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Tag Archives: education

I was reading The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie after reading an article about the author, Muriel Spark, in The Atlantic. It is a very funny, though ultimately tragic, book and I will send the passage below to the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat for their consideration:

“I am summoned to see the headmistress at morning break on Monday,’ said Miss Brodie. ‘I have no doubt Miss Mackay wishes to question my methods of instruction. It has happened before. It will happen again. Meanwhile, I follow my principles of education and give of my best in my prime. The word ‘education’ comes from the root ‘e’ from ‘ex’, out, and ‘duco’, I lead. It means a leading out. To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil’s soul. To Miss Mackay it is a putting in of something that is not there, and that is not what I call education, it is intrusion, from the Latin root prefix ‘in’ and the stem ‘trudo’, I thrust. Miss Mackay’s method is to thrust a lot of information into the pupil’s head; mine is a leading out of knowledge, and that is true education as is proved by the root meaning.”

I like how this is put, especially in an age of ‘backward design’ and teaching to the standardized test and curriculum, where we seem to be setting up artificial boundaries for what can and should be learned. A safe, fenced in playground instead of a voyage into uncharted seas. Unfortunately, in the novel, Jean Brodie turns out to be a manipulative egomaniac and a fascist sympathizer, who celebrates Mussolini’s “organizational skills” (would she give them an E, for excellent, in the skills section of an Ontario report card?). She also refers to her select students as ‘la creme de la creme’ which is more annoying for it’s French pretension and redundant phrasing than as an expression of country club superiority complex. Still, Miss Brodie, like her namesake novel, leads us out into uncomfortable and dark territories that stir and terrify the soul — and it is on these adventures that real education happens.

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Glad to see that the new school year has brought new acronymic initiatives from the Ministry of Education (MoE, the smartest of the three stooges). It is the all-encompassing K-12 School Effectiveness Framework, which in my initial read is an encyclopedic synthesis of a decade’s worth of educational jargon. You want “accountability”, “evidence-based direction”, “building capacity”, “systems thinking” or “job-embedded and inquiry based professional learning”. It’s all there in the de-motivational tool of the new millennium. It ensures that the last drop of poetry or magic has been wrung out of the language we use to describe education and lays us down in a desert where management theory words blow about us like properly annotated and categorized tumbleweeds. I dare you to find one inspirational word in it anywhere. Here is the link:

http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/framework.html

Personally, I will be using this document to talk dirty to my wife. “Hey baby, are my ┬átimely and tiered interventions responding to your individual student learning needs? Because I’ve gathered a variety of valid and reliable assessment data that is informing my instruction and assessment and determining my next steps. Or would you prefer to be supported by a collaborative team approach. Oh baby!”