Visit SpaceCampUtah.org to learn more about the Space Education Centers in Utah. Visit SpaceGuard.org and ProjectVoyager.org for information on joining a simulator based school space and science club.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

My Thoughts on the Current State of Education. Saturday Photos at the Space Center. An Exposé on the Sandwich Club. The Imaginarium. Your Sunday Just Got Better.

The current trend in national education policy.

My Thoughts on the Current State of Education
   
     While not totally agreeing with the message above,  I believe the picture has a kernel of truth I'd like to address.  The current emphasis on Common Core standards, and the high stake tests which are used to enforce those standards, may be having the unwanted effect of turning today's students into statistical commodities in the factories of public education.
     Think of today's schools as factory assembly lines.  Students (units) enter and move from grade to grade on a constant one speed conveyer belt.  Teachers stand on both sides of the belt attaching their bits and bobs to these potato head dolls as best they can.  Remember, teachers on the floor can't regulate the belt's speed, and some of the holes where their bits and bobs are suppose to attach aren't there or aren't drilled properly. Their bits and bobs won't stay attached or can't be attached at all.  The teachers keep pushing and prodding by assigning more work and then testing and retesting to see if their teaching has stuck. They do this in constant fear of the dreaded Quality Control matron who waits at the end of each 9 month belt section. She stands, waiting with her rulers and gauges, to see if the teachers attached their curriculums properly.
     Instead of pulling the defective units off the belt for intensive remediation and reworking, the QC matron stamps them deficient and moves them along to the next set of teachers, who are expected to remediate and fix what wasn't accomplished earlier in the production process.  While trying to make those adjustments, they have the additional pressure of getting their own bits and bobs attached in the short time they have the units.  Remember, the belt continues to move at a constant pace with another set of QC matrons waiting to inspect their work.  The QC matron does the inspection, finds missing parts and marks the teachers down for failure to attach their curriculums correctly. The teacher's jobs are threatened if they can't find a way to get their bits and bobs attached correctly.
     Of course the factory floor teachers complain bitterly, stating that the entire production line system isn't fair. They explain that they are not in control of the units when they arrive on their section of the belt. They ask how they can be held accountable for their units when current research shows that 2/3rds of a unit's success along the belt is governed by outside factors such as genetics and environment (click for reference), factors totally out of their control.
     The matrons seem somewhat sympathetic, but respond by saying their hands are tied by those who make the rules in the walled off upstair offices.  "The factory's governors make the rules," they explain.  "We don't question their competence or comment on the fact that they know very little about the true working conditions that exist on the assembly line.  We do our jobs and wait for entire system to be revamped and retooled. Give it ten years and it will all change - you know how the system works. Now get back to work."


A sign in the factory break room
    
      Soon, new rules will be passed from above linking the factory worker's pay to the quality of their output units. A limited amount of money will be allocated for this scheme to elicit competition among the workers.  The more experienced teachers will no longer help new teachers, knowing the more who qualify for the bonuses will thin the pot.  Effective assemblers will continue to reap healthy bonuses while new hires will gradually be dismissed or quit out of frustration. This policy will guarantee a constant new supply of new hires coming and going through the factory's revolving door and, over time, lower the quality of the entire work force.
     The factories will continue to mass produce and release units to national distribution.  Some units will be beautifully assembled and quickly put to work.  Many other units will not pass the final Quality Control station and released unqualified for most living wage jobs.  Others will never make it to the final QC station and remove themselves from the assembly line when the burden of excessive  'failure' stamps becomes too great to bare.
     From the failure of No Child Left Behind we venture into the uncharted wilderness of the Common Core without the proper groundwork necessary to ensure a proper transition.  May I suggest the new national standards be implemented gradually, grade by grade, starting in kindergarten.  The standards would then logically follow that group of students up through the system, thus guaranteeing a properly thought out, methodical, data driven transition which could be modified as test results are examined.
Other suggestions to help in this transition may be found online.

Advice for Parents.
     Students not working at grade level will find this new educational climate very unfriendly.  It is important to do all you can to catch educational problems early and get them remediated quickly. Today's students MUST be able to read, write and do math at grade level.  Talk to your child's teacher for suggestions.  Report card grades do not always paint the proper picture on whether or not your child is functioning at grade level.  Ask your child's teacher to be honest and straightforward with you.  Don't assume an A or a B means they're getting it.  Report cards may be taking their final bow. It is the high stakes, year end state test that matters most.
   
Mr. W.

P.S.  I'll step off the soap box now and move on to something lighter.        

Saturday at the Space Center

Nathan gently leads his crew to victory

Farpoint Cadet Rich dreams of the day when he will be a Flight Director

Matt does the same, but with more thoughtfulness, as expressed in the photo above

Brayden is a new Farpoint Cadet Volunteer.  Welcome!

Lissa has been a Farpoint volunteer for a while now.  She's doing a great job at the CMSEC

Adam just completed a training mission as a Flight Director in training.
He humbly listens as Space Center Director Megan goes over all the reasons why he will never succeed.

Then, she turns to her computer to point out an even larger set of reasons why he will
succeed as a new Space Center Flight Director.

The November Sandwich Club
 
     The Sandwich Club is the brain trust of the Space EdVentures model of education.  These are the people who were on time card when I directed the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center.  We gather monthly to socialize, talk of old times, retell the tales of the Space Center's golden age, and work together to ensure the future success of our form of experiential education.


I'm thinking of making a Space EdVentures 2014 calendar and asked if anyone from the Sandwich Club would like to be included and have their own month.  Emily and Brittany jumped up and broke into pose.
"Give us August, the hottest month of the year," Brittany (former Magellan Set Director) demanded while running her finger slowly down the front of the refrigerator.
"Put us in and you'll sell out," Emily added.
"I'll get back to you," I answered.
"Whatever," they replied as they redirected their attention to the lemon meringue pies on the table.  



BJ, Andrew and Emily's husband Skyler all enthusiastically declined the opportunity .


 Casey declined to have his photo taken, accusing me of not representing him fairly in past Troubadour posts which may have caused some embarrassment in his other life as chairman of the Utah County Republican Party.
"You mean your Republicans take everything I write seriously?" I asked.
He declined to comment, fearing I'd take his words and manipulate them to my own independent purposes.  Which I would do because this is my blog.
Good job Casey. You're learning how to be a good politician.


Lorraine and Aleta are both long time Space Center employees and friends. The Sandwich Club is about the only time they get to see each other.  Both are busy doing their own Space EdVentures thing. Lorraine works at the CMSEC as the classroom teacher. Aleta is working toward a master's degree at BYU and works for DSim.


Admiral Bill Schuler in his off duty clothes talks nonsense with Aleta's husband James.  Brittany and Emily have finished off the pie and are contemplating a game of pool.


Christine Grosland has returned from an LDS mission to Japan.  Christine was the old Odyssey's Set Director. We are all very happy to have her back (as seen in the unrehearsed smiles shown in her former co-workers faces).



Megan has control of the pool table.  Pool hustling is one way she supplements her Space Center income.   Matt Long is thinking of a challenge but remembers he has a wife and baby at home and can't afford a loss.  Megan doesn't take IOU's and can be rough around the edges if an owed debt is past its due date.


Bradyn isn't one to back down from a challenge.  He had Megan squarely in his sights.  I didn't get to see the end of the game.  All I know is that Megan drove away with his fancy car. leaving both he and Jacque (his fiancee) stranded and looking for a ride home.


Three generations of Space Center Programming Guild Masters.  Matt Long, Brent Anderson and Bridger Maxwell.  Bridger lives in California and is working at a new start up company.  He is here visiting family.  Watch for great things from all three.  


Sunday's Imaginarium
The Ordinary to Extraordinary in just a few short minutes

What Europeans think of our Black Friday

I'd like this man to host the next Oscars. Agreed?



Several American adults were asked to fill in a map of Europe.  These are examples of TYPICAL results.  Some are very creative, but overall, a sorry statement on geography education in the country.










Much more creative than an "Out of Order" sign.


 









Creepy Story Starters


















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