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Innovation and Post-modernism - the why of schooling

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Lead from the Start: Innovation and Post-modernism - the why of schooling

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Innovation and Post-modernism - the why of schooling

On a new online community David asked, "How would the standards movement fit into a post modernist (POMO) analysis?" I responded there but wanted to bring in some more details here.

David I think that the difference in the two perspectives has more to do with the why of schooling than the how.

I believe a liberal education is important but in its most narrow view (Hirsch) it does not allow for discovering what students need to learn. In some ways I think modernism and post-positivism (the baby and the bath water) are still very much alive and exerting influence on public policy. They are able to do this because of innate need for certainty in public policy decisions. However, the perspective's focus on finding the truth as opposed to discovering the truth or making meaning makes education more narrow than is healthy for American schooling.

If standards were based less on content and more on process I think that both perspectives become better represented. I think that much of the national science standards are constructed well. They support the understanding of important scientific concepts as well as how to think scientifically.

However, when rich national standards are translated into state and local policy their power is diffused by a focus on specific skills and concepts as opposed to habits of mind and heart.

I suggest that we don't know what we will need to know in the future. But we can prepare students by helping them develop "ways of knowing" that will help them to be successful in the 21 century. Perhaps this is where we should invest ourselves as educators and a country. Students who can create, think, analyze, and empathize will be better prepared.

According to the recent American Association of School Administrators conference innovation is where we should start. Perhaps we need some standards for innovation. Is that even possible?


At 3:04 PM, Blogger The Tablet PC In Education Blog said...

You write thoughtfully. Your students are lucky to have you serve them.

Your comments about modernism and post-modernism remind me of T. Ernest Newland's (a former student of Maude Merrill) grumpy retort when someone mentioned creativity of people with (today's words) intellectual disabilities. It's harsh, and non-PC today, but straight: "How can someone who doesn't know something create that something or anything related to it?" It's a generic question from a different paradigm about what it means to create and to find out.

Our comment also brings to mind the issue of how much time does a learner have to acquire enough of what someone else knows in order to stand on their shoulders to find more?

Anyway, thanks for your post and for triggering these reminders from previous conversations in other contexts.


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