On my way home from Austin yesterday, there were some great moments, and some disappointing ones. Let me explain:
Having dinner on my connection through Denver, there were two televisions I could see. One had the debate on, one a baseball game. Guess which one had the audio on, and which had the text? Naturally, the baseball game was being listened to, and a few of us were trying to read the riotously bad text transcription of the debate. I know in other countries they’d take pride in following and debating national politics.
On the other hand, on the flight from Denver home, I sat next to a very bright young man who’d worked as an aide for Senator Feinstein and then was inspired to get a master’s in education and teach history. He told me inspiring stories of how he used games and activities to make history come alive, like competitions to write the Treaty of Versailles, and World War I games of Diplomacy (with propaganda affecting the outcome). He was creating websites for his classes where students could access all the presentations he made, and was looking for ways to connect them to more resources.
Of course, he was lamenting that as a single, employed teacher he couldn’t afford to buy housing and had to rent. I reckon that our government still doesn’t get that when you look systemically at our society, good teaching is one of, if not the, best investment in the future.
It was nice to hear the candidates largely bash No Child Left Untested, er, Behind. We need more meaningful ways to make knowledge come alive and be available for use when needed, teaching knowledge application for complex problem-solving, and rote tests don’t do that. Similarly, making that knowledge meaningful makes it stick better. That’s why I like that the Center for Civic Education‘s programs (disclaimer: I’m on the board) have demonstrable increases in civic participation. Students might even want to listen to the debates!
An interesting trip, overall, and much better than the day before (when I ended up spending an unexpected night in Denver, sigh). So here’s to passion for learning, teaching, and participation!