I just found an education blogger to add to my personal learning network. Yong Zhao was the opening keynote speaker for the Wisconsin School Leadership Academy this week, a conference that I will be closing tomorrow. I checked out the conference site just before boarding the plane in Burlington, VT and then linked over to his site and blog, saving a number of his most recent entries to Instapaper for read during the flight.
The bad news is that I’m completely changing my closing address. I’d be pretty much delivering the same message with a different accent and without his academic authority. The good news is finding a new teacher.
Even though we have spoken at the same conference on several occasions, I’ve only seen him present once. He was clear in his presentation, compelling, and very good at something that only a few keynoters do well, turning his message into a story — complete with surprise ending. But his blog hammers through to some of the fundamental reasons why the Obama Administration’s approach to education reform is wrong and why our current Secretary of Education should be replaced.
One of the pieces that caught my eye was A Pretense of Science and Objectivity: Data and Race to the Top, where he does not criticize data, but our worship of it’s collection and use as what’s going to save education in America.
I’ve written about data-god on several occasions and agree with Yong that good data can be a good thing. But the government’s monotheistic approach devalues the rich and telling data that is exchanged during typical learning conversations that happen in the classroom everyday and effectively hobbles the teacher’s role in working these data exchanges with wisdom, passion, creativity, and confidence. This is the greatest loss and most costly to our children — the loss of our confidence.
I’ll leave the rest to you, and look forward to reading more from Yong Zhao.
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