I hope you all are now loyal MiddleL subscribers now, what with all the action happening these days. And as always on the MiddleL list, I have picked up a more than a few ideas that I am actually going to use out of all this drama. Even from people I wouldn’t usually find myself agreeing with.¬†¬†Here’s a “previously on” for those who ain’t in.

In this corner we have a young whippersnapper of a teacher who obviously takes his job seriously and is good at it, but comes off a tad self-righteous. He has the point of view that we can measure intelligence and learning, and while our current tests may be a bit lacking, high-stakes testing is not inherently bad. He comes from a charter school sort of background and has about 10 years on the job. His name is Mr. Lee.

And in the other corner, we have the current MiddleL champeen, Marion Brady, who says that our whole discussion about education is being dictated by corporations who have no interest in actually reforming a broken system that is outdated and unsuited to a modern 21st century society. He believes that out current method of assessing student learning is nothing more than a money-making proposition, and that the way we fragment curriculum into discreet “disciplines’ undermines real learning which only takes place when we make connections between seeming unrelated things.

Kelli, over in the comment gallery, can tell me if that recap is close enough.

Rooting from the sidelines we have several veterans and many people we haven’t seen posting before. I guess drama brings out the participant in people.

The main conflict, I think, came from a basic disagreement about what learning is. Mr. Lee asserts that we can and do measure learning all the time, and he cites examples like how many multiplication problems one can do in a certain amount of time, or how many words a person can define, or whether a person can answer comprehension questions correctly after reading a passage. Mr. Brady’s respons to these examples was, “whatever.” A rather teenage response for an 80+ year old man, but one I can back. Mr. Lee just doesn’t get Marion’s point. Does being able to do 120 multiplication problems in 20 minutes mean you’re ready to create the next Apple corporation or prepare you to deal with 21st century problems like overpopulation or global warming or suchlike? No dice, cheese slice.

There was also a tone of disrespect, which I think is where most of the drama came from. And once that started, the sidelines flooded the field.

Mr. Brady’s supporters were many and vocal.

All of a sudden, somebody chimes in that the charter school where Mr. Lee’s students made such great gains in test scores was closed amid a scandal. Now it’s like the Fox network during election season. He wasn’t involved, but still… etc. From what I can tell, the students at the charter in question did make great strides, but it took things like a school day that went to 5:30. The scandal was unrelated to the academic gains and Mr. Lee was not involved and is now successfully teaching elsewhere. He also writes self-published books, which brings me to my first point of agreement with Mr. Lee.

The classroom as casino.

See you on Wednesday. More drama and a couple new ideas.

Speaking of self-published books… might there be any interest in a Kindle book version of the first year or so of posts from your humble blogger? I have the software for making a Kindle book, and I have been editing and combining and such, and I was thinking of doing one of those pay-what-you-think-it’s-worth things. Just think, you could take me on the go, and have all those pithy observations and funny stories in the palm of your hand. Fun huh? I was thinking of calling it, You Gotta Have a Shtick (or a Stick).