the difference between personal learning and personalized learning:


"Personal learning entails working with each child to create projects of intellectual discovery that reflect his or her unique needs and interests. It requires the presence of a caring teacher who knows each child well. 

Personalized learning entails adjusting the difficulty level of prefabricated skills-based exercises based on students' test scores. It requires the purchase of software from one of those companies that can afford full-page ads in Education Week."


Check out this unbelievable doc showing how ESSA is "better" for "personalized learning" than NCLB.



Kohn asks, "How can we tell when the lovely idea of personal learning has been co-opted[3] and then twisted into (personalized learning)? Here are four warning signs:

 1. The tasks have been personalized for kids, not created by them.

2. Education is about the transmission of bits of information, not the construction of meaning.  

3. The main objective is just to raise test scores. (When we hear a phrase like "monitor students' progress," we should immediately ask, "What do you mean by progress?" That word, like achievement, often refers to nothing more than results on dreadful tests.)


 4. It's all about the tech. (... for example, in language arts, where millions are made selling leveled "guided reading" systems, skills-based literacy workbooks, and the like. Simpler strategies, such as having kids choose, read, and discuss real books from the library may be more effective, but, as reading expert Dick Allington asks drily, "Who promotes a research-based practice that seems an unlikely profit center? No one.")

Kohn continues, "This version of 'personalized learning' actually began 60 years ago when B.F. Skinner proposed setting each child before a teaching machine, an idea rooted in 'measurability, uniformity, and control of the student.'"

 

And don't we all know this is the truth:

"If we favor an approach by which students actively construct meaning, an interactive process that involves a deep understanding of ideas and emerges from the interests and questions of the learners themselves, well, then we’d be open to the kinds of technology that truly support this kind of inquiry. 

Show me something that helps kids create, design, produce, construct — and I’m on board. Show me something that helps them make things collaboratively (rather than just on their own), and I’m even more interested — although it’s important to keep in mind that meaningful learning never requires technology, so even here we should object whenever we’re told that software (or a device with a screen) is essential.

 
Far more common, in any case, are examples of technology that take for granted, and ultimately help to perpetuate, traditional teacher-centered instruction that consists mostly of memorizing facts and practicing skills. Tarting up a lecture with a SmartBoard, loading a textbook on an iPad, looking up facts online, rehearsing skills with an “adaptive learning system,” writing answers to the teacher’s (or workbook’s) questions and uploading them to Google Docs — these are examples of how technology may make the process a bit more efficient or less dreary but does nothing to challenge the outdated pedagogy. To the contrary: These are shiny things that distract us from rethinking our approach to learning and reassure us that we’re already being innovative."

Read Kohn's full article on The Overselling of ed Tech here

Achieve 3000/Teen Biz

Did you know EESA eliminated the NCLB requirement for highly qualified teachers? 
Wonder why?

 
Read more here.

"... interest in computer-assisted instruction is surging. New firms, such as DreamBox and Knewton, have joined more established companies like Achieve3000 and Carnegie Learning in providing “intelligent tutors” for 'adaptive instruction' or 'personalized learning.' In the first quarter of 2014, over half a billion dollars was invested in education-technology startups. Not surprisingly, these intelligent tutors have grown fastest in fields in which many problems have well-defined correct answers, such as mathematics and computer science. In domains where student performances are more nuanced, machine-learning algorithms have seen more modest success."

BOTTOM LINE:
" ... we’re not nearly as good at testing the kinds of things that the labor market increasingly rewards. In 'Dancing with Robots' an excellent paper on contempotary education, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane argue that the pressing challenge of the educational system is to “educate many more young people for the jobs computers cannot do.” Schooling that trains students to efficiently conduct routine tasks is training students for jobs that pay minimum wage—or jobs that simply no longer exist."

Want to learn more? Read this. It will blow your mind.

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