Response: In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/04/technology/technology-in-schools-faces-questions-on-value.html

No teachers needed here

The Sunday New York Times (9/4/2011) article written by Matt Richtel presents the case of the Chandler, Arizona school system.  Since 2005 Chandler has spent (excuse me, invested) 33 million dollars in advanced technologies to enhance the classroom experience.  They have done this with great enthusiasm so that the childrens’ education can keep pace with the inherently technological society in which they will inhabit.  Evidently the test scores are not reflecting the benefits of this massive investment.

Naturally, one can argue that the tests do not adequately reflect the benefits of technology, in that they were not designed to evaluate these benefits.  One thing is clear: the Chandler school system has opted, in part, to fund the purchase of electronics at the expense of the human being, i.e. the teacher.  Class sizes have steadily increased in this school system.  Teachers are not so much expected to educate as to “guide” students’ use of the computer. Can this be a good thing?

Countless years of analysis has demonstrated a strong correlation between small class sizes, excellent teachers and quality education.  Why do we strive to forego this excellent model?

Here at Happymess we use the Inspiration model:  the role of the teacher is to inspire a natural enthusiasm in the student for the subject (Math, History, Literature, Philosophy), not the object (computer, white board, compelling software).  We use a combination of primary sources (Wow! Real people said and thought just the way I do!), field trips to museums and other hands-on activities (Amazing! They made butter with that!; Look! A real nano-robot!), literature (This story makes me feel hungry, tired and scared) and old-fashioned studying, memorizing and writing (once we have something intelligent to say, i.e. post-research).

In short, we strive to inspire the student to explore the world the way was in the past, is in the present and will be in the future.  Most importantly, we emphasize each day for the student to seek what role they will play to better our society and to be valuable contributors.

Education has a purpose.  It is not to be on the cutting edge of technology, not to post higher test scores but to improve the world we live in through genuine knowledge, compassion and implementation.

Lights Out after Irene

We are still in the dark one week after Hurricane Irene and the Happymess kids are surprised at how many things in our home require electricity:  everything!

Sometimes it is more fun without lights!

One question that the kids keep asking is, “When will the power come back?”  It leads one to wonder what people did in the days before electricity was invented, which, contrary to my childrens’ belief, really wasn’t too long ago.

And, speaking of kids and electricity, this website was created by a team of high schoolers for the National History Day competition: http://89716929.nhd.weebly.com/ This site explores the Rural Electrification Act and the process of electrifying America.

Once again I find myself inspired by what kids can create.

China's Lost Girls: A Documentary

Documentary films are an excellent way. to teach children about varying cultures. Frequently a film can give a sense of immediacy which helps a child's comprehension.

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China's Lost Girls is an excellent documentary for any school age child. This film documents the travels and travails that several American families face as they undergo the process of adopting a Chinese (girl) baby. The film gives personal accounts of how the Chinese one child only policy has impacted individual families. the country of China, and particularly the fate of women. This film makes a complex political policy easily understandable and accessible to all audiences. I recommend this film in conjunction with any humanities program which seeks to teach policy within the framework of compassion.

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