Monday, September 6, 2010

When education is "pull" not "push"

Charles Leadbeater searched the globe for education methods that work - and found them in surprising places.

"Imagine an education system that started the day with a question, not from knowledge to be imparted.  Or started with a game, not with a lesson. Or started with the premise that you have to engage people first before you can possibly teach them."

Watch this 18 minute talk and then check out the example of innovation he mentions called Big Picture schools. Download the brochure here.


themommy said...

I love this!

Ella Smith said...

This is so true. Recently I was at a forum and Dr. Walker said that all we have to do is have high expectations of our students. He discussed the high school he attended and how his grandmother who raised him just had high expectations and he performed.

I agree that this may work for many students. However, for many students this is not enough. We try to push information down their throats and have the expectations and the students are still not drinking the knowledge. Some of the problem is motivation and we do have to reinvent the way we try to motivate these type of students in the schools. Part of the problem is we need to spend more time pulling and challenging our students to learn. Statistics are on lectures show us students do not learn best this way. However, many adults who learned through this form expect this type of learning for their children.

We also do need to supplement and try to make sure students basic needs are met so students can learn. Many students now are coming to come so burdened, many are hungry and do not have the support at home to expect those high expectations. Support needs to be supplemented if we are going to overcome the gaps.

Many are so opposed to the trends of education for all for the future. More and more classes are being offerred online which requires more pulling of information that pushing of information from adults and students. I have taken classes online and find them challenging and in some cases more affective than being in a class listening to a lecture. This type of setting takes self-discipline but it is much more convenient to adults and to many students who do not like the traditional way of pushing of information of our schools.

We are going to have to see changes in the way we attempt to close the gaps in education. However, expectations along is not going to change the problem. Expectations, changes in the way we educate students in the future and accountability of our schools have all got to play a part in changing the education for students around the world. We have got to make our schools a better place for all our students regardless of who they are or how they learn.

Paula Caldarella said...

Does this article that was found on the link Cere provided ring a bell?

Anonymous said...

"Close the Gap?" Let's talk about what that actually means (or is it taboo?). There is a difference in standardized testing scores between different ethnic groups - obviously, or the saying "close the gap" would never have come about.

Asian and white students tend to outscore black and hispanic students in most tested areas. So when you (you meaning anyone who repeats the phrase) say "close the gap" you are saying (whether you want to admit it or not) either lower the scores of Asian and white, OR raise the scores of black and hispanic, OR a mixture of the two. How else can the gap be closed???

Why can't we drop the BS "close the gap" talk and instead focus on raising achievement of ALL students. Our students must be able to compete on an international level. And I think we are all aware of our math and science scores as compared to other those from other nations.

So can we drop "close the gap" and go with "raise the bar" or just "get ready for the world." How about any phrase that doesn't cause us to focus our attention only on some groups and not others. I think you are right in that respect Ella, we do need to make our schools a better place for ALL our students.

Why such a big deal over this? Because, as the saying goes: Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions.

Cerebration said...

Good article DM! I'm a big believer in these kinds of career-oriented high schools. High school students can be very concrete and always want to know "when will I need this in my life"? Career tech focused programs open their minds - make them feel that they have viable skills and talents and that the associated learning has meaning to their futures.

Check out this one in my home town - they have a waiting list to get it. The students absolutely love going to this school -


Project-focused learning is very effective. Students learn because there is an end to the means. They want to build something, put on a show, create a musical, solve a crime, etc- and associated lessons go along with the projects. Say, your class puts on a Shakespearian play - this is a great opportunity to study Medieval times.

There's even a new pre-school, early childhood program from the Netherlands that focuses on learning in this way -

Anonymous said...

Many years ago, I toured the Gwinnett County Schools technical school.

It was a fabulous facility with lots of different pathways. And plenty of students who planned to go on to a 4 year college as well as plenty who had a different path in mind.

Somehow, in the US, technical education has gotten stigmatized. There seems to be a push for 4 year colleges only. When I hear "leaders" speak of the need for college for everyone, I often wonder if they know who will be fixing their broken toilet in 20 years or who will be taking care of their parent in a nursing home.

Ludicrous and short sighted. WE need a workforce with a variety of skills.

Cerebration said...

Relative to curriculum and learning --

DCSS Instructional Framework
Parents, students, community members and business partners are cordially invited to attend an upcoming informational seminar "Let's Talk about the DCSS Instructional Framework" hosted by Dr. Morcease J. Beasley, Interim Deputy Superintendent.

Please plan to attend one of the following sessions:
Thursday, Sept. 9: 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at Columbia Middle School,
3001 Columbia Dr., Decatur, GA 30034

Tuesday, Sept. 14: 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at Dunwoody Elementary School,
1923 Womack Rd., Dunwoody, GA 30338

Saturday, Sept. 18: 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. at DeKalb Schools Administrative and Instructional Complex,
1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd., Stone Mountain, GA 30083

Expect to learn more about the following:

Seven Steps for Teaching and Learning in DCSS
District Practices, Strategies and Initiatives
Evidence of Student Engagement
Evidence of Success
Marzano's Nine High Yield Strategies
Webb's Depth of Knowledge (DOK)
70-70 Expectation
K-12 Professional Learning Focus
K-12 Math Improvement Plan

Anonymous said...

Well, I'll keep my skepticism in check, but I hope Mr. Beasley's first two topics include ways to put more teachers and tutors in the classrooms in order to get some clear results.

And how, exactly, does one measure Student Engagement?

And here's the link to Marzano's Nine High Yield Strategies.....our teachers already know this. I swear if this guy makes them waste their time with an inservice on this, I'll scream!'s+Nine+High+Yield+Strategies&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

Anonymous said...

As parents, I hope we will turn out in large numbers at the meetings and demand Beasley address the issue of larger class sizes and a bloated central office.

In addition, our children's teachers need to know that we have their backs and if this means making Beasley squirm, than so be it.

Anonymous said...

I have been in the Rockdale Career Academy and that thing is an amazing facility. They have all sorts of avenues for the "hands on" students. I believe that not everyone is destined for a traditional college. My sibling is at a technical school and will make more money with a 2 year degree than I will with my 2 degrees. This redesigned curriculum is awesome, but when you have state guidelines and NOW MORE federal ones its sadly a pipe dream right now.

Anonymous said...

DCSS' officials, and frankly parents, lack the ability to think outside the box.

I have a friend who is a principal at a high school with a certified technical program. The students end up employable straight out of high school.

She says that when she mentions the program to parents, most just bristle and say they want their kids to go to college. The principal tries to point out that they aren't taking a college prep curriculum, the parents then tell her that their child needs the 3.0 to get HOPE.

It is a vicious circle.

Anonymous said...

The big white elephant in the Dekalb county school system that no one is talking abt is the fact that the reason the Black & Hispanic students are not testing well, or may not ever test well, is probably owing to some unknown or known cultural factors that are not at all politically correct to talk abt. I'm Black,& live in a surrounding county outside Dekalb. I can state emphatically that my kids will always stay in a mixed environment which seems to bring out the best in minority students. No amount of Morcease Beasley scholarship can help these kids when many don't have the support at home & constantly stay on the phone socializing 24/7.

Anonymous said...


This is not just a DeKalb issue, this is a national issue.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting article in today’s NY Times titled
Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits

here’s the money shot;

“Take the notion that children have specific learning styles, that some are “visual learners” and others are auditory; some are “left-brain” students, others “right-brain.” In a recent review of the relevant research, published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a team of psychologists found almost zero support for such ideas. “The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing,” the researchers concluded.
Ditto for teaching styles, researchers say,”

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 12:16 PM

Were you, by chance, at the Dunwoody-Chamblee Parents Council meeting on September 1? Beasley was blathering on about the 7 Steps. It was clear that he had NO CLUE what it is like to be in a classroom -- especially an overcrowded classroom. Everything on his agenda for the upcoming meetings is stuff he has read about and thinks would be a good idea -- but he has no idea why. It is just the education flavor-of-the-month touted by a person who is truly ignorant. In reality it is just more busy work he is heaping on our teachers. He is taking away our teachers' ability to work with our students.

Anonymous said...

These are OUR schools, OUR teachers and OUR students. We must take our schools back from Bealey and Tyson who are second-rate bureaucrats at best and who, between them, do not have even 10 years of solid in-the-classroom experience.

We must DEMAND that Beasley be dismissed!

Frankly, I believe that our teachers would manage just fine without Beasley. And, I would suggest getting rid of Tyson, too, but that would possibly open the door to Bob "Background Noise" Moseley as an "interim."

themommy said...

If I could get pass my gut feeling that the man wants to be superintendent, I could almost feel sorry for Beasley.

To me it seems like others have posted here, he has no idea what he is doing and has, like so many others in DCSS, been put into a position that he has no business holding.

However, I think he wants the big job and I think he thinks he knows what he is doing and so he is very dangerous.

Go to these meetings and ask him hard questions. The study from the NYT about learning styles is a good one and also the recent study disputing the value of using test scores to evaluate teachers.

We need parents at each meeting prepared to drill the man about the real changes needed at our lowest performing schools, not this gooblikook that he is pushing.

themommy said...

And be sure to ask him, why in a system as diverse as DCSS, he seems to be on a one size fits all rampage?

TeachForDekalb said...

I am a high school teacher in Dekalb county. People need to understand that Beasley and his ilk in the central office are nothing more than quacks. Moreover, the underlying thrust of their quackery is racist. Their "theories" victimize black students who are already far behind in many areas. These children need competent teachers who expect them to sit and absorb complex information. And an administration whose primary mission is to ensure that these conditions exist. Instead, we have someone like Beasley and his minions, who are little more than poster boys and girls for the "let me justify my job" approach to education. We are long overdue for a thorough housecleaning.

Anonymous said...

Many of the things that we think that we are doing right for our children are incorrect. We should have teachers reading the book Nuture Shock. The administrators should be reading it as well.

Anonymous said...

We don't need to read any more books on how to teach. Did you have to read a book on how to be a parent? This is ridiculous. How did education manage to occur before the theory of education?

Learning was taking place. Teaching was taking place. Then along came the psychologists, the professors, the educational consultants. Theories, studies, justifications, terminology, all rolled together into one big turd.

What's missing from education? Freedom for real teachers to actually practice what is an art - not a science and that is how to teach. What is missing? Teachers who actually have a degree in the subject they are teaching. What is missing? Parents that demand their child behave and that let their child face the consequences of misbehavior or laziness at an early age so they don't have to face the same lessons at a latter stage in life with more serious consequences.

Anonymous said...

Bravo to the comments above.

Be True to Your School said...

Thanks, Teach for DeKalb!

Quack! That's exactly the word to describe Morcease Beasley. He is a quack. A snake oil salesman. He is stealing from our children. Even worse, he is stealing from the children who are at the highest risk ... the children who have no back-up at home ... no support ... and a weak foundation in academic basics. They have no one to be their advocate.

Beasley knows that. He is the worse kind of racist. An African-American who preys on African-American children with his eduspeak quackery, knowing that no one will speak up for them.

Beasley is the worst kind of racist. He is a fake educator. Our children deserve so much better. Our disadvantaged children -- mostly African-American and Hispanic -- are desperate for so much better.

Cerebration said...

Actually, that looks like a very interesting book.

The article also mentions another book, "Escaping the Endless Adolescence,". I found statements in the article to ring true to my experience as a parent of teens.

Allen has concluded that our urge to protect teenagers from real life – because we don’t think they’re ready yet – has tragically backfired. By insulating them from adult-like work, adult social relationships, and adult consequences, we have only delayed their development. We have made it harder for them to grow up. Maybe even made it impossible to grow up on time.
Basically, we long ago decided that teens ought to be in school, not in the labor force. Education was their future. But the structure of schools is endlessly repetitive. “From a Martian’s perspective, high schools look virtually the same as sixth grade,” said Allen. “There’s no recognition, in the structure of school, that these are very different people with different capabilities.” Strapped to desks for 13+ years, school becomes both incredibly montonous, artificial, and cookie-cutter.

Dekalbparent said...

Coincidentally, I was talking with a friend this weekend who told me her 17-year-old wants to stop going to school and get a GED, because it is so boring. She wants the student to finish the current year, but then she is considering the idea.

The student is NOT a slacker - s/he has already been working at a demanding job over the summer and after school, has plans to expand the current job into a full-time business (and has a sound plan to do so), wants to continue with a band in the off-hours, and has explored joint enrollment (part-time at a college)as well as looking into continuing at a technical college.

This student has solid plans and a proven record of sensible outside-the-box thinking. School has just become the "extended sixth grade" mentioned above. I could not think of a reason my friend should not give he idea a fair shake.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:30 Nurture Shock has nothing to do with teaching, but with parenting, interacting with children, and how we (yes all of us) are failing our children. It is research based, solid research.

In my opinion, if just a few of the things in Nurture Shock were used in our education systems across America along with our homes, our children would be better prepared for the real world when they graduate from high school and high school would be a much more meaningful experience.

As an educator and avid reader of books in the field of education and parenting, I knew some of these studies, but not all of them. Look on the web site and I am sure that you could learn a thing or two as well.

Anonymous said...

To DeKalb Parent
Why not get a GED?
Because if that "solid" business plan falls through, that former student will find that in today's job market, writing the letters GED on your application and resume' don't look so great. Explaining to a potential employer that you were bored with being in school doesn't sound much better. There are several well known business people who dropped out . . of college. I'm not so sure about dropping out of HS.

Until we are able to change schools, students have to accept that it is what it is. We can do it better, but with the way this county is run, I wouldn't hold my breath.

To anon 11:42pm
Nurture Shock has nothing to do with teaching, but with parenting, interacting with children, and how we (yes all of us) are failing our children. It is research based, solid research. Every single theory is "research based" As a matter of fact, I did some research this morning when I looked at my lesson plans for the week and my research shows that I'm not failing your children. Seriously, saying something is "research based" is like telling people to get ready for the smell, because the BS is about to come out full flow.

If you have to read a book on parenting and how to interact with children, you may want to think about that. It pretty much comes natural to most people and if it doesn't, well, I doubt a book is going to help.

Cerebration said...

Well, I must not be a very natural parent, then, as I have certainly read a whole lot of books on the subject. Maybe I'm just not as confident as you, Anon, but I do need help and guidance.

As far as the GED, I didn't know this until recently, but the military won't accept GEDs (at least the Air Force - but double-check this, I could be wrong).

DM, Tell your friend to look into Faith Academy. It's accredited, regular high school but you do the work on your own, on your own schedule, turning in weekly assignment packets. (Allowing you to work at a job.) The Georgia Virtual Academy is also good (not DeKalb's DOLA).

Faith Academy
Georgia Virtual Academy

Cerebration said...

Also, many people may not be aware of a very interesting optional charter high school program DeKalb offers called Gateway to College. (I believe this is a Bill & Melinda Gates initiative). Anyway, it's high school - and college simultaneously. Classes take place at GA Perimeter in Clarkston. I'm not sure about the rules, but I think you may have to be a junior and make this two year commitment. So you go a year longer than high school, but in the end, you get a high school diploma plus a two year associates degree.

Contact Us:

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:42

Nurture Shock has to do with how adults interact with children. Teachers interact with children in a similar way that parents do. I have often see teachers do and say things that are meant to be positive, but are really hurting our children.

I look at this video on praise and have see teachers praise children for the wrong things. As a teacher, I have done it, thinking that I am raising self confidence.

As a district we do not allow teachers to give students the grades that they earn. We do not allow teachers to stick to due dates and require them to give students multiple chances to do better. Is this really good for our children? Are we hurting them or helping them?

Even the way that teachers speak to their children can effect how well they do. As a teacher, I have seen teachers speak at their students and not to their students. I have also seen teachers not use broad and sophisticated vocabularies with children (maybe because they do not have them themselves, or maybe because they do not think that the children can handle it). Did you know that this is hurting our children?

So my friend, I know that teachers in DCSS would benefit from reading a book like this, rather than follow the top brass like a group of sheep. Many things that you are asked to do and are doing in the name of "helping the children/students" is really harming them.

Anonymous said...

Maureen Downey is blogging about the NY Times article and other "assumptions" in education that people treat as facts.

It is an interesting discussion.

Anonymous said...


I think that if the GED is the path they choose to go, it is very important that they take classes at community college, if they have any inkling that in the next few years they may want a Tier 1 4 year college.

The parent's forum at Collegeconfidential is a great source for information.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know that non-public students can take classes at GA Virtual School. They can, though space is limited.

I have a friend whose child took a class through GA Virtual school. They found the teacher was great but it was hard to find the discipline necessary to take a virtual class. She ended up doing well though and growing up some too.

Anonymous said...

To Anon September 7, 2010 8:51 AM

You said:
So my friend, I know that teachers in DCSS would benefit from reading a book like this, rather than follow the top brass like a group of sheep. Many things that you are asked to do and are doing in the name of "helping the children/students" is really harming them.

I'm glad you "know" that all teachers would benefit from reading yet another book on what we are doing wrong and how to do it better . . . this year, but you shouldn't impart your traits, needs, or shortcomings on the occupation as a whole. Secondly, if this book is so great - then the "top brass" should be reading it. Third, I don't follow the top brass like a sheep. I implement what they require because that is part of being an employee and to do otherwise would be insubordination - tenure doesn't shield you from that. Note that implementing what DCSS requires does not mean I am no longer teaching. Competent teachers find a way to work the requirements into what they are already doing.

Lastly, if you are a teacher at DCSS and you went to work on this fine sunny critical work day (yes, today when you posted is a critical day because it followed a holiday), what were you doing posting during work hours???? (Maybe you could benefit from some books on how to be a better teacher. hahahahahaha)

Anonymous said...

Maybe it would help if everyone started lobbying the BOE and Ms. Tyson for Morcease Beasley to be required to 'guest teach' his theories 20 hours or so a week in various classrooms around the district (K-12) so that teachers could "observe" him at work and "learn" from him (no one needs to know who's learning from whom) -- one can then see the fruits of his ideas and how they really work in the overcrowded classrooms and see how they work......

Dekalbparent said...

Coming back to this thread late - I will tell my friend about Faith Academy and Ga Virtual School.
DECA looked good for me, but when we checked it out, my child was "not qualified" for DECA, because she was not "of color" (this was a couple years ago, so things might have changed). I will mention it, but my friend's child is not "of color" either.

The student has already checked into how a GED will affect admission to college, and said that it would be accepted as long as the required standardized test scores are also there. The student fully intends to go to college or a technical school - just had it with high school.

I know for a fact that when my kids were looking at colleges (the 4-year kind), every single one of them said that a GED was all right, as well as home schooling (where you don't have a school district's stamp of approval). When I think about the kids I knew in college who started a bit later, they did well because of the maturing effect of the work world.

My own kid left college after freshman year, worked and got an A.S. degree from GPC. I was afraid it would be hard to get her to go for a B.A., but she did, after working another semester (she graduated GPC in December.)

She says she "doesn't have time for all that partying and other junk - just wants to hang with her senior and grad student friends, keep her head down and get that degree ASAP".

Cerebration said...

Weird. I personally know a couple of white students currently in the DECA program. I'm sorry someone told you that. It's totally not true. The program has nothing to do with color, but they do look at the student's struggles vs motivation. They first place you in a sort of "try out" group where you learn study skills, etc... That's all I know.

Molly said...

According to the DECA website, enrollment is limited to 100 9th graders each year. Students who will be the first in their family to attend college are given preference. Students must also be legal residents of the U.S.