Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Balancing creativity with standardization...

This year at Poplar Bluff Junior High School we are going through year two of Professional Learning Communities. Additionally, we are in the first year of our professional studies book club. We have been experiencing a lot of growing pains, but more importantly we are having difficult discussions that are helping to move us forward.

Most recently we read "Linchpin" by Seth Godin (you can find my blog post here). While we were discussing the relevancy of Godin's thoughts to our school and students, a teacher asked a simple but profound question: "How do PLCs and their standardization of education fit in the mix of creating and developing Linchpins?"

What an excellent question...

Then, last night, my superintendent after also having read "Linchpin," sent me a tweet asking a very similar question:

Here are the definitions for a guaranteed and viable curriculum and a Linchpin:

GVCA guaranteed and viable curriculum (GVC) is one that guarantees equal opportunity for learning for all students. Similarly, it guarantees adequate time for teachers to teach content and for students to learn it. A guaranteed and viable curriculum is one that guarantees that the curriculum being taught is the curriculum being assessed. It is viable when adequate time is ensured to teach all determined essential content.

LinchpinThose crazy people we can’t live without, people who bring art to work, people who reach out, make a connection, cause change to happen. The linchpin is the person who is indispensable, because they refuse to become an interchangeable part, someone who merely follows the manual. In the hardware store, the linchpin is a lightweight little piece that holds the wheel to the axle. Very difficult to live without.

Questions to consider...

- Can there be a healthy and appropriate balance between standardization and creativity?

- If the curricula are written and designed in such a way, can creativity overcome standardization?

- Who benefits more from standardization and creativity in schools? Students or educators?

- Are we simply taking one step forward just so we can take one step back by simultaneously focusing on standardization and creativity?

- What role (if any) should society play in determining what skills and abilities our students are taught?