A Theory of Dreaming

Bob Shepherd | Praxis

The American philosopher Eric Switzgebel has made a name for himself in recent years by challenging a lot of what people think they know, and, in particular, by challenging what people think they alone know—things about their own conscious mental experience. For example, he has challenged the notion that mental images are picture-like, which a lot of people believe. People confidently state that they “had an image in their heads” of this or that and discuss the contents of it (oh, I was looking at an image in my head of Grandma’s house as it appeared back when I was a kid in ’85), but when you press them on this, their image report turns out to be extremely unreliable in a way that pictures–real pictures–aren’t. If I ask someone to visualize a candle, he or she will report having done this. He or she might say something like, “I…

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ASD Holes

Gary Rubinstein's Blog

I think the secret to happiness is to unfollow Twitter accounts that make you angry. About a year ago I realized this and I unfollowed most of the ‘reformers’ that I followed. This also meant that I would have less fodder to blog about and my blogging slowed down a lot because of it.

But I didn’t unfollow everyone that might say something that is going to set me off and one of the accounts I continued to follow was Chalkbeat Tennessee. I’ve been keeping track of the fall and fall of the train wreck known as the Tennessee Achievement School District (The ASD) for over ten years already and Chalkbeat Tennessee often writes about them so I haven’t been able to cut ties with that ongoing project, unfortunately.

As a refresher, the Tennessee ASD started with TFAer Kevin Huffman, funded by TFA lover Arne Duncan’s Race To The Top…

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Texas Historian: Yes, Teach Texas History: All of It!

Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently signed a law (House Bill 2497) creating „The Texas 1836 Project,” intended to teach the true history of Texas and demonstrate its core values and patriotism. Historians across the country worried that yet another state was trying to rewrite history and to prevent students from debating controversial issues, especially around […]

Texas Historian: Yes, Teach Texas History: All of It!
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Mayoral Candidate Eric Adams is Prepared to Thin-Spread NYC’s “Great Teachers”

deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog

Eric Adams is running for mayor of New York City.

He wants to assign hundreds of students to a single teacher because technology could allow it, and it costs less.

Of course, in Adams’ mind, the ridiculous student-teacher ratio is fine because *great teachers* with technology (aka, kids on laptops) produces “skillful” teaching. Consider Adams’ words in this February 2021 candidate interview with Citizens Budget Commission president, Andrew Rein, when Rein asks Adams about how much a “full year school year” would cost.

Apparently, Adams’ plan is the well-worn ed-reform idea of cost-cutting excellence:

Think about this for a moment, let’s go with the full year school year because that’s important to me. When you look at the heart of the dysfunctionality of our city, it’s the Department of Education. We keep producing, broken children that turn into broken adults and live in a broken system. 80% of the men…

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Why Has Teacher-Directed Instruction Largely Remained Stable over the Past Century? (Part 4)

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

This series of post examined the remarkable stability over time of certain teaching practices that I have labeled, teacher-directed instruction. What I offer is an explanation, not a verifiable fact, about this dominant pattern of classroom teaching in public schools over the past century. I ended the previous post with a question:

Do these schools and teaching practices, shaped as they are politically, culturally, and educationally, meet the needs of the larger society which initially established and have continually supported tax-supported public schools?

No surprise that my answer is yes. After all, since the beginning of tax-supported public schools in the early decades of the 19th century, taxpayers and voters (once only white males but in 2021 inclusive of anyone meeting the age requirement), public schools, criticized as they have been decade after decade, nonetheless remain a prized community institution in rural, suburban, and urban America. In this post, I…

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Why Has Teacher-Directed Instruction Remained Largely Stable over the Past Century? (Part 3)

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

The answers I provide for why classroom practices have remained largely stable over decades, even when counting modest changes teachers have made in routine activities, are hardly exhaustive. Nonetheless, these answers cover the major ones offered in the literature on school reform.

*What keeps teacher-directed instruction largely stable are teaching traditions dating back centuries that are reinforced by those who enter and stay in teaching, supported by popular social beliefs, and fortified by the age-graded school structure.

Moreover since the nature of teaching is conservative—i.e., transmitting knowledge, skills, and values to the young—the occupation has attracted people who believed that such practices were not only socially responsible but also worked for them when they were students.

Historical traditions of teacher-directed instruction to transfer knowledge, skills, and values from one generation to another stretch back millennia. Former students who decide to become teachers pick up instructional habits they…

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How Has Teacher-Directed Instruction Changed over the Past Century? (Part 2)

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Yes, even traditional teaching in public schools has changed. Incremental alterations in teacher-directed lessons have occurred over the past century. In the technologies used during lessons, managing student behaviors in large to small groups, crafting in-class assessments, and many other instances of common teaching practice, teachers have adapted and adopted innovations that have altered their teaching.

These incremental changes, however, are not the fundamental shifts in teaching that Progressive, constuctivist, and student-centered learning boosters have sought over the past century. Except in scattered classrooms and schools across the country, some teachers and principals have created fundamentally different classroom practices, say, from teacher-directed to student-driven (see here, here, and here), but most classrooms in the U.S.–or anywhere else in the world, for that matter–continue to have teacher-directed lessons.

Why is that?

Some researchers look at the constancy of teacher beliefs over time to answer the question. Those researchers…

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An Enduring Puzzle about Teaching in the U.S. (Part 1)

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Historians of education often pose puzzling questions about the past. Sure, some historians answer narrow but important questions such as: How and why did Head Start become a national early childhood program in the mid-1960s? Or why did platoon schools spread across the U.S. before World War I?

Answering these questions are not the journalistic five Ws: Who, What, Where, When, and Why. No, such questions as: why the standards, testing, and accountability movement to reform schools surged in the 1980s?–require revealing the context of the locale and the times and by documenting both changes that occurred and continuity of ongoing patterns of schooling.

In my career as a historian of education, I have delved into, skittered around, and tap-danced my way through various answers to questions about policymakers trying again and again to alter what teachers do in their lessons, how teachers changed their teaching over time, the continuity…

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The Downside of Data-Driven Education — Diane Ravitch’s blog

Jerry Z. Muller wrote a warning about how data-driven organizations can distort their own goals and purposes. In education, we have known about the dangers of incentives for test scores for a long time. In 1976, sociologist Donald Campbell that “the more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it […]

The Downside of Data-Driven Education — Diane Ravitch’s blog
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William Gumbert: Dallas ISD Public Schools Significantly Outperform Dallas Charter Schools — Diane Ravitch’s blog

William Gumbert has written a series of posts demonstrating that students who attend public schools in Texas consistently get better results than those in charter schools. In this post, he shows that the regular public schools in Dallas outperform the privately-managed charter schools. Using state records, he finds that Dallas County schools have higher academic […]

William Gumbert: Dallas ISD Public Schools Significantly Outperform Dallas Charter Schools — Diane Ravitch’s blog
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