NAU Peak Conference 2007

I’ve been churning over the words of Dr. Tim Tyson, who I recently saw at the NAU Peak Conference. There were several things that he said that really stood out to me:

  1. Childhood as we now it today, did not exist until the last 10-20 years. His point was that until fairly recently, children were given responsibility and right to be a contributing member of their family and community. Now children have very little responsibility or rights.I’ve been watching the students at my middle school for the last few days looking for students doing something beyond themselves. Not surprisingly, I was unable to find a student with any exciting going on. The majority of students that I have had the chance to speak with want to do or be something, but don’t have the tools to be active in their community or family.
  2. Another point was that students are not asked to help solve world problems. He talks about how an overwhelming majority of teachers believe students could change the world, but an overwhelming majority of students are not doing anything.I think that anybody who has been in education for at least five years feels like something major is missing. I remember my teachers telling me about the hole in the ozone and we did projects about the deforestation of the rain-forests, now all students do is the basics. Instead, teachers are reverting back to worksheets and direct instruction. Why do we keep trying to make our schools into factories?
  3. Finally, Dr. Tyson pointed out something that we all know deep down, but may not always been fully aware. State standards are minimum expectations.There seems a perverse paradox that in the process of meeting minimum standards we are destroying amazing educational opportunities for students. We keep lowering the bar and dragging students down, instead of giving them the world that is so easily accessible with cheap, readily available technologies.

    California State professor, Art Costa, recently said: “What was once educationally significant, but difficult to measure, has been replaced by what is insignificant and easy to measure. So now we test how well we have taught what we do not value.”

    from Dr. Tyson’s blog

I also got the chance to present for the first time. It was not great, but my audience was wonderful and we had a great conversation about WordPressMU.