I believe students should experience success and failure not as reward and punishment but as information.
joebower has written 30 posts for Cooperative Catalyst

Alfie Kohn and Pasi Sahlberg Blogathon

I am putting out a call for people to participate in an Alfie Kohn and Pasi Sahlberg Blogathon. This blogathon is in response to the “Creating a great school for all – an evening with Alfie Kohn and Pasi Sahlberg,” Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at Red Deer College in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. Click here for … Continue reading

Changing School

There is an enormous gap between what we know and what we do. Let’s talk about scurvy. Between 1500-1800, it is estimated that at least two million sailors died of scurvy. In 1753 research was formally published that scurvy could be eradicated with fresh fruit such as limes and lemons, but it wasn’t until 1795 … Continue reading

We need more teachers like this

If you are proud of your high testsandgrades or ashamed of your low ones, you are a part of the problem. But if those who get low testsandgrades speak up against them they are easily labelled as ‘sour grapes’. That’s why those who get high testsandgrades have a responsibility to speak up and reject any … Continue reading

Two tales of personalization and technology

Personalization and technology can be read as a dream or a nightmare — it all depends on who is telling the story. If Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, Arne Duncan or Michelle Rhee are perpetrating the plot then personalization is about using technology for union busting, test score analytics and the marketization of our children’s minds. … Continue reading

Inclusion and Standardized Tests

Plans can be important… but it’s important to ask who the plans are for. Most school districts have education plans. So I want to know… who are these education plans for? I am familiar with one school district’s education plan where one of their goals is Inclusion of All Students. The priorities for this goal … Continue reading

Support Save our Schools

On my Twitter avatar I have chosen to show support for American educators who rightfully see corporate reform efforts to link their pay to student test scores and eliminate tenure as a direct assault on their profession. The Save Our Schools March & National Call to Action will be held July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, … Continue reading

Recipe for depression

Saying nothing and keeping quiet is a great way to get along with and live with others, but it makes it hard to live with yourself. If you are looking for a recipe for depression, simply resign yourself to being an agent of your employer. Define your learning as something done to you by others. … Continue reading

Heightened Control

Despite what conventional wisdom tells us, heightened control and demands for obedience are the worst responses to defiance. Where there’s no relationship, there’s no trust. Where there’s no trust, we resort to manipulation and dictates. Compliance and obedience become the name of the game, and for most kids this spells disaster.

Sample Testing

People who need something quantifiably simple and repeatable to judge how well schools are doing find test scores to be remarkably convenient. Test scores can then be used to fill colour coded spreadsheets that act as a carrot for the successful schools and a stick for the under-performing. The problem is that even the most … Continue reading

The illusion of standardization

The beginning of wisdom is a definition of terms. -Socrates When “collaboration” is really code for standardization, professional development becomes nothing more than control over actions. Just like how mandated sentences strips judgement from judges, so too does standardization deny teachers the ability to teach. Maja Wilson puts it this way: Mandating practices in the effort … Continue reading

Which comes first: the idea or the vocabulary?

Do we care more about the kids knowing vocabulary or the ideas behind the vocabulary? When we drill vocabulary words into kids, we make the words more important than the ideas. And the best place this happens is standardized testing. You see, on these prefabricated, fill-in-the-bubble tests, vocabulary is king. If you know what the … Continue reading

Assessment in Medical School

Here is a guest blog post that first appeared on my blog that was written by good friend Dr. Brad Bahler. The problems revolving around our current assessment techniques are not unique to K-12. Post secondary medical schools are also searching to broaden their definition of excellence.   By Dr. Brad Bahler I was recently … Continue reading

Consequences for whom?

When I share with people that I don’t believe in rewarding or punishing students, I tend to get some very odd looks. The idea that a parent or teacher would not reward children for good behavior or punish them for being bad seems to many to be more than just a foreign idea. Here is … Continue reading

Hollow Promises

Making students accountable for test scores works well on a bumper sticker and it allows many politicians to look good by saying that they will not tolerate failure. But it represents a hollow promise. Far from improving education, high- stakes testing marks a major retreat from fairness, from accuracy, from quality, and from equity. – … Continue reading

Covering Curriculum

“The greatest enemy of understanding is coverage.” -Howard Gardner Here’s a story I share to describe my take on the folly of covering curriculum: Pretend you are a bus driver and have been asked to make a dozen stops where children will be waiting to be  picked up so you can take them to school. … Continue reading

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