(Creativity not taught in America)

Research indicates that creativity is on the decline in American children. Now what do we do? First, read this fascinating cover story in Newsweek by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.

Neuroscience research plays a key role in our understanding of creativity.

next? It turns out that creativity needs to be nourished. Yet, in our schools now, it is largely not. We should act on this reality, teaching facts AND creativity–both are needed.

And, for starters, turn off the TVs and all those hand held electronic toys. We suspected they were bad for kids’ creativity. Well, they are. And, let the kids play outside!

(Boulder’s efforts for inclusion)

As I read this article, I am concerned about the purpose of the move to more inclusion. What is that purpose? Let’s be very clear! It is to improve learning outcomes for ALL students in the schools–regular and special education, gifted and average, ‘at risk’ and all others.

I echo and strongly support the folks who focus the purpose of inclusion on improving teaching and learning for ALL students. I am very concerned about those who focus on inclusion as a ‘civil right.’ Instead, inclusion should be based on research and best practices–for what works, not just for having all sorts of learners in classrooms together, but on improving outcomes for all of them. That is not a matter of ‘right,’ it’s a matter of pedagogy and research on what works.

Let us all keep our eye on the prize: better outcomes for all students.

Thinking a bit more about that College Board report (Friday’s blog)…..

When I came to America in 4th grade, unfortunately, it became time to slide by in my schooling. Yes, I had to learn English. And I did that. But, the substance of our learning so much easier than what I was used to…

Consider. In Holland, we had learned the multiplication tables up to 20! In our heads! No calculators. No aids. 18 x 17. 13 x 16. Etc. And it was fun!

In the public school in New Jersey, where I started my American education, students were struggling to learn the multiplication tables up to 10. 3 x 7. 8 x 9. Etc. So sad. For me, it was but the start of lowered expectations for many many years.

I wish it were different. But, apparently not. That’s why that College Board report is so troubling…

Now the College Board tells us what we instinctively kinda, sorta knew already–the US lags in college graduation rates–when compared to other countries. We used to be the world leader in education. And, we all know that education is key to our continued growth and success in the coming years. So this is a worrisome report. (US, once leader, now lags in college graduation).

What to do? Some say, OK–leave it. We don’t need to be # 1 forever. I don’t agree. I believe we need to make our best efforts and reboot–start at the K-12 levels. The fact that our schools are struggling runs up the ladder to colleges and beyond. Education continues to be a political football. In the meantime, our students do not thrive. We need to get back to those early grades. More focused on teaching the basics. More focused on teaching creativity and wonder. Less focused, in my view, on technology and gee-whiz stuff.

This all matters a lot to our country.

(Massachusetts debates joining the national standards).

Massachusetts has been touted as having among the best standards in the U.S. So now, the move is on to join the ‘national standards.’ A hot, hot controversy in the Bay State. Will this move lower the standards? Essentially bring an end to the MCAS test? Raise the standards? Have no effect really?

It’s hard to know what’s right on this issue. I have not read through the proposed standards. My question is whether the state standards are broken and if not, why fix them? Or is something else going on?

Here’s the Cato Institute take on it. Not good for Massachusetts.(CATO on “national standards” for MA).

Et tu? What do you think?

(Teaching jobs in special education, but not other fields).

I read this article with great sadness. The trend is leading education in the wrong direction. The way to improve special education is to improve regular education. We need to add more teachers–especially at the early grades to teach students how to read and do math (and never need special education.) Sadly, however, this is not happening. The trend is not a good sign.

We cannot continue to grow the special education entitlement program and expect improved results for all students. This trend creates a sad day for the Commonwealth and for our country. We need to do better.