Friday, January 13, 2006

"The educated man is the man with the best bullshit detector." I attribute this quote to Lewis Binford, my mentor in graduate school. He always attributed the quote to R. Maynard Hutchins the former University of Chicago president from 1929-1945. Lew described the context as President Hutchins being asked in a press conference to describe the educated man and he thought for a moment and then said the bullshit detector quote.

Taking classes from Lew Binford was a bit like reading a John Fowles book. When John Fowles writes a book he writes in a way that you get an amazing story and a clinic in how to write simultaneously. Lew always seemed to take us on that same journey...we sat at rapt attention hanging on each detail of his amazing stories and incredible knowledge of archaeology, but we were really learning how to learn. Not just learning how to consume information as passive "learners".

What does all this have to do with data-driven classrooms? It is my opinion that students need to own their data and lead the analysis. I doubt many progressive thinking educators would disagree with me on this point. Research shows that when students are seeing and owning their data and progress that achievement increases. With this knowledge comes a question: are we effectively teaching students how to learn? Or what to know? I believe that our current model for educating students and educating teachers ignores the learning how to learn and focuses on what to know. The result is a lack of probing data analysis and misunderstanding of the purpose of data.

I submit these posts for publication reluctantly because I do not have the answers. I hope someone out there is interested in engaging me in this conversation.

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