The Silver Lining of the Education Crisis

As I was catching up on news from family and friends on Facebook, I came across this item from the Huffington Post,  Changing Education in an Ever-Changing World )

The author may have gotten a little carried away with other thoughts, but the bottom line of the item is that educators have a golden opportunity to teach students at all levels the skills they need to critically evaluate what they read on the Internet–using the very media that students prefer. I’m not sure what the statistics are, but I would say that there are 100 pieces of garbage on the web for every 1 piece of solid information. What the author failed to address is the practical use of all the gadgets that kids use to not only “surf the net” and share photos and movie clips, but also as a means to discuss with teachers and classmates what might make the article (or clip or photo or blog) “good” or “garbage.” This can be done in any school subject, whether the topic is a review of a particular book, an online posts of “how-to’s” for arithmetic calculations, an “academic discussion” on the start of the US Civil War, a first aid blog on how to treat a paper cut, or a YouTube clip of a lake’s ecology. Thus, critical thinking can be taught for any subject and for any level of education, using the very instruments that students use for communication already.

Of course, I have always been a proponent of using the current tendencies and behaviors within a class and use them to learning advantage. Interestingly, teaching critical thinking skills by using the latest technologies can be a great classroom and learning management tool, as well.

Your thoughts?


Out of Poverty?

In yesterday’s post, I talked a bit about the relationship between poverty and dropout.  Today, I’m posting a link to an interesting article about opportunities available to even the poorest inner-city student of color.  Read this article carefully.  It comes from a regular blogger for Forbes.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Every time I read something, I try very hard to read with an open mind.  As I went through this article, I vacillated between identifying with some of his remarks and feeling frustrated over feelings that the writer does not know what he doesn’t know.  Even if he has an awareness of the kids who live a few miles from him, and even if he has listed a few ways inner city kids can access some opportunities to help them rise out of poverty, I think there is a lot of information which he is missing.  Part of what he is missing is the lived experience of poverty.  I don’t believe he has spent much time actually talking to these kids and learning about what life in poverty really means.  I readily admit that I am also ignorant of the level of poverty many inner city kids experience, although I know what it is like to live from parent paycheck to paycheck, and having to get a job at an early age to help fund my own basic needs.  Still, I am aware that I do not know what life actually is like for these kids, as there was always enough food in the home, and always enough money to provide me with warm outerwear in the winter.

Yet, here is a writer who has experienced nothing but “middle class” life writing about how–with enough intelligence, desire, and access to information–any inner city student can move up to the middle class.  If he were a photographer, I might think he posed the subjects of his composition.  I mean, his photo might make it into his photo album, but would never make it into an art gallery because it is so commonplace.

Or maybe I just look at life through a different lens…

Here’s a different perspective…from an individual who actually grew up in the depths of poverty:


Mixing It Up: How to Seat Students

Want your students to Mix It Up?  Here is a great suggestion from Teaching Tolerance about a lunch-time activity.  But I think this is an excellent strategy for getting students to know each other in any classroom.  So often, no matter how hard a teacher tries to get all students to interact, kids manage to keep “cliques” together, or ignore the “outsiders.”  Maybe deliberately breaking up groups of friends and spreading them out among other groups can help forge new friendships.  Oh, the possibilities for after the winter holiday break–sharing their activities in smaller groups instead of in front of the whole class, putting together of list of ideas for the teacher to use as discussion topics, reviewing class rules, debating current events…and the list goes on.

How to Seat Students | Teaching Tolerance

Please share your thoughts.