Rethinking Learning
conversations about the future of teaching and learning
Barbara Bray
be creative, innovate, take risks, unlearn to learn
Oakland, CA

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Saving our Kids
By Barbara Bray    February 21, 2008 -- 07:53 AM

Have you had enough? I listen and cry. What is happening in our urban schools? The dropout rate is higher than ever and these aren’t stupid kids. They are smart - street smart but we dump them because they cannot pass the tests. I bet I couldn’t have passed the math test when I was in high school. But that’s not the problem. Poor kids are going to be out - trying to get work - without a degree. What can they do? How can we help them?

Will Olkin wrote They Schools in the New York Times today. He quoted a teacher concerned about the status quo and not doing anything that will make a difference:

“We are not teaching them about their lives or their communities because it is not in the curriculum. Instruction is driven by standardized testing. We are teaching testing, not knowledge. No one hears these kids, nor do we try. There is absolutely no respect for these students. These middle schools are like prisons where the spirits of our children are slowly crushed, and I have been an unwilling participant in the destruction of young lives. Simply being witness and not speaking out daily makes me feel the soulful guilt of a thief,” concluded the veteran teacher.

I’ve worked in urban middle schools and consulted in urban high schools and see this. There is a feeling of hopelessness. How would you feel if you had to pass through metal detectors and memorize facts that don’t mean anything to you? There is no relevance to their lives. This article goes on to say that we prepare these kids for a world that cannot support them. There are no menial jobs because they are told they will not make it. Where do they go?

If you can handle the video for Dead Prez’ “They Schools,”(very explicit with vulgar language), please watch.

Another video is the video for Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall, II.”

I challenge you to make a difference! Use technology like Web 2.0 tools and eCoach to create interactive engaging projects. Showcase successes anyway you can. Celebrate our kids! It is not only our poor kids that are losing out. It is our society. You cannot throw away any child. They are all worth it. Take a risk and think out of the box of NCLB and tests. We have more children left behind now then ever before. It is time to fight for them.

There is a reason why you went into education. Now is the time.

Categories: "Unlearn" "Teenagers" "Nclb" "Community" "Children" "Change" "Authentic Learning"

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By diana Kenney      February 21, 2008 -- 08:35 AM
I'm almost in tears. I too see this in our schools. Well intentioned teachers that are disconnected to how our children learn in the "information age."
NCLB has made a disaster of public education.

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By jsteph      February 21, 2008 -- 09:21 AM
The education President, like out education Governor here in California, is so out of touch with education and public schools. At the highest level, education is run by politicians, not educators. The focus is on money ( cutting ) and data ( meaningless ).

We have allowed this state's and nation's educational system to fester and sink into a segregated morass of bureaucracy and fiscal gerrymandering. We have squandered the future of the next generation by doing nothing to correct the educational problems the collective we have created. California, the 6th largest economy in the world, has gone from being to being # 1 in education to being # 46 in the United States. At the same time the United States has gone from being # 1 in education to being # 24 of the 30 top industrialized nations. Educationally we are in the bottom half of the bottom half and we are creating isolated islands of educational elitists in wealthy communities.

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