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Log in to Witsby: ASCD’s Next-Generation Professional Learning and Credentialing Platform
November 1, 1996
Vol. 54
No. 3


Let the Grown-Ups In

Your September 1996 issue (Creating a Climate for Learning) was inspiring. I would like to offer my own simple idea: Open public schools to the public; that is, invite people of all ages to attend—young, middle-aged, elderly. This community of learners would alleviate at least two serious problems: lack of discipline and lackluster academic performance.
As adults worked alongside young people, they would engender a renewed respect for the learning process. They would also lessen youngsters' need to act up, vandalize, or join a gang. The adult students would serve as role models and informal guidance counselors. This community of learners would be an extended family of sorts, with members meeting one another's needs. Granted, public schools are overcrowded as it is. But if adults were direct beneficiaries, they would be more likely to vote for taxes and issues that favor the public schools.
—Kim Sinclair Thompson, High School Learning Disabilities Teacher, Ashland, Missouri

Changes at the Top

Alfie Kohn's "What to Look for in a Classroom" (September 1996) is profoundly helpful, wonderfully challenging, and—as in all his writing—right on the mark. The accompanying photo—again as always—shows busy, delighted elementary school students.
Next time any of us writes about learner-centered education, how about pictures of delighted 17-year-olds in a classroom where there is the "frequent hum of activity and ideas being exchanged," "chairs around tables to facilitate interaction," "evidence of student collaboration," and, throughout the school, "students' work filling the hallway walls."
Unless we can show that the research on effective teaching has been applied to all the years of schooling, we are still at square one in fundamentally reforming American education. In reality, though, this tough nut has been cracked in some high schools and other upper-level schools. Let's show it.
—Peter D. Relic, President, National Association of Independent Schools, Washington, D.C.

What They Are Teaching Your Son

It is a shame that Allan Bloom's assumptions in "What Are You Teaching My Son?" (Working Constructively With Families, April 1996) resulted in your asking whether schools neglect achievement because they are more concerned with social issues. I would ask: Why does society neglect social issues that result in diminished school achievement?
While lack of academic rigor is neither desirable nor defensible, Bloom's attack on mixed ability grouping and cooperative learning is unfounded. Hundreds of studies have reinforced what John Dewey suggested many years ago: students learn from one another. The two major goals of cooperative learning are for students to achieve both academically and socially. While stressing the importance of individual responsibility, initiative, and expertise as means to success, Bloom sees no value in students learning from and working with one another. Interestingly, he only defines success in terms of competition.
—Steven Grineski, Professor, Moorhead State University, Moorhead, Minnesota

ASCD, A Collaborative Partner

Recently, I was recognized as a National Board Certified Teacher, the first in our southern California district. My scores were among the highest on the Middle-Childhood Generalist Certificate Performance Exam.
Looking back, I realized that ASCD was my collaborative partner. Often, our district staff development offerings didn't meet my growing need to learn and analyze. But as a member of ASCD, I had professional growth opportunities at my fingertips. Your fine journals, resource books, Curriculum Updates, and conferences have provided me with snapshots of the most current research, strategies, and programs. They've taught me to take risks, but the risks are reasonable and are based on knowledge. Educational Leadership has profoundly influenced me by giving me a heightened awareness of the big picture.
As you look to future issues, I hope you will update your members on the developments of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Collaborating with NBPTS as a partner in the "intelligence network" would reflect ASCD's goals.
—Rae Adams, Poway Unified School District, Del Mar, California

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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