Intrinsic Motivation and Students

Great article by Edutopia on kids and intrinsic motivation. We’re so used to telling kids/students what to do. The key item I pulled out of this read is the what kinds of choices and directions you give students. The examples they provide are clear to see the differences in style of what is traditionally done and what kids would respond to better.

I was writing in Starbucks a few weeks ago, when a mother asked her 3 year old daughter if the girl wanted to finish the apple she took one bite out of or throw it away. I was confused by the latter option, simply because I thought she could have asked the girl if she wanted save it for later or if she would like to cut it (it was a whole apple). I can see how this was the mom trying to give her daughter options, at the same time, her daughter didn’t understand the value of food, so she said shed like to throw it away. Giving the girl options to eat it at a later point would highlight that value and at the same time, allow the girl to make her own decision.

This may not quite be intrinsic motivation and could simply be a difference in value for food, but it certainly something that some parents are picking up on.

Nina Rees Misconstrued Clinton Charter Comment

I wrote a blog post last night about K-12 education policy and the presidential campaign trail. I wanted to include a  link to a Hillary Clinton  interview where she talks about charter schools. In search of that interview, I came a across a negative response article. First, I’ll use a quote to illustrate part of what Clinton said about charter schools and then show how it was misconstrued.

Hillary Clinton made a few comments about charter schools. She said,

And here’s a couple of problems. Most charter schools — I don’t want to say every one — but most charter schools, they don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids, or, if they do, they don’t keep them. And so the public schools are often in a no-win situation, because they do, thankfully, take everybody, and then they don’t get the resources or the help and support that they need to be able to take care of every child’s education.

Of course, Nina Rees, the president and chief executive officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, only pulled ‘the-hardest-to-teach’ sentence out and wrote a misguided, misconstrued article, for, of course, US News & World Report.

Rees says that Clinton ‘misses the point’, that charters mostly help low-income students from rough neighborhoods, rather than dispense them to public underfunded public schools. But, when Clinton refered to “hardest-to-teach” students, and we know this by reading the whole interview, she meant students who have behavioral problems and aren’t easily integrated in some charter schools ‘no excuses’. Clinton acknowledges that charters there are both good and bad charters. She even mentions that we should use charters for their original purpose, which is to create a place to help those students who are not interested in school/have a hard time learning and create a flexible learning environment that engages students and allows teachers to find learning styles that can be replicated in public schools.

Rees then says that public schools should do just that– Rees doesn’t seem to pickup on the fact that Clinton even said this already.

Rees seems to also ignore the fact that charters have resources that public schools simply don’t have. She in no way takes on the fact that there are multiple levels to her veiw of ‘Hard-to-Teach’ kids. She took a very surface level understanding of this comment, and she did not try to explore other, more deeper types of students who are truly troubled by their low-income upbringing.

Charters do take in a lot of kids from low-income communities but Rees assume that ALL of these kids, simply by way of their environment, are who the ‘Hard-to-Teach’, which is not true. There are some many students who, like myself, come from a poor neighborhood but love to learn and would have thrived in a charter schools. My then disrespectful, rude and highly disruptive youngest brother would be kicked out because he’d break so many of the school’s no – excuse rules.

But, and this scares me, Rees chose to miss Clinton’s point. I know she chose not to see Clinton’s point and chose to twist Clinton’s comments because Rees:

A) chose to only focus on that one sentence and
B) didn’t acknowledge that positive comments Clinton made about charters and
C) didn’t even include a link to an article with the full interview.

Rees included several links that prove that charters have helped lower-income students, which Clinton did not deny, but Rees did not include a link to Clinton’s article.

What’s even worse is that Rees included a link to findings of high – income public schools using tactics to kick kids out of their schools, but she doesn’t acknowledge that Success Academy, a charter school network in NYC, is accused of doing the same thing.

It’s not a fair practice to her readers and is an example of journalists controlling the media to fit their view.

Rees isn’t the only person who misconstrued Clinton’s comment. Some folks call her a hypocrite because, historically speaking, she’s been an advocate for charter schools. But this interview isn’t condemning charters to death.  Clinton isn’t anti-charter now. She’s just aware of some faults of some charter schools and that should be okay. 

Charters need to stop having this “you’re-either-with-me-or-against-me” mentality. At least public schools have their faults and admit to it.

No K-12 Ed Policy on the 2016 Pres. Campaign Trail

The 2016 presidential candidates, especially the democrats, are vocal on changes to college affordability. But, this Ed Week post talks about how little attention K-12 reform is getting on the 2016 presidential campaign trail. Part of the assumed reasoning behind the lack of conversation is because ESSA was just passed to replace NCLB, probably the most controversial education policy law in recent memory. One can argue that the fed is taking a lighter hand in ed reform because, traditionally, education reform is a state issue.

I appreciate Hillary’s comment on charter schools and it makes sense why John Kasich is quiet about his mess in Ohio. But I wish candidates spoke on the subject simply because they care, and not because they’ll lose political points or because it won’t heavily effect their campaign or time in office. Ed policy, especially ed policy that affects the early ages, is an American issue that each potential leader should be well versed and opinionated about.

Green Dot on Community Participation

Great blog post by Green Dot Public Schools. Reformers don’t emphasize familial and community involvement…they seem to hardly mention it! Let’s continue to pretend that teachers are the main, if not only, source of impact in students lives! When we put all the pressure on teachers, we’re saying that the family and school don’t affect student learning, whether it is positive or negative.

Greed & Law School Indebtness

This NYT article discusses why both for-profit & non-profit schools jack their tuition up and graduate students who wont be able to find a job.

The following quote from the article summarizes what allows schools to do this:

In 2006, Congress extended the federal Direct PLUS Loan program to allow a graduate or professional student to borrow the full amount of tuition, no matter how high, and living expenses. The idea was to give more people access to higher education and thus, in theory, higher lifetime earnings. But broader access doesn’t mean much if degrees lead not to well-paying jobs but to heavy debt burdens. That is all too often the result with PLUS loans.

What’s happening here seems to be, in part, true for colleges. Who’s responsibility is it to present students with a current, true, blunt and comprehensive view of what loans, schools, career and desire really mean?

If schools are fudging with the numbers, they clearly know that they’re doing something wrong. Schools and students shouldn’t receive federal loans until the school can actually produce a 67% field-related employment rate for their students.

Most Likely to Get a Menial Job Post Graduation

Tiny Dintersmith and Ted Wagner write, “‘You can either get your college degree or end up with a menial job.’ But the reality in America today?  Millions of adults end up with both.”

It’s upsetting that leaders in the higher education community won’t acknowledge this.

It’s even more absurd that colleges with gross price stickers take money from middle income families that have to take out loans to pay the school, but end up with a degree that can’t get them anywhere.

Our students aren’t counseled enough to understand their “investment” both in high school and throughout college. Diane Ravitch has said that college isn’t necessarily for those seeking to make tons of money, which must be true because graduates are coming out with tons of debt and low jobs–there debt far exceeds there income.

Some people say college is a lifetime investment, so even though one may not make much right after college, the gains will come later in life. But that can’t be the case for, say, art history at middle rate college.

I thinks students are conditioned to believe that to believe that hard work in first high school, then college, is the key to “success” but they’re not told that there’s so much more that goes into that, including finding what one wants to do with their life in order to make these loops worth it.

We put too much pressure on students to perform well academically and tell them that going to college but they’re too young and have been conditioned to theoritical learning to fully understand what kind of real investment they’re making. The schools certainly won’t stop and tell them.

Part of me thinks students should pay the amount economists predicts what a students major will garner, not necessarily throughout their lifetime but maybe expected salary in the current job market. It seems to be fair for the students because one ridiculous high price tag does not benefit all. We sadly go under the assumption that it does.

Schools Should Help Students Hands On Experience

Dintersmith and Tony Wagner  suggest that colleges should work with their own students to create school’s marketing materials, such as the school website and videos. The fact that schools aren’t doing this, reiterates how ineffective they are at preparing students for the real world. Are schools aware that a large percentage of their graduates aren’t going into academia and could use real-world, practical, hands-on challenges to succeed in life post-college? Clearly not. Colleges are out of touch with the real world and, oddly enough, aren’t critically thinking about their curriculum and the ways in which they prepare students for the work force. Unfortunately, I can’t help but think that they’re aware of this but are more selfseving than they make themselves out to be.