Saturday, September 12, 2015

Think It Up: A Teacher's View

"Think It Up," a one-hour special about education, teachers, students, projects, and donations has mixed reactions from this reviewer.

The least effective, and, frankly, the one segment that seemed totally useless in promoting the program was the tuneless song performed by Justin Bieber. Say what?

However, most of the program was really effective: famous people with a parent who was a teacher, or those who could speak first-hand about the efficacy of a teacher. But my favorite part was interviewer on the street asking how schools could do things better. Reinvent high school was the consensus. 

One teacher was recognized and celebrated doing just that-- using new and innovative techniques to teach students to think critically, a point suggested by several students interviewed on the street. What I recognized in this
segment was methods employed in the Common Core curriculum. What she is doing is being done by teachers all over the country, or those who are required to teach Common Core.

About Common Core: I am of mixed opinion. Common Core is exhausting to teach. It is extremely planned out, very detailed, with so many nooks and crannies. Every nook comes with instructions for teaching it. Nothing is left out; nothing is left to guesswork. And, therein lies the rub: there's no room for teacher individuality. None. No imagination, no spontaneity. Just follow the plan. Everyone reads the same novel. There's no sense of history, no continuity. 

So let's weigh the two. One emphasizes critical thinking; the other a continuum of a country's literature. Does it matter that we lose this history of a literature,  but then, that's the point. Critical thinking follows a person throughout life. However, critical thinking was easily incorporated into the historical approach. I know because I did that. Does it matter that students lose Ben Franklin's almanac, or Hemingway's Nick Adams stories, or Dickinson's sublime poetry? Do you see what I'm doing? Back and forth, back and forth, with neither earning a winning slot in my mind. Both ways  have advantages. 

That's where "Think It Up" comes in. In a script, the idea of students and teachers working together looks great. Getting it done is another. Will students participate? Years ago I asked my high school students to design what they thought would be the perfect school. They worked in groups and produced a wide variety of schools, from excellent, insightful schools to poorly planned ones. What made the difference? Commitment, perseverance, intellectual depth. Some students simply do not have the edge to accept challenges. 

Will "Think It Up" work? Frankly, I don't know, but I certainly hope so.

Here's a link to "Think It Up:

and the positive side of Common Core 
and the negative side is

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A favorite souvenir

A favorite souvenir
These are my two girls from Ireland!

Judy's shared items

Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)

  • *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
  • The Odd Women by George Gissing
  • The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
  • How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
  • The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
  • In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
  • *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
  • The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
  • Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
  • Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
  • Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
  • The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
  • Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
  • *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
  • Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
  • *Ruined by Paula Morris
  • Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
  • Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
  • Silence by Shusaku Endo
  • *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  • Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
  • *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
  • Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
  • *The Giver by Lois Lowery
  • *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

School Library Journal - NeverEndingSearch


A semester course in one book about the Soviet Union. Click on image for my review.