Tagged “Democratic Education”
Along with my schedule of social studies classes, I also serve as an advisor for 15 students once a week. Through advisory I spend time looking at their grades, checking in with their lives, and mostly building relationships that are often lost between teachers and students in high school. While I love the chance to have such a close relationship with a handful of students, it seems like a week does not go by without one or more of them asking me about why they have to study this subject or another. "Why do I need to take Calculus?" or "Why do I need biology when I am not going to be a biologist?" For a long time, I would simply tell them that learning math, science, English, and history were all part of what made them well-rounded students, able to succeed in college and beyond. Recently, I came to a different conclusion.
Becky J. Berg is from a family of educators. "My dad was a school board president; my mom was a career educator; and my sister, my grandmother, and my great-grandfather were educators," she says. Despite the genetic pull, Berg wasn't completely convinced she would follow in the family's footsteps until her experience as a summer camp counselor while she was in college. It was then that she realized how much she loved working with kids.
Today, Berg is the superintendent of the Deer Park School District in Deer Park, Wash. During her career, she has served at the middle and elementary levels as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal, as well as an adjunct instructor at Eastern Washington University and Washington State University. Berg earned a bachelor's degree at Eastern Washington University, a master's degree in education from Western Washington University, and a doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Both the whole child approach and the Common Core State Standards "compel school instructional staff to develop and deliver effective, engaging instruction reflective of individual student needs and strengths." That's what we all want for our students, and we should expect nothing less. But the standards are undergirded by an "ethical core," and all educators should keep in mind that our ultimate purpose in teaching—indeed in creating schools in the first place—remains preparing the next generation to contribute to and improve our society. The Common Core State Standards are one dimension of reaching the goal of healthy students ready to be competent, thoughtful, and informed citizens.
ASCD recently sent feedback to the U.S. Department of Education on reinvigorating civic learning and engagement across the country. This feedback is a response to the department's call for suggestions on four provisions in its road map for advancing civic learning (PDF).
Research and test scores show that our students lack knowledge of the U.S. government system and their civic responsibilities, but many schools struggle to prioritize civic learning amid competing academic concerns. ASCD believes that civic learning is an essential component of a whole child approach to education that gives students a voice in a safe and supportive environment and ensures that they understand their opportunities in and obligations to their schools, their communities, and the nation.
Cathy Vatterott began her ASCD Conference on Teaching and Learning session, "Not Your Mother's Gradebook: Transitioning to Standards-Based Learning," by asking participants to think about the reasons that conventional tests may not be the best method to assess student learning.
With a good education comes the responsibility of teachers to show students how to become responsible and active citizens. Through various activities, such as mock trials and lessons on democracy, students can learn valuable lessons that help shape who they become in life.
In this video, see how one high school collaborates with different organizations in its community. Edcouch-Elsa High School uses a variety of approaches to encourage students’ civic involvement and help with postsecondary education needs. Learn more with ASCD Express.
Post written by William J. Tolley, instructional coach and head of history at the International School of Curitiba in Brazil. A graduate of Teachers College, Columbia University, he is a member of the current cohort in the Johns Hopkins/ISTE Supervision and Administration graduate certificate program. Connect with Tolley by e-mail at email@example.com. This post was originally featured in ASCD Express.
"Advisory" is often a catch-all phrase for a space and time set aside for faculty and staff to help students face academic, social, psychological, and perhaps physical challenges. Unfortunately, schools seldom give such programs the space, time, and resources needed to accomplish all this. Moreover, advisories are often ill-defined or poorly designed and end up as well-intentioned tangents to the school mission. Nonetheless, the need for effective advisories is especially important in the 21st century because, as never before, students with different abilities and intelligences all need to know how to learn without us and build their shared future. A 21st century advisory is the perfect place to help them do this.
Post written by Jill Bass, director of curriculum and teacher development for Mikva Challenge's Center for Action Civics. Connect with Bass by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. This post was originally featured in ASCD Express.
Every teacher has at least a handful of moments with students that make him or her think, "This is why I became a teacher." One such moment for me was on a campaign trip with about 60 students in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2007.
"We can't narrow the focus of our schools into just math and reading and still expect to graduate students who are ready for college, a career and citizenship," writes ASCD Executive Director Gene Carter in his special commentary for CNN's Schools of Thought blog. "A comprehensive education provides students the opportunity to discover what they excel at and inspires a boost in overall student performance and confidence across all subjects."