Editor's note: Deborah Meier is in China for three weeks where she has been invited to give a keynote address in Shanghai at the World Conference on Transformation of Classroom Teaching. She also plans to speak to students at the Institute of Curriculum and Instruction at East China Normal University. She will return to the blog in June. Dear Diane, When you read this I’ll be in China. But I did take a peek at your response before I left, Diane. The trouble is that my definition (there can be two or more) of being well-educated is closer to ...


Deb, You will not be surprised to learn that I agree with you about the value of a road test for licensing future drivers. If you can't actually operate a car with safety and confidence, then you should not be licensed to drive, no matter how well you score on the written exam. As it happens, many of the studies that are taught in school are not comparable to driving a car. Many of them involve not only "habits of mind" but the acquisition of skills and knowledge that cannot be evaluated in any way that is akin to a ...


Dear Diane, Here's my bottom line re testing: Wherever possible, we should be relying on direct evidence of the domain we're investigating. And the final judges should be close to the action being judged. If they need or value information from standardized tests, they should be free to do so. (Otherwise large-scale standardized testing should be sample-based for the purpose of gaining information on trends, regions, subjects, etc—not on individual students or schools) We're always in the end resting our case on fallible judgment. Until and unless we turn ourselves into robots. The further my evidence is from the ...


Dear Deborah, I always find myself in agreement with your judgments about teaching, which are invariably wise. Yet I am often, as in this instance, unable to follow your logic when applied to district-wide, statewide, or national-wide policies. Like you, I think it is wonderful to teach argument, to encourage students to think about alternative interpretations, to realize that their textbooks are not necessarily authoritative, to prepare for democratic life by thinking independently. Still, it seems to me, unless I am misreading you, that you are opposed not only to tests, but to curriculum as well. Here and elsewhere, you ...


Dear Diane, I was speaking in North Carolina recently. In describing Central Park East's "Five Habits of Mind" I used, as an example of the "what if" habit: "Supposing we had lost the Civil War"—A lady in front of me laughed and said, "but we did". Thus proving the value of another "habit of mind"—being able to place one's self in another person's shoes. Even if, as it says in the Mission Hill mission statement, it's a viewpoint one despises. Do I imagine that all teachers, schools and districts, if left to their own devices, are likely to...


The opinions expressed in Bridging Differences are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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