Twitter and a Mini-poll.

Let's get right down to it. I would like to request some comments for my Political Aspects of Education class that I am taking right now. First question is:

What are the major challenges facing American public education right now?

The second questions is for Utahns and other informed parties that know what happened here last year with school choice and school vouchers.

After the voucher vote this last year, do you intend to vote for different legislature members this year?

Please respond to these two questions in the comments. You can post anonymously, if you feel so inclined.

Now on to the good stuff. I have been using Twitter since the middle of December. To be honest, I don't know how I got started on it. I think that it might have been from my friend, Chris, but I could be wrong. Anyway, it was about the same time that I started using Facebook. Facebook mostly helped me get better at Scrabble (and connect with some old friends, I guess). The best thing about Twitter is that I have been using it a lot to help me get ideas for teaching. I mostly just read what other people mention, and I have met some really neat people and learned so much I don't even know where to begin.

I am collaborating with another middle school teacher in Kansas on a wiki for the presidential primaries. I also got connected with some other edutech bloggers here in Utah, in my district even, and that is really neat also. I have felt so alone recently because I don't feel like anyone in my district, even the tech guy at my school, is very social web literate or even interested in it. I just recently learned that one other person at my school does have a blog, but it is private and I have not received an invitation. I also have found other middle school teachers on twitter and that helps also because I can bounce ideas off of them as well as get brand new ideas from them.

I am so impressed with how kind the community has been in helping me out and using it as a tool to help others. I enjoy knowing that many of my questions are answered without too much waiting.


    To question #1 I would say that it that our education system in antiquated for today's needs. We are preparing students for a past time not a future time.

    Question #2 I did not vote for my current legislator. The political system in Utah is so lopsided that it is making me re-evaluate my party affiliation.


    Thanks for your quick response. My professor is backing someone running for the legislature this year and he said that he is running as a democrat because that is the only way he can even have a chance to talk about the issues he wants to address. It is impossible here to get past the big Republican names in certain districts.

    Also, excellent point on question number 1. When I look around my school and district, that seems to be more and more apparent. I can only imagine what it would be like to see the bigger picture...

    In answer to #1 I feel that we need to educate the children to love learning, and to think critically, not just parrot what the teachers say. When I went back to college a view years ago I was amazed at how the prof. would lecture and no discussion, I would challenge some of what he said, he would get very mad at me. But he soon adapted and we had a better class for it. Help them to learn how to form their own opinions, even if they are counter to everyone elses.
    #2 I am not up on Utah voacher things. I do believe in voachers. I think that they will help make all schools better by compatition. the lazy teachers would be weeded out. Those who were good would be recuited by the better schools and the whole system would improve. Having worked in government for 14 years I know that secure jobs create lazy workers, myself included. When I was in the private sector I had to compete everyday.

    I'll preface my answers with stating that I am not educated at all about public education, and specifically Utah public education. With that being said...

    #1 - I think funding is a major challenge. Schools are falling short and having to cut programs or to turn to private businesses for help. I don't think either of those are great options. With more funding teachers would have more competitive salaries, class sizes could be kept at a decent level, school buildings could be kept up, and most importantly, more money could be spent for enriching a child's education.

    #2 - From the little I know about vouchers, I am not for them. Having said that, the legislature member that I voted for last year (who was by far the best canidate) did not win. If I could redo it or had the opportunity again in the future, I would probably still vote for him because the other canidates seemed so lousy.

    On January 9, 2008 at 11:05 AM Anonymous said...

    I do not have an answer to the second question, because I am still not sure how I feel/felt about vouchers or the arguments about them. For the first question, I think that to much of education leads to passiveness. Whether or not the process by which the material is taught is passive or active does not matter to me except that it needs to suit individual students. The end result is the problem. Too many students at any level of education, go to school and take classes with no change in their ability to do good. I think that History should be taught to develop a respect for the past and to form ideas of how to do things better. English ought to be taught so that students will express themselves more properly than before, and that they will enjoy creativity and liberty in the spoken and written language. Science should raise questions that the students themselves will later answer through systematic scientific methods. I think that school should raise confidence levels such that a child can face a problem unknown to them, and then find some creative way to solve the problem.

    Dad and Tiffany,

    thanks for your comments. I appreciate what you said. Funding is certainly a major issue. It is hard to be a good teacher when you need to worry about getting a second job to make ends meet. In addition, I would think that most people love learning, but everyone says they hate school. That is a very interesting dichotomy. How do you get students to enjoy learning about the different subjects that they "need" to learn. I could write a whole textbook on that (not that I have the answers by the way).

    #1: The same problem that's faced it for the last 50 years: a system designed to create appropriately passive industrial workers who could fulfill the 3 Rs is not actually a good system to create the educated public needed to sustain a democracy.

    The failings of public education are more obvious as the pace of technological and societal change increases, but they've been there for a while.

    @Anonymous - I totally agree with you about _how_ those subjects should be taught. I teach English, and I try really hard to teach it in a way that they will actually enjoy using the language, like I do. I also think science should be structured with a question and tools sitting in front of the students as they come in, and they should figure out the answer to the question with the materials they have at hand. Thanks for the comment


    Right on target. The education system teaches passivity. They come in, sit and get, and then leave. I am almost embarrassed to say this but there are days when I don't even hear any of my students' voices. Crazy!

    What are the major challenges facing American public education right now?

    Public education is in a perpetual spin cycle. The same ideas get spun around and around without any new ideas let into the spin cycle. Schools are run by people who liked school. Students become teachers because they liked school, teachers become administrators because they really like school, administrators become superintendents because they love school. School in the past has "worked" for most people, those people grow up and get on school boards to protect what has always "worked." The major challenge is how to get all these people who are recreating their past experiences to accept change. We have to consider leaders for school districts that are not educators by profession. Imagine if some CEO took over a district and said this is the type of kid we need to graduate to be successful. Make it happen or be fired. An administrator can come into my building tomorrow and tell the staff about a new idea or technology and the staff has the power to reject it. What other employees have that power to reject that which is needed for future success!! Ahhh! ...pork chops burning on the BBQ!! I'll leave it at that!

    You are right on! I love school, and that is why I became a teacher. The difference for me is that I realize that not all my students like school. Many teachers don't realize that everyone is not like them (English teachers especially have a hard time here). There was also a time that I didn't like school, and there were teachers that made me like school more than others. Those who have always liked school and don't realize they are different really make it hard for things to change. I often say that many students will learn in spite of what I do. That is just a fact of life. I need to find a way to challenge them, but there are some that need to learn in spite of themselves. About seven teachers at my school right now are working on a new way of doing things: we want it to be harder to fail a class than pass it. We are working on interventions that will bug a kid to death if he or she doesn't learn the material. That is the plan; I hope it works.