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February 28, 2008

Neither Guide on the Side nor Sage on the Stage

Dear Diane, I don’t want to argue about the word “constructivism” because words can, I agree, be slippery. But I urge you not to parody that viewpoint. There are few—if any—schools (in the public sector at least) where teachers are just “guides on the side.” Never were! I...

February 26, 2008

Does Curriculum Constrain Teachers?

Dear Debbie, Words are slippery things. Take the idea of “constructivism.” Yes, I agree with you that we all “construct” knowledge as we encounter new ideas. We try to make sense of new ideas by fitting them to what we already know, using the vocabulary and experiences that we have already...

February 21, 2008

Some Decisions Must Be Kept Close to the Learning Site

Dear Diane, I just read a column about Sol Stern in The New York Times on why vouchers aren't the answer. I'm glad he's given up on them; alas, he has joined you in viewing a standard curriculum reform as the answer. The dilemma for me is not who is right on curriculum or phonics but with the i...

December 04, 2007

The Grand Illusion of Proficiency

Dear Deb, As usual, you raise lots of interesting questions and you sharpen our clear differences. Yes, I do think we should have national testing. This idea that fifty states should each have their own standards and their own tests is nutty. We are not getting higher standards; we may even be get...

October 25, 2007

What Frightens Me About a National Curriculum

Dear Diane, Your frustration about folks avoiding original sources is reasonable. Especially when it's actually easily available. But, of course, the "original source" itself is an interpretation of data. In short, we fall back on easier, less time-consuming ways. ("We" being me. See the back-and-...

October 02, 2007

In Defense of Judgment

Dear Deb, It's no big surprise that "standards" involve judgments. Only standards related to physical objects are fixed, like systems of weights and measurements (e.g., the metric system). But any standard that involves decision-making, real decision-making, means that human judgment is require...

June 22, 2007

Substituting Pay for Passion

Dear Deb, Apparently your trip to China has in no way dimmed your energy or your imagination. Imagine filing two pieces almost instantly! What knowledge is of most worth? I don't think we would answer the question very differently. Despite some argumentativeness around the margins, we agree on "h...

June 18, 2007

What knowledge is of most worth?

Dear Diane, With that Spencer question—"What knowledge is of most worth?"—lingering in my mind I took a quick trip to Boston for the 8th grade graduation ceremonies at my old school—Mission Hill. Lots of old-timers were there—former students, families and staff. The place i...

June 13, 2007

Quick note on curriculum

Dear Diane, A quick note—undoubtedly it won't end up being so quick—re. your words last month about my anarchistic, "do your own thing" thing views re. curriculum. It's a puzzle, I know, but no—that's not quite what I'm saying. Like colleges, most private schools design their own...

May 23, 2007

We won't agree on curriculum

Editor's note: Deborah Meier is currently traveling in China. While she is away, the Bridging Differences blog will go on a brief hiatus. The blog will return on June 11. The following is Diane Ravitch's final new entry before the break begins. Dear Deb, No, we are not going to agree. We just can...

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