Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday Morning Tea- Looking for Clarity


As I sip my tea, black with honey, I am looking for clarity. In her Swanson award acceptance speech Margaret Macintyre-Latta used the fog of her childhood's Canada as a metaphor for her educational worldview. The talk made me think of my own childhood and the bright unrelenting light of Israeli summers as well as the clear crisp days where you can see for ever. In my own work I look for clarity, the kind that I can hold firmly in my hand. This approach is limited as somethings are elusive and defy clarity. The context is a chapter I am writing about Evaluation of Arts Education programs, I am trying to clarify to myself what I mean by Professional Development as Curriculum. Curriculum doubtlessly matters, but in recent years we seemed to start focusing on curriculum as the only thing that matters, maybe even more it is curriculum as driven by assessment but I digress. [the tea cup is empty and my throat feels much better] The failure of this approach may be the seen in the demise of Reading First [disclosure I am the Reading First evaluator for Nebraska].
In Arts LINC we are using a different approach that looks at teacher professional development as the key to changing the way classrooms work and student achieve. This is by no way original, but we are explicitly trying to change the way we all talk about change in school. It does take guts to say what we offer is not the only thing that can work just a version of it. But what does it mean to turn the Professional Development in the curriculum? We have some teachers that have internalized the ideas of arts integration into their practice so well that in their day to day practice it is inseparable. Others do the units we ask them to with varying degrees of fidelity but it is clear that they have not internalized it as part of everyday practice. Maybe clarity is by looking at examples. The tea is done children waking up more later...
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