A group of elite private high schools has proposed posting a transcript of "mastery" instead of grades. Sounds great! But I fear that if there is a list of “competencies” and “skills” that elite students achieve, there will be summer boot camps and counselors advising them on how to raise their “competencies” so that their non-transcript will still stand out.
It will still be a game, but a non-numeric game.
With Netta Avineri and Eric J. Johnson, I've addressed a report in the Washington Post on the many contextual factors affecting children in poverty. The well-intentioned plans to teach poor families of color “better” or “the right” ways to be parents ignores recent work that now points to a culturally sustaining education that builds on the knowledge of students of color rather than erasing it.
Why are people poor? Why do children of the poor not thrive?
The latest explanation for why children coming from disadvantaged households do not rise in this land of equal opportunity, why they do not do well in school, is that they are exposed to “thirty million fewer words” by the time they enter school.
If only it were so simple.
Read it on Huffington Post, or click "Read More"
A huge shakeup in the world of higher education was announced on Wednesday: The SAT would again be transformed. But the bigger questions are hard to address, so like Ptolemaic astronomy, we fix the details without questioning the system.
The Proceedings of a conference, Learning In and Out of School: Education Across the Globe, held at the University of Notre Dame's Kellogg Institute for International Studies on May 22-23, 2012, are now available!
This is envisioned as a contribution to broadening the scholarly but also the public conversation about the nature of learning and its relationship to the formal institutions we know as schools. In that sense, posting proceedings is a necessary offering.
We—anthropologists, psychologists, human development and education scholars from as far as Korea and Alaska—met for two full days during a gorgeous spring week just following graduation, with flowers and warmth and the peace of an academic year just completed. We ate wonderful food throughout the day and night, and had many informal conversations along with the formal proceedings. As convener, I aimed to implement my best understanding of how people learn and how they interact by structuring the conference with no papers delivered. This is somewhat like “flipping the classroom”: the independent preliminary work that could be done in advance was done in advance—writing and reading papers and preparing comments on others’ work—and the precious face-to-face time was used for what could only be done that way: discussing, asking, brainstorming, and laughing together.
Just after the 2013 gaokao, Chinese parents in one small city complained, rioted, saying, "We want fairness. There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat."
Claims have been made recently that China is a meritocracy, not a democracy, because its leaders have risen through examinations and testing.
But like in the US, where SAT and college admission to elite universities tracks almost completely with socioeconomic status, in China the well-off have the means to pay the bribes that ensure school success all along the way.
(Also on Huffington Post)
Susan D. Blum
Who doesn't think there is something wrong with education? Anthropology has a lot to offer when we think about how to raise up our young--in often unexpected ways! Join me as my thinking about higher education unfolds.
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