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You Can Teach Writing

By: Linda Aragoni | March 24, 2017

Photo of students writing In mid-January, Marc Tucker wrote a piece  for Education Week's Top Performers blog, "Our Students Can't Write Very Well—It's No Mystery Why." Tucker, the president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, is noted for his research and writing on the policies and practices of the countries with the world's best education systems. His EdWeek article is blunt. After noting that American high school students rarely are required to read entire novels, let alone read entire nonfiction books, Tucker says:
High school students are hardly ever asked to write anything of significant length.  Why not?  Because in this age of accountability, they are not tested on their writing ability.  By which I mean that...

By: Linda Aragoni | January 19, 2017

I inadvertently stumbled into a Twitter discussion about school activities, such as most homework assignments, that seem to exist for no other reason than, "We've always done it that way." Here's an extract:

https://twitter.com/alicekeeler/status/821900457538977797

https://twitter.com/alicekeeler/status/821897903975305216

The conversation suggested that requiring compliance by students is bad. I don't think complying with such things as instructions to print one's name on a document infringe on civil liberties or turn students into automatons: It might be regarded as a simple courtesy. By the same token, I don't think complying with school rules has much of an effect on students' "real lives" outside school. In fact,...

By: Linda Aragoni | May 28, 2015

In our rush to get students "college and career ready," I wonder if we're not overlooking the importance of first-hand experience doing the kinds of work done in the career fields that students think may interest them. career options list One of my cousins was very interested in art and design. He enrolled in the architecture program at Syracuse University. One of the first things he learned was that he absolutely hated doing the mathematical calculations that architecture requires. He changed career paths, became a science illustrator. Such vocational changes are not uncommon. Medicine and law have high first-job dropout rates, far higher than the commonly bemoaned beginning teacher attrition rates. Here's part of an abstract of a study abou...

By: Linda Aragoni | April 24, 2012

I guest-blogged  this week for Education and Tech about six businesses serving the business market that a youngster with some computer and art skills could start while in high school. I see entrepreneurship as the most likely way for a rural area to retain of its young people after high school. Students who go off to college with an eye to getting a good job are unlike to return to rural communities where there are few good jobs to be had. That loss of young people is a significant concern in the rural areas, as this 2011 survey in the Guilford, NY, community shows. If students need more training than their high school provided—as they almost certainly will—the Internet makes it possible for them to get advanced training, often for l...

By: Linda Aragoni | April 10, 2012

David Brooks writes in today's New York Times about the two different economies in the United States. The manufacturing economy is prospering because it has learned to use technology to reduce people costs, boost productivity, and increase profits in the face of global competition. By contrast the economic sectors that don't face global competition—notably government, healthcare, and education—are not prospering. One of the down-stream effects of this economic rift is the rise of the entrepreneurial information worker who sells his/her skills on a job-by-job basis.  The education community at large has not come to grips with the significance of this economic trend.When educators talk about entrepreneurs, most of the time what they hav...

By: Linda Aragoni | September 04, 2011

Since April,  I've been advertising unsuccessfully for two part-time, virtual workers in my educational publishing business. The responses have been mainly from highly schooled individuals who:
  • Don't know how to write an email,
  • Either don't read or don't follow directions, and
  • Don't have a clue what skills are needed for the 21st century office.
I sent respondents boilerplate "thank you for your interest" replies, but mentally wrote letters I wished I dared send. In honor of Labor Day, here's a sample of what I would like to have said.
Dear Applicant, Your success at raising fourth grade writing scores in your 14th year of teaching is truly impressive. Regretably, I have no need to raise fourth grade writing scor...

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