Friday, June 25, 2010

Useful Idiots in Contemporary School Reform


Gist said it’s time to revisit what high schools look like.

“Classrooms with rows of desks, and the teacher says turn to page 138, do the odd-numbered problems, and don’t make any noise — that doesn’t work anymore,” she said. “Kids are living in an interactive world.”

Gist, who has made teaching excellence one of her priorities, said she recently read a study of how students perceive great teachers.

“[Students] want to be challenged ... hard work that’s fun and engaging, and the feeling you can accomplish something, that’s the best feeling in the world,” she said.

You mean like this kind of thing?

URI/Provplan GIS transportation project (2006-2007)

Students worked with professors from URI and GIS experts from Provplan to study the transportation patterns of teens in Providence. Students learned to use GIS to create maps showing various transportation patterns they researched, then presented these maps at a forum at URI.

Hurricane Katrina unit (2005-2006)

In English, students read the text A Sudden Sea by R. A. Scotti about the hurricane of 1938 in Rhode Island while studying the relationship between geography and social, economic, political, cultural factors at play in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in social studies. Students mapped and calculated flood levels for all points of the city in science, and wrote a memoir from the point of view of a citizen of New Orleans. Students then created a textbook chapter about hurricane Katrina by assembling all their work from the different classes.

Feinstein Farm and water conservation project (with South Side Community Land Trust) (2008-2010)

Feinstein juniors who entered School 2 a year early worked with South Side Community Land Trust to plan, plant, and maintain an extensive garden at the school. They also designed, built, marketed, and installed water barrels for the community.

That's a partial selection of major cross-disciplinary projects undertaken at the highest achieving neighborhood high school in Providence, now closed with the support of Commissioner Gist.

Perhaps it is unfair of me to mock a mere intern over his role in this aggregated mess, considering everyone from Arne Duncan to Commissioner Gist on down displays the same willful ignorance of the implementation of their favored policies, the dissonance between their words and the actions taken on their behalf.

Also, if Ms. Gist is that curious about the problems with our STEM pipeline, she might ask Jason Becker why someone with a BS in chemistry from one of the finest universities in the world would stay in Rhode Island but never take a job in his trained field and become an education wonk instead.

... And from the ProJo comment cesspool:

My son is in the Bio-tech program at Davies, where Ms. Gist just cut more than half the school's funding.

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