Monday, February 20, 2012

Success after OCS

Surely OCS has sent out many graduates who have done well in their adult years. We can be very proud of the many who have attended college and lead successful productive lives. However, being a substitute teacher who comes in contact with many Onion Creek grads as well as all the students passing through Colville High School, I have come to realize that there are many students (including some who have attended OCS) who enter young adulthood and are not very prepared for becoming productive citizens. 

It may be hard for some students to see beyond their teen years, but I think it is imperative that they do. Colville High School has a program starting in their freshman year, students meet in small groups with a teacher for the next four years and work on a plan to get them through graduation and beyond. However, that doesn't always seem to work for the students in the long run.

What, if anything, can OCS do better. I know that Alyson in the middle school, works with students in her class on thinking ahead. Her graduating 8th graders always share their dreams for their futures.

I think we need to do more. I want to see all OCS grads succeed in the big world. I would like to see our students see more of what is involved in the job world. Here are some ideas:

·      Start talking life goals in the Intermediate class. In Inchelium, they begin college prep talk in the third grade.
·      Have guest speakers (including OCS grads) come in and share work experiences.
·      Learn more about costs of higher education. Many students from low economic backgrounds don’t really dream about getting post-high school education or training. If they are to dream, they need to make realistic dreams.
·      Really encourage all 7th and 8th graders sign up for the College Bound Scholarship, which virtually guarantees college funding for eligible students. We really need to push this program.
·      Have students go out and visit more businesses and learn about the specific jobs that might be available.
·      Visit the community college in Colville, Spokane CC with its associated trade school, and one or more of the four-year schools in our area.
·      Follow our OCS grads in high school and give them whatever support and encouragement we can. Maybe current students at OCS can help with this. We talk about our school being like a family. Maybe we need to look at it being an even more extended family.

So, what do you think?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Now You See It" by Cathy Davidson

After reading Cathy Davidson's book, I copied some of her statements so I could post them here. What follows are some of her ideas she shared in the first third of her book.

·      “Most of us aren’t aware of how structurally different our life has become because of the Internet. We don’t see how radical the changes of the last decade or so have been.” (11)
·      “Yet as we’ve gone through enormous changes in our modes of social interaction and communication, in our attention and in  our tasks we now set ourselves, our most important institutions of school and work haven’t changed much at all.”(11)
·      “In this time of massive change, we’re giving our kids the tests and lesson plans designed for their great-great-grandparents.”(12)
·      “What if kids’ test scores are declining because the tests they take were devised for the industrial world and are irrelevant to the forms of learning and knowing more vital to their own world?(17)
·      “Sometimes, in periods of great change, there is a mismatch between the patterns our institutions reinforce and the patterns we need to operate efficiently in the new situation we are facing.” (51)
·      “ The same is true in times of tremendous change. That is when we need to unlearn the previous patterns because they are not serving us. That is when we need to unlearn old habits so we can began to relearn how to learn again.” (51)
·      “[Some] may be asking if the Internet is bad for our children’s mental development, but the better question is whether the form of learning and knowledge making we are instilling in our children is useful to the future. The Internet is here to stay. Are we teaching them is a way that will prepare them for a world of learning and for human relationships in which they interweave their interests into the vast, decentralized, yet entirely interconnected content online?” (56)
·      “We currently have a national educational policy based on a style of learning—the standardized machine-readable multiple-choice test—that reinforces a type of thinking and form of attention well suited to the industrial worker­—a role that increasingly fewer of our kids will ever fill.”(57)
·      “In the past in America, times of enormous innovation in the rest of society, including in technology and in industry, have also been times of tremendous innovation in education. What has happened to us? Rather than thinking of ways we can be preparing our students for their future, we seem determined to prepare them for our past.”(71)
·      “Many features now common in twenty-first-century public education began as an accommodation to the new industrial model of the world ushered in during the last part of the nineteenth century.”(73)
·      So often now we hear or read about how poorly our students are doing compared to those of other countries. “The problem, however, is the confusion of ‘high standards’ with ‘standardization.’ Our national educational policy depends on standardized tests, but it is not at all clear that preparing students to achieve high test scores is equivalent to setting a high standard for what and how kids should now and learn.”(75)
·      “The biggest problem we face now is the increasing mismatch between traditional curricular standards of content-based instruction and the new forms of thinking required by our digital, distributed workplace.”(76)
·      “[a]s we narrow the spectrum of skills that we test in schools, more and more kids who have skills outside the spectrum will be labeled as failures. As what counts as learning is increasingly standardized and limited, increasing numbers of students learn in ways that are not measured by those standards.”(77)
·      “As long as we define their success by a unified set of standards, we will continue to miss their gifts, we will not challenge their skills, and, in the end, we will lose them from our schools just as, implicitly, we have lost interest in them.”(78)

Do you agree with her? I pretty much do. We can't let our practices of the past deal with how we meet the challenges of our present and our future.