Sunday, November 2, 2008

group vs. individual

"Making the individual a sharer or partner in the associated activity so that he feels its success as his success, its failure as his failure, is the competing step." -John Dewey

The United States educational model does not reward group performance. It continues to be individualized in the nature of assessing and measuring student learning outcomes. Individuals receive grades based on individual knowledge and performance. How does Dewey's quote support or reject the current U.S. educational model? If the educational philosophy of John Dewey worked in the early 20th century, why can't it work 100 years later? What needs to change?

This reminds me of P.I.T.S....Personal Interpersonal Task Summary. If we, as educational leaders, bring the PERSONAL and INTERPERSONAL back into educational learning environments (both inside and outside of the classroom), then perhaps we will have better student learning outcomes. Perhaps they are no longer called student learning outcomes, but instead, global citizenship skills. Is learning about finding the right answer? Or is learning about going through multiple processes in discovering multiple answers?

Ultimately, we may have a greater and more positive impact on the student citizens we help mold and prepare for the locally/globally competitive workforce if we integrate more group-centered learning environments to hold students more accountable to the success and well-being of their fellow neighbors. The concept of "we" is both a familiar and foreign concept in United States education. The "we" is embedded in grouping students in cohorts based on age, reading ability, socioeconomic status, curriculum standards, primary language, etc. However, the "we" transgresses into an "I" within individualized assignments, standardized tests, and other measurable outcomes that allegedly measure student success. Just as classmate, Patty, said, "Are we placing more value in the outcome as opposed to the process of teaching [or student learning]?"

Have educational leaders come to a point where a liberal arts education is what all grade levels, P-20, strive to attain despite the requirements set forth within standardized achievement tests? Overall, don't we want a well-rounded, educated citizenry? Considering that a K-12 education is a right and a higher education is a privilege, shouldn't this expectation exist for K-12 since not all students make it to college? Is this an unfair expectation on primary and secondary educational institutions?

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