An Editorial by Anthony Dallmann-Jones, Editor of FIXING PUBLIC EDUCATION and one originator of the January Education Model
When a KISS isn’t enough…
I love simple-minded thinking. No, no, I really do…it – well – “simplifies” things so well. Example: “My stomach is upset. Let’s see, what did I eat differently yesterday? Ahhh, artichokes! I had artichokes which I have never eaten so THAT is why my tummy hurts!” And then, of course, you avoid artichokes from now on explaining as if a fact, “Last time I ate those I got sick.” It becomes a fact just by repeating it enough.
I call this the “Must Have Been The Artichokes Syndrome“! See how simple it explains the pain in your gut? Buuuuuut, what if it actually came from some tainted shrimp you had at the Asian buffet the same day? You will avoid artichokes but keep going back to the buffet…yes? Because of your misdiagnosis you will continue to risk food poisoning at the restaurant while avoiding perfectly good artichokes for the rest of your life. Which may not be very long.
So, there is this Senator from Ohio that is introducing a bill that will extend the school year by almost eight weeks. What is his artichoke?
Let’s quote Senator Kearney directly. I wouldn’t want to miss any pearl of wisdom here:
“My goal is to make Ohio students competitive in the global marketplace,” Kearney said. “In the world’s leading economies, students go to school substantially longer than students in Ohio.”
Kearney cited the following school day requirement stats: China 260, Japan 243, Germany 240, South Korea 220, Australia 220, Israel 216 and Russia 211.
“It is time to modernize our school calendar to fit today’s work environment,” he said.
Kearney also said, “The state would pay for the added cost of the additional school days – and that would include new contracts for teachers.” [Really? A 220 day school year would be a 20+% increase in the education budget (and also demand a similar increase in the levies that supplement state allocations) and last I heard Ohio could barely finance 182 days of school and salaries.]
Where shall we start? Oh, keep it simple: Do you want your children’s school like Russia’s and China’s? How about Japan where student suicide rates are among the highest, second to guess who? South Korea.
I have a former graduate student who now works in China exporting high school students to Michigan for their junior and senior years in high school, and standing in line and paying huge amounts to do so because our schools are seen as so progressive.
I was in Moscow a few years ago and teachers had just received a pay bump to $12,000 a year, and the schools were stark, cold, and primitive. The Russian teachers are desperate (and VERY appreciative) for what American educators have to say about education. They WANT to be just like us.
One more point:
Why isn’t Senator Kearney quoting the Finland education system which leads the world in education? They have FEWER days and they pay their teachers MORE. Guess that would not pass the Artichoke Test, would it?
“Modernize our schools”? Increasing the year by over seven weeks will “modernize” things? How so? How is doing more of the same defined as “modernizing”?
Where does this idea come from, that ‘more of the same that does not work will work this time’? Answer: Simple-minded backwards logic which has become part of our psyche: If things are not working: A) Try harder! B) Try more harder!!
How about this instead? A) Try differently! B) Try more differently! “Modernizing” means ‘different’ not more of what we already have.
In a recent book I, along with nine other educational experts, said, “Let’s try differently!” The book is Fixing Public Education (at FixingPublicEducation.com) and offers a new model called the January Education Model which delivers this message: ‘Let us start by acknowledging that ‘What we focus on expands’! By continuing to focus on being behind and on our deficiencies they will just get bigger and bigger and doing MORE of the same looks like a simple logical explanation for a cure. The solution focus of Try Harder also expands right along with it.
What if we did this: Focus on student strengths and talents? Focus on those and expand what kids already have in talent and abilities. We do not need everyone to be the same. No matter how hard we try to force kids to each have equal amounts of math, or science or PE they will never be the same. Never. There is incredible success potential in affirming human diversities and building on kids’ strengths and abilities.
THAT is how you will keep that “international edge” American politicians seem so worried about.
Anthony Dallmann-Jones, Editor and Author, Fixing Public Education
PS – No artichokes were harmed during this editorial.
“Ohio senator’s proposed legislation could add 38 days to school year” – CH9 WCPO, Cincinnati. WCPO Staff 6:02 PM, Oct 27, 2014 http://tinyurl.com/KearneyCH9