[IAEP] Pedagogical Vision for the Journal was GPA Report - Feedback on using the Journal
echerlin at gmail.com
Sat Oct 10 07:50:57 EDT 2009
On Fri, Oct 9, 2009 at 8:26 AM, Yamandu Ploskonka <yamaplos at gmail.com> wrote:
> I like the change of subject line, elegant, thanks
>> We are getting very enthusiastic responses to Sugar as an ePortfolio
>> creation tool. No one likes standardized tests. Portfolios represent
>> a far better alternative for assessing student progress. If we can
>> create a good system for creating and managing them we will have
>> contributed a great deal. We are working with one of the experts in
>> the field, Evangeline Harris Stefanakis an author and professor at BU.
Met her at Sugar Camp. One of our best resources in the research community.
> Well, congratulations.
> As much as I dislike playing devil's advocate, the problem I see with
> the above quote (cf. C.Meeks) is that it attempts to show as simple what
> is a very messy issue.
> I deeply agree with a central core,"If we can create ... great deal".
> Besides this being a big, big, big "if", I do believe that the impact of
> our whole project and desire and dream is well summarized in that single
> Now, why that is not easy has to do with an even bigger bag of cat.
> So big that it actually should be at least looked at before pretending
> we can dismiss it.
> For one thing, the whole subject of assessment is on the table. Does
> assessment make *any* sense?
It makes no sense to measure only what is easily reduced to numbers,
never mind whether the numbers mean anything, and to ignore everything
else, unless the purpose is to prevent real education. That would
include not teaching children how to think critically or creatively,
as in the US with No Child Left Behind, which punishes schools that
try to teach to a higher standard. Unfortunately, there are groups,
particularly in the US South (the old Confederacy), that don't want
children properly educated, including some in industry, some who are
fighting against any real science education or any real art or music,
and some whose world view is based entirely on bigotry.
Each of these overlapping groups has had significant political power.
There is reason to believe that several of these issues are in
long-term decline, at the rate of about 2% of the electorate annually,
and will go away in another generation or two. That is no help today.
My line of attack on the problem is replacing printed textbooks with
something much better, available at no cost, with the rights of
modification and republication, so that teachers and students can
engage in continuous improvement. Wikipedia is one of the models for
this, and in fact Wikipedia subsets are provided in several languages
for school servers. The Internet as a whole has much of this
The extent to which we can empower children to learn much more than
the curriculum and the approved textbooks provide, and tests check up
on, remains unknown. On the basis of changes from rote to discovery
and questioning observed in the Ethiopia report, and other such
observations of major changes among attitudes of teachers, students,
and parents, I have strong hopes.
> And then, at some moment, we need to come back and touch reality.
> Whether "no one likes standardized tests" is true or not (no such
> sweeping generalization survives Logic 101), it really doesn't matter
> and is very much an academic question better discussed among those of us
> who have it made to a warm house, enough food and broadband, even though
> I am finding that I am unemployable as a teacher within the public
> school system here as my pieces of heavy paper do not have the kind of
> seals they want to see - funny turn of destiny, where the reality of the
> real world bites even me, such a nice guy.
> Fact is, all nice and dandy in the idea, and mostly useless, I'm afraid.
I find that the debate about testing has been asking the wrong
questions, which is the best way I know of to fail to get useful
As it happens, portfolio learning is doing well in some schools, and
gaining traction in the profession. Others can give much more detail
on this subject than I can. But I have heard that portfolios have
shown excellent results in general, and outstanding results for
children with disabilities and immigrant children learning a new
> Has BU abandoned the SAT or such requirements?
When I applied to Yale long ago, they wanted my SATs, but they also
wanted a writing sample, a list of what I had read the previous year,
and information on my extracurricular activities, which in my case
included languages, music, math, chess, and religion. They also looked
at a number of other factors. Then when I graduated, I went to teach
in Korea in the US Peace Corps. At that time, test scores were used
exclusively to decide entrance to seventh grade, and to particular
schools. As in several European systems and the UK where this sort of
testing determined at age 11 or 12 whether one could even be in
college prep classes, there were suicides among children each year
when the test scores came out.
Things are much better, or at least less bad, now. As I said above, I
have strong hopes for more progress with what we are doing.
> Does regular testing in
> Prof. Harris' and her colleague classes take into account different
> learning styles, attention cycles? Let's assume they do. In how many
> other places is that the law of the land?
A significant question, but by no means the most important one in my view.
> I'm sorry. I don't like the weather, I don't like to be taxed, I don't
> like to hear discouraging news on the radio.
I don't like to leave conversations to naysayers and those suffering
from depression, as you know well.
> They're there - not much we can do about it. Denial don't help.
> I see as priority to fix what exists so that it is better, understanding
> that our point of view may be skewed as we live a privileged existence,
> yet most of the world's kids still will get a break only if they can
> manage to do good while under the gun of the standardized test.
> Missing that is missing reality.
> Not that we should abandon the dream or the Portfolio.
> Yes that we should spend as much time and effort, at least, to help kids
> deal with the reality they have been handed. Otherwise we are really,
> really doing them a disservice.
> end of yamarant
> IAEP -- It's An Education Project (not a laptop project!)
> IAEP at lists.sugarlabs.org
Edward Mokurai (默雷/धर्ममेघशब्दगर्ज/دھرممیگھشبدگر ج) Cherlin
Silent Thunder is my name, and Children are my nation.
The Cosmos is my dwelling place, the Truth my destination.
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