David Brooks has just elevated himself in my mind into an almost hero.  Maybe that’s too far.  An intellectual hero?  Maybe.  He is sort of experiencing this renaissance of popularization because he has some really awesome ideas about how we are as people.  Check out his Ted talk about humans as social beings and about how he makes decisions that balance his rational and emotional mind.  Really simple and interesting stuff.  At any rate, he just teed off on Diane Ravitch.  I am completely unenamored with this lady.  She touts herself as an educational historian but how she is anything but a reformer, I’ll never understand.  I saw her speak once and never have I heard such a litany of complaints with a complete lack of ideas or insight into ways to solve problems.  It might be worth noting, however, that Ms. Ravitch created many of the educational issues that she is now earning LOADS of money off of.

Believe it or not, this is not what I wanted to reflect on.  In Mr. Brook’s article, Smells Like School Spirit, he is critical of Ms. Ravitch’s rhetoric and discusses how good, high achieving schools don’t let mechanistic testing ruin the humane art of teaching.

In these places, tests are not the end. They are a lever to begin the process of change. They are one way of measuring change. But they are only one piece of the larger mission. The mission may involve E.D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge curricula, or character education, or performance arts specialties. But the mission transcends the test. These schools know what kind of graduate they want to produce. The schools that are most accountability-centric are also the most alive.

This idea, using the test to leverage change; or to put it another way, using the test to give students information about themselves, their aptitudes, their motivations, etc.  This is one of my goals this coming year.  I’ve been using the notion of helping use data to inform students’ choices and growth (incorporating notions of data-based decision making along the way).  At any rate, I am hoping to learn from the KIPP school in Columbus and other high achieving schools in and around Ohio and the nation.  We have a lot to learn from one another.  This, by the way, is what problem-solving and not blame shifting looks like.  It’s called leadership.  It is why I resonate with Mr. Brooks as opposed to Ms. Ravitch.

via Smells Like School Spirit – NYTimes.com.

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