If you ask professional educators in a public forum whether they view parents as assets or liabilities, the answers will vary only in decibel level: ‘Assets,’ ‘Our greatest asset,’ ‘invaluable partners,’ and so forth. But what if you caught them off guard, late at night after a few drinks, say?
Or, better yet, what if you simply examined how most schools treat parents?
Students are not products. We have a long way to go across the industry in getting everyone on board with protecting students’ [data privacy].
Cameron Evans, Microsoft’s chief technology officer for U.S. education
Data gives power to teachers. If we know my child is confusing rates and ratios, a teacher can correct that one misunderstanding that is preventing progress. If we know in great detail where misconceptions are occurring, as they occur, teaching can include many such tiny just-in-time interventions for each unique student that allows that child to learn more quickly and deeply.
What if one day teachers walked into their classrooms and all their students listened to their every word, followed every direction, handed in every assignment and passed every test? Would this be the perfect scenario for our schools?
Why are kids happy to go to off to school in the first place? It’s not so they can learn the multiplication tables or learn “i before e except after c.” It is to be with other kids. Humans are wired to put a priority on learning how to collaborate, how to turn difference into mutual learning, how to augment our brains through creative, challenging interaction with other brains.
We all learn by our mistakes, and should encourage our students to make mistakes in order to learn. But instead we have a system that preserves, and hence punishes, students for their mistakes. Then we wonder why they are grade-obsessed.
We don’t hear the word “trust” very often in policy circles. The coin of the realm consists of colder, metallic words like “data,” “sub-population,” and “accountability.” I have heard the bizarre term “psychometrician” more often than I have heard the word “trust.” Yet I can’t think of a more foundational concept to the policy pivot points on everything from testing to teacher prep.
To give over control of your classroom to your students, to trust them to learn and use the tools and the environment you’ve created — it’s terrifying. And the first time I did it I had no idea what I would get back. I was blown away by what students produced.
The appeal of boot camps is that they sound tough. You challenge yourself and come out with well-earned learning. But the paradox of the boot camp style of learning is that it makes learning too easy. When we’re engaged in long periods of practicing one thing, we get really good at it when it’s fresh in our minds, and we have a feeling of fluency. We’re persuaded we’ve really mastered something, which we haven’t in any effective way.
Nothing different will happen with your students until something different happens for your first. Hopefully the “why” and “how” will become the common question starter for our students, as opposed to “may I”, no matter the language.