Posts categorized “policy”.

Diane Ravitch

Heard Diane Ravitch speak at Vanderbilt yesterday. As usual, I was impressed with her work and found myself agreeing with most everything she discussed. The format was less inspiring, however—mostly a “preaching to the choir” series of 15-second conclusions followed by clapping and cheering from the audience. In a discussion with some of my classmates afterward, I found myself defending her work with reference to the one or two books I’ve read, because the talk never went into details and evidence. Much of what is inspiring to me about Diane Ravitch is that she has changed her views in the face of data, and certainly it is difficult to give a popular talk purely on the presentation of data. Considering the audience’s reaction, however, it would seem she catered her talk perfectly. My only objection to the content was a flippant comment about the teaching of creationism in religious schools, which is certainly an issue, but not an across-the-board policy, as she made it sound.

Multiple Choice Tests and the Right/Wrong problem

The Washington Post the other day posted an insightful (if brief) discussion of multiple choice tests by Terry Heick. In it, the curriculum director at TeachThought does a nice job of identifying some of the aspects of learning that are ignored or implicitly devalued by multiple choice tests. Among these are the value of uncertainty, the importance of procedure and process, and the ultimately “fluid nature of information”. Interestingly, Heick manages to stay clear of the rhetoric that often plagues such observations—that teachers alone understand the value of true learning, and that administrators, politicians, and often students themselves relish the simpler, dichotomous approach—instead delivering a gentle, more holistic (if perhaps inertly diplomatic) overview.

Educators as a Professional Class

Here‘s a neat opinion piece from The NYTimes about a new way to recruit K-12 teachers. While the “how” is a bit vague, I couldn’t agree more with his general attitude. I especially like that he touches on how important pedagogical content knowledge is, some of which can be studied, but much of which really needs to be absorbed first-hand.