Students have an innate desire to learn, Jennings argues, so we need
to design schools that successfully channel that interest and
motivation. More money will not solve the problem of poor performance
in education; rather, changing school design to take advantage of
well-established learning principles will achieve better results with
less money. Chartering has not necessarily resulted in true
innovation; most charter schools recreate conventional curriculum.
Policy makers should encourage those inside the school system to break
out of the confines of traditional subject matter and teaching
methods, and understand that success can be demonstrated in ways not
captured by conventional measurements.
For the complete
interview summary see:
Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement,
to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed
by Jennings. Average
response ratings are shown below. Note: these average ratings are
simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas
proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a
scientifically structured poll.
(8.0 average response)
quality in education depends less on additional funding and more on
changing traditional schools.
(7.4 average response)
Everyone at a
school need not agree on any given change; let teachers be free to
make changes on their own.
(7.6 average response)
The concept of
"teachers" should change--from that of imparters of information to
students to "facilitators of learning" who coach students in
retrieving information on their own.
(6.0 average response)
learn in many ways school districts should be required to offer at
least three different approaches from which students can select.
Ray Ayotte (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (10)
Charles Lutz (7.5) (10) (10) (7.5)
W.D. (Bill) Hamm (0) (0) (0) (0)
Re-design schools. While I agree with the first half of this
statement, the second half is the same old "Socialist" mastery
learning, (later OBE, then Standards Based Education, all the same…
socialism [nonsense] that goes all the way back to Chicago in the
1960's. Time to go back to a 2-year teaching degree, these elitist
4-year degree idiots are spending entirely too much time thinking of
ways to get out of teaching our children what they need to know and
too little time teaching. We are not running an experimental lab here.
Under our old "Traditional education system" teaching experimentation
was proven via internal competition within the system. Letting
teachers do what they want without internal controls is stupid.
Allow experimentation. Mr. Jennings does everything in his power to
leave those of us who own the system out of his discussion. His
position is [a] typical pro teacher union [position] speaking against
return of control to the local citizen base as well as avoiding any
accountability during all this free reign for teachers that he is
Facilitate learning. The root word of teacher is "Teach" and the
definition of teaching is the imparting of knowledge. By following Mr.
Jennings’ lead we let the teacher off the hook by shifting the
responsibility for learning from the teacher to the student. We can
already see the result of this elitist stupidity in our 30 to 50%
dropout rates. On top of that if we only need "Facilitators" of
learning, I don't see any need for more than a high school diploma to
be a future teacher. Just more Teddy Sizer [nonsense].
Require options. It has been clearly demonstrated that one learning
style works very well for over 96% of our students, yet we continue to
hear all this "Learning Style", "Teaching Style" [nonsense] that just
detracts from real teaching again. Let us return to teaching that
majority while providing for the needs of these few special needs
children in an appropriate setting. The time has come to end these
uncontrolled education experiments and return to a competitive
education system that forces any change to prove itself before full
implementation. It is clearly time to end this era of top down,
elitist, Socialist, over educated, teacher union controlled education
system as the absolute failure it is and return power and control to
"we the people".
Bob White (7.5) (10) (10) (7.5)
Peter Hennessey (2.5) (10) (0) (0)
Re-design schools. Agree on the comment on funding, totally disagree
on changing, unless of course "traditional" means in the last 40
years, rather than everything before the last 40 years. Time and
again the numbers prove that expenditures have nothing to do with
achievement. The Los Angeles school district spends $30,000 per
student, yet has the worst schools in California. All too obviously,
very little of those $30,000 actually makes it into the classroom. Way
too much bureaucracy and compliance with irrelevant unnecessary and
counterproductive federal and State regulations sucks up the money.
Our schools would be much better if we went back to traditional
schools. Forget all the ideologically motivated "inventions" and
"reforms" over the last 40 years. Go back to the days before that. We
have been educating our children formally for 5,000 or more years; we
have a pretty good idea what works and why. We don't need "new" ideas
as much as we need to remember what has always worked.
Allow experimentation. Every teacher is an individual and every
student is an individual. Let them find their own ways to communicate
to each other.
Facilitate learning. Absolutely not. This proposal is a total
abrogation of the teacher's responsibilities as a teacher. Teachers
are more than librarians.
not only have to provide information and tell where to find additional
information, you also have to explain what it means and how to
evaluate it. No child is born with knowing what to do with mere
surprised that the presentation and the questions did not address the
two biggest problem in school at all levels. One is to keep the
children's motivation high enough. You can't teach and they can't
learn if they are not motivated and therefore not paying attention.
That is why you also have to explain, for each topic, why it's
important, what difference it makes; in other words, you have to put
it in context and demonstrate its relevance. The journalist's
checklist of Who What Where When How & Why is relevant in all subjects
and all topics, not just the news, history or crime investigation.
The other is parental involvement and support. The child won't learn
(much) if the parents see no value [in] formal education, do not
provide an adequate learning environment at home, set a bad example,
or are not even home; or, even if they are supportive, they have no
skills in helping with homework or discussions about school work,
current events, etc.
Require options. There are more than three different approaches, and
you do not choose just one or stay with just one. You teach using a
variety of methods blended together on the fly, depending on the
response from the children. Some children are visual learners,
auditory learners, hands-on learners, etc.; some students learn better
"by rote" and some by project, some have to be guided and some learn
by discovery; and some subjects and topics are better taught and
learned one way than another. But no subject or topic is taught and
learned only one way.
brain is prewired to take in information using all five senses, and
the chances of retaining information in memory increases with the use
of all senses. That is why the student has to look, listen, read, take
notes, do exercises, etc. That is why we always had lectures, took
notes, read text books, did exercises and laboratory projects, held
discussions, etc., because each method illuminates some things better
than others and each method gives a better chance to learn than
another, but no subject or topic can be successfully taught or learned
using only one method. While every sentient creature has some
ability to figure out his environment and solve problems, children are
notborn knowing how to learn efficiently, they are not born knowing
how to teach themselves efficiently, and therefore the teacher also
has to teach basic skills in observing, reading, listening, note
taking, doing exercises, etc. because (1) children learn by many, many
individually varying pathways using all five senses; (2) a brain that
is prewired to filter and integrate input from the five senses still
needs help in developing good thinking habits, that is, reason and
logic; and (3) children also need to be taught how to handle
distractions, screen out marginal or irrelevant information, and how
to tell the difference from what is important.
Debby Frenzel (7.5) (5) (7.5) (5)
Elaine Voss (2.5) (5) (5) (5)
Re-design schools. I believe that inconsistent funding causes a lot
of problems. Promising school aids and then delaying the payments is
problematic causing districts to borrow. The rhetoric of "teachers
unions are the problem” or the use of standardized testing to track
student achievement and then penalizing low performing schools is
confrontational and not working. The political atmosphere is very
unhealthy. But this is the discussion we should be having. Great
Allow experimentation. I don't know. I would hope there would be
broad guidelines that teachers could work under. Every student is
different in so many ways. ‘Cookie cutter’ isn't the answer but ‘no
thresholds’ isn't the answer either.
Facilitate learning. Again, not all students come into schools with
the same skills, same opportunities, or even the same health status.
I really believe in challenging students, not spoon feeding and then
regurgitating on a "form" exam. Students having the ability to seek
and find information are much better prepared for the "real" world".
Require options. Why three? Another mandate? I support different
approaches. When I see what my grandchildren have for take-home work,
I couldn't compare it in any way [to] how my children or I learned.
Pat Barnum (10) (5) (10) (7.5)
Re-design schools. So, so true. Watch this engaging video from Sir
Ken Robinson on this very subject: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U&feature=player_embedded
Allow experimentation. While teachers are vital to the ideas and
implementation, districts need to become a system of schools not a
collection of schools (as our super is fond of saying). That takes a
shared vision and at least some coordination.
Vici Oshiro (5) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5)
Re-design schools. Both [funding and change].
Allow experimentation. Within limits.
Require options. "At least three" may prove too rigid in some
Dennis L Johnson (10) (8) (8) (2)
schools. Schools cannot be improved until teachers' unions are
outlawed. 2. Allow experimentation. Eliminate the department of
education (Federal). With all the money spent and regulations imposed,
there has been no measurable improvement in education success.
Quie (10) (10) (10) (10)
It is difficult
for teachers to overcome the results of absent fathers and depressed
mothers. Not all teachers are innovators. Good principals and
superintendents make a big difference but they face people and
organizations that find change too threatening. It would be great if
parents and teachers would be free to innovate and motivate for a
while with ample information to stimulate ideas plus evaluation to
determine the results. We know that there are some excellent public
schools, charter schools, private schools and home schooling. Listen,
think and love are three attributes that are essential. Forty years of
general achievement decline proves that most people in control are
Paul Bergley (10) (7) (8) (7)
Changes like these
need to occur in our schools as long as it does not cost money because
the public has spoken many times it does not want to spend more money.
Roger A. Wacek (10) (5) (10) (10)
Donald H. Anderson (8) (8) (5) (5)
have flexibility in selecting subject material appropriate for the
students they have and not have to run up against mandated rules like
‘No Child Left Behind’ and similar requirements.
Alan Miller (5) (6) (8.5) (5)
Bright Dornblaser (10) (10) (10) (10)
experimentation. If they meet learning objectives.
options. Example of needed change in the school architecture.
Robert J. Brown (10) (8) (5) (5)
David Alley (10) (10) (10) (10)
Paul and Ruth Hauge (8) (7) (7) (5)
Bert Press (5) (5) (5) (0)
Tom Spitznagle (10) (9) (8) (9)
Austin Chapman (10) (6) (8) (5)
William Kuisle (8) (7) (7) (5)
Rick Bishop (10) (8) (10) (10)
I've had the
privilege of working with Wayne and serving on the MAAP Board with
him. I have also been mentored by him in developing a charter
school. I am in total agreement with him and have preached the mantra
of learning as opposed to "teaching". In fact, I preface my vita with
an anonymous quote: "To teach is to learn twice". Another fellow who
makes clear learning is former NY teacher of the year John Taylor
Gatto, whom I had the privilege of meeting at his retreat in upstate
NY and whom I brought to MN as a keynote speaker at a MAAP State
Convention. Keep up the good work!
Lyall Schwarzkopf (7) (8) (8) (7)
Diane Flynn (10) (7) (10) (5)
I'm a bit nervous
letting each teacher just "do their own thing", but on most other
points, I wholeheartedly agree. My concern about requiring schools to
offer classes 3 different ways is related to costs. Not sure every
class has to do this, but clearly we need to cater to more learning
I have attended a number of educational speakers recently, many
affiliated with Stanford, and they all say essentially what Jennings
says [in his interview].
Roy Thompson (8) (8) (7) (5)
information on what is meant by ‘different approaches’.
Carolyn Ring (9) (8) (8) (6)
Tom Swain (9) (6) (8) (5)
Scott and Nancy Halstead (10) (8) (5) (0)
districts may not be able support 3 approaches. Facilitators would
work well with self-motivated students but not very well with others.
Ralph Brauer (10) (10) (10) (10)
Bravo! This is the
first interview I have read where someone has a grasp of the systemic
nature of change and the true leverage points in the system. It also
shows how current efforts like Q Comp are [nonsense]. They don't get
it. The racecar metaphor applies to all of government--employees are
like those students wanting to do real work. As Peter Senge says the
problem is not the people, it's the system. The larger purpose behind
a real charter school effort--R and D--is killing this country. For
the last two decades foreign companies and individuals have owned most
Fred Senn (10) ( ) (10) (6)
This is part of a very important conversation picking up speed in
America. It's about school reform. "Waiting for Superman" etc. This is
a huge opportunity for Minnesota to lead. And a huge risk if we accept
the status quo.