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Putting Education First

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Senators John McCain and Barack Obama need to bring education to the forefront of their campaigns, according to Aleta Margolis, executive director for the Center for Inspired Teaching. Margolis, whose center provides professional development for educators, aired her editorial Monday morning on NPR’s Washington, D.C. affiliate, WAMU.

Margolis offers what change would look like when students are held to a higher standard: Yes, they will do well on standardized tests, but they will also be "prepared to engage fully in civic life.” Margolis wants 21st century skills folded into the classroom. Students should be able to “think critically, demonstrate understanding, solve complex problems, and apply their learning” to today’s challenges, she explains.

How can this happen? Margolis proposes creating a new role for teachers where they “spend more time asking students to stretch and search for information and less time spoon-feeding them the answers.” Assessing teachers on the impact of their instruction--whether their students are able to engage in critical thinking to make well-informed decisions--should be the yardstick for measuring their professional health, not credentials and test scores. “It’s time to redefine the role of the teacher from deliverer to facts to developer of future citizens in our democracy,” says Margolis. This, she charges, is what the presidential candidates should be talking about when they’re talking about education.

1 Comment

The problem with this is that you can't think critically without content. I support the idea of higher level thinking as the aim of education, but there are things you just HAVE to know --- or be able to find out. And then, of course, there is the endless fight about what these things are ... they seem to be very dependent on the school/teacher.

And I do not think that the Presidential candidates should have much to say about this. What does either of them know about education or the educational process? Besides, they're most likely to say only what they think we want to hear. Reform, an endless process, should be in the hands of the qualified

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