Monday, March 29, 2010

Responses to comments on previous post

Something's up with blogger today, and my own comments are only occasionally appearing below, so I'm reposting them here.

To Barry Garelick:
Fascinating letters! Thanks for sharing them; there are several people I'd like to pass them on to.

To LexAquitas:
I hadn't consider the accountability angle on creativity and higher-level thinking. It also applies, I think, to "organizational skills."

To lgm:
Incredible story about reading level assessments. I've seen plenty of examples of this kind of Price is Right class participation affecting grades in general--but reading assessment???

To Beth:
I don't consider you the lone voice of dissent on this blog, and would be sorry to lose your voice here. 
I agree with you that kids need more free time for creativity. Indeed, that free time is the number one ingredient. Let's get rid of the homework in early grades, and let's have schools stop pretending that they can teach creativity, and pretending that it's ethical of them to grade students on creativity. They can't. It isn't.

I hope you didn't think I was presenting the Chinese system as the panacea for everything. Please reread me. However, since you bring up "my kids with autism," I will say that I imagine that high functioning kids like my son probably do better academically under the Chinese system than under the American one because of the emphasis on math and lack of mandatory group work in China. 

"In China, the group always trumps the individual."
This sounds like another one of those inaccurate stereotypes that Americans keep repeating about China. Chinese students can learn on their own; they are not forced into groups in the classroom. They are assessed as individuals, not as groups. I've taught in Hong Kong traveled extensively in China, and taught Chinese students here in the U.S., and while I do see some group effects in extracurricular socializing that are different from group effects in America, I never saw "the group always trumps the individual."

In the West "we celebrate the heroic individual who defies the group." 
I'd argue that this is less and less true in America today, especially in our schools.

"for decades the US has been known for its creativity and innovation." 
Yes, and many of those who've produced this creativity and innovation got their k12 education in schools that people now consider too "traditional"--whether they got this education in this country or abroad.

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