Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Google knows everything

If you've been reading my last few posts, you'll know I've been reading Most Likely to Succeed by Ted Dintersmith.  At the same time, you'll also be aware that for the past few months I've been working with a colleague at ASB on micro-schools (more about this in an upcoming post since we presented our final ideas at our last R&D meeting).  As we thought about reimagining education, I kept coming back to what will essentially help our students to thrive as adults.  It won't be what they know, since that has little value when "Google knows everything", but it will be what they can do with their knowledge.  As Dintersmith writes, "content knowledge has become a free commodity - like air or water .... available on every Internet connected device."    And yet .... we continue to measure this content knowledge.  Yes, I know I've got a bit of a bee in my bonnet at the moment.  My discussions about standards have quite literally been preying on my mind and keeping me awake at night.  If we have a standard then we need to assess it.  If we have too many standards then we spend hours of valuable time assessing those standards, which means we spend less time on the actual learning.  Perhaps Dintersmith has the answer:
If we're committed to meaningful student progress, we need to accept that an entirely different assessment model is required - one that is more qualitative than quantitative ... Our choice is stark.  We can focus classrooms either on what's easy to measure or on what's important to learn.  But we can't do both well.
And the choice goes on.  Dintersmith questions, "Do we want students' learning to be shallow or deep?  And do we want their primary focus to be subject content or critical skills?"

I was really interested to read that as long ago as 2009 Denmark announced that all students would have access to the Internet during national exams.  The reason for this is that exams need to reflect life in society, and the implications of this are that the tests are not on content knowledge, which can be remembered or Googled, but on deeper learning - on application.

Finland is another country that always does well on international tests such as the PISA.  The differences between Finland's education system and the US's, for example, is that in Finland "students are innovative, teachers are respected and fulfilled in their jobs, and learning in schools is effective and student-driven."  And yet Finland has virtually no homework, no testing, no extended school days.  I think the respect teachers have is crucial.  In Finland teachers do not teach to the test, and so are not lambasted as ineffective if students don't "meet the standards".  Maybe we should all learn from this - maybe it's time to "call off the dogs".

Photo Credit: mjmonty via Compfight cc

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