Friday, October 18, 2013

Are We Failing Superman... or Can We Be the Heroes?

I discovered this truly remarkable video last night.
It is easily my favorite YouTube educational video of all time for any number of reasons.

I grew up reading comic books.  LOVING comic books. Adoring them. I had hundreds of them (and still have them- I'm waiting for my son and daughter to be old enough to be responsible enough to "inherit" them). While many adults scoffed at my preferred choice of reading material, but I have always felt that comic books should be accepted as having literary worth. Not all comics have literary worth, of course, but I would argue that just as many novels out there are not worthy of that designation either.

When utilizing my vocabulary and so many turns of phrases each day in my communication, I am often cognizant of where I learned many linguistic tools of my trade from... comic books.  The same way that many adults remember a favorite teacher, I remember favorite issues, stories and characters and how they shaped my thinking and communication.

That being said, it will be obvious why this video appeals to me.

When you watch it, it will also be obvious why now, as an adult, as an educator, this video appeals to me as well.  Because is is dead solid perfect in it's message. I have discussed many of these themes in a previous blog post, and have discussed most of the other points in private conversations with my fellow administrators and our teachers.

Aside from the many references to superheroes that might escape you if you are not a fan and add to the overall enjoyment of the piece... there are overarching themes that are inescapably provocative and thought provoking.

Everybody is different and have various interests and abilities, just like superheroes, so why are we expecting kids to learn the same things at the same time and expect them to be interested, engaged and successful?

High school diplomas value only a small percentage of humanity's skills and knowledge.

A one size fits all curriculum is blind to our natural aptitudes and intellects.

Why do we think that what prepared children to be successful in the 50's (or 1850's) can adequately still prepare kids for the future?

Why do we have kids learning to do things by hand that no one does by hand anymore?  No statistician calculates a mean  deviation by hand, and you don't really need to in order to understand what it's for or how to use it. So why do we still do it?

If a question can be answered in one second using a smartphone, why are we asking it?  If we are just testing a student's memorization skills... then just do that... but it's only a tiny fraction of their intelligence and ability to understand and work with complex ideas and applications.

In your adult life, do you ever learn something just in case you might need it five or ten years into the future?  Of course not.  So why are we force feeding tons of curriculum into kids for that same reason?

We weren't born in factories from a mold and we don't develop at the same time and same way either, so why do we group kids by age and expect them all to learn the same things in the same amount of time?

The best teachers aren't those who know the most, but those who believe in you the most.  Who help you to develop the most.  They do this by offering the right challenges at the right time, asking the right questions and providing the right feedback. Books and computers can not coach you, encourage you or help you discover your passions... that's why teachers are so important.

A high school diploma doesn't prove that anyone knows or can do anything, really.  It's not a testimony to knowledge, but to perseverance.  It's about patience, not learning.

People knowing and being able to do different things is not only what we need, but it's a truer reflection of who we are as a society.

So what's your Hypokryptonite?  Do you value rote memory over analysis and evaluation or creation in your classroom?  Do you need to work on developing skills as a coach or a guide while giving up your traditional role as the repository of human knowledge, the "expert" in the room?  Are you an administrator who wants to make positive change but something or someone is holding you back from action that you know is good for kids?

How can we all use our own superpowers together to make positive changes in education? Let's advocate and share and work together for a progressive education system that will prepare today's kids for lives in the actual world that they will be entering and leading very soon.  Not the one we lived in.  Not the one that the current No Child Left Behind and National Curriculum (PARCC) are forcing kids into while simultaneously standardized testing them into frustration, depression and failure like Batman's villains would hope to do to him.

“Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.” - Brodi Ashton

Avengers Assemble!!

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