"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Critical, Conceptual Thinkers?

As we prepare our strategies to dump the NCLB mess into the Potomac, it is good to see that there are school people who are planning for what's next. A clip here from a very thoughtful piece in the Am. School Board Journal by Memphis superintendent, Gerry House:

. . . We are burning through reliable careers for our young people at warp speed as technology relieves us of the tedium of repetitive work. The robots that vacuum our floors today will be filling our teeth tomorrow. Even jobs at Wal-Mart are endangered. Have you seen the self-check-out lanes? No cashiers required.

To be “competitive” now, U.S. students must develop sophisticated critical thinking and analytical skills to manage the conceptual nature of the work they will do. They will need to be able to recognize patterns, create narrative, and imagine solutions to problems we have yet to discover. They will have to see the big picture and ask the big questions. How many high schools do you know that are nurturing minds like that?

Are we supplying the conditions in our schools to create a new crop of original thinkers? Are we making sure our curricula and instructional programs are not relegated to repetitive practice, gathering and organizing information, remediation, and test prep? Are we requiring all students to use their minds well to construct knowledge, to inquire, to invent, to make meaning and relevance out of their learning? Hardly. . . .

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