The OECD has released the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results. Visit our collection of resources to help you interpret them in context.
National Geographic filmmaker and writer Jon Bowermaster has long chronicled the declining health of the world's oceans. He has traveled the world by sea kayak, seeing first-hand troubling environmental changes in places as far-flung as Antarctica, the Aleutian Islands, South America, Vietnam, French Polynesia, Gabon, Croatia and Tasmania
Bowermaster recently spoke with us via satellite phone from a beach in the Maldives, a group of low-lying tropical islands in the Indian Ocean. He told us about us about the threats this island nation faces from rising sea levels and pollution--and why other nations like the United States should care about them. Environmental crises on distant shores can herald environmental, social, or political crises at home.
Bowermaster argues that his work holds critical lessons for educators and students. Why learn about the Maldives? Their present may well be our future.
Listen to highlights from our conversation here (6 minutes):
A transcript of these highlights appears ...
Editor's Note: Yesterday, Hollywood producer turned Montana educator Peter Rosten sent us the following remarks about his school's innovative filmmaking program:
Greetings from Montana!
A friend of mine, Jan Lombardi, is the education policy advisor for Montana’s Governor, Brian Schweitzer. Recently Jan forwarded me a “Learning First” newsletter and pointed to an article titled “Learning in the Community: Teen Filmmakers Talk About Their Work and Its Impact on Their Lives”.
After reading this inspiring story, I reached out to Claus von Zastrow. Perhaps he’d be interested in a pretty cool media program here in the Bitterroot Valley in rural Western, Montana.
Last week, teen filmmaker Jasmine Britton told us about the impact of her filmmaking on her life plans and academic prospects. Reel Works Teen Filmmaking, a Brooklyn-based non-profit organization, has reinforced Britton's academic skills and strengthened her motivation to go to college.
This week, we're sharing our recent conversation with Reelworks filmmaker Isaac Schrem, who expands on themes introduced by Britton. Shrem describes how his school's arts programs, together with filmmaking opportunities through Reel Works, shaped his professional aspirations.
Listen to approximately 5 minutes of highlights from our interview (or read through the transcript below):
PUBLIC SCHOOL INSIGHTS: Tell me about the film you made, The Other Side of the Picture.
ISAAC: I was always interested in filmmaking, but I didn't know exactly what I wanted to with it. I went with the phrase, "Write what you know." The one thing that I knew or wanted to understand, at least, at the time, was the situation with my parents, and my father leaving us and going away to Paris. So I went with that story.
It was a very rough topic for me to tackle because I still ...
In his March 10th speech before the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, President Obama repeated his campaign pledge to help states expand and improve early learning programs.
In defiance of skeptics who question the value or feasibility of early childhood education, the National Association of State Boards of Education points to Obama's home state of Illinois. The Illinois program can boast both strong acadmic results and cost-effectiveness, NASBE argues in a recent policy brief:
Illinois met nine of its 10 benchmarks for pre-k quality, ranked... 12th in access for 4-year-olds and first in the nation for 3-year-olds, while spending slightly more than ...
The 146-year-old Seattle Post-Intelligencer is the latest newspaper to run its own obituary. It followed closely on the heels of the Rocky Mountain News, which bid adieu to its Denver readers after 160 years. More newspapers and journals are sure to follow. Just this morning, I received an alarming email solicitation from The Nation, ominously titled "1865-??", requesting donations to forestall its own demise.
The implications of this situation for education are not hard to grasp.
For one, it reflects and exacerbates the erosion of civic education in this country. As Kathleen Parker notes in a recent Washington Post editorial, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press recently "found that just 27 percent of Americans born since 1977 read a newspaper the previous day." Young people don't seem to have much appetite for serious newspapers. Many educators feel they don't have much time to whet that appetite.
Yes, young people get some news on line, but ...
All the recent talk about 21st-century learning has sparked heated debate about curriculum and instruction. The broader implications of this debate are important. The way we describe 21st-century demands on schools and youth can have a profound impact on the fate of the liberal arts in our schools.
The skepticism about recent 21st-century talk isn’t surprising. I suspect many educators who champion the liberal arts see them as a bulwark against the 21st century’s worst influences. I know I did when I taught literature and philosophy. Thoreau offers a healthy antidote to rampant consumerism. Langston Hughes’s poems aren’t trying to sell you anything. James Joyce’s novels demand the kind of sustained attention required by few blog postings and no Twitter messages. Mary Cassat’s women have no place in an Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue.
We value such work for its timelessness, but also because it stands against so much that disappoints or outrages us about current times. It reinforces certain decidedly nineteenth-century (and older) values, habits and skills that can fortify young people against the worst 21st-century dangers: dangers like shrinking attention spans, growing consumerism, the sexualization of children, etc. People understandably recoil from the slightest suggestion that pre-21st-century skills are passé or unequal to the demands of a new century.
Still, schools cannot wall students off from the technologies and media that amplify both the best and the worst the 21st century has to offer. They face an important challenge: How do they help students use technology and new media responsibly? How do they acknowledge and incorporate 21st-century influences while helping students master a long intellectual tradition? How do they use that tradition ...
The share of U.S. public elementary schools teaching foreign language has fallen by almost 40% over the last decade. You know--the decade when 9/11, globalization, and growing diversity at home fueled calls for greater knowledge of other languages and cultures.
The EdWeek article lays out some of the decline's more sobering implications:
The decline of foreign-language instruction at the elementary level could make it harder for the United States to create a pool of language specialists who can speak both English and those languages deemed critical to the country’s economic success or national security, such as Chinese and Arabic.
CAL's data reflect the state of elementary foreign language instruction in 2008, before the nation's economy went from bad to worse. I shudder to imagine ...
The argument about 21st-century skills is heating up, with critics issuing a volley of op-eds and press releases warning against a disastrous retreat from academic content knowledge. In the hands of the national media, this debate might well amplify the phony opposition between knowledge and skills--and that's bad news for everyone.
The debate itself is substantive and complex. After all, the relationship between knowledge and skills is hardly simple, and that fact has profound implications for teaching and learning.
Unfortunately, many national commentators on education don't have much stomach for nuance, so we should probably brace ourselves for some well-worn caricatures. Any defender of content knowledge will be a soulless drone who traffics in facts the way a hardware salesman traffics in bolts or hinges. Any 21st-century skills proponent will be a wild-eyed revolutionary who yearns to toss centuries of human knowledge onto the bonfires.
Some of these caricatures are already appearing in editorial pages of major newspapers. That's too bad, because they risk derailing important ...
NEA's Read Across America is less than a week away. What better occasion to republish our interview with leading children's author (and former teacher) Jon Scieszka, the nation's first "National Ambassador for Young People's Literature?" We first published this interview on March 6, 2008.
Even with a name that's murder to spell and downright painful to type, Jon Scieszka has become one of the nation's most celebrated and beloved children's book authors--and he has recently added a new honor to his store: In January, the Library of Congress named him the nation's first Ambassador for Children's Literature. But with honor comes great responsibility. Scieszka, who has sold more than 11 million books worldwide, will spend his term reaching out to children, parents and teachers as a missionary for reading.
As part of our celebration of NEA's Read Across America, we were lucky enough to speak with Jon about his ambassadorial duties, his long-term efforts to encourage more children to read, and some of his forthcoming projects.
The man who wrote The Stinky Cheese Man and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs (as told from the Wolf's perspective) focused on his concern that boys in particular are becoming ever more reluctant readers.
He offered several thoughts for turning boys on to reading:
- Give them greater choice in what they read--Reading shouldn't be a bitter pill;
- Give them more male role models who read for pleasure;
- Don't demonize electronic media. Use those media to support boys' reading;
Scieszka has been actively promoting this agenda through Guys Read, a literacy program and website that aims to "motivate boys to read by connecting them with materials they will want to read, in ways they like to read."
By the way, it rhymes with "Fresca".
[Listen to about four minutes of highlights from this interview - you can read a transcript of those highlights below. You can also click here for the full 17-minute version.]
Or, if you'd like, you can choose ...
Linda Darling-Hammond remains a convenient bogeyman for too many education commentators looking to score cheap political points. That's unfortunate, because they make constructive debates about important education issues all but impossible.
Most recently, Kathleen Madigan cast Darling-Hammond as the chief vice in her education reform morality play: "A debate is raging about the future of academic standards in American public education," she writes: ...
A VISION FOR GREAT SCHOOLS
On this website, educators, parents and policymakers from coast to coast are sharing what's already working in public schools--and sparking a national conversation about how to make it work for children in every school. Join the conversation!