First-time readers, this blog is set in the future (sometime after 2020).  This entry assumes the Revenge Revolution has occurred.  For more about the anticipated 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution — and more about the author, Entry #1.  Note: most characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations.  You’ll catch on quickly.  Thanks for your time and interest…and comments. 

Scene: Conversation about education starts Entry #153. Jordan and JC, a long-time friend (and frequent character) are having dinner. Time of year – just about when school starts.

JC: “Using a standard of ‘teaching kids to think’ seems so simple. Do you think it can 010414_1635_16TeachingS1.jpgreally work?”

Jordan: “The seeming simplicity is what will make it work. I know that sounds odd but simplicity is the key.”

JC: “The measure is easy to understand. Plus it fits into the 10-second sound bite…with time to spare. I know it is easy to understand but is it really practical?”

Jordan: “What’s not practical about it? Think about your education. What did your English and math teachers instill in you?”

JC: “Some basic facts and methods first, then how to solve problems, which is really how to think.”

Jordan: “I agree, we can’t lose sight of learning the basics. I think everyone agrees on that. Now, in English class, what’s the value of diagramming? To have Diagramming Sentencesyou speak more clearly…and not split those infinitives?

JC: “To some degree. But diagramming really taught me how to think about sentence construction. To think about how words and phrases worked together to form a unit.”

Jordan: “What about math class? What did you learn?”

JC: “Now that I think about it, both in math and English classes…and other classes as well…I was taught how to approach a problem.”

TurtleneckJordan: “And how to solve a problem in a logical way. Gee, did learning to think help you in school and help you in addressing life’s problems?”

JC: “Helped me except for dealing with guys – like you, for example.”

Jordan: “I don’t understand women either so I guess we’re even. Seriously, the question for society today — ‘Are we teaching kids how to think?'”

JC: “Probably not teaching them very well, even with all those standardized tests.”

Jordan: “Give me an example.”

JC: “Here’s an easy one that you run into almost every day. How many young people at the cash register know how to make change?”

cash registerJordan: “Not many. Yesterday I had a bill for $4.88. I gave the clerk a $5.00 bill, one dime and three pennies because I wanted a quarter rather than more coins.”

JC: “Do you get a quarter or the deer-in-headlight look?”

Jordan: “Worse. I got back a dime and two pennies. Then I gave her back the change and asked for a quarter and still the ‘Duh’, reaction. I gave up.”

JC: “Do you think the public, you know the general public, can support the idea of ‘teaching kids to think’ as a direction for education?

122813_2140_15Education4.jpgJordan: “I hope so. Just for fun, let’s look at mission statements from 3-4 school boards. Curious to see what the boards think the mission of their school system is.”

JC: “Good idea. Look at Charlotte, NC, which you know well. Also, try Westport, CT…another one of your spots…NYC and San Francisco.”

Jordan: “Here’s Charlotte/Mecklenburg’s mission statement. ‘Foster a culture of excellence where proud students and educators become the craftsmen of a beautiful, quality work.'” (http://mcpsweb.org/?page_id=3307)

JC: “Huh? Wonder what that means? Try Westport.”

Jordan: “Their statement is a lot longer. ‘Our Mission is to prepare all students to reach their full potential as life-long learners and socially responsible contributors to our global community. We westport-logoachieve this by fostering critical and creative thinking and collaborative problem solving through a robust curriculum delivered by engaging and dedicated educators. We are committed to maintaining an environment that supports inquiry and academic excellence, emotional and physical well-being, appreciation of the arts and diverse cultures, integrity and ethical behavior.'” (http://www.westport.k12.ct.us/mission-statement/)

JC: “A mouthful but seems to make more sense. At least Westport talks about ‘critical and creative thinking.’ That seems like a step ahead.”

Jordan: “Let’s look for mission for New York City public schools, which I think is the largest district in the US.”

JC: “It is the largest. What’s the mission statement?”

Jordan: “I don’t know. I found mission statements for specific schools.  For the district, the only mission statement I found was under a tab for ‘early childhood,’ but no general statement.”

JC: “Surely you jest. Really?”

Jordan: “The childhood one seems OK as a start, ‘Every student in New York City deserves an opportunity to have the foundation of skills, knowledge, and approaches to learning needed to be ready for school and, ultimately, college and careers.'”  ( http://schools.nyc.gov/Academics/EarlyChildhood/mission)

JC: “So NY has a hidden general mission statement if they have one at all. What about San Francisco? They’re home to a lot of high-tech companies. What’s their mission statement?”

Jordan: “According to the website, the San Francisco school district initiated a community-wide program to develop a curriculum that would address the needs of the future.”  (http://www.sfusd.edu/en/assets/sfusd-staff/about-SFUSD/files/vision-2025-spreads.pdf)

JC: “Did they come up with a simple guiding principle?”

Jordan: “No. They have a booklet with a list of steps. Seems like a good start but still lots of verbiage. However, there is one statement that is very insightful.”

SFO LogoJC: “That is?”

Jordan: “Here’s the essence of quote. ‘If there was one surprise…it was the extent to which a shared vision already exists in our community and how easy it would be for diverse groups…to agree on the types of teaching and learning environments we want to build in San Francisco.'”

JC: “OK, Westport and San Francisco seem to have versions of what we’re talking about. NYC has a version of early students tat seems OK.  Charlotte’s mission is confusing. Here’s what I’m not confused about, I need a break.”

(Continued)

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