Saturday, September 09, 2006

Education Topics on KUOW's Weekday

This week, two mornings of KUOW's Weekday call-in show are devoted to education topics:

Wednesday: Gifted Children (9-10 am)

Thursday: Single-Gendered Classrooms in Coed Schools (10-11 am)

If you want to listen or call-in, the show is on KUOW 94.9 FM. You can send comments via e-mail to weekday@kuow.org . You can call in to (206) 543-KUOW or (800) 289-KUOW.


Anonymous said...

There's a new book out about gifted children (the author was one herself) that questions a lot of assumptions. After working around this issue for a number of years, I'd say it is a puzzler and parents and educators all have their opinions. I think there is gifted children and there are bright children. But both types deserve to have their educational needs met AND do not deserve the rap "oh they'll be okay no matter what".

The district has really only paid lip service to highly capable learners. The gifted program is not really coherent, becomes even less of a program at middle school and doesn't exist at high school. Some of this is a legacy from Olchefske who mightly disliked the Spectrum program and only tolerated the APP program because legally he had to. There are teachers and administrators that actively thwart parents from learning about this program even if it would benefit their child. I appreciate the idea that children all have gifts to share in a classroom. But when the classes are large, the teacher teaches to the middle and the bottom. They don't have a choice.

As for the single-gendered classrooms in coed schools, I can't speak to it in any substantive way so I'll be interested to hear what experts say (I think the jury is out). However, locally, Thurgood Marshall has gender separated classrooms. I toured this school and personally found it an uncomfortable place. It was highly regimented and the principal said that the students, especially the boys, needed that strict discipline and expectations. I have no doubt for populations that live in uncertain circumstances that the social aspects may be working. But if you look at the WASL scores, the boys at Thurgood Marshall are just failing miserably. They score very low and the scores are getting worse. The girls do much, much better. So would putting them in the same classroom help? Hard to know, could they be doing better in the girls' classrooms? Could the teachers be spending more time on behavior in the boys' classes than the girls? When I visited, all the classrooms were busy and on-task but frankly, the kids looked fearful when the principal and I walked into the room. Even when she greeted them by name, they still looked worried.

Anonymous said...

After reading the Sunday morning paper, I'd like to add that Danny Westneat's column about Van Asselt elementary ties in nicely. Turns out they are making huge strides in academics for their students despite having a large free/reduced lunch population (80%). More of their students passed all 3 parts of the WASL than at TOPS, John Stanford and Stevens. The secret to their success? Two things. One, they don't teach to the test, still having 3 recesses and lots of art. Two, they teach to the top. They figured out that teaching to the middle/bottom leaves you there. Mr. Westneat even uses the word "gifted" which was daring.

This is exactly the technique that Superintendent Riley is using over in Bellevue (with great results).

Good for Van Asselt but good luck getting any other schools to listen.