As Long As We’re Dreaming Bigger . . .

Scott McLeod is dreaming bigger for Iowa education and asks “What would you add to (or remove from) this list?”

If I had an Iowa education dream list, it wouldn’t look much like McLeod’s.

It might . . .

start with adequate funding (though McLeod, no doubt, supports adequate funding!).

include orchestra/strings performance music programs offered in all districts, starting no later than fourth grade. Although if we’re dreaming bigger, why not start in first grade?

include more time and money for art, music, theater, language, and shop classes.

include more than fifteen minutes for lunch and more, rather than less, time for recess for elementary age students.

include ending the use of calculators in almost all K-12 math and science courses.

include valuing expertise and the acquisition of knowledge such that teachers could teach instead of facilitate, studying would be at least as valued as doing (I’d like to never again hear studying/learning/reading mocked or devalued as “consuming” set in opposition to “creating”), and studying stops being labeled as somehow “inauthentic” or “not real world” (we all have to start somewhere right?).

include valuing the conversations to be had with the people in our own classrooms. I find pictures of classrooms with everyone staring at their own screens to be sad rather than inspiring.

end with preK-12 Montessori programs for every Iowa student who wants it, as long as we’re dreaming bigger.

As for what I’d remove from McLeod’s list? At the very least, I’d remove invitations for businesses and business organizations to have an outsize role in setting the direction for Iowa schools (items C and Q). K-12 education as job training is as sad as K-12 education as standardized test preparation.



2 thoughts on “As Long As We’re Dreaming Bigger . . .

  1. Mary Starry

    A comment on calculators: Don’t promote extremes such as eliminating all usage. Students should be able to perform basic math, such as what is used in elementary classes, without calculators. However, once you come to complex mathematical manipulations, tools are necessary. I would see no reason to go back to slide rules and books of exponents, which are also tools, Just to avoid calculators. Complex math is based on understanding what you’re doing with the math and a calculator is worthless if you don’t know how to manipulate the numbers. Students could learn many new concepts in the time wasted doing one complicated math problem with slide rules and charts in book. That’s exactly why calculations were one of the first uses of early computers.

  2. Scott McLeod (@mcleod)

    Thanks for the thoughtful extension of my post, Karen. Your list sounds pretty good to me too. I particularly like the Montessori idea because it aligns with my beliefs that we need to put kids more in charge of their own learning.

    Regarding your last point, I’ve had some pretty good conversations with our corporate and industry partners here in Iowa. They’re not all in alignment with where I wish we would go as a state but many are and they surely have more influence than I do!

    Let’s work together to move Iowa forward, and dream as big as possible rather than being captive to small, incremental visions…

    All my best.

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