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so much of the time we focus on a measurable product and, yea verily, at great cost. lots of times we want the painted picture to be "good," and overlook the more important value of process. kids are lacking a discipline to contrive, design, research and take a project through to completion. we lose lots of kids when the excitement wears off and the drudge work begins, necessary natural consequences of process. I love to paint, not pictures, walls. i love picking out the colors and can hardly wait to get home and slap some on my walls. then comes the prepwork, which i don't like. then the time comes when i'm having to problem-solve (sometimes going to plan b or c or d!) make myself get it done overcoming boredom, impatience, etc., and thoughts of "what have i done?; why did i ever start this???" i realize i have to stick with it. then comes the final stroke, the pictures are back on the wall and i have a total sense of accomplishment. learning has to be more than filling in the blanks. we have to give kids the chance to work via sense of ownership, excellence, problem-solving and expectations for sticking with it till the end. most of us and, our kids, have acquired "mcdonald's drive-up window" mentalities. we want it now and we want it easily. parents may be "pushing back" because lives are hectic and it's enough of a battle to get kids to do homework, help around the house, or communicate with the family using more than monosyllables. they are overbooked and over stimulated with the world's superficial demands. family dinners are few and far between. finding/making time to tackle a senior project takes a chunk out of convenience. parents can be easily caught up in "oh, yeah? well my son. . . is the star quarterback/president of student body/has a 4.0/swimteam captain/runs an 8 minute mile, and for his project he's going to try to identify a junk-food gene. i have found that even my 2nd graders want more "rigorous/relevant" (re: willard daggett) experiences. (jaime escalante is one of my heroes.) they sense that the easy stuff is insulting is more about spoonfeeding information. we mustn't exclude the invaluable experiences of process and the so sorely needed discipline it provides.

we also still have a generation of teachers that came from the 60-70's who went into teaching with a save-the-whales-mentality. they dumbed down the materials and the testing, the premise being that if a child feels good about himself he'll learn better. it has proved a miserable failure. (again, jaime didn't buy into that.)

not only must we support our teachers and encourage them to raise the bar, but we must target ADMINISTRATORS who are mostly about arrogance/ power-trips, and insensitivity to parents and teachers with legitimate complaints and very often, innovative/positive ideas. administrators run the schools districts and call most of the shots and they are constantly being given a free pass on the state of our schools. they need to get more pressure than the often maligned teachers. (i have my problems with the NEA, but teachers do get a lot of blame.) the adminstrators and (puppet) schoolboards control the money and policy--and shamefully, they are constantly let off the hook.

expecting more from our kids is honorable and instills self-respect and sense of accomplishment. process is key.


Thanks. The target is a good image; I took archery as an elective once. It was tremendous fun!

Dave Shearon

And, yes, that's a Mark Twain quote. I often used it when I gave talks as a school board member.

Dave Shearon

I change pictures periodically -- but, the target is one of my favorites because of my experience as an archery instructor! Since you asked, I'll put it back up for a while!


Adults are stuck in the last century.

It is NOT inputs (time), but outputs (results) that count in the 21st century. Just adding work, especially homework, does not increase learning.

Schools have no way to allow kids to move on when they have mastered a topic. Sit in that those story problems......

We've got 2 million boys who should be in college right now, and are not, and no one's trying to figure it out. Come retirement time, they'll wish those boys were in good jobs rather than at McDonald's.


Interestingly enough, down here in our little section of south-eastern California, a number of districts have been abandoning the Senior Project.

What happened to the Target? And did Mark Twain really say that?

And yes, Blackboard Jungle is British. :)

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Dave's Schedule:

  • August 19 "The Many Connections Between Well-Being and Professionalism in the Practice of Law: Implications for Teaching", Association of American Law Schools, New York, NY

    January 21 "Resilience for Law Students, George Washington University School of Law, Washington, DC

    February 13-15 American Association of School Administrators National Conference, Nashville, TN