Steve Wheeler, whose blog I always read, has kindly shared his recent conference presentation via slideshare.
This is the first presentation using Prezi I have ever completed; although I have started a few in the past 12 months before the pressure of being prepared for whatever conference led me to not finish (and use my blog or PowerPoint).
Prezi has turned out to be a fun tool - once you ‘get’ the concept - and I highly recommend it.
Critical comments – on form, style and content - (on this draft) are welcome. Be gentle though, this is my first time and I know my next prezi will be much sleeker. Prezi will not embed to WordPress.com blogs and the work around is to use Vodpod which looks a little dodgy. You might want to see it at the direct link hosted at Prezi.
Anyways, I suggest you click autoplay if you try the below version but it is a bit lame without the narration or music:
However, the process of drafting the presentation, for our Year 11 conference, has led to much reflection about the pedagogy possible in institutions and the need for reformation of our systems; especially assessment and reporting which drives education in our country.
You can read those reflections here.
“Diane Ravitch is the rarest of scholars—one who reports her findings and conclusions, even when they go against conventional wisdom and even when they counter her earlier, publicly espoused positions.” Howard Gardner
The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education is Diane Ravitch‘s new tome. It is clear, now that I have read it, why reviewers are saying”…this is a very important book”.
‘The Death and Life…” is a well-written, very readable and well-researched. The multiple perspectives Ravitch brings to the debate about school reform makes the book particularly valuable. Diane Ravitch is an academic and education historian with long experience but is best-known for her advocacy of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) policies as his Assistant Secretary of Education. Her book explores educational reform that she originally supported but now feels was terribly misguided.
Ravitch knows schools need to be improved.
A wave of reforms, in the US, over the last century has not been satisfactory and she says, “the policies we are following today are unlikely to improve our schools…(and are) likely to make the schools less effective”. Ravitch’s book looks at the most recent waves of reforms that she supported but now knows were errors of judgement. Particularly important is her analysis of how data in New York City was misinterpreted in District 2.
This model was adopted by other states and educational precincts based on the flawed belief that the new approach was working miracles (always a good reason for skepticism). You can still read about the ‘success’ of the approach taken by Anthony Alvarado, here and also an interview discussing that ‘progress’. His approach caused much bitterness. In San Diego (chapter 4) 1998-2005, where the Alvarado model was adopted even more forcefully, with a ’90% turnover rate of principalships’ (p.61) and dismissal of ‘fifteen administrators’ during Alan Bersin’s tenure. There appears to have been no discernible improvement, in fact, there’s evidence to suggest a decline in educational oucomes. With such ‘angry and disaffected…troops’, Ravitch is not surprised. “Trust not cercion is a neccessary precondition for school reform” being her sage point. (p. 66)
Ravitch, in her chapter, ‘The Trouble with Accountability”, says that, ‘tests are necessary and helpful” but when “we define what matters in education only by what is measured, we are in serious trouble”. (p.166)
Ravitch believes that the ‘fundamentals of are to be found in the classroom, the home, the community and the culture, but reformers in our time look for shortcuts and quick answers”. (p.225)
Australian educators, systems leaders and politicians who do not read Ravitch’s book are being irresponsible, considering the implications of some of the current Federal government’s education policy for our children and communities. I implore all interested in education to read this important research and analysis.
Please consider reading this important analysis of educational reform and the impact on children and communities.
UPDATE: Diane Ravitch is on twitter.
Sir Ken Robinson’s books and talks, quite simply, inspire!
His sense of humour and rejection of neo-factory models of education are a beacon of light for those who wish to reform the educational hand children are dealt. His passion for moving towards a ‘personalised curriculum’ is the most important educational idea of our, or any other, time.
These brief and quotable quotes, Why Teaching is Not Like Making Motorcars, give the uninitiated an idea where Sir Ken is coming from and I am sure, if you have not watched his 2006 TED video, you will soon be a convert to his ideas. You may have seen Sir Ken on the 7.30 Report last year.
His latest TED Talk, ‘Bring on the Learning Revolution’ is, as usual, amusing. I particularly enjoyed Sir Ken’s anecdote about ‘the single function device’ and his quote from Lincoln:
“The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”
‘Disenthrall’. I like that. Listen for his ideas on disenthralling ourselves from ‘linearity’.
Here’s the talk:
BTW I broke my wristwatch playing handball in Year 8 and haven’t had once since…
Things You Learn is a new online magazine that draws together stories exploring how learning influences our lives, how we strive for change and the outcomes it can bring about.
I really like this idea/rationale.
Metacognitive skills, like reflection, are such an important part of learning. Hearing stories on others’ reflections is important for students but too often adults do not have the time, or opportunity, to publicly share their many learning journeys.
Hope you choose to set up an RSS feed from Things You Learn. I am certainly looking forward to the next issue.
At great risk of appearing unneccesarily sycophantic, I need to say that Mark Pesce‘s post, Whatever Happened to the Book, is clever, unusually clever, even for Mark. Everything that currently intellectually interests (read obsesses me) about literature and our hyperconnected age is explored.
Please read it closely and tell your friends, especially if they are teachers still learning.
Here’s a taste, I particularly enjoyed the third section:So what of Aristotle? What does this mean for the narrative? It is easy to conceive of a world where non-fiction texts simply dissolve into the universal sea of texts. But what about stories? From time out of mind we have listened to stories told by the campfire. The Iliad, The Mahabharata, and Beowolf held listeners spellbound as the storyteller wove the tale. For hours at a time we maintained our attention and focus as the stories that told us who we are and our place in the world traveled down the generations. Will we lose all of this? Can narratives stand up against the centrifugal forces of hypertext? Authors and publishers both seem assured that whatever happens to non-fiction texts, the literary text will remain pure and untouched, even as it becomes a wholly electronic form. The lure of the literary text is that it takes you on a singular journey, from beginning to end, within the universe of the author’s mind. There are no distractions, no interruptions, unless the author has expressly put them there in order to add tension to the plot. A well-written literary text – and even a poorly-written but well-plotted ‘page-turner’ – has the capacity to hold the reader tight within the momentum of linearity. Something is a ‘page-turner’ precisely because its forward momentum effectively blocks the centrifugal force. We occasionally stay up all night reading a book that we ‘couldn’t put down’, precisely because of this momentum. It is easy to imagine that every literary text which doesn’t meet this higher standard of seduction will simply fail as an electronic book, unable to counter the overwhelming lure of the medium.
Below are a few unformulated reflections. I intend to write a ‘proper’ reflective piece about ‘the book’ and possible futures.
Perhaps, because this topic is obsessing me at the moment – colleagues and friends would have noted my reactionary but concerted efforts recently to read more books/novels/fiction - I feel, after reading this twice, I want to know what ‘will’ happen to the concept of the book even more.
Will the ‘literary text…remain pure and untouched, even as it becomes a wholly electronic form’ – one part of me desperately hopes this is the case, like painting or sculpture.
We all love hypertext and many of our ereaders take little or no advantage of the medium. It is true what Mark says about the ‘economic purposes of publishers’ meaning that they will want to publish ‘dead texts’ in the ‘light’ of their ereader platforms. However, one cannot agree with ‘it does not make the electronic book an intrinsically alluring object’. The Kindle, in spite of its limitations is ‘alluring’ to many readers for a host of reasons that Mark dismisses. Primarily the ubiquity, one can download quickly a new release and carry many texts around. I know, from chats with luddite colleagues that, bound in leather, it appeals to traditional lovers of literature but techie types respond well too. There are issues and our cultural publishing industries need to adapt, or even better, innovate quickly.
Ironically, or maybe sadly, I’d like Mark to answer in a 140 characters, ‘what happened’. There is something not quite right about the framing of the piece, as all this has not quite, ‘happened’, not quite, it is all in the process of becoming.
More later…after I have chatted, perhaps with you, readers of this blog.
The most annoying thing about the book is more to do with the format, as much as I like the eReader. The Kindle does not have page numbers but percentages read. There were many notes in this book and it led one to believe there was much more to read as it was only at about 40%, from memory, when concluded, as the footnotes were so extensive.
The New York Times review hit the proverbial on the head by saying, in conclusion, that Shenk’s:
…efforts have resulted in a deeply interesting and important book. David Shenk may not be a genius yet, but give him time.