Friday, June 16, 2006

Blueberries . . . Soft Semantics

Continuation of my discussion with Dr. David Thornburg:


I think that you are getting caught up in "soft semantics."

Whether you want to admit it or not, education has a set of products. defines "product" as:

1. Something produced by human or mechanical effort or by a natural process.
2. A direct result; a consequence: “Is history the product of impersonal social and economic forces?” (Anthony Lewis).

As ethereal as you want to be about education, educators do a great deal of work and they have products. The question arises when we try to define how these products are measured.

Should we use tests? Sometimes.
Should use Porter-esque rubrics to evaluate projects? Sometimes.
Should we use attitudinal surveys? Sometimes.
Should we just talk with the students to see how they feel? Sometimes.
Should we interview parents to understand their perceptions? Sometimes.

There is a plethora of opportunities for evaluating the success of the educators in achieving their goals of producing their products (whatever they may be.)

Creating a positive educational environment is the key to developing a learning situation where students can succeed. This environment is filled with intangibles but it is still developed by the educators (these include the classroom teachers as well as the administrators, staff, school board members, parents and community members.) Much like going to your Japanese restaurant, the school and classroom teachers try to provide a successful experience to all who come. It works for some and doesn't work for others.

Having taught for 6 years in a dropout recovery program in East Los Angeles, I know something about systems that don't work. I also know about finding and creating systems that appeal to the students that don't "fit in." In every case, there is a product that we are trying to create. That product is not the student but the student's ability to succeed in the world in later life. We can't follow the student into later life to measure our success, so we identify the skills that we believe are necessary to succeed, we find ways to measure the success on a more immediate basis.

It is a problem when we don't feel that we can measure our success in achieving our goals in the classroom. Usually educators say that this is because we don't want to be told that we didn't succeed. If we can't find ways to measure our success, we will have no way to be able to compliment ourselves when we have successfully created our "product."

Thoughtfully yours,


Blueberries . . . But curriculum isn't our product

Continuation of my discussion with Dr. David Thornburg:


I must disagree about curriculum being our product. The success of our students' learning is the product. The students are clients but their parents are as much the clients as the students. It is the parents who move their students to a different school if they don't see the results that they want with their cherished children.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Our kids aren't blueberries

I recently sent a link to a great story that connects kids with Blueberries. No, these are not computer-Blackberries.
It is about a lecture that was given by Jamie Volmer. Jamie was giving a speech to teachers where he was connecting education with a business model.

I sent this link to a mail serve where I got into a discussion about this with David Thornburg. I have asked him for permission to post this discussion here in my blog.

I will provide this by posting his responses as comments to my postings throughout this blog.


Building Community through Blogs

Blogs . . . Blogs . . . Blogs . . .

Blogs are a wonderful way to communicate with others about your ideas and develop a community of like-interested folk who want to discuss things. At first, I wrote "Like-minded folk" in the previous sentence, but that could and would make it a bit boring. Like interested folks are those who may have differing opinions on similar ideas.

The most important part of a blog is building community. I started a blog on but no body responded. It identified that people read the post but there were not comments. This isn't much of a community. Either I am not very interesting, or people are not very talkative. Either way, a community needs to have a dialog between those who are writing and those who are reading.