Archive for the ‘Issues in Education’ category

International Baccalaureate (IB)

December 18, 2009

International Baccalaureate (IB)
Lawrence P. Creedon
The international Baccalaureate or IB program emerged in the 1960s as the
International Schools Examination Syndicate (ISES). The impetus came
from a small group of practitioners at the international school in Geneva. EN
The initiative taken by the Geneva faculty was an early example of what
would be referred to today as teacher initiated action research. Their
purpose was three fold. It was to create a program: EN International
Education – Principles and Practices, Marry Hayden and Jeff
Thompson, editors, Kogan Page Limited, London, 1998, articles by
Elizabeth Fox, “The Emergence of the International Baccalaureate as
an Impetus for Curriculum Reform,” pp 65–76, and Kevin Bartlett,
“International Curricula: More or Less Important at the Primary
level,” pp 77- 91.
1. Featuring international understanding in pursuit of world peace at
international schools originally in Europe.
2. Assuring students that they would be able to gain admission into
colleges and universities throughout Europe. Schools in other
continents came later.
3. Develop examinations to assure that the curriculum reflected the
highest common denominator in all subjects required for college
admission.
The development of IB was examination driven. To that extent it reflected
the well established, but then seldom practiced, notion of first determining
what it was that students were supposed to “know” and back everything else
into it. In concept, a comparison can be drawn between the IB approach and
the mandated standardization movement currently in full swing in the United
States. However, the comparison turns into a contrast when the application
of the common concept is examined. In the IB program, as will be shown
below, an emphasis has been on high order cognitive skill development such
as analysis, compare and contrast, synthesis, evaluation and application
(Benjamin Bloom). It has been rooted in the structure of each subject area,
and its big, universal ideas, concepts and principles. In the standardization
movement in the United States the focus has been more on low order
cognitive skill development such as information and comprehension.
In its formative phase the creators of IB involved learning theorists from the
United States such as Ralph Tyler and Benjamin Bloom. EN Tyler and
Boom are clearly in the progressivist camp and today can be identified
as constructivists. E.D. Hirsch has indicated that schools in the United
States should emulate the schools of Europe. While not mentioning IB
by name a strong case can be made that the most rigorous, academically
demanding schools in Europe, are those that follow the IB program. As
indicated earlier in this piece, Hirsch has been very critical of the
influence of progressivists in public education in the United States. The
irony is that some of the very progressivists that Hirsch criticizes for
dumbing down education in the United States, are the same authorities
that the IB initiators turned to in creating the IB program. Tyler and his
associates, working under a grant from the Ford Foundation, strove to create
a program that would move away from then prevailing traditional focus and
in the context of today world in developed countries address the question:
What areas of knowledge and which competencies would equip young
people equally well for university studies and for a professional career?
The result of their inquiry led to the identification of the fundamental
educational criteria that links the underlying principles of IB with its basic
curricular structure. They cited four principles, namely: EN I would change
the reference to knowledge to information. In its context here, the term
knowledge is consistent with how Bloom uses it in his cognitive
taxonomy. However, to me knowledge ought to imply the full
application of all six of Bloom’s domains. Knowledge is high order
cognitive, information is low order cognitive. In Democracy and
Education, p. 338-339 pb, John Dewey observed: we have no right to call
anything knowledge except where our activity has actually produced
certain physical changes in things, which agree with and confirm the
conception entertained. Short of such specific changes, our beliefs are
only hypotheses, theories, suggestions, guesses and are to be entertained
tentatively and to be utilized as indications of experiments to be tried. Also,
I question the reference to extra curricular activities. When the focus is
on educating the whole person “extra-curricular” has no meaning.
There are no extras about the whole person. What goes on under the
egis of the school is either part of the seamless education of the whole
person or the school is not true to its stated purpose of educating the
whole person. There are no extras about the whole person
1. Personal reflection over the mere accumulation of knowledge
2. Training for independent work and the practical application of
knowledge
3. An international perspective in the approach to human problems
4. A link between academic and extra-curricular activities – the concept
of education ‘the whole person.’
Central to the IB understanding of what education ought to be was the
thinking of two French educators, Edgar Fauer and Jean Capelle. Faure held
that learning how to learn was the key to meaningful education. Capelle
advocated that students needed to form their own minds in their way. Both
of these precepts are consistent with a progressive or constructivist
approach. Capelle promoted the notion of depth in a few subject areas as
opposed to generalization in many. Capelle’s view was developed further
within IB by the German Hellmut Becker. Today, in the United States, this
whole approach is identified as the less is more theory. It evokes strong
reaction from proponents and opponents alike.

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Book Titles Critical of Education [2006]

December 18, 2009

Book Titles Critical of Education [2006]
There is a Crisis in Education [Silberman, 1970], and The Reason Why Johnny Can’t
Read [Flesch, 1986], and is experiencing Death at an Early Age [Kozol, 1967], is due to
The Miseducation of American Teachers [Koener, 1963]. Teaching (is) a Subversive
Activity [Postman and Weingartner, 1969]. As a result the United States is A Nation at
Risk, [USOE, 1983]. The challenge is Dare the Schools Build a New Social Order
[Counts, 1932], focusing on the Schools Our Children Deserve [Kohn, 1999], and thus
assuring that No Child is Left Behind, [USA federal law, 2002]. In the extreme what
might be needed is the Deschooling of Society [Illich, 1970].

9/11 Findings and Public Education: Intelligence, Focus and Response

December 18, 2009

1
9/11 Findings and Public Education
Intelligence, Focus and Response
by
Lawrence P. Creedon
The world has been witness of late to a situation with a universal impact that has resulted
from faulty intelligence, and a questionable, if not wrong focus, that has resulted in an
unanticipated response from those affected. I am referring to the Middle East and in
particular Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the focus of this essay is not on world affairs,
but rather what goes on behind the classroom door.
The three factors of intelligence, focus and response are by no means limited to macro
issues such as those alluded to above. In microcosm they apply to education as an
institution as well as to the practice of individuals.
In education inadequate intelligence translates to a failure to adequately diagnose the
learning needs of learners. Inadequate intelligence relates to the failure of the school to
be organized in response to what is known about how students come to know and what it
is that they need to know now and why.
A wrong focus in response to individual needs, to what goes on behind the classroom
door, or in the school as a whole, can occur as the result of several pervasive influences
including a combination of several of them. A wrong focus can stem from:
􀀂 Adherence to an ideology or a practice that does not value introspection. Such a
focus honors the status quo. It accepts on face value: “What is.” Classroom
practice as well as the organization, administration, and management of the
school remain unexamined.
􀀂 A failure to appreciate the value and findings of recognized research. Or, an
adherence to selected research that supports the stated or unspoken ideology.
Research is used to support a predetermined conclusion and current practice,
rather than to influence future direction.
􀀂 A failure to relate and apply the findings of research to current and specific
practice.
􀀂 A focus on protecting the status quo for reasons based on self interest, fear or
indoctrination. Challenging “What is” can be personally and organizationally
threatening. It can be interpreted as admitting wrongful current practice as
opposed to personal and organizational professional growth and development. It
confronts indoctrination with inquiry.
An unanticipated response in school can come in the form of learner academic failure and
youthful behavioral problems expressed as rebellion. It can come in organizational
dysfunction leading to a lack of trust and confidence in the administration and leadership.
Without trust not much of what is worthwhile will take root and flourish.
2
The impetus for stating all of the above comes from studying the 9/11 Commission
Report that chronicles in detail failings of the United States Intelligence Community as
well the political leaders in the United States for at least the past decade. Those failings,
while they did not cause the 9/11 terrorist attack, paved the way for it to happen.
Extrapolating the Commission’s findings to the plight of education is a simple task. It is
an example of where the same factors can be applied to situations in education.
A Case in Point
It is not a difficult task to identify examples of situations where specific school practices
can be characterized as functioning in response to the three factors under consideration
here. An example is a recent four day in-service professional development workshop in a
pre-school to grade eight school in Central America. The school is under the leadership
of a seasoned and dynamic female principal who is a life long resident of the community.
It is an American International School where English is the language of instruction and
an American approach to curriculum and pedagogy is followed. About one-third of the
faculty are young, highly motivated Americans. The other two-thirds are experienced,
competent, local residents. In organizational development the school is moving toward
developing and implementing a design for learning where all those who are to be affected
by a decision are involved in the process of making, implementing and being held
accountable for decisions made. In addition to the professional faculty participating in the
workshop were teaching assistants, office staff and the school nurse. I served as
workshop presenter and facilitator.
The topic of the workshop was to consider Benjamin Bloom’s six category cognitive
domain taxonomy in all dimensions of the school from management and leadership
procedures to curriculum and instruction concerns. It included all grade levels and
content areas.
Inadequate Intelligence
In that I had worked previously with many of the faculty and we had spent time
considering Bloom’s taxonomy, I assumed I had an adequate understanding of their
readiness to move immediately to amore in depth consideration of Bloom. I planned to
proceed by “teaching” Bloom to the whole community and then moving quickly to small
task teams organized by grade levels, specialization areas, and subject area disciplines.
Then, the teams would spend the next three days applying Bloom to their areas of
competence and concern.
I was not aware that recently the school had adopted a standards and benchmarks
program in response to an accreditation requirement.
Many of the faculty immediately began to have concerns about the relationship between
standards, benchmarks, and Bloom. For the first day and one-half this concern festered
below the surface. Participants struggled to find a connection. Their level of frustration
rose and during the second half of day two it surfaced. Fortunately the principal had
established a climate free of fear where doubts and concerns could be openly expressed.
The faculty expressed its concerns quizzically and not in a confrontational mode.
3
Wrong Focus
I had unwittingly contributed to a wrong focus for the workshop due to inadequate
intelligence.
Unanticipated Response
The unanticipated response of frustration and confusion by the faculty was based on the
problems related to faulty intelligence and thus wrong focus.
A Constructivist Approach
In that the basic approach to the workshop and to my previous interaction with many of
the members of the faculty was constructivist, the focus of the workshop was redesigned
in flight by its participants and preceded to a satisfactory conclusion.
As evidence of that “Happy Ending” the participants all but unanimously [a few
remained non-committal] recommended that the first in a series of follow up workshops
be scheduled.
Follow up is occurring. The intelligence issue has been resolved. The focus is where it
needs to be. And, the participant response is on message: Applying Bloom’s taxonomy to
all areas of the school program.
It works if you work it!
Ipse dixit!
Lawrence P. Creedon
lpcreedon@aol.com
http://www.larrycreedon.info
September, 2004.
Footnote: It is now March 17, 2008 and this piece was originally written three and onehalf
years ago. The track record for sustainable initiatives in education has historically
not been very good. Things slip back and what was reemerges. It is time to contact the
school and get an update. Lawrence P. Creedon.

Current Trends in Education – Then and Now: The past is Prologue or Same Circus Different Clowns

December 18, 2009

Current Trends in Education – Then and Now
The past is Prologue or Same Circus Different Clowns
Preface
This piece was originally written in 1977 and presented as a course over commercial television in
Boston, MA USA. Most of the issues and influences addressed then remain applicable today. Some
are pretty much as they were a quarter of a century ago. For some action has been taken. In a few
instances the issue is no longer applicable as it was then, but is prevalent in a modified or revised
manner. The major body of this piece as it appears below was written in 1977. The comments in
the margin raise questions as to the relevance of the issue today. It was Shakespeare who advised
us that the past is prologue. It was a former graduate student I worked with, who when reflecting on
current issues in education observed: Same circus different clowns.
1977 Current Trends in School Administration
2003 NTRODUCTION
There is no problem so big that it cannot be run away from.
Richard Bach, Illusions
In good times and bad public schools come under criticism from a large segment of the citizenry and the present-day
situation is no exception. Currently it is being suggested that public schools are too permissive and that not only have they
departed from their traditional role of developing within the young mastery of the basic skills, but also they have failed to
transmit to the young our cultural heritage and the” American Way of Life.”
The critics of education abound, and their common cry expressed in the title of several books seems to be that the Crisis In
The Classroom (Silberman, 1970), the reason Why Johnny Can’t Read (Flesch, 1955) or add – and is thus experiencing intellectual
Death At An Early Age (Kozol, 1966) – is due to what goes on Behind The Classroom Door (Goodlad and Klein, 1970).
Proclaiming that schools are neither Places For Learning (Nor) Places For Joy (Sizer, 1973), the critics have termed Teaching
As A Subversive Activity (Postman and Weingartner, 1969). and are asking for the De-Schooling of Society (1IIich, 1970).
Recently, studies have been undertaken pointing to the failure of the innovations of the 60’s and to the decline in the
quality of education as measured through standardized achievement tests as well as by college-entrance examination programs.
In addition, for the past several years, the Gallup Poll has conducted an “Annual Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitude Toward
The Public Schools”; and the findings are distressing.
A DESIGN FOR LEARNING
Failure to plan is planning for failure.
Lawrence P. Creedon
At the eye of the storm is the school administrator, the focal point of accountability. This professional growth program is
designed to provide the administrator with an opportunity to explore some of the foundational and theoretical aspects of
public education as well as to give consideration to several conternporary issues. A basic premise of the program will be that
the reason why schools are in trouble is due as much to the fact that educators are not clear about the purposes of education and
give little, if any, consideration to an exploration of how man comes to know, as it is to the argument that we live in a rapidly
changing, technologically based society in which the schools are overly permissive. If the schools are to regain and retain the
confidence of the public, then educators must be clear in their thinking as to the purpose of schooling. To that end, a design for
learning is necessary in every school and in every school system. A ten-component design will be suggested. The components
to be considered will be:
1. Goals of the school system
2. Behavioral projections for learners
3. Rationale for the discipline
4. Comprehensive concepts for the discipline
5. Instructional objectives
6. Diagnostic and evaluative tools and procedures
7. Learning activities
8. Multi-media
9. Management systems
10. Learning environment
COMING TO KNOW
What one knows is, in youth, of little moment; they know enough who know how to learn..
Henry Adams
Educators need to be students of learning theory. In general, a consideration of learning theory ,has not been included in the
professional preparation of educators. It is seldom that a kindergarten teacher, an elementary classroom teacher, or an
elementary school principal feels that he or she has anything in common with a high school teacher of physics, a vocational
teacher, or a secondary school administrator. Educators tend to be subject oriented as opposed to student centered. To be
student centered is to be concerned with how man comes to know how learning takes place.
The position taken in this program will be that the one thing all educators must hold in common is a commitment to the
exploration of the question of how does man come to know. it will be suggested
that if this question is not worthy of exploration by educators, then it is questionable whether or not teaching is a profession.
Assumptions about learning to be considered will include the following:
1. Man is able to come to know and is aware that he does know.
2. Learning is more than a random process.
3. Man has harbored a variety of ideas relative to mind and/or matter.
4. Learning begins in doubt.
5. The traditional dualistic position of substantive mind and substantive matter can not be supported.
6. Learning begins when doubt occurs and takes place through the simultaneous mutual interaction of the learner and the
environment.I
LEADERSHIP
. . . A person does the best he knows how for whatever he considers himself to be.
Morris L. Bigge, Positive Relativism: An Emergent Philosophy
In the area of leadership, the program will support the position that in significant measure the quality of instruction offered
in a school is reflective of the quality of leadership offered by the administrator. A distinction will be made between the role
the administrator plays as educational leader and as an education manager.
It will be assumed that most of you are already serving in a leadership position or are preparing yourselves to do so;
therefore, how you view the role of the leader is important. For example, is leadership the power of position, with the authority
to direct and control others? Can it be defined as the process by which an agent induces a subordinate to behave in a desired
way? Does leadership mean that when you’re first, others follow? Is there such a thing as the genius of leadership? In the
opinion of one authority, a genius is one who has had two great ideas. The question is, does that make all of us geniuses?
Is there a science of leadership? Are there legitimate theories about leadership? When Chester Barnard spoke of the moral
elements of leadership, when Douglas M. McGregor offered his notions about “Theory X” and “Theory Y,” were they saying
anything of significance? Has Warren Bennis adequately identified the two root theories of leadership as classical-rational
theory and human-relations theory?
To some, the executive function is not to manage a group of people nor is it to manage a system of cooperative efforts; for
the system manages itself. In this view the effective leader is one who has the ability to facilitate cooperation within the
organization.
A systems approach through systems analysis will be suggested as a design for management. The same ten components
cited earlier as a design for learning will be reinterpreted as a design for management. Dimensions of systems which will be
examined in his course will include:
Styles of leadership to be explored will include:
1. Leadership by tradition
2. Trait-style of leadership .
3. Formal leadership
4. Human-relations leadership.
5. Situational leadership
MANAGEMENT
Change comes about not so much with the passage of time but as a result of what happens while time is passing.
B. F. Skinner
Assuming that all educators share in the responsibility for designing a student centered school system, not only through
the development of a curriculum that is relevant to what young people need to know, but also through an instructional program
that is responsive to the learning style of each student, then in order to implement such a design for learning the system must
be managed.
System is a term that is used frequently by educators inasmuch as they refer to teaching in this or that system or to a program in
a particular school system. The term seems to be synonymous with department or community. However, to administrators the
use of the term ought to imply systems approach and systems analysis and have relevance to them while they carry out the
leadership functions of:
1. Planning
2. Organizing
3. Communicating
4. Directing
5. Evaluating
A systems approach through systems analysis will be suggested as a design for management. The same ten components
cited earlier as a design for learning will be reinterpreted as a design for management. Dimensions of systems which will be
examined in this course will include:
1. Management by objectives (MBO)
2. Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)
3. Planning, Programming, Budgeting System (PPBS)
4. Force Field Analysis in Problem Solving (FFAPS)
THE BASICS
He who aims to keep abreast, is forever second best.
Piet Hein
In a rapidly changing society, where instant response to complex issues is expected by the general population, school
administrators not only must keep abreast of current issues and trends but also must be able through a process of systems
analysis to diagnose the issues at hand, to analyze them in terms of the design for learning upon which the curriculum and
instructional program of the school system is based and to act in recognition of the requirements of leadership. Consideration
will be given to several issues and current trends such as the following:
1. A decade of innovation
Every reform no matter how needed it may be will be carried to excess,and that excess will then be in need of reform.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
It is said that beginning with Project Headstart and then moving to “massive” Federal funding through the various titles of
the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as well as to a succession of Vocational Acts, attempts at bringing about
meaningful and lasting change within the public schools have failed.
Among the issues to be examined are.
Is the allegation true?
What constitutes an “innovation”?
. What constraints were placed on school systems in order to qualify for federal aid?
How ready were school systems to use the additional funding?
2. Test scores are declining
We should admit into our thinking the idea of approximations, that is, that there are varying degrees of accuracy and
inaccuracy of estimate.
William F. Ogburn and Alvin Toffler: Future Shock
Across the nation the results of norm-referenced, standardized achievement-testing programs, as well as college entrance
examination programs, show a decade of declining scores.
Among the issues to be examined are:
. Is the allegation true?
. What do norm-referenced achievement tests and scholastic aptitude tests measure?
How should a school use tests to measure student achievement and school excellence?
3. Schools need to return to the Basics
We shape our buildings and t We shape our buildings and then our building shape us..
Winston Churchill, cited in Silberman, Crisis in the Classroom
Not only is it alleged that the schools have abandoned their time-honored commitment to teaching for mastery in the basic
skills, but also it is charged that schools are being staffed by teachers who themselves are weak in the basic skills.
Among the issues to be examined are:
Are the allegations true?
. What are the basic skills – How should they be defined?
How is mastery to be defined and measured?
4. Schools need to establish minimum standards for the granting of a high school diploma
What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the’ community want for all of its children. Any other idea
for our schools is now obsolete and unlovely; it destroys our democracy.
. John Dewey: School
and Society
It is suggested that the once-respected high school diploma is no longer so regarded due to the relaxation of academic
standards and the proliferation of electives and alternative programs, as well as the, generally speaking, permissive attitude of
society.
Among the issues to be examined are:.
Are the allegations true?
. What obligation does the state have for providing each citizen with the minimum of a high school education?
. What are “minimum” requirements, and who will determine them?
. How and when will proficiency in the “minimum” requirements be assessed?
5. High schools have failed in their responsjbility to educate young people
It makes all the difference whether one sees darkness through the light or brightness through tile shadows.
David Lindsay
Since 1972, five major studies assessing high schools have been commissioned for the threefold purpose of:
a. looking into the allegation of failure
b. examining the quality of education now being offered at the high school level
c. recommending what the mission of the high school ought to be for the foreseeable future,
Among the issues to be examined are:
‘. Is the allegation true?
. Historically what has been the purpose of the high school?
. What are the conclusions and recommendations of the five studies?
6. Schools cost too much
That is common knowledge,, so common in fact, that is may not even be true.
Donald Barthelme’s ribald version of Snow White
The cost of running the public schools of the land not only has escalated to a point where it is out of control; but also, in
terms of student achievement, the accomplishments of the school are not commensurate with the burgeoning cost.
Among the issues to be examined are:
Is the allegation true?
. Why are school costs escalating?
What are school costs versus the cost of other tax-supported services?
To what extent are educators responsible for increased school costs?
7. The schools and the courts
.
The only true law is that which leads to freedom. . : there is no other.
Richard Bach: Jonathan Livingston Seagull
It is purported that the liberal attitude taken by the Courts in dealing with youthful school offenders has made it all but
impossible for administrators to maintain control over the behavior of students. The virtual abandonment of the notion of the
school acting in loco parentis, the liberal attitude toward such issues as dress codes and censorship, not to mention the
imposition of due process procedures, has had a negative impact on the school’s ability to maintain discipline.
Among the issues to be considered are:
Is the allegation true?
What is the school’s responsibility relative to citizenship education?
. Why does the school find itself in conflict with the law?
8. Educators use jargon
They certainly give very strange and newfangled names to diseases.
Plato: Republic (Book IV)
It is alleged that educators are fond of using jargon, seldom adequately define their terms, and have a fetish for new catch
phrases
Among the issues to be examined are:
. Is the allegation true?
. What are some of the words and phrases that when used by educators give rise to the allegation?
. Is education so complex as to require a specialized vocabulary?
9. Reduction in Force (R I F)
The important thing is not so much to know how to solve a problem as to know how to look for a solution.
B. F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity
As the result of declining enrollments, communities are hiring few, if any, new teachers. Tenured teachers feel threatened
that school boards will be forced to dismiss them.
Among the issues to be examined are:
Are the fears of teachers founded?
Should teacher groups .bargain for RIF language in their collective bargaining agreements?
. What are the alternatives to Reduction in Force?
10. Educators resist the involvement of others in the process of education
Involvement with people is a very delicate thing – it.requires real maturity to become involved and not get all messed up.
Rev. Fr. Bernard Cooke
Critics complain that educators resist the involvement of students, parents, and concerned community groups in
determining what the school will teach, how whatever is to be taught should be taught. and how the school should be organized
and administered.
Among the issues to be examined are:
Is the allegation true?
To whom do the schools belong?
What does involvement mean?
11. School systems resist change
If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.
Guiseppe di Lampedusa: The Leopard
Psychologist Carl Rogers remarked in a 1950 address to the United States Council of Chief State School Officers that if
traditional education cannot change its mossback stance as the most rigid, outdated, bureaucratic, incompetent institution in
our culture, then the
public school is doomed. .
Among the issues to be examined are: .
Is the allegation true?
Who supports this view?
How is a climate for change established and maintained in a community such as a school?
12. School systems need to offer more alternatives
What more can I do!” should be asked by teachers not in a voice of despair, but in a strong and positive way.
Ann and John Bremer, Open
Education
School systems need to expand the range of options open to students if they are going to be fully responsive to the range of
needs in any given student population. Students and their parents ought to be able to select, from a wide range of alternatives,
the choice best suited to the learning needs and style of each individual.
Among the issues to be examined are:
What constitutes a choice, or an alternative?
Should there be alternatives at all levels?
. Is there a limit to the number of choices a school ought to offer?
How should a school of choice or an alternative school be funded, staffed, and administered?
Who determines the curriculum as well as the instructional strategies of an alternative school?
Concluding Comment
In concluding this professional growth program, the dangerous but necessary exercise of looking into the future will be
attempted. What issues not current now at least, in the manner by which they are now understood will be current then?
Or, on the other hand, is any issue ever a new issue?
The road to wisdom. . .
Well, it’s plain and simple to express
To: err – and err – and err again,
But, less – and less – and less .
Piet Hein .
Lawrence P. Creedon September, 1977, 2003

Brown v Board of Education: “With all deliberate Speed” – A Personal Reflection 5-18-04

December 18, 2009

1
Brown v Board of Education: “With all deliberate Speed” –
A Personal Reflection 5-18-04
Lawrence P. Creedon
I am motivated to write this reflections based on Tim’s (Tufts University, Boston)
Posting on CCI related to Brown v Board of Education, and Kevin’s (Long Island, New
York) response.
In May 1954 when the Supreme Court decision came down I had just graduated from
Boston University, was getting married in two weeks, and then off to US Navy Officers
Candidate School. As a result the matter of school desegregation was not in my world of
concern. During my entire public school career as a student I was never in school with a
Black (the appropriate term then) person. The class one year ahead of me had one Black
female student and she was Senior Class Vice President. (I guess that was the way my
high school contemporaries indicated that they were not prejudiced. They expressed their
openness by voting the one minority person into class office. I wonder what the situation
would have been if 5 or 10 % and more of the class had been minority?
At Navy Officers Candidate School I don’t remember any African Americans as fellow
candidates. (Incidentally I made it through OCS and served in the Navy with the National
Security Agency).
My first recollection of the issue is when court ordered bussing was mandated for Boston
by a federal judge, Judge Garrity. All “Hell” broke loose, especially in South Boston, a
residential strong hold of the Irish. The community forcefully (civil disobedience)
opposed bussing of their kids out of “Southie” and at the same time bussing Black kids
from Roxbury in. School buses traveled each day under police escort. White flight from
South Boston High School was an immediate victim. Student enrollment dropped by
more than 50 percent. Parents were quick to enroll their kids in all white Catholic
Parochial schools. This was curtailed when the Catholic Archbishop of Boston,
prohibited the practice of enrolling kids in Catholic schools in order to avoid integration.
US Senator Ted Kennedy openly supported bussing and a vitriolic response greeted his
action. One situation I recall was when Senator Kennedy visited a Knights of Columbus
Communion Breakfast and those hostile to him who were opponents of bussing
assembled outside the function hall in such numbers that the Senator was under police
guard and had to be to spirited away from the function as secretly as possible.
In the early 1970s METCO, a voluntary program for the purpose of bringing inner city
kids from Boston out into neighboring “All White” communities to go to school, came
into existence. By this time I was Superintendent of Schools in Quincy. Quincy was
asked to participate, I favored participation, but the school board voted a strong NO.
Communities that did participate in METCO included: Newton, Brookline and
Cambridge. All are affluent communities each with a perception (true or not) of being
liberal. Patrick Ewing of National Basketball Association fame benefited from the
METCO program. While not a METCO student per se, Ewing did reside in the Black
2
community of Roxbury, but went to high school in Cambridge. Bluntly stated, the
Cambridge basketball coach recruited him.
Now fast forward my personal experience to the decade of the 1990s when I served as a
professor at New Jersey City University. The university is an urban school located in
Jersey City, NJ along the west bank of the Hudson River immediately across the river
from New York City. The surrounding area is now a very heavily and densely populated,
almost exclusively with African Americans, Puerto Rican Americans and Cubans. Most
of the caucasians have fled. I worked extensively as a consultant and supervisor of
student teacher interns in a score of New Jersey communities. Remember, I was working
almost exclusively in “minority” schools and communities. Some of my recollections are
that:
1. Integration would not work under any circumstances if the goal was to interface
minority kids with white kids. There simply were no while kids to interface with.
2. The residents of those neighborhoods had little interest in integrating with anyone.
They were content to be in there ethnic and cultural enclaves. This was similar to South
Boston before bussing.
3. The neighborhood schools were viewed as expressions of their cultural orientation.
4. There concern was to be left alone, but to be provided with equity in resources
(Brenda [Saipan] this is your point in your CCI POSTING of 5-17)
5. The school plants were old in years as are most urban schools and devoid of any sort of
campus, but they had classroom materials. If not total parity, and I don’t know about
that, these schools were not dilapidated.
6. While the kids were almost exclusively minority, the faculties were integrated and
seemed to work together harmoniously.
7. Sometimes, especially with the Puerto Ricans and Cubans, I got the impression that
while the parents liked the ethnic and cultural orientation of the school, they also wanted
there kids to have Anglo teachers.
8. However, in a few of the schools I worked in I was the only non-black person in the
building.
9. The way teachers (elementary) reached out to the kids was indistinguishable one race
from another. The good teachers were good regardless of race, the bad should not have
been teaching in any environment. However, for the most I found concerned and
dedicated teachers. I also found that most were in need of personal professional
development. Compassion and dedication only goes so far, competence is needed as well.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH AND SAINT PATRICK”S DAY IN AN ALL AFRICAN
AMERICAN SCHOOL
I’ll end this with a story about a little tale about this. Black History month is in February.
One of the school’s I visited frequently was 100 per cent Black: Principal, faculty, kids.
Black History Month was celebrated with posters about prominent Black people, etc. But
nothing extraordinary. However, the neighborhood was once heavily Irish, but they are
ALL gone. Yet when St. Patrick’s Day rolled around a few weeks after Back History
Month, the place was turned into a sea of green with shamrocks, leprechauns and all the
Irish tinsel and glitter that is associated with the day (No green beer as far as I know).
3
The reason given by the non-Irish, Black principal, running the school was that Saint
Patrick’s Day had always been a festive occasion in the history of the school. So they
have kept it alive! Erin go Bragh!
Ipse dixit!
Larry Creedon
lpcreedon@aol.com

PERSPECTIVE EDUCATION

December 18, 2009

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PERSPECTIVE
EDUCATION-A WORLD OF ITS OWN
by JANN FLURY Jann Flury..
Creedon response to article by. Prepared for Scott Zayac at the time in Honduras, later
Rome, now Canada [3-08].
October 7, 2001
True education is no mystery. Teaching and learning is a process that has existed since the
dawn of time. It takes place between all known mammalian parents and their offsprings. The
offspring first learns by copying-mostly by following the mother’s example-and then lots of
practice and repetitive drills to get it right. Through this process, the neophyte establishes a
foundation block of basic skills essential to develop further individual skills for independent
grownup life.
In this opening paragraph Flury, whether she knows it or not, espouses the basic view of
Behaviorism. Since WW II the leading spokesperson for Behaviorism has been the late B.F.
Skinner of Harvard University. Skinner taught that all learning takes place as the result of
educators establishing “contingencies of reinforcement.” Skinner denied the concept of free
will (See his: Beyond Human Freedom and Dignity). Contrary to Flury’s opening assertion
that “True education is no mystery, Skinner observed, how human beings come to know “…
is no doubt the most complex subject matter ever submitted to scientific analysis”.
I certainly do not quarrel with the notion as stated by Flury: “basic skills (are) essential to
develop further individual skills for independent grownup life.” I know of no educator who
would take issue with that. In my case in a 1978 monograph to the teachers of Quincy, MA I
made the following observation:
The Back to Basics issue…has captured the attention of all Americans throughout the
entire nation over the past several years. Directly stated, a concern for the basics
should not be an issue. It should not be an issue because the schools should never
have caused the citizenry at large to doubt that the basics were being taught.
Teaching the basics is a bread and butter issue. If educators cannot do a good job
there, then there is no logical reason why the community should assume that its
public educators can go beyond them. Real learning begins when the basics are
mastered. This school system is committed to doing a good job in teaching the basics.
They come first.
In the next three paragraphs Flury elaborates on her position that educators and schools
have abandoned the basic skills. A “fact” is that by 1977 approximately one-half of the
states in the United States had passed legislation requiring more emphasis on the basics. By
the year 2000 every state in the Union followed suite.
As is the case throughout her essay, Flury misrepresents reality. She confuses “correlation
with causation.” The late United States Senator Patrick Moynihan (Democrat – New York),
was considered one of the all-time intellectual giants in the Senate. He was trained as a
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social scientist and taught at Harvard before being elected to the Senate. He was known for
his wit. In pointing out that frequently the critics of the public school confused “correlation
with causation” Moynihan, in jest, cited a fact that the crucial determinant of the quality
of American schools was there proximity to the Canadian border. Moynihan’s barb was this:
High cognitive outputs correlate not with high per-pupil expenditures but with a high
percentage of two parent families. U.S.Census Bureau data indicates that families with the
highest percentage of two parents were those who lived close to the Canadian border.
Thus, Moynihan, in jest, concluded: The closer a family lived to the Canadian border the
higher the test scores of their children would be.
Moynihan was pointing out the fallacy of confusing “correlation with causation.” Flury does
that repeatedly throughout her piece.
The teaching and learning process for humans is no different, only modern civilization has
acquired a wider base of fundamental knowledge and skills that must be learned before any
useful phase of independent exploration can be undertaken by the child. Consequently
modern society has devised a schooling system, where specialized, paid teachers will impart
this core knowledge-it is hoped-in a most efficient manner.
It is commonly understood that reading writing and arithmetic are the first, most basic skills
a child must learn at school in order to progress to the next phase of learning. (Agreed) Just
as the case has always been, this first phase of learning requires lots of practice and
repetition to get it right. (Agreed) And right here is where our public education system falls
apart-where our hired hands have gone off on a tangent and decided to do their own thingdisregarding
common sense, the wishes of the parents, and the needs of the children.
This last sentence is inflammatory and not so. Teachers seldom “do their own thing”
particularly as it relates to content. It may be somewhat true in classroom management as
our recent course demonstrated. It has been my experience that parents are satisfied with
what goes on in the school their own children attend. However, at the same time, they are
critical of schools in general. This view is supported year-in-and-year out in the Phi Delta
Kappan annual poll on public education.
In my view schools do not address the needs of children as they ought to. A concern for
multiple intelligences (Gardner) and emotional intelligence (Goleman) are seldom
considered. What is known about how kids come to know as proposed by such authorities as
Piaget and Vygotsky and Rogers is seldom honored. The work of Bloom and Bruner is all but
unknown.
Maybe Flury does not think that any of this relates to the “needs of the children.” I do!
Educators are skipping this first step-the most essential building block of the learning
process. They believe children can pick up these essentials as casual tidbits along the way.
They send the children off on a discovery voyage without the bare essentials. Consequently,
many children are unable to progress along the learning path and become bogged down,
frustrated underachievers, and in many cases-dropouts.
To say that teachers believe that “children can pick up these essentials as casual tidbits
along the way” is not so. To criticize schools and “teachers” for their failure to adequately
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address the development of critical thinking and metacognitive skills would be more
accurate. However, in no place in her piece does Flury address higher order critical thinking
skills. Also, in my experience, “Teachers” seldom think outside of the institutional “box”
they find themselves in. Once again I reference our CM course and some of the messages
that have been posted on framinghamsps since the course. See postings by Denise and
response by Marta.
Casting “discovery” learning as a voyage exposes the limited competence of the author.
Discovery learning certainly is a voyage (as you personally know) that is a challenging,
complex undertaking. It is not a walk-in-the-park.
The pedagogical elitists have isolated themselves in the rarefied atmosphere of their ivory
tower of academia, where they can do no wrong and the opinion and facts presented by
mere mortals of the real world don’t count. These elitists truly believe that they are the only
ones qualified to have any say on education, and they disregard all credible studies that
show them to be wrong.
This whole paragraph is totally unnecessary. It is inflammatory. It is insulting.
Over the years, public school achievement has dropped across the continent; yet, all
constructive criticisms and remedies presented by critics and the public have been dismissed
out of hand by the pompous academic elitists who have garnered control of our public
education system. Various studies and experiments have shown alarming shortcomings in
school management; in curriculums and teaching resources; in teaching methods; and in
teacher training, standards, certification, and testing.
It true that test scores have dropped over the past several years. However, the claim of
Flury is another example of the fallacy exposed by Senator Moynihan relating to causation
and correlation. It is a U.S. Census bureau fact that in 1910 eight percent of the then 17
year old population in the United States graduated from high school. And, the percent of
blacks and minorities was close to zero. By 1980 that figure had risen to 75 percent. As of
this date it is significantly higher than that. (I don’t know exactly what it is without looking
it up)
Criticism of the public schools has not been “dismissed out of hand…” As pointed out
above, every state in the Union has enacted legislation requiring sterner standards including
requirements for promotion and graduation.
It is true that there was and remains much concern about the “alarming shortcomings”
alluded to by Flury. However, it is also true, and Flury does not acknowledge that
requirements in these areas have been made more demanding. The Federal government
through the No Child Left Behind law of 2001 as well as each of the 50 states have
addressed curriculum, teaching resources, teacher training, standards, certification, and
testing. To my way of thinking shortcomings in school management have seldom been
addressed. However, my approach to addressing that issue would be termed by Flury as
coming from a “pompous elitist.”
In the face of mounting criticism, educators have become more evasive, less forthcoming
and more ambiguous. School management has turned into a bureaucratic monstrosity,
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growing out of control; in some cases, staffing levels have seen an 18-fold increase to
support a two-fold increase in student population. Parents can’t find out what curriculum is
being taught and what resource material is used to teach that curriculum. Instead of the
actual curriculum they are only given information about the curriculum; and instead of the
actual resource material being used, parents are given a list of “wide-ranging” resources that
may be used by individual teachers.
After World War II, school books were deliberately made easier to read at the behest of the
education establishment. Pedagogical wisdom thought such simplification would stimulate
reading among students. Experts and critics warned against such a move, and by 1963, the
SAT-Verbal scores of American test-takers had dropped alarmingly. Instead of accepting
responsibility, educators set out to blame everything from family birth order to discipline,
nutrition, television, and lead poisoning for the decline in literacy skills. And their
recommendation to improve the low literacy scores is to make the tests easier.
Parents understand that teaching consists of the teacher conveying knowledge to the student
through direct instruction. However, today’s progressive educators see this process as archaic
and stifling to the child’s imagination. Instead, the “progressives” encourage students to
explore-to embark on a journey of discovery. That, of course, doesn’t teach most of the
students much, wastes a lot of time, and makes the children wonder what school is all
about. Consequently, our schools today are filled with underachievers that can’t pass the
most basic literacy or math tests. However, educators tell us that students are learning skills
that can’t be tested, and that these “skills” are more important than the acquisition of any
basic, measurable academic knowledge.
I disagree that “teaching consists of the teacher conveying knowledge to the student
through direct instruction.” It is presumptuous to assert that teachers can convey
knowledge. They can be dispensers of information, but of knowledge: No. They can strive to
understand how kids come to know. They can assist and facilitate kids in coming to know
what they need to know and can learn. However, it seems self evident that teachers cannot
learn for their students. As pointed out above “Direct Instruction” does have its place in
teaching and learning basic skills. However, it has limitations in focusing on higher order
critical thinking skills. It certainly will not be of much help in discovery or exploratory
learning.
United States taxpayers spent over a billion dollars on the longitudinal study, “Follow
Through,” to determine the best teaching methods. After nearly a decade, it became clear
that teacher-centered Direct Instruction outperformed, in every respect, the child-centered
method advocated almost exclusively by the pedagogical establishment. Educators
suppressed the findings of that billion-dollar study. Today, Direct Instruction remains mostly
unused, and through bureaucratic sophistry, the elitists managed to turn America’s largest
educational experiment into a waste of time and money.
It is true that the “Follow Through” project and study did cost about $1 billion. It is also
true that it identified Direct Instruction as the “ best method”. However the point has been
made several times here, Direct Instruction can be appropriate for basic skills. Also Direct
Instruction has characterized what kids have experienced in school year after year, subject
after subject. Frequently alternative approaches are unfamiliar to both teachers and kids. A
teacher or learner using an unfamiliar approach is unlikely to equal the performance of
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someone functioning in a familiar environment. Betty Wood has an interesting incident to
relate in this regard.
Teacher training, standards, certification, and testing determine education quality.
Unfortunately, they are all under the control of an education establishment that is
promoting student-centered learning as opposed to the more effective teacher-centered
methods used in high student achievement countries of Asia and Europe. Notably, all these
teacher-centered models believe in the adage of “practice makes perfect”-the very thing the
student-centered advocates ridicule.
I do not know any “competent” educator who would disagree with the adage that “practice
makes perfect.” I am an advocate of student-centered learning. I do not ridicule the notion
of practice makes perfect. However, I want to know what the practice is for? Why is it
necessary? What it will accomplish? How long should it be? Etc. For example: In order to be
physically fit how long should I exercise? Should it be every day? Are their different
exercises for different purposes? Are there other things I should be doing like nutrition and
rest? Practice is not a one-size-fits-all.
Even though experimental research evidence conclusively shows that teacher-centered
methods are more effective, the mission statements of teacher training institutions and
some of their required reading materials is slanted to promote student-centered
methodology exclusively.
Research shows that student-centered learning is not only inefficient and does not produce
specific academic achievements, but that it is also often harmful, especially to
disadvantaged learners. Unbelievably, the pedagogical establishment at the teacher training
level continues to promote the concept, despite its ineffectiveness, adverse public opinion,
and contrary to policymakers’ advice.
We live in world of our own don’t confuse us with facts, the education establishment seems
to be saying.
Jann Flury
Phone 1-905-571-4811
Fax 1-905-571-4881
Flury says “Don’t confuse us with the facts.” She needs to look in the mirror and listen to
herself as she utters those words.
Scott, believe it or not but this is a brief response to Flury. Her kind of discourse
contributes little to a scholarly dialogue. However she is not unique or original in her
criticism. In 1980 in an address to the 2000 teachers in the Quincy Public Schools I spoke
about the crisis then facing public schools. I made the point that the then critics were not
unique or original. I compiled the titles of a series of books critical of education into a
litany of criticism. This is what I said:
Schools in crisis – please not again you say – you have heard it all before. Creedon you
don’t need to confront us with our failures because we’ve not forgotten them. You
don’t need to remind us of what we were told a decade or more ago. We were made
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aware then that there was a Crisis in the Classroom, (Silberman, 1970), and that the
Reason Why Johnny Can’t Read, (Flesch, 1955), or add, and is thus experiencing
Intellectual Death at an Early Age, (Kozol, 1966) was due to what went on Behind the
Classroom Doo,r (Goodlad and Klien, 1970). We do not need to be reminded that
schools are neither Places for Learning [nor] Places for Joy, (Sizer, 1973) and that our
critics have termed Teaching as a Subversive Activity, (Postman and Weingaetner,
1969); and thus we know that many of the critics, now as well as then, are asking for
the De-Schooling of Society, (Illich, 1970).
In conclusion let me acknowledge that Marta’s response to you is excellent. I agree with her
comments. It is one of those things where I find myself saying:” I wish I could say things like
that”.
Larry Creedon
October 2001

EAST HIGH OCTOPI

December 18, 2009

1
Tim Creedon
May 1, 2003
School & Society
Professor Cohen
EAST HIGH OCTOPI
Well I decided to wait until Emily, Jacqueline, and I had presented our high school,
East High School, before I started writing about it and the role I played in designing it. I
wanted to see, before I made my own remarks, how East High would stand up to the critics.
In the course of devising our school, I became invested in it and began to truly believe in a
number of the ideas we tried to implement. As a result, I couldn’t see many faults in our
plan; I was blinded by pride. But now that East High has faced the scrutiny of a few
graduate students, I think I can more accurately comment on this final project and what
I’ve taken away from it.
As Emily, Jacqueline, and I first started talking about the project, it quickly became
clear on what each of us would be focusing and we put me in charge of the education
philosophy and curriculum. I was happy with this decision because although working on
budget issues or physical design or scheduling would have been interesting as well, what I
really was concerned with was how the kids in our school would learn.
1.GD :Use of the term Philosophy. To me the term ought to have a “clear and
distinct” meaning (See Charles S. Pierce, HowTo make Our Ideas Clear- 19th
century?) Frequently when the term is used by educators it is not clear and distinct.
A phil statement ought to be imply that what is being said is wholistic and internally
compatible metaphysically (ontology and cosmology), epistemologically and
axiologically. To educators it frequently simply means “My approach,” “My opinion,”
“My point of view.” None of these meet the criteria of a philosophical stqtement. I
first addressed this issue in 1969 when addressing the 22 elementary school
principals in Quincy. The address was: Toward a Theory of Instruction. You have it
on the CD. A mark of the professional in any area od endeavor is to me clear and
2
distinct in language and meaning. Two good basic sources here are: Stamm and
Wactler, Philosophy of Education Workbook – Writing a Statement of Beliefs and
Practices (1997); Stevenson, Complete Idiot’s Guide: Pholosophy (1998).`
2. Learning and teaching are not the same thing. Teaching is what teachers (not
educators) do. Learning is the result of a complex cognitive, affective and
psychomotor process. The foremost authority in behaviorism put it this way:” How
human beings come to know …is no doubt the most complex subject matter ever
submitted to scientific analysis.” (B.F. Skinner). Learning is facilitated (not taught)
by educators (not teachers). A case can be built that learning begins when teaching
ends. It should not be that way, but for many that is the reality. An alternative is a
Constructivist approach. (See Creedon monograph on Constructivism).
3. This is my first reading of your paper; however, I doubt you will find any “new
educayional ideas” in the marketplace of education. The reason is simple: For
centuries there have been very few. The issue is not that “new ideas” are needed,
but rather that ideas supported by research have not been seriously tried. The cry in
education is not “implement best practice,” but rather “keep things as they are.”
New generations of pedagogues who are weak on theory and have very limited
knowledge of past efforts are forever re-inventing the wheel and then claiming that
they have something original, new with the quality of “shock and awe.” Ted Sizer,
your source of choice, is an exception to this lament. I like Sizer.
I’m not alluding to organizational tinkering, or re-arranging the “mossback”
chairs on the Titanic, but rather to what is known and implemented about how kids
come to know and what it is that they need to know now and why. (See four
Creedon monographs, Four Questions as the Foundation of the Process of Education
(2002); Restructuring as Opposed to Alternatives, Modifications and Cosmetic
Changes (1994); Schools in Crisis (1980); and Crisis in the High School (1977) You
have all but the first one of these on the CD.
3
There are exceptions to this but it is by philosophers, psychologists and social
scientists who have thought about how human beings come to know. In the past 300
years they have included Rousseau, Locke, Paestalozzi, Froebel, Montessori, William
James, Dewey, Vygotsky, Bloom, Bruner, Holt, Goodlad, Sizer and others (Including
“Himself!”). If you are serious about being aneducator and not just another teacher
you will need to be conversant with the contribution of these beacons in education. A
good source is Robert Ulich, 3000 Years of Educational Wisdom, Harvard, 1961.
In preparation for my work, I did a small amount of research on what new
educational ideas were being implemented across America. I was already marginally familiar
with Ted Sizer’s work and agreed with the little I had read and heard about his ideas.
Therefore, I went to Tisch and took out a couple of his books. In addition, I grabbed Taking
Sides (a book I had heard a bit about during new high school construction debate in my
town) and Rethinking Schools: An Agenda for Change. In both of these texts I found a
number of articles that influenced how I shaped our curriculum and plan for learning at East
High. I also went online and read some articles that were hosted on the Coalition for
Essential Schools webpage. In all of these resources I ran into a number of educators and
writers we discussed in class, including Deborah Meier, Jonathan Kozol, William Ayers, and
Howard Zinn. In the course of my research I became focused on three main issues:
classroom size, tracking, and standards for learning. In considering these issues, I quickly
became aware of the extent to which they would affect one another at East High.
Furthermore, I began to realize by focusing on these ideas how complex the educational
plan of a high school must be, and how difficult it would be to address even a fraction of the
most important components. Admittedly, there were a number of topics that I left out,
some unconsciously but others knowingly, realizing as Ted Sizer says, sometimes “less is
more.” In other words, I felt as though the three aspects upon which I chose to focus would
4
become the educational engine that drove East High, and I was more concerned with the
reliability and performance of that engine than the inclusion of leather seats, cup holders,
and CD-changer.
4.GD: I gather you did not check the CD I gave you for source material. It is “rich” in
this area. I worked briefly with Sizer years ago. The Taking Sides series I used to use
in my ”Issues in Education” courses.
5.Several Creedon monographs would have been helpful to you. Many of thewm are
on the CD I gave you. Certainly they are original and primary source material
available for the most part only to you. Ask me sometime about Projects ABLE and
PLAN (Program for Learning in Accordance With Needs). They were nationally
recognized and applauded “innovations” of the 1960s – 1970s. Both are extinct now.
Why? Both are as relevant and “innovative” today as they were 30 plus years ago.
ABLE was funded by a $1.5 million federal grant. The largest ever given up to that
time. PLAN was privately funded by Westinghouse Learning Corp. They invested $8
miilion. Your father was a Project PLAN student and Uncle Ricky was in Project ABLE.
Both efforts were in Quincy when I was superintendent. A study of what happened
to them would make a great doctoral dissertation. Keep that idea in mind!
6.Ted Sizer’s “Coalition of Essential Schools” has merit. Ask me about its strengths
and limitations as well as its impact on public education. I have worked in Coalition
schools as a consultant in New Jersey.
7.“Classroom size, tracking and standards for learning” are all “inside-the-box”
thinking. If you were my student I would have guided you away from these as a first
consideration. They are not primary. They have little to do with building an “ideal
school.” The frirst two are organizational components for ease in administering and
5
managing the institution. They are examples of “mossback.” Standards for learning
can suggest quality indicators. However, usually they mean what they mean when
used in such application as MCAS. They can be opponents to learning. (See Peter
Sacks, Standardized Minds; Alfie Kohn,The Schools Our Children Deserve (1999) and
two Creedon monographs, Testing, and Basic Skills. You have the Creedon
monographs.
Sticking with the car analogy, classroom size was the pistons of East High—it was
where the work would get done. Examining the school budget that Emily compiled, it’s easy
to recognize the amount of money we chose to spend on teachers. I decided, and Emily and
Jacqueline readily agreed, that small teacher-student ratios would be a key to making East
High a success. By no means was this a revolutionary idea, but a strong one nonetheless.
We decided that in any given classroom at East High, there would never be more than 14 or
15 students working with only 1 teacher. This number was less than what the majority of
educators would suggest, and we chose it with that in mind. Our philosophy became
essentially, the smaller the better, to the extent that our budget would allow. While many
educators might suggest classrooms of around 20 students, we felt that having 5 or 6 less
than that could make a large difference—one large enough to forfeit more spending on
technology or special elective and extracurricular programs. The relationship between a
student and his teachers, we felt, could be the most influential aspect of an educational
experience. For a number of reasons, the closer this relationship was, the more successful a
student would be. If a student’s teachers were able to get to know him or her personally,
this would allow them to treat that student as an individual and treat him or her
accordingly. The best way to allow teachers to get to know their students as individuals was
to decrease the number of students with which each teacher interacted. And by imposing a
maximum student-teacher ratio of 15:1, we ensured that students and teachers at East
High School would work together as a familiarized team.
6
8.Building a school on teacher-pupil ratio is only part of the formula. It is ananogous
to doctor-patient ratio. In medicine there are many others besides the MD who
contribute. Your parents are two examples. The issue for schools is not the pupilteacher
ratio, but rather the total resources available to support learner (patient)
needs. The resources are human, material, plant, organizational, financial, etc. (See
Creedon monograph, Some Thoughts on Process (1969).
9. I too believe in small pupil-teachers ratio and I believe less–can-be-more.
Although the idea has been popularized by Sizer the saying is not original with him.
However, reduced pupil-teacher ration does not have a cause and effect relationship
in learning. See Creedon monograph, A Decade of Innovation as the Cause of School
Failure. It is on the CD. Pupil-teacher ratio is addressed here. It shows that as the
pupil-teacher ratio went down so did the test scores. Strange?
10.Talking about “classroom size” is inside the box thinking. No “Shock and Awe”
here even if you reduce it to one-on-one or to home schooling.
11. In thinking about the “ideal” do not begin with what the budget will allow. If you
do you certainly will remain within the box. Remember Richard Bock’s book Jonathon
Livingston Seagull, “The Gull who flies the highest sees the farthest!” If the budget is
considered first then you have built in a safe haven for those who will cry: “Oh,
that’s a good idea, but we can’t afford it.” The United States would never have put a
man on the moon if the thrust was “How much can we afford?” The Marshall Plan
for Europe after WWII never would have been implemented if the thrust was “We
can’t afford it.” You cannot buy quality on the cheap.
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12. Agreed. However, this is assuming the “teacher” is an “educator” and not of the
“8 to 2 and screw” variety. The idea of “getting to you” is appropriate; however,
many teachers (not educators) could care less. To them the “less is more” mantra is
ifitting. It is: The fewer the kids I have, the less I have to do and the more time I
have for me out of here and away from them. The witticism applies: Figures don’t
lie, but liars do figure. The issue is not p-t ratio. Rather it is a moral commitment. It
is akin to the medical Hippocratic Oath. Doing less because I have fewer to do for is
doing harm. Doing the same as I did before and having fewer kids to do for is doing
harm. In fact it is stealing On moral commitment see Sergiovanni and Starratt,
Supervision a Redefinition, 7th edition, (2002).
13. There is no basis for this claim. It is “idealistic” and ought to be realistic;
however, experience says:” It hasn’t happened yet.” Maybe you can influence it to
happen. However there are exceptions such as at A.S. Neil’s school Summerhill. See
the book by that author and tile. See Phi Delta Kappan, April 2003.
For the sake of diversity, we decided to enroll approximately 1000 students at East
High. In comparison with school sizes advocated by members of the Coalition for
Essential Schools, this was a pretty large number. So while we had created small
class sizes to foster personal relationships between students and teachers, we still
had a sizable overall population. We decided to counteract this with an idea we (and
others before us) referred to as pods. We split each grade at East High, consisting of
approximately 250 students, into three pods of 80-85 students, all of which would
occupy one wing of East High’s physical plant (in other words, each grade inhabits its
own, separate area of the building). Each pod would include 5 teachers and would be
interdisciplinary in nature. These pods would work together as teams, sharing
learning in between classrooms, drawing English lessons into History, History lessons
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in Science, Science into Math, and so forth. This strategy addressed two issues. The
first was size. We were aiming to create small communities within our school that
would allow students and teachers to know one another personally and work
together accordingly. Again, the underlying strategy here was that more personal
attention would allow for better understanding of students’ educational differences
and needs. Armed with such a better understanding, teachers could adopt their craft
to address individually how each of their students learned.
14 .A 1000 student campus is a recognized number. 2000 is considered too
large. 500 is supposedly the best, however, $$$$. Again, size is not what is
important, rather, it is purpose and resources available to turn the purpose
into goals, the goals into a plan of action, and the plan of action into
strategies and techniques for implementation. For example, I had my heart
transplant at one of the larger general purpose hospitals in the country –
MGH. If size was a key factor I would have gone to Falmouth Hospital or
some other small facility. Is not a doctor, a doctor? Obviously not!
15. Splitting “the grades.” First of all you are accepting the prevalent 19th
century “Quincy Plan” of grades as an “ideal” given. It is not. Second, “pods”
are as you suggest, a term for what three decades ago were called “Houses.”
The issue of total size of high schools is a post WWII phenomenon. It was not
a dominant issue in pre-World War II rural America. At the time of WWI ten
percent of the 17 year old males graduated from high school. After WWII
James Conant, the President of Harvard and former US High Commissioner to
Germany, chaired a commission studying the high school. I have a copy of his
study. It is appropriate for today.
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16. This whole idea was “an innovation” of the 1960s – 1970s. Your father
experienced this sort of approach at QHS. As superintendent I “budgeted”
$300 thousand to convert space to accommodate Project PLAN. Today
nothing remains. Why? Ask me.
The second issue in the implementation of pods focused on the fostering of students’
abilities to exercise their knowledge and skills in various, challenging contexts. On our
poster, we included a table outlining various requirements each East High Student needs to
fulfill. Within this table was an outline of three types of learning, borrowed from Ted Sizer’s
book, Horace’s Hope. These levels of learning are as follows:
1. The expression at a given moment of certain facts and skills.
2. Estimable quality in the use of those facts and skills in some unfamiliar situation.
3. Evidence that the mastery of those facts and skills and their resourceful use has
become a matter of habit for each and every young person.
17. Horace Hope is a book of merit. The three levels of learning cited by Sizer are
“embedded” in Quincy’s Student Centered Learning System of the 1960s and 1970s.
The curriculum and instruction components of MCAS are consistent with Quincy’s ten
component SCLS. Ask me about this and for the monograph describing it.
18. Habit formation is a re-occuring theme in education. A place to begin to
understand the concept of “Habit Formation” is with William James. Also see B.F.
Skinner for a contrasting point of view. Skinner does not believe in Free Will. Neither
did the Calvinists of Protestant reformation times, but that is a different story! After
James and Skinner jump back to Plato and Aristotle.
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At East High, we wanted to strive for level 3, a level of learning and comprehension
that reflected Deborah Meier’s concept of Habits of Mind. We believed that employing the
interdisciplinary, community-oriented nature of 80-85 student pods would help to realize
this level of learning by forcing students to use new knowledge and skills in a variety of
manners extending far beyond tests of memory.
19. Meir’s Habits of Mind relates to Marzano’s “Dimension of Learning” which is an
application of Constructivism. Habits of Mind infers metacognition. Constructivism
emanates from Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, etc.
At this point I’ve begun to discuss the standards for learning at East High—one of
three components that I’ve outlined as most important to the school’s educational success.
Through my writing I’ve unintentionally demonstrated how classroom size and standards for
living related to one another. By examining how an atmosphere of small, personal
communities can affect the ability of students to equip themselves with newly acquired
knowledge, I’ve come to the question: what do we mean by successful learning?
20 Your question: What do we mean by successful learning is an excellent one. It
took you a while to get to this. You could start your paper with this question.
In WWII a US General landing with his troops in Normandy, France on D-Day was
totally lost and out of communication with his superiors. He had no support
requirements. He and his troops seemed doomed. His comment was: “For us the war
begins here!” For you the quest for the IHS could begin with that question.
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Well of the three levels of learning borrowed from Sizer, the last one—Meier’s Habits of
Mind—was what we hoped to ensure at East High. The first level, implying mere temporary
memorization was simply unacceptable. The second level occupied the higher levels
Benjamin Bloom’s cognitive development: synthesis and application, and was a big step in
the right direction.* Third level, however, was what we were truly interested in while
developing East High. If a student could so internalize new knowledge and skills so that the
use of which would become habit, that above all else would be educational success.
But as two graduate students critiquing our plan keenly observed, how could you
assess whether a student had assimilated new knowledge and skills into their everyday
habits? As we were forced to admit, that was a very tough question, but one that we
attempted to address in two main ways.
2. What you are addressing here is also referred to as metacognition.
The first way was the pods I have already discussed at length: we hoped that in such
an interdisciplinary environment, students would be pushed to use their education in new
contexts and situations that bore little resemblance to the original situations in which they
learned. The second way in which we hoped to assess learning as habit-formation was
through another idea about which Ted Sizer has spoken a lot. At East High, we decided that
one requirement for graduation would be the satisfactory completion of a “Final Exhibition.”
The Final Exhibition, as we described on our poster, was a characteristically free-form
project in which each student, in a personal, unique way, would demonstrate what he or she
had learned as an East High student. In their Final Exhibitions, each student would be
expected to amalgamate knowledge and skills from all four years and use them in a broader
context that would transcend the classroom and engage real world issues. Examples of this
might include students who would write, cast, and direct a play, create an album of music,
design a utopian society, or devise even a high school of their own! In the end, the point of
* Bloom, Benjamin. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Cognitive Domain. 1956.
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the Final Exhibition would be for the students to prove to their teachers, parents,
classmates, and—most importantly—themselves, that they had learned a great deal at East
High and had learned at a very high level.
23A. Be careful in using the term “habit formation.” It has two distinct and conflicting
definitions. One is that of Skinner. Skinner denies free will. Teachers function
analogous to Plato’s Philosopher Kings as dispensers of “knowledge.” (I prefer the
term information). At the other end is the view stated by Meir. It is also that of the
other constructivists cited in this piece. Include me.
24 Sizer’s “Final Exhibition” related to what is referred to today as “Authentic
Assessment.” It is what Dewy referred to “Learn by Doing” A simple often used
example is demonsrate you know how to change a tire by changing a tire.
25 These are all godd examples. See the well established NYC high school for the
performing arts. See the “internship” for medical doctors. This is supposed to be
what student teaching is all about. However, it seldom is.
23B. Pods do not make an interdisciplinary environment. This is more a function of
habits of mind. Pods can only facilitate interaction. In reality pods have become like
different size egg cartons – X Large, Large, Medium, White, or Brown. They are all
still eggs.
22. Bloom is a critically important resource in education. See the Creedon
monograph: Bloom, Theory, Modifications and Application.(2003). You don’t have
this.
Philosophically, tracking may have been the most important concept in the creation
of East High School. In School & Society this semester, one of the first ideas we entertained
was Horace Mann’s belief in public education as “the great equalizer.” If this was what we
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expected from our schools, it’s fairly obvious that categorizing and grouping our students by
supposed educational ability would be in direct opposition. How could we demand that our
schools provide equality when the first thing we would do in them would be to tell one group
of students that they were smarter than the rest, one group students that they were
dumber than the rest, and one group of students that they were just regular? Well you
can’t; it’s a textbook example of an oxymoron.
26 I do not believe that a primary purpose of the public school is to serve as the
great equalizer. It is much more than that. Equality of opportunity does not mean
equalization. Ask me. This is a critical point in your paper.
27. Again, I caution on the use of the term “Philosophy.”
This being said, we decided to abandon tracking at East High School. But not before a lot of
debate. For some of us, it was difficult to see some of the benefits of heterogeneous
grouping. For others of us who believed in the idea, it was difficult to explain the merit and
promise we saw in it at first. Undoubtedly, it was easy to see how heterogeneous grouping
could fail if not pursued properly. Eventually we came to understand that heterogeneous
grouping meant attempting a promise of equality. Essentially we were stating a belief in all
our students at East High. We believed that while our students learned in many different
ways, with the proper amount of personal attention and commitment, all of them were
capable of the same degree of learning throughout high school. Tracking our students would
only signal to them that some were supposedly smarter and better suited for going on to
college and a successful adult life. We didn’t need to do that at East High; we could rely on
MTV to get that message across.
28 Tracking – A few years ago I discussed this with your parents. It was when the
issue was of interest at Wachusett.
29. I like your analysis of tracking
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But again, the point with heterogeneous classrooms was to promote equality and
teamwork. Combined with the steps we took to ensure small classrooms and interpersonal
communities, we believed that removing tracking from our school was the best way to
guarantee learning for all of our students. Furthermore, by stressing new standards that
moved focus away from standardized memorization tests, we believed that our students
would achieve a higher, more practical level of learning—one in which they would use their
new knowledge and skills in daily life. With these three issues at our foundation, we felt
assured that regardless of the specific curriculum we eventually put into practice, our
students, all of them, would achieve far beyond the levels of learning accomplished in
average high schools today.
30.Meaghan’s Query – More than a year ago Meaghan asked me to share with her
my view as to the “Purpose and Significance of education.” I did. Since then I have
used MQ as an exercise in my international courses. What is your’s?”
31. A team of my students in Honduras (all principals) did a “Getting-out-of-the-Box”
exercise in my class in April. It is their conception of an ideal learning community. I
will share it with you.
FINAL COMMENT: MY OBERVATION TAKES THE FORM OF A REVIEW AS OPPOSED
TO A CRITIQUE OR AN ASSESSMENT. IT WILL BE UP TO YOU TO DETERMINE ITS
WORTH. THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR PAPER IS THAT YOU HAVE
REDUCED TO WRITING AT THIS EARLY POINT IN YOUR CAREER YOUR VIEWS ON
THE IDEAL HIGH SCHOOL. DON’T LOOSE YOUR PAER OR MY REACTION. FIVE OR
TEN YEARS FROM NOW PULL IT OUT AND SEE WHERE YOUR THINKING AND
EXPERIENCE HAS TAKEN YOU. YOUR PAPER IS AN EXCELLENT BENCHMARK FOR
YOUR CURRENT THINKING. IT SAYS: “HERE UPON YOU STAND!” NOW THE ISSUE
IS WHETHER OR NOT YOU WILL BE IN ANOTHER PLACE AT ANOTHER TIME AS
YOUR CAREER UNFOLDS.
Ipse dixit! Grampy Doc, May 2003
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