This week Education International—the world's largest federation of unions, representing 30 million education employees in 170 countries and territories—signed onto the Global School Health Statement developed by ASCD and the International School Health Network.
The Global School Health Statement was developed out of the first Global School Health Symposium, a multi-level, multi-sectorial discussion involving more than 60 leading education, health, and school health experts from across twenty countries held in Thailand in August 2013. Since then it has been introduced at a series of Global School Health Symposia and discussed at a series of key global events.
"Back to the basics." It's a phrase that's tossed around much but has varying definitions depending on the speaker and audience. For some, "back to the basics" means focusing on the 3 Rs—reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic—before (and sometimes instead of) anything else.
We have to get back to basics in education, like ensuring that our children are developing the reading and writing and math skills they need to effectively compete in a very tough and increasingly global job market.
—U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) in "Getting Back to Basics in Education"
Personalizing learning* will not truly take place in our schools unless we understand and act on three key things. Until then we will continue to tinker, adjust, and tweak a fundamentally non-personalized system to suit each person. We will continue to mean well but ultimately underserve most of our students.
PISA assesses the extent to which 15-year-old students have acquired key knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in modern societies. The results should be used as one measure of a country's overall evaluation of its education system and not serve as a league table. Yet information and greater understanding are there if we care to look and discuss the results honestly.
Whatever differences we may read in the PISA results that were released today, here's a sampling of quotes from the U.S. report (PDF) from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to put things in perspective. Each could be a blog post on their own and each serves up some interesting pieces of information.
"The wonder drug has been invented, manufactured, packaged, and shipped. Doctors and nurses are being trained to administer the drug properly. Companies and consultants are offering products and services to help with the proper administering of this wonder drug. A national effort is underway to develop tools to monitor the improvement of the patients. The media are flooded with enthusiastic endorsement and euphoric predictions.
This cure-all wonder drug is the Common Core, short for the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Cooked up by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, this magic potion promises to cure America's education ills..."
—Yong Zhao (with a heavy dose of irony) in "Common Sense Vs. Common Core: How to Minimize the Damages of the Common Core"
Teachers, educators, and the public have every right to be skeptical. We've had two wonderful-sounding—and I believe initially well-intentioned—top-down education initiatives over the past decade that have left many scratching their heads and asking, was it worth it? The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, which many have argued has caused more grief and problems than it solved, and the ultra-competitive Race To The Top initiative that pitted states against states and educators against educators. In both cases, implementation could be described as draconian, ill-resourced, and somewhat flawed.
Many have written and spoken about the key lessons taught in kindergarten and during preschool years. There are articles, lists, hints, and videos, with much of it coming from Robert Fulghum's book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, a collection of essays on the subject.
Earlier this year, KnowledgeWorks, a social enterprise in the field of education, released its latest glimpse into the future of learning: Forecast 3.0 (PDF). Among other key points, the report stated that schools in the not-so-distant future will play the role of community learning hub and be required to become centers of resilience. These learning centers will still serve students educationally—more often acting as a center or gateway to various forms of learning—but they are also required to become "critical sites for promoting health, well-being, academic growth, environmental vitality, and connections across their communities."
First, if you haven't read Tom Whitby's post "The Big Lie in Education," do so. This post is a follow-up from what Whitby has eloquently started.
While we are reflecting, refreshing, and recharging, lets reflect on what we are trying to teach our students and why. Take the premise uttered by many that education must prepare our students for the "Real World." What is this "Real World" that is often held up as a gold standard for anything educationally relevant in a time when everything is changing so quickly and dramatically around us?
Too often this "Real World" that people propose is an antiquated idea that bears little relevance to today, yet alone tomorrow. "Real World" cannot be an education system based on last century's framework. It cannot be a system based on last century's metrics nor last century's constrained concept of knowledge.