Education Evolutions #72

The future of books flickr photo by Johan Larsson shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Select Readings and Thoughts on Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age

Alright, two weeks in a row is a good way to restart this little pet project. I must admit I am trying to streamline things a bit more and I may have to use a new method of distribution in the near future. More on that later, perhaps.

Last week I did not include the “If you read only one article…” bit, but this week would have to be the last two pieces. We all need reminders from time to time about the young people we work with every day. Plus, many of us are parents and have a bit more instruction and care to give. Those articles are good medicine, I think.

As we close out September, have a great week.

Here are three+ curated articles about education, technology, and evolutions in teaching.

Misreading the Reading Wars Again (and Again) – Radical Eyes for Equity –  PL Thomas (6-minute read)

I love a good takedown as much as anyone and this is a good one. There is a lot of pretty terrible education journalism out there. And here, Thomas exposes a National Public Radio story about lagging reading levels in children and why educators are failing, highlighting the flawed premise, poor sources, and biggest factor that is routinely taken as a given.

Like a lot of false claims about education, some lies never really go away. To suggest that schools do not teach reading well is comical if one takes a minute to consider that we are at a point where more students graduate from high school and attend college in this country than at any point in human history. As Thomas explains, beating the drum of poor reading instruction always opens the commercial door for a solution.

I deeply appreciate how Thomas unmasks the sources used to support this story. While journalists cannot know everything, they ought to at least know something about the veracity of their sources. What’s worse is that it would seem that neither the reporter for the original article nor anyone in an editorial capacity is capable of understanding some of the fundamental theoretical tensions in the field.

My favorite part is the section about the accountability era’s corruptive and corrosive impact. As tests have become more important than ever, they have reduced reading to a mechanistic operation, as well as the reductive issues that Thomas raises. Additionally, I would argue that his final section defending teacher preparation is actually connected to the accountability regime. The teaching profession has been under attack for decades as a result, which is one of many factors that drive top-down, purchase-a-program mentalities that compounds the problems rather than offering solutions.

What teens wish their parents knew about social media – The Washington Post –  Ana Homayoun (5-minute read)

I am not sure that this article raises any earth-shattering information but it serves as a good reminder of just how different things are for today’s teens. The proliferation of always-connected devices and permissive parenting practices has created some pretty challenging circumstances. Yet, what never changes is the tension teens feel between wanting to become independent and autonomous and occasionally recognizing that maybe they might need some help from adults.

While the secrets should not be terribly surprising to anyone paying close attention, the real value is the suggestions. The idea of not engaging a teenager about their social media habits and preferences as a parent seems to me to verge on neglect. Conversation over attempts to control seem like the only meaningful way to provide support without being completely ignorant – for both parents and their kids. Any parent that is willing to hand their kid a mobile phone with the ability to access nearly any kind of content in the world and not have some hard conversations is probably headed for some real trouble.

What Teens Think of the Kavanaugh Accusations – The Atlantic –  Joe Pinsker (6-minute read)

I don’t know about anyone else but the unfolding drama around the current Supreme Court nominee confirmation has been engrossing. Aside from the sheer melodrama of the political theater in Washington, it seems like we are in the midst of a profoundly historical moment as if a number of cultural tectonic plates are colliding simultaneously.

In the world of American politics, there seems to be no end of examples where we let down our young people. Ploys purely played for power that set dubious precedents in our national politics are not lost on the young people that are paying attention. Plus, is there a teen alive that does not have a heightened hypocrite sensor?

This article actually gives me some hope. The thoughtfulness and understanding displayed by young people is a powerful reminder that kids today have something going on. Working in education it is easier to see that on a daily basis but it is also easier to grow a bit jaded too. Adults in the wider world would do well to have a look at this article and the one above to get a clearer picture of where the next generation struggles and what they have to offer.

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