A New Core

The Concord Review
December 2, 2016

Dinosaur scholars like Mark Bauerlein argue that the decline in the humanities in our universities is caused by their retreat from their own best works—literature departments no longer celebrate great literature, history departments no longer offer great works of history to students to read, and so on.

However, an exciting new article by Nicholas Lemann in The Review from The Chronicle of Higher Education, while it shares some concerns about the decline of the humanities, proposes an ingenious modern new Core, which would…

“put methods above subject-matter knowledge in the highest place of honor, and they treat the way material is taught as subsidiary to what is taught…”

In this new design, what is taught is methods, not knowledge—of history, literature, languages, philosophy and all that…

Here is a list of the courses Professor Lemann recommends:

Information Acquisition
Cause and Effect
Interpretation
Numeracy
Perspective
The Language of Form
Thinking in Time
Argument

And he says that: “What these courses have in common is a primary commitment to teaching the rigorous (and also properly humble) pursuit of knowledge.”

At last we can understand that the purpose of higher education in the humanities should be the pursuit of knowledge, and not actually to catch up with any of it. We may thus enjoy a new generation of mentally “fleet-footed” ignoramuses who have skipped the greatness of the humanities in the chase for methods and skills of various kinds. This approach is as hollow and harmful as it was in the 1980s, when Harvard College tried to design a knowledge-free, methods-filled Core Curriculum, so it seems that what comes around does indeed come around, but still students are neither learning from or enjoying the greatness of the humanities in college much these days…

——————-

“Teach with Examples”
Will Fitzhugh [Founder]
The Concord Review [1987]
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995]
National Writing Board [1998]
TCR Academic Coaches [2014]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
978-443-0022
http://www.tcr.org; fitzhugh@tcr.org
Varsity Academics®
tcr.org/bookstore
http://www.tcr.org/blog

A New Core was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

A New Core was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

MEDIA BLACKOUT


Will Fitzhugh
The Concord Review
8 February 2014
 
 
In the United States, our media are not allowed to report on or discuss exemplary student academic achievement at the high school level. For example, in the “Athens of America,” The Boston Globe has more than 150 full pages each year on the accomplishments of high school athletes, but only one page a year on academics—a full page with the photographs of valedictorians at the public high schools in the city, giving their name, their school, their country of origin (often 40% foreign-born) and the college they will be going to. 
 
The reasons for this media blackout on good academic work by students at the secondary level are not clear, apart from tradition, but while high school athletes who “sign with” a particular college are celebrated in the local paper, and even on televised national high school games, the names of Intel Science Talent Search winners, of authors published in The Concord Review, and of other accomplished high school scholars may not appear in the paper or on television.
 
Publicity offers encouragement for the sorts of efforts we would like our HS students to make. We naturally publicize high school athletic achievements and this helps to motivate athletes to engage in sports. By contrast, when it comes to good academic work, we don’t mention it, so perhaps we want less of it? 
 
One senior high school history teacher has written that “We actually hide academic excellence from the public eye because that will single out some students and make others ‘feel bad.’”
 
Does revealing excellence by high school athletes make some other athletes or scholar-athletes or high school scholars feel bad? How can we tolerate that? I know there are some Progressive secondary schools which have eliminated academic prizes and honors, to spare the feelings of the students who don’t get them, but I don’t see that they have stopped keeping score in school games, no matter how the losers in those contests may feel.
 
 

SAMPLE MEDIA COVERAGE OF HS ATHLETES

Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Signing Day Central—By Michael Carvell

11:02 am Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

“Welcome to the AJC’s Signing day Day Central. This is the place to be to catch up with all the recruiting information with UGA, Georgia Tech and recruits from the state of Georgia. We will update the news as it happens, and interact on the message board below.

University of Georgia’s TOP TARGETS FOR WEDNESDAY…AND RESULTS

Lorenzo Carter, DE, 6-5, 240, Norcross: UGA reeled in the big fish, landing the state’s No.1 overall prospect for the first time since 2011 (Josh Harvey-Clemons).   Isaiah McKenzie, WR, 5-8, 175, Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) American Heritage: This was one of two big surprises for UGA to kick off signing day. McKenzie got a last-minute offer from UGA and picked the Bulldogs because of his best buddy and high school teammate, 5-star Sony Michel (signed with UGA).   Hunter Atkinson, TE, 6-6, 250, West Hall: The Cincinnati commit got a last-minute call from Mark Richt and flipped to UGA. I’m not going to say we saw it coming, but … Atkinson had grayshirt offers from Alabama, Auburn and UCF.   Tavon Ross, S, 6-1, 200, Bleckley County: The Missouri commit took an official visit to UGA but decided to stick with Missouri. He’s signed.   Andrew Williams, DE, 6-4, 247, ECLA: He signed with Auburn over Clemson and Auburn. He joked with Auburn’s Gus Malzahn when he called with the news, saying “I’m sorry to inform you….. That I will be attending your school,” according to 247sports.com’s Kipp Adams.   Tyre McCants, WR-DB, 5-11, 200, Niceville, Fla.: Turned down late interest from UGA to sign with USF.”

This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, of course, in the coverage of high school athletes that goes on during the year. I hope readers will email me any comparable examples of the celebration of exemplary high school academic work that they can find in the media in their community, or in the nation generally.

 
 
—————————
“Teach by Example”
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review [1987]
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995]
National Writing Board [1998]
TCR Institute [2002]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
978-443-0022; 800-331-5007
Varsity Academics®

MEDIA BLACKOUT was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

MEDIA BLACKOUT was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

MEDIA BLACKOUT was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

Brief sketch of the problem…

In the United States, we pay attention to and celebrate the work of HS athletes.
We carefully ignore the exemplary academic work of diligent HS scholars–the results follow as you might expect—we get what we want.

Will Fitzhugh

———————————
HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES COLLEGE SIGNING NEWS!!—GEORGIA!!
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
11:02 am Wednesday, February 5th, 2014
AJC’s Signing Day Central

By Michael Carvell

Welcome to the AJC’s Signing day Day Central. This is the place to be to catch up with all the recruiting information with UGA, Georgia Tech and recruits from the state of Georgia. We will update the news as it happens, and interact on the message board below.

UGA’S TOP TARGETS FOR WEDNESDAY…AND RESULTS

Lorenzo Carter, DE, 6-5, 240, Norcross: UGA reeled in the big fish, landing the state’s No.1 overall prospect for the first time since 2011 (Josh Harvey-Clemons).
Isaiah McKenzie, WR, 5-8, 175, Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) American Heritage: This was one of two big surprises for UGA to kick off signing day. McKenzie got a last-minute offer from UGA and picked the Bulldogs because of his best buddy and high school teammate, 5-star Sony Michel (signed with UGA).
Hunter Atkinson, TE, 6-6, 250, West Hall: The Cincinnati commit got a last-minute call from Mark Richt and flipped to UGA. I’m not going to say we saw it coming, but … Atkinson had grayshirt offers from Alabama, Auburn and UCF.
Tavon Ross, S, 6-1, 200, Bleckley County: The Missouri commit took an official visit to UGA but decided to stick with Missouri. He’s signed.
Andrew Williams, DE, 6-4, 247, ECLA: He signed with Auburn over Clemson and Auburn. He joked with Auburn’s Gus Malzahn when he called with the news, saying “I’m sorry to inform you….. That I will be attending your school,” according to 247sports.com’s Kipp Adams.
Tyre McCants, WR-DB, 5-11, 200, Niceville, Fla.: Turned down late interest from UGA to sign with USF.

UGA COMMITS TO WORRY ABOUT? NOPE

Lamont Gaillard, DT, 6-3, 310, Fayetteville (N.C.) Pine Forest: This was probably the biggest scare on signing day. Gaillard’s coach said he signed with UGA over Miami at 9 a.m but UGA didn’t announce it until 10:35 a.m.
Gilbert Johnson, WR, 6-2, 190, Homestead (Fla.) Senior: Speedster scared UGA after he told Rivals.com on Sunday night that he would sign with Bulldogs, South Florida or Louisville .. and then went MIA. UGA can relax after he was one of team’s first signees.

Kendall Gant, safety, 6-2, 180, Lakeland (Fla.): He flipped from UGA to Marshall on Tuesday due to “academic reasons,” according to his coach, who also claimed his offer “got pulled” by the Bulldogs.

For the rest of UGA’s Big Board for 2014, including a rundown of commitments, go HERE

GEORGIA TECH’S TOP TARGETS FOR WEDNESDAY

Myles Autry, ATH, 5-9, 170, Norcross: Georgia Tech fans are always screaming about wanting to have a high-profile recruit commit on signing day on national TV. Autry picked Georgia Tech over FSU on ESPNU cameras. His older brother plays wide receiver for the Yellow Jackets.
Mike Sawyers, DT, 6-2, 300, Nashville, Tenn.: He signed with Tennessee after taking an official visit to Volunteers on the final weekend before signing day.

For the rest of Georgia Tech’s Big Board for 2014, including a rundown of commitments, go HERE

======================================

FOR COMPARISON, HERE IS SOME EXEMPLARY HS ACADEMIC WORK, BY DILIGENT HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS, WHICH THE MEDIA (completely) IGNORED. We take it for granted that the media (including their coverage of education) should ignore the exemplary academic work of HS students, but we also ignore the consequences of doing that.

[height and weight of authors omitted…]

High School History Students”Teach with Examples”The Concord Review reports:

Nathaniel Bernstein of San Francisco, California: Bernstein, a senior at San Francisco University High School, published an 11,176-word history research paper on the unintended consequences of Direct Legislation in California. (Harvard)

Gabriel Grand of Bronx, New York: Grand, a senior at Horace Mann School, published a 9,250-word history research paper on the difficulties The New York Times had with the anti-semitism of the day and also in covering the Holocaust. (Harvard)

Reid Grinspoon of Waltham, Massachusetts: Grinspoon, a senior at Gann Academy, published a 7,380-word history research paper on the defeat of legislation to allow eugenic sterilization in Massachusetts. (Harvard)

Emma Scoble of Oakland, California: Scoble a senior at the College Preparatory Academy, published a 9,657-word history research paper on the Broderick-Terry Duel, which defeated pro-slavery forces in California in 1859. (NYU)

Brief sketch of the problem… was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

Brief sketch of the problem… was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

Brief sketch of the problem… was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

On Writing

First, we stopped demanding that students read anything very challenging in school, and then we stopped holding our teachers or students accountable for the quality of student writing.”
On Writing
National Center on Education and the Economy
By Marc Tucker on January 17, 2014 10:21 AM
 
 
I read a news story the other day that made my heart sink.  It was written by a professor in a business school at a public university.  He told a tale in which his colleagues agreed that the writing skills of their students were miserable, but none would take responsibility for dealing with it.  They were not, they said, writing teachers, and could not be expected to spend time doing what those miserable souls in the understaffed writing labs were expected to do.  This was just as true of the professors in the English department as it was of all their other colleagues.  The author of the article was pretty astute about the causes of that refusal.  Teaching someone to write well takes a lot of time and individual attention, he pointed out.  Professors in university departments are not compensated for that time.  Teaching students to write will take time away from what they need to do to advance in their profession.  And it is not likely to earn them the esteem of their colleagues.  So it was no surprise that his colleagues suggested that the students would be going into a business environment in which presentations were usually done with power points, so maybe the students did not have to learn how to write anyway.  Yes, they said that!
A year ago, my own organization reported on a study we had done of what is required of freshman in their first-year credit bearing courses in a typical community college.  We reported that the texts they are assigned are generally written at an 11th or 12th grade level and the students cannot read them, so their instructors are now used to summarizing the gist of the texts in power points they prepare for their students.  In these circumstances, it is hardly surprising that they assign little or no writing to their students.  They have evidently anticipated the suggestion of the business school faculty I was just quoting that they solve the problem by assuming that their students would not have to write.
But surely, you might be saying, it cannot really be that bad. Oh, but it can.  The attitudes of the college faculty I just reported on are not new.  The departmental faculty might have been prepared in the past to help their students with the technical aspects of writing in their particular field, but they never expected to have to teach basic competence in writing.  They assumed that would be done in our schools.  So what happened?
Two things happened.  First, we stopped demanding that students read anything very challenging in school, and then we stopped holding our teachers or students accountable for the quality of student writing.
I did not learn how to write from a writing manual.  I mostly learned to write by reading good writing, a lot it, some of it fiction, much of it non-fiction. And I had instructors in high school and college who were themselves good writers and took the time to coach me.  My friend William Fitzhugh tells us that very few students are ever asked to read a single non-fiction book from end to end in their entire school career, much less many such books.  More to the point, they are rarely asked to write very much and the expectations for what they do write are, on the whole, absurdly low.
And why is that?  Because we do not hold our teachers accountable for the quality of student writing.  Under prevailing federal law, we hold our teachers accountable for student performance in English, mathematics and, to a minor degree, science.  But the tests we use to hold them accountable for student performance in English typically do not require them to write anything, and, when they do, it is rarely more than a paragraph.  And why is that?  There is only one way to find out if a student can write a well-crafted 15-page essay and that is to ask them to write one.  And, if they are required to write one, someone has to read it.  To make sure that the scores given on the essay are reliable, it may be necessary to have more than one person read it.  That is time-consuming and expensive.  So we talk about English tests, but they do not really test speaking, listening or writing skills. They test reading skills.  The teachers know this, so they don’t waste their time teaching writing, probably the single most important skill we can teach.
It is unclear whether they could if they wanted to.  They could certainly ask students to write more, but most teachers of English do not have the time to do more than skim student written work and give it a global grade and maybe a comment or two.  But that is not going to help a developing writer very much.  Extended coaching is needed, at the hands of a good writer and editor.  And, by the way, we have no idea whether our teachers are themselves good writers, never mind good editors.  Many come from the lower ranks of high school graduates, and those are the same young people whose low writing skills I described at the beginning of this essay.
I have a cognitive dissonance problem.  There is a lot of talk about implementing the Common Core State Standards.  The Common Core calls for much deeper understanding of the core subjects in the curriculum, the ability to reason well, and to make a logical, compelling argument based on good evidence, which in turn requires the student to be able to marshal that evidence in an effective way.  Sounds like good writing to me.
But we talk about implementation of the Common Core as if it can be accomplished by giving teachers a workshop lasting several days and handing them a manual.  I don’t think so.  I would argue that there is no single skill more important to our students than the ability to write well.  Is there anyone who believes that students whose college instructors have discovered that they cannot write will somehow now emerge from high school as accomplished writers because their teacher got a manual and attended a three-day workshop on the Common Core State Standards?  That would qualify as a miracle.
If my analysis is anywhere near right, making sure our students have the single most important skill they will ever need requires us to 1) make sure that our teachers read extensively, write well and have the skills needed to coach others to be good writers; 2) organize our schools so that teachers have the time to teach writing, give students extended writing assignments, read carefully what the students have written and provide extensive and helpful feedback on it (all of which would required major adjustments in teacher load and school master schedules); and 3) change the incentives facing teachers, so that those incentives are based to a significant degree on the ability of students to write high quality extended essays.  If we don’t do that, we are just whistling Dixie.
 

————————–

“Teach by Example”
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review [1987]
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995]
National Writing Board [1998]
TCR Institute [2002]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
978-443-0022; 800-331-5007
Varsity Academics®

 

On Writing was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

On Writing was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

On Writing was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

WHEELBARROW

“Wheelbarrow”
13 December 2013

There is an old story about a worker, at one of the South African diamond mines, who would leave work once a week or so pushing a wheelbarrow full of sand. The guard would stop him and search the sand thoroughly, looking for any smuggled diamonds. When he found none, he would wave the worker through. This happened month after month, and finally the guard said, “Look, I know you are smuggling something, and I know it isn’t diamonds. If you tell me what it is, I won’t say anything, but I really want to know.” The worker smiled, and said, “wheelbarrows.”

I think of this story when teachers find excuses for not letting their students see the exemplary history essays written by their high school peers for The Concord Review. Often they feel they cannot give their students copies unless they can “teach” the contents. Or they already teach the topic of one of the essays they see in the issue. Or they don’t know anything about one of the topics. Or they know more about the topic than the HS author does. Or they don’t have time to teach one of the topics they see, or they don’t think students have time to read one or more of the essays, or they worry about plagiarism, or something else. There are many reasons to keep this unique journal away from secondary students.

They are, to my mind, “searching the sand.” The most important reason to show their high school students the journal is to let them see the wheelbarrow itself, that is, to show them that there exists in the world a professional journal that takes the history research papers of high school students seriously enough to have published them on a quarterly basis for the last 21 years. Whether the students read all the essays, or one of them, or none of them, they will see that for some of their peers academic work is treated with respect. And that is a message worth letting through the guard post, whatever anyone may think about, or want to do something with, the diamonds inside.

Will Fitzhugh
The Concord Review
http://www.tcr.org; fitzhugh@tcr.org
And of course some teachers are eager to show their students the work of their peers….

The Concord Review—Varsity Academics®

WHEELBARROW was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

WHEELBARROW was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

WHEELBARROW was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

Driven to Distraction

DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION
 
Will Fitzhugh
The Concord Review

7 February 2013

 
“We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”—George Orwell 
 
 
While we spend billions on standards for skill-building and the assessment of skills, we don’t seem to notice that our students, in general, are not doing any academic work. This assumes that there is a connection between the academic work of students and their academic achievement, but for most of those who study and comment on education that link seems not to be apparent.
 
The Kaiser Foundation reported in  January 2010, that:
 
“Over the past five years, there has been a huge increase in media use among young people. Five years ago, we reported that young people spent an average of nearly 61/2 hours (6:21) a day with media—and managed to pack more than 81/2 hours (8:33) worth of media content into that time by multitasking. At that point it seemed that young people’s lives were filled to the bursting point with media. Today, however, those levels of use have been shattered. Over the past five years, young people have increased the amount of time they spend consuming media by an hour and seventeen minutes daily, from 6:21 to 7:38—almost the amount of time most adults spend at work each day, except that young people use media seven days a week instead of five. [53 hours a week]”
 
If our students spend that much time, in addition to sports, being with friends, and other activities, like sleep, when do they do their academic work?
 
Indiana University’s High School Survey of Student Engagement found most recently that:
 
“Among (U.S.) Public High School students: 
82.7% spend 5 or fewer hours a week on homework.
42.5% spend an hour or less each week on their homework.”
 
 
This may help to explain how they manage to free up 53 hours a week to play with electronic entertainment media, but is there any effect of such low academic expectations on our students’ engagement with the educational enterprise we provide for them?
 
 
Meanwhile, our high school students are reading books written at the fifth-grade level—The 2013 Renaissance Learning Report on student reading levels: “The Book-Reading Habits of Students in American Schools 2011-2012″ found that: “The average ATOS book level of the top 40 books readby ninth–twelfth graders (high school students) was 5.6 overall (fifth-grade level), 5.7 for boys, and 5.4 for girls.”  
 
Brandon Busteed, Executive Director of Gallup Education reported on January 7th of this year that: 


“Gallup research strongly suggests that the longer students stay in school, the less engaged they become. The Gallup Student Poll surveyed nearly 500,000 students in grades five through 12 from more than 1,700 public schools in 37 states in 2012. We found that nearly eight in 10 elementary students who participated in the poll are engaged with school. By middle school that falls to about six in 10 students. And by high school, only four in 10 students qualify as engaged. Our educational system sends students and our country’s future over the school cliff every year.”

 
The statement of the obvious which applies here would seem to be that we have driven our high school students to distraction, by asking them to do little or no homework and by spending billions of dollars to lead them to prefer electronic entertainment media to the academic work on which their futures depend.
 
On June 3, 1990, Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, wrote in his regular New York Times column that:
 
“As we’ve known for a long time, factory workers who never saw the completed product and worked on only a small part of it soon became bored and demoralized. But when they were allowed to see the whole process—or better yet become involved with it—productivity and morale improved. Students are no different. When we chop up the work they do into little bits—history facts and vocabulary and grammar rules to be learned—it’s no wonder they are bored and disengaged. The achievement of The Concord Review‘s authors offers a different model of learning. Maybe it’s time to take it seriously.”
 
Despite my own bias for having students read history books and write history research papers, I think it may be argued that if we give students nothing to do academically, we clearly contribute to the academic disengagement which we now find.
 
If we don’t take their academic work seriously, neither will they. What they take seriously they have a chance of doing well, and when they don’t take something seriously, they have little chance of achievement there. Verbum Sap.
————————-
“Teach by Example”
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review [1987]
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995]
National Writing Board [1998]
TCR Institute [2002]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
978-443-0022; 800-331-5007
Varsity Academics®

Driven to Distraction was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

Driven to Distraction was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

Driven to Distraction was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

Driven to Distraction

DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION
 
Will Fitzhugh
The Concord Review

7 February 2013

 
“We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”—George Orwell 
 
 
While we spend billions on standards for skill-building and the assessment of skills, we don’t seem to notice that our students, in general, are not doing any academic work. This assumes that there is a connection between the academic work of students and their academic achievement, but for most of those who study and comment on education that link seems not to be apparent.
 
The Kaiser Foundation reported in  January 2010, that:
 
“Over the past five years, there has been a huge increase in media use among young people. Five years ago, we reported that young people spent an average of nearly 61/2 hours (6:21) a day with media—and managed to pack more than 81/2 hours (8:33) worth of media content into that time by multitasking. At that point it seemed that young people’s lives were filled to the bursting point with media. Today, however, those levels of use have been shattered. Over the past five years, young people have increased the amount of time they spend consuming media by an hour and seventeen minutes daily, from 6:21 to 7:38—almost the amount of time most adults spend at work each day, except that young people use media seven days a week instead of five. [53 hours a week]”
 
If our students spend that much time, in addition to sports, being with friends, and other activities, like sleep, when do they do their academic work?
 
Indiana University’s High School Survey of Student Engagement found most recently that:
 
“Among (U.S.) Public High School students: 
82.7% spend 5 or fewer hours a week on homework.
42.5% spend an hour or less each week on their homework.”
 
 
This may help to explain how they manage to free up 53 hours a week to play with electronic entertainment media, but is there any effect of such low academic expectations on our students’ engagement with the educational enterprise we provide for them?
 
 
Meanwhile, our high school students are reading books written at the fifth-grade level—The 2013 Renaissance Learning Report on student reading levels: “The Book-Reading Habits of Students in American Schools 2011-2012″ found that: “The average ATOS book level of the top 40 books readby ninth–twelfth graders (high school students) was 5.6 overall (fifth-grade level), 5.7 for boys, and 5.4 for girls.”  
 
Brandon Busteed, Executive Director of Gallup Education reported on January 7th of this year that: 


“Gallup research strongly suggests that the longer students stay in school, the less engaged they become. The Gallup Student Poll surveyed nearly 500,000 students in grades five through 12 from more than 1,700 public schools in 37 states in 2012. We found that nearly eight in 10 elementary students who participated in the poll are engaged with school. By middle school that falls to about six in 10 students. And by high school, only four in 10 students qualify as engaged. Our educational system sends students and our country’s future over the school cliff every year.”

 
The statement of the obvious which applies here would seem to be that we have driven our high school students to distraction, by asking them to do little or no homework and by spending billions of dollars to lead them to prefer electronic entertainment media to the academic work on which their futures depend.
 
On June 3, 1990, Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, wrote in his regular New York Times column that:
 
“As we’ve known for a long time, factory workers who never saw the completed product and worked on only a small part of it soon became bored and demoralized. But when they were allowed to see the whole process—or better yet become involved with it—productivity and morale improved. Students are no different. When we chop up the work they do into little bits—history facts and vocabulary and grammar rules to be learned—it’s no wonder they are bored and disengaged. The achievement of The Concord Review‘s authors offers a different model of learning. Maybe it’s time to take it seriously.”
 
Despite my own bias for having students read history books and write history research papers, I think it may be argued that if we give students nothing to do academically, we clearly contribute to the academic disengagement which we now find.
 
If we don’t take their academic work seriously, neither will they. What they take seriously they have a chance of doing well, and when they don’t take something seriously, they have little chance of achievement there. Verbum Sap.
————————-
“Teach by Example”
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review [1987]
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995]
National Writing Board [1998]
TCR Institute [2002]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
978-443-0022; 800-331-5007
Varsity Academics®

Driven to Distraction was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

Driven to Distraction was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

Major Players

Will Fitzhugh
The Concord Review
3 September 2013
 
 
Who are the Most Important Players in U.S. education debates, and in our schools? Well, let’s see—there are EduPundits, legislators, governors, consultants, professional developers, publishers, the Department of Education, foundations, journalists, state commissioners of education, superintendents, principals, teachers, and who else? Oh, students!…do you think education has something to do with them? No one else does. And if students do have a part to play in their own education and they are not doing it, and this has perhaps some sort of impact on their academic achievement, what can be done about it? They can’t be fired, except by charter schools, and neither can their parents. So let’s not think about them, or their work.
 
In addition, most students have been allowed to believe, and the EdWorld agrees with them, that education is something teachers are responsible for delivering to them, whether they do any actual academic work or not. As to the academic work they actually are currently doing, Indiana University has found that 42% of high school students now do less than one hour of written homework in a week. 
 
Because student responsibility for academic work is not part of our ideas about education, students can feel free to, as the Kaiser Foundation reports they now do, spend at least 53 hours each week with electronic entertainment media. (That would be 53 times as many hours as lots of our high school students now spend on homework each week.)
 
Of course all the current Major Players have something to say and something to do about education, and about students academic achievement, but as long as, for whatever complex of reasons, we continue to ignore student participation in and responsibility for their own educational achievement, we are colluding in some very large, very tragic, and very sad, joke.
 
Try to imagine stories and commentaries on Major League Baseball which completely ignored the activities of the players, and you can see what a monstrous mistake it is for so many influential people in the education debates to pay no attention to whether: A) we are asking our students to do any serious academic work, and B) they are actually doing any.
 
Banishing students from our discussions about the Major Players in education may satisfy some set of needs for our EduPundits and others, but it is a sad and quite clearly doomed misdirection of all efforts to understand ways to improve student academic achievement in this country.
 
 

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“Teach by Example”
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review [1987]
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995]
National Writing Board [1998]
TCR Institute [2002]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
978-443-0022; 800-331-5007
Varsity Academics®

Major Players was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

Major Players was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

Major Players was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

The College Puzzle

Stanford University

The College Puzzle

A College Success Blog by Dr. Michael E. Kirst

Homework Insufficient In USA Secondary schools

April 17th, 2013

Guest Blogger: Will Fitzhugh

The most important variable in student academic achievement is, of course, student academic work.

Indiana University’s High School Survey of Student Engagement found that:

of (U.S.) Public High School kids: [143,000 surveyed) in 2008

82.7% spend 5 or fewer hours a week on written homework…
42.5% spend an hour or less each week on homework…

Korean students spend, on average, 15 hours a week on homework,
added to 10 hours a week of hagwon after school = 25 hours a week.

[i.e. 25 times the time some U.S. HS students spend, or at least 5 times as much as the great majority of U.S. HS students…]

===============

“Teach by Example”
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review [1987]
National Writing Board [1998]
TCR Institute [2002]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
978-443-0022; 800-331-5007
http://www.tcr.org; fitzhugh@tcr.org
Varsity Academics®
http://www.tcr.org/blog

The College Puzzle was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

The College Puzzle was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog

The College Puzzle was originally published on Nonpartisan Education Blog