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Teach to Mastery not Test Scores

It's always good to review great TED talks. Here's one by Sal Khan.

Even though this conversation has been going on for years, we are still, by and large, still doing school the same way we have always done it.

What will it take for us to move to a mastery or competency-based system? We need to have the conversations.

The hard part is that it is hard. It takes effort for teachers, who already work hard, to do things differently. To stop trying to cover, and start trying to ensure mastery.

A real question is, what happens when kids start to master things?

They start to believe they can do it.

Can you imagine if all kids started to believe they could learn anything?


A bit arrogant perhaps...

Many times when we talk about proficiency, we say that the highest form of a student mastery of a given task is their ability to teach it to someone else.

Doesn't this seem a little arrogant that we think our chosen profession is the highest form of accomplishment?

When we talk about student mastery of learning, we have to have a more nuanced approach.

Let's take driving for example. Educators typically say that if you get everything right, you have mastered and should be able to teach it to someone. Just because a 16 year-old gets a perfect score on the written and driving tests doesn't mean that I want that 16 year-old teaching my child (or anyone else's child to drive.

That's why I love this rubric:

Novice: concept and/or skill is brand new. I’m just getting started in the learning. I need a lot of help and guidance from a teacher. Apprentice: I’m figuring it out, but still need a lot of prompting and support from a teacher for the new concept and/or skill. Practitioner: Concept and/or skill can be done consistently and independently. Now I just need occasional prompting or guidance. Scholar: I can apply the concept and/or skill to new and/or different situations without help from a teacher. I am ready to build on the learning. Change Maker: I can use the concept/skill to make connections with other learning. I understand and can apply, evaluate, analyze, and create using the skill/concept.

Novice: concept and/or skill is brand new. I’m just getting started in the learning. I need a lot of help and guidance from a teacher.
Apprentice: I’m figuring it out, but still need a lot of prompting and support from a teacher for the new concept and/or skill.
Practitioner: Concept and/or skill can be done consistently and independently. Now I just need occasional prompting or guidance.
Scholar: I can apply the concept and/or skill to new and/or different situations without help from a teacher. I am ready to build on the learning.
Change Maker: I can use the concept/skill to make connections with other learning. I understand and can apply, evaluate, analyze, and create using the skill/concept.

This is from Anastasis Academy. There truly are skills where being a novice is just fine. For example, I am a novice at a lot of things. And I probably always will be. I'm ok with that.

I am a change Maker in other areas, where I am really passionate.

We need to focus on making our teachers and students aware of the expectations and needs of different levels of learning as they grow.

We need to determine what knowledge is worth pushing to change maker status and what knowledge is acceptable at the novice level.

In education, we pretend that everyone should succeed at the same level in everything, and we even make goals and work towards that. We need more honesty about what truly matters.


Blockchain in Education

I don't understand blockchain well enough to comment too much on this, but the thought greatly intrigued me, and it happened to be the first few seconds of this podcast: StartEdUp with Don Wettrick and Jeremy Williams.

Anything that will get us further away from meaningless grades is a step in the right direction.

Imagine if the feedback we gave students actually mattered! It would be incredible.

Take a listen to this podcast and I'd love to hear your thoughts. Yes, I've already reached out to Jeremy to learn more about how this could work.

Side bonus: the school evaluation model in UAE sounds really fascinating, too! Much better than basing it all on test scores.