Tag Archives: Strategic Thinking and Instructional Design

Public Education (at the crossroads): Authoritative Mandates – OR – Democratic Principles

Recent reactions to “Common Core” principles indicate that many parents, teachers, and visionary scholars are not in support of these mandates.  I have no desire to waste my time criticizing such initiatives because … are posted.  If you desire to look into the matter further (which I do not); you shall discover that concerns have been raised in regards to “the business” of common core initiatives, the content and implementation criteria of “core” principles, and the dissemination of “standardized” assessment rubrics.

I believe that the primary objections directed at these initiatives stem from a legitimate belief that the constructs are too prescriptive (and that financial and/or political motives may be in play).  So, regardless of the intentions of those involved with the production and distribution of such materials – I must support proponents on the side of Democracy.  Democratic principles are based on the concept of “E PLURIBUS UNUM” (i.e. “out of many we are one”).  Since, many oppose the fundamental precepts of these initiatives and few are …? I shall assume the majority of voices are “instinctively” opposed to any agenda that is a threat to “our” democratic traditions.

I worry (as many others have) that homogenization (i.e. standardized mandates) will stifle creative thinking and innovation!  My experiences as an independent scholar have given me reason to “doubt” that change will occur if we all get on-board.  The changes I propose in education (and teacher training) will foster innovation from within; my conceptual framework includes a set of “common” recommendations for curriculum.  However, I believe that communities of practitioners must be given the “freedom” to decide what is relevant in their classrooms and schools.

For example: If we took the concept “students ought to learn about aquatic environments” as one of our core principles and allowed local agencies to determine “how” that core principle would be addressed; we would perpetuate Democratic principles in our schools.  Accordingly, in the state of DELAWARE we might address the concept via curriculum(s) that are centered around the CHES. BAY.  However, practitioners in IOWA may want to address this “core” principle via curriculums that incorporate aqua-culture or pollution from agriculture.  Freedom (not mandates) is the only way to continue the process of transformation that began more than a century ago.  DO NOT abdicate your responsibilities as citizens (and practitioners of education) to determine “what is best” for our Nation (and our public schools)!

We must build a strong network of practitioner communities and ensure that teachers are provided with adequate training before we can expect democracy to become … in our schools.  Want to learn more about Becoming a Reflective Practitioner and/or The Dichotomy of Instructional Design (i.e. student-centered and/or teacher-centered learning)?  Sample/Purchase my books which are available at: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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Filed under Curriculum and Instruction, Education, Inspirational, professional Development, School Reform Initiatives & Professional Development Strategies, The Common Core

Student-centered or Teacher-centered Instructional Paradigms (A Strategic Choice)

Most practitioners lack the essential knowledge and skills required to optimize their instructional programs.  Yes, that is true!  As was suggested in my previous posts, the dilemma is perpetuated by a top down administrative hierarchy which sanctions the use of generic textbooks (and standardized assessments).  Furthermore, teacher training initiatives are too frequently based on capricious schemes that fade into distant memory–sooner, rather than later.  Yes, that statement is also true! Harsh words, ouch!

Given ideal conditions (and essential knowledge) it is likely that most practitioners would initiate a dichotomous framework of learning experiences in their classrooms.  So what does that statement imply?  Imagine a “light switch”–when you enter a room and flip the device–light appears.  When you leave the room, another flip and the room darkens.  When we initiate the process of instructional design our strategic “choices” can be that simple.  However, I must stress that such choices are often made when developing a curriculum.  So, it really is not that simple!  When “we” rely upon pre-packaged curriculums (such as textbooks) and the means that are associated with these materials, “we” perpetuate failing schools.

Practitioners ought to be given the freedom to develop curriculums (and instructional mechanisms) that enhance the educational experiences of all students.  They should be provided with opportunities to “flip the switch” that determines when student-centered paradigms are employed and/or teacher-centered mechanisms (including texts) are initiated.  Practitioners must be provided with information about the usefulness of both strategies and be trained to initiate each of these paradigms.  The decision-making process involves determining if a component of your curriculum is “technical” or “non-technical”.  When constructs are technical in nature, practitioners ought to employ lesson plans which enable them to demonstrate (technical) procedures or convey concepts and principles.  However, non-technical curriculums are best administered via student-centered mechanisms which compel students to develop higher-order thought processes (i.e. analysis, synthesis, and evaluation).

Want to learn more about initiating a dichotomous framework in your school (district)?  My works are published via smashwords.com: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kennethfetterman

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Filed under Classroom Management, Curriculum and Instruction, Education, Instructional Design, professional Development, School Reform Initiatives & Professional Development Strategies, Teaching