Sunday, June 1, 2008

Evidence Based Education and Patience

There is great pressure right now for educational research to focus on evidence based practice. At the same time there is pressure on students to teach using the same kind of evidence. I have no problem with the approach- but I would like to see space and time for activities that may not have immediate visible impact on students. For example, I am pretty sure that taking students to the Opera, museum, and theater will not produce much of a result on their achievement tests that year. The experience is just not enough. The cumulative effect of these experiences over time should make a great difference but I suspect we are not patient enough to wait.
The same seems to hold for vocabulary development. Not every word that students read or hear will become part of their working vocabulary immediately. A year or so ago I was talking to one of our kindergarten teachers about vocabulary growth in her students. We were both somewhat frustrated by what seemed to be the lack of use of target vocabulary by the students. The conversation really started me thinking about the patience. We want results now but need to recognize that in some areas we need patience and the understanding that the impacts are beyond one or even three years in school.
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