Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Mitt Romney won Washington state’s caucuses this past Saturday. Expect an open thread tomorrow for Super Tuesday, which will be scheduled for 1 p.m. PT/ 4 p.m. ET. Gloria’s thread will run at 9 a.m. PT/ 12 p.m. ET. There are 10 states voting in the Republican primary tomorrow so that is not to be missed!

This piece of news came out a little over a month ago, but it’s still relevant: researchers at Ohio State University found that 10 percent of students on college campuses are hosting a party on any given weekend and they are more likely to drink the heaviest and engage in risky behavior over students attending the bash. I remember some high-profile alcohol-related deaths on college campuses in the Boston area when I was a student. I know it is something I will definitely talk to my kids about…

Loved this observation made by Daily Kos’s teacherken on how harried his students’ parents are juggling work and children in a country that offers no universal healthcare, preschool, paid family leave or social safety net. It was a rebuttal to a news article about how fabulous Parisian parents are. Amen.

In somewhat related news, Parents magazine published an article on how to find a job to do from home. Equally useful, IMHO, were the comments, in which work-at-home moms said they still needed childcare and/or found working from home to be difficult. I agree. Working at home allows flexibility as to when to work, but it can be easy to let work take over your life as work and the household chores are right there and work-out-of-home spouses expect you to pick up the slack when a child gets sick or there is a school event — since you are home. I, for one, hope this changes as more companies adopt telecommuting.  

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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Another (Strong) Teacher Mulls An Exit

With all the onerous mandates and attacks on teachers, lately, I’ve been hearing or reading about good teachers looking for an exit strategy from the profession. Like I mentioned here before, Ari’s teacher from last year, who I adore, left to be a stay-at-home father and hopefully launch a successful writing career.

I was surprised to read that Teacherken over at Daily Kos is also mulling leaving a 16-year stint in the classroom for a different career path. Read on:

A major reason for applying for the two Ivy League opportunities was the desire to make a difference in education beyond what I can do while in my classroom.  Teaching 170+ adolescents at any given moment is very consuming of time and of energy.  Yes, I can write, I can present at the occasional conference, I can take advantage of my closeness to Washington DC and my connections in DC and Richmond to lobby.  

But I cannot hope to stay current on all that is going on, not when from when I leave my house at 6:30 until sometime in the evening my hours are largely consumed with my responsibilities as a teacher.

Then this:

I do see public education as very much at risk right now.  Were I to get accepted at Harvard and attend, it is a 3 year doctorate.  During the first two I would largely be consumed with studies, during the third I would be in a residency.  I wrestle with how much of a difference i could make during that time.  Similarly with the fellowship, during that year my focus would be on my book, which at best might be published by the Fall of 2013.  I wonder if we have that much time left to save schools.

A part of me feel as if we have already lost the war, even though i have kept fighting.  Recently I exchanged emails about this with a nationally noted figure on education who informed me that s/he intended to go down fighting.  

What I do with my time and my work matters to me.  I wonder if perhaps I can make a bigger difference by not working on education directly, which seems almost futile, but by doing other things.

Wow. As Teacherken pointed out, his district wants to hang on to him as he is talented in teaching AP courses. Reading his description about the the workload and outside pressures on teachers, I hope we aren’t pushing our talent out of the profession. Are you hearing similar comments by teachers?

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Technology in the Classroom and Other Education News

Filmmaker George Lucas wrote a poignant essay for the Huffington Post about how a 21st Century education should include technology. I especially agreed with this point:

Unfortunately, much of our system of education is locked in a time capsule that dates back to the Industrial Revolution, when learning became an exercise in pumping as much information into kids as possible. At the end of this education assembly line comes a diploma — if the student can spit back the facts correctly. But in an era where technology can deliver most of the world’s information on demand and knowledge is changing so rapidly, the model doesn’t work. Why spend $150 on textbooks that students use for only 15 weeks with information that soon becomes obsolete?

What we need today and in the future are citizens who can wield the tools of technology to solve complex problems. Which means we need students who can:

-find information
-rigorously analyze the quality and accuracy of information
-creatively and effectively use information to accomplish a goal

Lucas also listed actual school districts successfully incorporating technology, like laptop computers, into their curriculum. Of course, the issue for many school districts is…money.

I am curious to hear from all of you as to whether your child’s school is relying less on textbooks and more on technology? It seems that if money were not an issue that technology would be a better investment than traditional textbooks. What do you all think?

In other education news: Bill Gates wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post about the importance of bringing teacher performance up to par and rewarding the best teachers. As Daily Kos’s teacherken pointed out, this is not a new concept and there is peer-reviewed data debunking much of Gates’s proposal.

This is what I think: I wish that Bill Gates took a year off his life as a philanthropist and actually taught at an inner city public school with hundreds of students with just as many needs and papers to grade. Then I would like to read his op-eds and see where he would invest his money. I was especially troubled by his non-chalance at increasing class sizes — at a time when budget cuts are already doing that! Where has he been?

Any other edutorials grab your attention? Feel free to discuss this and other education matters.

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