Thursday, January 6, 2011

Help this school board member educate innovatively in her district

School board member Lisa Cooley is on a mission to fix public education and she has some great ideas. She has reached out to innovative educators directly via email and has asked them for feedback on her manifesto that explains her take on how We can fix public education. Cooley is frustrated by the industrial model of education and questions why it’s still in use if it produces so many kids who can barely read or do simple math, are unaware of history or geography and scientifically illiterate?

She has alternative approaches in mind including moving from a deficit model of teaching to a strength-based model and advises that motivation is critical. She laments that this is where the institutional lack of regard for children's wishes and needs acts as a crowbar stuck in the gears. Unfortunately, as it stands, schools are not designed to find what children want to learn. I it were, she explains, they’d be much more willing to take on what we need them to learn, and they will learn it well. She asks educators to take a leap of faith and give control of education to children themselves. Afterall, shouldn’t students own their learning?

Cooley recommends schools look at models like one in Sao Paulo, Brazil where there is a small school where they engage in a model of teaching and learning called Lifelike Pedagogy. The basis for Lifelike Pedagogy is a respect for the wishes and needs of children that equals the respect that we, as adults, insist upon. The teachers there ask that we...
think as a child. What are your interests? The child needs to laugh, to dream, to fool around, to test the adults, to construct, to deconstruct, to investigate… The child needs all this and also the respect from parents and teachers for his feelings and actions.
Through a democratic process, children in this school pick a topic, a theme to be explored. They figure out how to go about exploring it. They investigate, and pull together ideas for an activity that will build their understanding of the topic. Then they go about doing what needs to be done to accomplish the activity. If funds need to be raised for a field trip or a play, for example, they figure out a way to raise the funds. All the obstacles that exist in the world when trying to accomplish something become evident to the students, who do what they can to solve them.

Cooley would like innovative educators to share her ideas and wants you to visit her blog and share feedback and insights.

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