The parental take on the "short and sweet" is probably neither short nor particularly sweet to any of the others involved in the question of what and how to teach.
[See my earlier entries in the What to Teach sequence of entries. The first entry is here , and the second is here . ]
This entry and the one which will follow will focus on parental and individual takes on exactly the same profile of skills.]
* A reminder: Bill Wong is a hypothetical person. His profile does represent, however, the very real complexity that each person, each learner brings to the discussion of what to learn/what to teach.
|Now, instead of discussing the results with principal and superintendent or Bill's teacher, I work with Bill's parents to think about Bill's test results. What do they think should be taught?|
|Mr. and Mrs. Wong have requested a review of Bill's test results. They want to plan his middle school and high school education. |
As we sit down they both glance at their copy of Bill's Profile of test results(Copy just above )
|Mr.Wong: Is this some kind of report card or something? We called for this meeting to talk about Bill's future. ||Spike Hall: It's Bill's Achievement Profile. I've taken all of his achievement test results and summarized them in this form. This form or graph can really help us think about Bill's future. |
|Mr. W makes sure his copy is the same as mine and then notees, " It's pretty complicated , I see that, but I don't see any of the courses he's signed up for on the chart!. What's it have to do withwhat we're meetings for -- |
And what're thevertical lines about and the colored dots and so on. Mrs. W nods in agreement.
|Spike Hall: Ok. Each vertical line is an area of development. For example, gross motor development translates into, say, athletics. Each vertical line is an, like athletics, area of important development that starts with what you and I and Bill -- everybody-- generally bring into our first days a Kindergarten class and ends with what most of us master in our late teens. Generally speaking, roughly one hundred things, things that need to be learned pretty much in order, are, learned each year of school. Of course there are individual differences and school to school differences. |
|Mrs. W asks, "Are those differences important?" Oh -- and what is that horizontal line across the graph. Is that important? I see some of his dots, five, are above the line and a couple are a little bit below?||Spike Hall: That's an important question Mrs. W. That line represents what other boys and girls of Bill's age are capable of doing -- on the average. You can see --|
|Mr. W interrupts to say: Fine Motor, Gross Motor, Math and Ethics are the ones that are obviously above and Receptive Language and Expressive Language are below. What does all of that mean.||In everyday speak? Bill's capable of reading and writing and speaking but, at least on tests and during observations, he comes up a shade under the class average in those skills. But in athletics, in penmanship and in drawing and in knowing and sharing what he considers right and wrong he is outstanding. Sometimes his skills in communication -- or reluctance, I'm not sure which -- your experience at home may help clear up that mystery -- get in the way of his communicating that strong sense of right and wrong and of justice. Evsen with communications skills exactly as they are he's clearly a leader, a leader for the good, in my opinion, in these areas.|
|Mr. W: So he's high in some areas and low in others. Are we supposed to do something because of that?||Spike Hall: I'd say yes! We build from this profile-- at home and at school-- to construct what all of us, Bill in particular, would considerable a desirable, appealing set of possibilitiees. |
We can, I believe, be pretty darn active in involving Bill's high skills (and high interests) in his schooling and in helping him to enhance the other skills to support his strong areas. Now that we have this information, we can use it to tailor how we advise Bill on activities and how we encourage him to take on new projects and to set goals. In other words, with this material in hand you and I and Bill can all make life more challenging and more interesting to Bill.
At the same time, we can help him see how other areas (math for example) can support the growth areas that he really does like and with which he has such considerable skill.
|Mr. W: Makes sense so far. But we need to talk over the results with Bill. It's ok, right? (Hall nods emphatically). He's never seen this kind of thing before.||Spike Hall: Makes sense. Then maybe we can have a follow up with all of us and Bill putting together a plan or outline that builds upon Bill's interests and strengths to take him farther on the pathhe seems to be on.|
|Mr. W: Hold it. What if he changes his mind three years from now? What if he wants to, all of a sudden, focus on, say, poetry -- which is not interesting to him now.||Spike Hall: That would be his choice. The idea isn't to make him a slave to his best skills or his least skills. Rather-- it is to have his skills work for him and for his evolving life interests (and your backing for them). The idea is for him and you be in the driver's seat ; these drivers rather than some textbook series' curriculum committee and marketing staff. |
When he has the inclination to shift his priorities our job isn't to stop him or to say, blindly, "Go for it!".
Our job, at least as far as I see it, is to help him learn and to help him project the consequences of his actions and plans into the future . We would weigh those future consequences against his needs and our greater experience and report our "findings" to Bill.
As he gets older and more "in command" our reports become more and more advisory -- a back-up resource to his own evolving command of his future prospects.
|Mr. W: Sounds good. |
Mrs Wong: Good but work too!!
Hmm!! But nothing we wouldn't be doing anyway. This is the first time I remember thinking that school and home we're obviously working for the same thing.
|Spike Hall: Nice to hear you say that Mrs. W. I'll look forward to hearing from you two and Bill after you've had your talk about these results and what they mean. |
If I can help interpret or back up your own interpretation with my own to Bill in class let me know.
Whatever, probably a good idea for all of us to get together in the next 2-3 weeks. Next time your house?
I'm really looking forward to our next discussion!!
Five minutes later Mr. and Mrs. Wong' and Hall exit the school building on their way to their cars. As Mr and Mrs. drive away Hall waves and smiles. They're too busy talking to notice! He nods his head, smiles and gets into his own car.