Tuesday, April 08, 2014

day two

 We are on our second day of the ISACS accreditation team visit.  ISACS stands for the Independent Schools of the Central States, and it is the independent school association that Clear Spring School is a member of (in addition to the NAIS). Yesterday I had three of the team members visiting my school wood shop and today I may have 5 more. They are extremely busy while they are here for an intense two days, examining everything about our school from top to bottom and from one end to the other.

My program is a rare item in today's education... almost as rare as the sighting of an endangered species, as that's what woodworking education has become. I learned that one of the team members is from a school that has started a woodworking program based on my own, and another had woodworking much earlier in their school history, abandoned it decades ago and is now hoping to start over. Those are good signs.

The ISACS accreditation review is an important thing for an independent school. We invest heavily in review of what we do, with all eyes focused on improvement. Teachers always want to put their best feet forward, and while some in America think that teaching is a dumb-assed thing to do, and not  a measure of one's success, that was not always the case, and is not the case in all countires. In Finland, the top 30% of university graduates become teachers.

Here in the US, we invest so poorly in education, as though children do not matter. And that is the great shame of American education. It's an even greater shame for American society. We should be spending twice what we do and without reservation. We should give greater exposure to teaching, earlier in student's college days, thus giving them the spark for teaching... the inclination to teach, and we must, if nothing else, restore the dignity of the profession. That is done, not by measuring teacher performance through standardized testing, but by training teachers well, providing mentors for classroom support, and trusting teachers to take a more well rounded approach to assessment and planning. What I've just stated is the Finland model, and sadly, American educational policy makers have their own, more destructive approach to education.

Yesterday we started making robot walkers. The kids in all classes, including high school, fell in love with them. The level of enthusiasm for the project was palpable (A great hand word which means able to be felt or touched). And student interest can drive student success as no other single factor can.

One of my high school students has begun making a pinhole camera for use with 35 mm. film. Her passion is photography.  I helped by making a film winder on the lathe. I've become so excited about the pinhole camera that I'm following my student's example and making one for myself.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

Mario Núñez said...

Doug,

No doubt you and the rest of the Clear Spring teachers will impress the accreditation team. It's teaching done right.

Mario