Tag Archives: skills instruction

Dilemma for Educators: Focus on Pisa Scores or Improve Quality of Education

Colombian FlagClive and I (Clare) are going to Bogota and Cartagena to present at two conferences: one for teacher educators and one for teacChildren in Colombiahers. (More about our experience to follow.) In our correspondence with our Colombian hosts, who have been incredibly gracious, we get the impression they are very focused on improving Pisa scores. From our reading about Colombia we recognize there is grinding poverty yet they have made huge strides in improving literacy rates. We appreciate the dilemma faced by the Colombians –improve test scores on international measures yet education is under resourced. Being inspired by Pasi Sahlberg (and in keeping with the findings from our research as described in our new book Growing as a Teacher), the focus should not be unilaterally on improving Pisa scores but should be broader — provide quality education. Good teaching will improve literacy achievement and which in turn improve scores on Pisa. As Sahlberg’s data shows, the countries focused on controlling the curriculum and on teaching to the test have declining achievement on Pisa. (See April 19th blog post on this topic.) Drills and mindless worksheets will not engaged those children who do not see themselves as readers. So our message will be – let’s support teachers so they know how to provide relevant, engaging, and appropriate curriculum. The scores on Pisa will take care of themselves. We would love to hear from others who have worked in Colombia.

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Well-being and Skills Go Hand-in-Hand

We have had many blog posts about teaching for relevance. I (Clare) was reading a chapter in Martin Seligman’s book Flourish: A Visionary new Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being. http://www.amazon.ca/Flourish-Visionary-Understanding-Happiness-Well-being-ebook/dp/B0043RSK9O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392996735&sr=8-1&keywords=martin+seligman
Here is an excerpt from Chapter Five.

  • Question one: in one or two words, what do you most want for your children?
  • If you are like the thousands of parents I’ve polled, you responded “happiness,” “confidence,” “contentment,” “fulfillment,” “balance,” “good stuff,” “kindness,” health,” satisfaction,” “love,” “being civilized,” “meaning,” and the like. In short, well-being is your topmost priority.
    • Question two: in one or two words, what do schools teach?
      • If you are like other parents, you responded, “achievement,” “thinking skills,” “success,” “conformity,” “literacy,” “math,” “work,” ‘test taking,” “discipline,” and the like. In short, what schools teach is how to succeed in the workplace.
      • Notice that there is almost overlap between the two lists. The schooling of children has, for more than a century, paved the boulevard toward adult work. I am all for success, literacy, perseverance, and discipline, but I want you to image that schools could, without compromising either, teach both the skills of well-being and the skills of achievement. I want you to image positive education.

I found his perspective refreshing and inspiring. In my teaching, I need to be mindful to address both well-being and skills and to talk to my student teachers about the need to do both.