Posts

Showing posts from September, 2019

Do We Need Leaders?

Image
Paul Garrett Professor of Political Science at Whitman College, Shampa Biswas, recently wrote a thought-provoking commentary at the Chronicle of Higher Education. Since basic education prepares the future members of society, adding "leadership" to a curriculum or program only seems natural. Yet, in "Stop Trying to Cultivate Student Leaders", Biswas makes the case that student leadership training "impedes student learning and can do harm in the world". With achievement gaps favoring the privileged, it is only expected that the same children deemed qualified for advanced academic programs will be afforded opportunities for leadership training. After all, this is how elitism really works. It is, without doubt, geared toward inequity. But where does Biswas get the notion that it can "impede learning and do harm in the world"? This is important, to see that elitism is also harmful to society.


The school is a learning community and leadership is not s…

"For Silly Things Like ADD..."

Image
At a debate among candidates for school board in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), one candidate, Vinson Xavier Palathingal, while commenting on Fairfax having more students under special education than its neighboring Montgomery county, referred to ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) as a "silly thing". When called on this insensitive and offensive remark in a post on Facebook, Vinson responds, "How many lies are you saying about me? Do you understand that I was referring to ADD in my family? Omg.. may god forgive you for spreading such blatant lies for politics. You all are better than seasoned politicians and no wonder why FCPS is going down. Those who are interested in truth, please watch the video before you come to conclusions." So I did watch the video just to hear what was actually said. But one does not really need to watch the video for it is already clear in Vinson's response. A disability whether it pertains to a child within or outside one's o…

Prudence Is A Virtue

Image
As human beings, we have been granted the gift of being able to control oneself by the use of reason. It is called prudence. With this virtue, we can see ahead and anticipate the challenges. Without it, we could either be reckless or cowardly. Doing the right thing and making things happen requires both will and reason. Having the desire, however, is not enough if the dream is impossible or if the plan of action does not address the real problem. On the other hand, having the reason alone requires courage especially when one is going against the tide. We expect our leaders to be able to address our needs, but society likewise cannot thrive with leaders who will not stop promising the impossible.




There is a difference between something that is possible but difficult because it requires political will, and something that is simply impossible no matter how much will there is. Achieving equity in schools is an excellent example of a difficult task but possible if there is a will. Preventi…

Equity: One Issue Fairfax County Public Schools Could Focus On

Image
Public education is first and foremost, for the common good. Schools matter to all of us. But achieving the common good requires equity. It is only in a diverse and inclusive community can we truly achieve equity. Thus, in this coming election of members for the board of Fairfax County Public Schools, one issue could easily sum up a campaign for any candidate: Advancing equity in our schools. I think this can cover all the challenges the county currently faces. We must provide excellent opportunities for learning to all children regardless of family income, parent educational attainment, race, and gender. Anything less than equal opportunities is unacceptable. Hindrances to equity unfortunately abound for it is only expected that each and everyone of us to have the knee-jerk reaction of "What about us?" Thus, in some ironic fashion, pushing for equity can divide us.

The politics of division is especially useful in a democratic society where the majority wins and lands in con…

Lessons From Our Children

Image
The previous post on this blog, "Why Labeling Students as Gifted Is Wrong", received this comment from former Mason Crest Elementary School principal Brian Butler: "Maybe we will start to listen because it’s shared by a student, a young girl who was labeled “gifted!" What the student was saying, however, was exactly what evidence-based research had been informing us over the years. Nonetheless, there are indeed lessons to be learned from our children. My daughter has taught me more than once. She could really be a source of wisdom and this week, a story she wrote reminded me of one important thing we all need to teach our children. Here is her story which I think pretty much sends the same message as Linda Creed's lyrics in the song, "The Greatest Love of All".


One Eye Curse
By: Amelia M. de Dios

Long ago in New York City there was a wealthy family (The Jeffersons). They had everything but they were mean to anyone that was not as wealthy as they were. …

"Why Labeling Students as Gifted Is Wrong"

This is a video worth watching....


Active Versus Passive Learning

Image
In "The Dangers of Fluent Lectures', I think Colleen Flaherty extracted the correct message from a study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on the difference between how much students have learned and how much students think they have learned: "A study says smooth-talking professors can lull students into thinking they've learned more than they actually have -- potentially at the expense of active learning." Instead of focusing on the difference between strictly didactic lectures (passive learning) and those that allow students to work in groups, hold discussions and solve problems on their own (active learning), Flaherty sees that the difference really lies in how much students think they really have learned. Students can first be given the opportunity to solve problems on their own before being provided the answer or students can be spoon-fed. In the former case, students receive a more honest assessment of what they know…

Inequity in Our Schools

Image
Surely, it is not a straight line but there is definitely a correlation. Schools with children who qualify for free or reduced-fee lunch have teachers with fewer years of experience. This is the situation in Prince William County elementary schools in Virginia according to InsideNova:




What Lessons Should We Really Learn From Successful School Systems?

Image
For improvement, we often look around us and copy what seems to work better. This happens as well in basic education. The challenge in education, however, is that schooling is not one specific task. It cannot be distilled in one activity or even one policy. Education is a system composed of many parts that work together and affect each other. Lifting one specific aspect is not necessarily the same as copying the entire system. And if done carelessly, we may even be attributing success to the wrong aspect. Take, for instance, the curriculum. We may hastily ascribe the apparent success of schools in Finland to what they teach and how they teach. What if the success of these schools really hinge on how well prepared their teachers are? In this case, what they teach and how they teach really do not matter. What really makes them successful is that the teachers are better trained. Simply copying Finland's curriculum therefore is not a recipe for uplifting schools without considering th…