Sunday, November 20, 2011
It would not be much of an exaggeration to report that the entire town stopped into the high school office to buy football tickets over the past several weeks. Some folks breezed in and out in a hurry, but most stopped to smile and chat for a minute or two. Michele and Penny smiled and chatted right along with them. We heard the stories and the hopes and the memories of countless alumni, parents, and grandparents.
Posted by KMW at 5:11 PM
Sunday, November 13, 2011
I’ve been thinking a lot about TIME lately. Is it linear or cyclical? Should we measure it in moments or in meaning? Why do we use time as a yardstick for learning or productivity? What is lost time, or is there any such thing? Can we bargain for more time or rationalize less time? Do student-days and schedules, semester exams and school calendars really matter as much as I think they do?
We began the school week on Monday with a historic football victory—the radio announcers had to reach back to 1917 to find a comparable year of football glory. I wonder if they’ll still be talking about the 2011 football season in 2111? We ended the school week by gathering on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year in the 21st Century—to celebrate heroes past and present on Veteran’s Day. I like numbers and symbols, so I was glad that our school didn’t let the day pass unnoticed. Together, we made the moment meaningful.
It’s true that 11/11/11 will happen only once in our lifetime. But, when you stop to think about it, every date happens only once in a lifetime! That is the very nature of time.
Linear. Progressive. Unvarying. Sequential.
As educators, we have come to associate the passage of time with learning. We award credit based on the Carnegie Unit—measured in minutes of time spent in a classroom, at a desk, learning under the direct supervision of a certified instructor. We like the Carnegie Unit. Every student is awarded one credit for 120 hours of class time. Simple. The Carnegie Unit implies that being in a teacher’s presence for a predetermined amount of time will cause 1.0 credit of learning to occur. Nice. Tidy. Standardized. Quantified.
As a further measure of learning, we superimpose a grading scale on top of the credit system, so that a GPA can be calculated. Once a credit is recorded, the GPA is determined and is irrevocable. No second chance—the 89.4% is forever a “B+”. Unlike the game of football, the game of “School” doesn’t offer a fresh start every season. You carry your win/loss record with you, year after year. Oh, and you play alone. No team. No cheerleaders. No band. Just you and the game we call “school”.
Lately, I have started to wonder if learning really can be measured in minutes and multiple-choice tests. Maybe that is why I am so excited about January LIVE. What if we try something so radically new in our school that learning happens outside of the classroom, and cannot be quantified by a GPA? What if we award credit based on competencies rather than Carnegies? What if the moments matter more than the minutes? What if every kid had a chance at a winning season, every time they took the field?
We’re going to “lose” a day’s worth of minutes from first semester on Monday, November 14th 2011…but we won’t lose the learning! We’ll learn about community pride and good sportsmanship. We’ll learn about hard work and working from the heart. We’ll understand leadership and character and team-building, and bonding. What we lose in minutes, we’ll make up for in moments.
11/14/11 will only happen once in our lifetime---Let’s Win The Day!!
Posted by KMW at 3:27 PM