Some bloggers find it easy to take one aspect of something that another blogger says and then launch into a tirade about it, and even insult the writer or speaker based on that one idea. I can’t do that. However, sometimes someone says something that causes such an itch along my spine, that I just have to backup against a tree and scratch.
The other day, I got back on my soapbox, and railed against our mantra, “Integrate Technology” — preferring instead, to integrate contemporary literacy. Two writers came on with comments agreeing with what I had said, and I agree with both of them wholeheartedly. One, Kelly Dumont, said that information skills seems to be resonating better with teachers than cool technologies. The other, Andrew Pass, came on talking about literacy and the standards, and that if we connect contemporary literacy skills with standards based education, then we will connect with teachers.
I agree with this, wholeheartedly and enthusiastically as well. If we do not teach the standards through contemporary literacies and within the context of today’s information environment, then the standards become merely academic and quite nearly useless, in my opinion.
What I want to take this opportunity to do is to say that it isn’t the standards that I want to resonate with. Certainly we need standards. Certainly we need basics. But when we go “back to the basics,” aren’t we going backward. If we limit our teaching, our curriculum to the standards, aren’t we just producing standard students, and is that what we really want or need today?
I would be much happier if we called them the “foundations.” Because that’s what they are. If we over emphasize the standards, which I believe we have been over the past few years, and equate education with the standards, then we’re saying that its the entire house. Standards, I believe, are the foundation, upon which we build a house, and the building of that house takes a lifetime.
I applaud Andrew for his focus on the standards, and I plan to continue conversations with him along these lines. However, it isn’t the part of the teacher who teaches to the standards that I want to resonate with, because that educator will continue to teach that there are nine planets, because that’s what the answer will be on the standards test.
I want to resonate with that part of the teacher that teaches that there are eight planets. No! I want to resonate with the part of the teacher who wants to explore with the class why astronomers decided that Pluto should no longer be considered a planet. No! I want to resonate with the part of the teacher who asks the class, “How would you classify a planet?” and then ask the class to describe their classification scheme in their writing and then post it as a comment on the blog of some astronomer.
Am I wrong?
Experience LA, “The Standard Room Wall Decor.” ExperienceLA’s Photostream. 18 Feb 2006. 30 Aug 2006 <http://flickr.com/photos/experiencela/101265264/>.