What’s the Point in Comparing?

My son is big on comparing.  I’m taller than you.  He has better shoes than I do.  They’re smarter than me.  After reading the book The Smartest Kids in the World, in which the author constantly compares countries and educational systems to each other, I started thinking; is comparing oneself or country to someone else or another country really helpful in the long run?  In the movie Hector and the Search for Happiness, the main character realizes that comparisons lead to the opposite of happy.  If we’re constantly comparing ourselves to one another, then how can we truly grow and be happy?  If we are always worrying about how we stack up in the big picture, then we can’t ever really focus on developing into the best version of ourselves.  

So, I say, let’s stop comparing and start living.  Why do we have to be as good or better than any other country in educating our students?  Plus, what does better really mean?  Smarter?  More intelligent?  Better test-takers?  Why can’t America just be great at educating students in their own way?  Let’s just do what we believe is best based on research and the neuroscience of learning.  Then, we never have to worry if we are doing things good enough because we are doing things our way.  Our students will receive the best education possible because we are focused on us as a country and not how we comnpare to others.  Imagine that.  A world where schools are made to effectively educate students in a way that best serves their individual needs.  No testing, no comparing.  Just teaching and learning for the sake of becoming the best US we can be.  I say, let’s do it.  Let’s start a no comparing revolution and just start teaching and educating in the best possible manner.  No holds-barred.  If it’s what’s best for our students, then lets do it.

Thoughts on Summer Reading Part 13: Challenges Facing American Schools

Having just finished The Smartest Kids in the World, I am left with a sense of dissapointment.  I expected and wanted more from this novel.  While the author did explain how three very different countries educate their students, she based everything she said on standardized tests.  Kids are only as smart as their test scores say they are, she seemed to suggest in the book.  I’m not a fan of testing or a national curriculum.  Yes, standards are important, but not at the cost we’re currently paying.  While enacting the Common Core on a national level, we’re getting rid of PBL, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboartion.  That will negatively impact our students in the future when they can’t solve problems or think critically.  What we need is a major overhaul within the education system in America.  We can’t keep putting bandages on the problems and sweeping issues under the rug of humanity.  Our students are failing to develop and grow into creative problem solvers and innovative thinkers.  They are lazy and unenthused.  They are more worried about what someone said about them on social media than they are about how they are doing in school.  This is a problem.  The book never got into America’s problems and how to really fix them.  I was hoping to get more from this book that received rave reviews.  It’s really just a journalist writing about education without the human factor.  It’s bland and dry because she’s not a teacher nor does she have a background in education.  It would be like me trying to write a blog about applied physics.  I know nothing about it and would thus have to base my knowledge on research conducted.  That, however, would not make me an expert in the subject, nor would I come across as a trustworthy source.

Despite this, Amanda Ripley did make a few points that I agree with regarding the dysfunction of America’s educational system:

  1. Sports play too big a role in America, thus taking the focus off of academics and learning.  Our students are so focused on making the team that they forget to read, write, or study.  In American culture, athletes are revered as heroes.  Thus, many kids want to be like them.  So, in their pursuit of athletic prowess, academics and their education fall to the wayside.  This is a problem.  Other countries like Finland and Korea don’t face this challenge because sports are viewed differently.  Getting a great education is more important than making the team.  In order for education to be taken more seriously in our country, we need to change the way sports are marketed.  This is not an easy problem to fix and may never change.
  2. Teacher preparation and colleges in America are not effectively preparing teachers.  Many schools are full of people just looking for a pay check.  Teachers are a special breed and need to be properly trained.  But first, they have to want to be teachers.  Becoming a teacher is too easy in America.  It needs to be more challenging, and then, only those dedicated individuals will purse the career of teaching.  This will weed out those incompetent people looking for an easy job.  The old adage of those who can’t do, teach is so ingrained within our culture that teachers aren’t respected anymore.  Government officials and parents blame teachers for the problems facing our students.  While that is partly true, if teachers were shown more respect and trained accordingly, perhaps it wouldn’t be a truth.  
  3. Rigor is lacking in many American schools.  School is easy and passing grades are given out like candy.  What does an A even mean anymore?  Classes and school need to be more challenging in order to prepare our children to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, and change makers.  Worksheets and textbooks aren’t necessarily the way to do this.  Rigor can take many faces, but it starts with engaging and challenging students.  We, as teachers, need to make our classes and schools more rigorous so that students don’t continue to graduate so easily and feel so entitled.  The world owes people nothing.

So, I guess, I did get a little something from this novel.  However, it mostly made me angry.  If people in power are reading this text thinking that smartness can only be measured by a test, I’m worried for our future.  While I enjoyed reading the novels 1984 and The Giver, I’m not prepared to live in a dystopian society in which everyone is prepared in the same manner.  We need to embrace differences and captalize on them in the classroom if we want to change the world, educationally speaking.

Thoughts on Summer Reading Part 12: Teach Without Compassion?

As a teacher, I feel, no, it is my responsibility to know and understand my students, where they come from, how they learn best, and how I can best support them.  To do this, I need to show empathy and compassion.  I need to treat each student as an individual.  While my grading and assessment expectations and protocol don’t ever change, I do adjust my teaching or interactions accordingly.  I know which students come from challenging families.  I know which students are shy and reserved.  I know which students like school and those who don’t.  To be a great teacher, I need to understand my students on a very sincere and personal level.  This way, I can relate to them, build a rapport with them, and help them better engage with the material so that genuine learning takes place.

In The Smartest Kids in the World, the author is suggesting just the opposite.  She states that the one of the main reasons other countries have better educational systems than America is because the teachers take empathy out of the equation.  They don’t get to know their students on a personal level.  They don’t know which student comes from a broken home and which doesn’t.  The teachers in these other countries, she states, teach the curriculum and not the students.  This is why their students fare better on standardized tests.  Because the teachers don’t care about which student had a relative die recently or which student didn’t have breakfast that morning, they can better cover the material.  This lack of compassion, she proposes, is what makes these other countries better, educationally speaking.  The students learn more when they are all treated the same.

That’s preposterous!   Again, this hypothesis is based on the fact that how well a country educates its students is soley decided by a high-stakes, standardized test.  That’s ludicrous.  We are no longer preparing students for the same jobs in a factory-model setting.  We need to treat students differently so that they are able to grow into their potential.  If Steve Jobs had been treated like his peers in elementary school and not been provided the opportunity to tinker and play with computers while his classmates were doing basic math, would I be typing on an iPad right now?  No.  Students are different and teachers need to see that and address it in and out of the classroom.  We need to know our students and show compassion and empathy towards each of them. We need to challenge those students that need to be challenged and support those who need to be supported.

Amanda Ripley has no real idea what she’s talking about.  She’s basing her knowledge on minimal research she did in a few countries regarding a few students participating in a paid exchange program.  Plus, she’s advocating for the one thing that is causing many countries to fail globally, high-stakes testing.  Countries with standardized testing in place, may do well on those tests, but can they solve problems creatively, think critically, and collaborate effectively?  Most likely, the answer is no to all of those because the schools in those countries focus soley on preparing students to do well on the test.  Yes, America’s educational system is broken and in need of serious repair.  However, we can’t base what we do on a test nor should we model our schools after schools in countries that teach to a test.  We need to teach students and not content or a test.  We need to always think about what is best for our students because their future, and ours as a country and civilization, depends upon it.

Thoughts on Summer Reading: Part 11

While I don’t consider myself a genuis in any subject nor did I do extremely well in school.  I did however, grow up to be resilient and creative.  I love finding unique solutions to problems and I never give up until the task has been accomplished.  I consider myself to be a bit of a work horse with a huge side of perfectionism.  Everything I do has to be done to the best of my ability and meet my expectations, which are very high.  I’m able to do this not because of the school I went to or what I was taught by my teachers, but I am who and what I am today because of my environment.  My parents raised me well and provided for me in a supportive yet strict manner.  I was told to do well in school and had to suffer consequences when I did not meet their expectations, which were high but attainable.  My parents raised me to be kind and patient.  No schooling could have possibly provided me with all this.  These character traits come from home life and family.  

In Amanda Ripley’s book The Smartest Kids in the World, she does propose that what makes kids so strong and academically driven to do well is family and home life.  I agree with that 100%.  It comes down to character.  If you have the ability to be smart and knowledgeable but suffer trauma, have a difficult family upbringing, or school and academics just aren’t focused on in your family, then you will not grow into a creative, smart, or driven individual.  Sure, external factors can help or hinder character building, but it does need to start at home.  On this point she is spot on.  Her stories and research support this claim in a meaningful and relevant manner that makes sense.  However, she keeps coming back to the idea that smart and knowledgeable is measured by a high-stakes standardized test.  Tests prove nothing.  I was a horrible test taker in school and did poorly on all standardized tests, but I was a member of my school’s branch of the National Honor Society.  Tests prove and tell nothing.  Just because a country scores high on the PISA test, doesn’t mean that they are the smartest country in the world.  Schools and teachers teach to the test in most countries and so while those students fare well on the standardized test, they end up being negatively impacted in the long run.  They don’t learn how to think critically, how to solve problems in unique ways, or how to work collaboratively.  They miss the skills that can help them grow into the next Steve Jobs or great innovator.  

So, while the author suggests that family life is where much character building takes place, I disagree with how that drive and intelligence needs to be measured.  Testing is a waste of our world’s time, money, and energy.  Instead of spending all this time on building and implimenting a national curriculum that helps prepare students for a high-stakes test, let’s build more innovative and open school buildings, let’s better prepare teachers to teach students how to think critically, be creative, and collaborate effectively, let’s spend that money helping parents learn how to best support their students, let’s take that time and money and put it into helping big cities fight crime and other sreious issues.  We have lots of needs in our world when it comes to educating our children, and testing is not one of them.

Thoughts on Summer Reading Part 10: Bad PISA

It’s not even July yet and I’ve finished two of the six professional development texts I want to read this summer.  During the school year, it takes me six months to get through one young adult novel.  What’s going on?  Have I gained some new ability to speed read?  Oh, yeah, I’m not teaching, coaching, dorm parenting, advising, manning a table in the dining hall, proctoring study hall, running weekend trips, or roaming campus right now.  I have oodles of free time.  I love summer vacation.

So, I just finished one of the most insightful books about the state of global education.  World Class Learners by Yong Zhao was amazing.  He made so many points that ring true for me.  While the road map countries around the world are using to educate their students is upside down, it doesn’t have to be.  We have the ability to turn it around.  We need to get students owning their learning through autonomy and allow for creativity to be fostered.  That makes a ton of sense.  We can’t continue shoving a national curriculum down the throats of our students expecting different results.  We need to break free.  After finishing that text, I was ready to take over the Board of Education for the world.

Then I started my next book, The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley.  I try very hard as a teacher to inspire open-mindedness in my classroom.  I want my students to see life from all perspectives.  However, I often find it challenging to take my own advice.  Right away, the author started talking about the PISA test and how important the results were.  No, no, no…  Standardized, high-stakes test put the national curriculum back in the limelight where we don’t want it.  We need to stop testing our students and allow them to play, explore, and learn.  We don’t need to collect data, we need to effectively support our students as they grow into global citizens.  We can’t afford to allow a hidden agenda and a prescribed curriculum, even if it does test critical thinking skills, to run the show and tell countries and schools how and on what standards to educate students.  The number of innovators and creative problem solvers coming from the countries scoring highest on the PISA test is still low as it has always been.  Even though the US scores low on the PISA test, we have inventors and creative thinkers popping out of the wood work left and right.  Clearly, test results mean nothing.  But, we can’t allow these results to change schools.  We need to allow students to change schools.  If students are the ones learning, why are we telling them what to do and how to do it?  Nueroscience research tells us that people learn best when they are engaged and see the relevance in what they are learning.  So, why are we not allowing students to learn what engages and interests them?

So, yes, I’m a bit biased and I’m only on page 26 of The Smartest Kids in the World.  I want to give it a chance, sort of.  Perhaps her thesis is that the PISA test is a load of malarky and needs to be ignored.  I’m hoping the punchline is something like that, but the realist in me worries that my preconceived notions about this text may be accurate.  But, just as Joe Dirt often said, “You gotta keep on keepin’ on.”

Thoughts about Summer Reading Part 9: Why?

Let me tell you a story…

In a school building, not unlike the ones we currently work in, there is a multi-age classroom of about 20 students.  when the students arrive, the two to three teachers in the room gather the students in the Morning Meeting area of the room for a morning chat.  The students greet each other as they enter the circle.  The teacher facilitates a discussion regarding emotions.  The teacher reviews the schedule for the morning, which would look something like this: Create/Revise daily plan worked on during the previous day, meet with one of the teachers to discuss the plan, and work on plan for the remainder of the day.  Of course, lunch, snacks, and recess would be in there as well.  The students might then share some family news, current events, songs, or writing with the group before the teacher reviews the norms for the day.  Then, the students would begin working on their daily plan.  There are no high-stakes tests, no hidden agenda or curriculum, no textbooks, and nothing holding the students back from being creative and tapping into their innate potential.

Doesn’t that sound awesome?  As teachers, this model makes a ton of sense.  Sure, it can be scary to give up control and allow the students to run the show.  But, unless we want to build more factories for our students to work in as they are all currently being trained in the same manner regarding the same curriculum, then something needs to change.  We should want to breed innovators and explorers.  We need to foster a sense of curiosity within our students.  A free-form, student-centered classroom is the way to accomplish this task.  The students learn about what intrigues them at a pace that is both supportive and challenging.  In World Class Learners, the author cites some schools in America that are currently doing this.  The Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts operates along these same principles as well as the Albany Free School in New York.  Unfortunately, these schools are few and far between because parents and government officials worry that this educational freedom will breed anarchy.  So, it’s all about control.  The world wants to create an educational dictatorship so that all students are learning exactly the same curriculum at exactly the same time in exactly the same way.  And we expect students from this model to take over the world in 20 years?  How, when they are all the same?  The novel The Giver by Lois Lowry clearly explained what happens when things are the same.  Do we really want that, because that is exactly where we are heading, globally.  Change needs to happen.

Yong Zhao cites many examples, articles, and statiscs to support his thesis that the global education system is broken and in need of huge repairs.  This data that he cites is not new, which begs the question, why is something not being done about this?  Why are we moving more toward a national curriculum as we know it doesn’t work to foster creativity, which is what our schools are lacking?  Why are we not moving towards a more innovative and creative educational platform that helped to create Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and countless other inventors, innovators, and creatrive thinkers?  If jobs are limited, why are we not working at trying to foster a sense of entrepreneurship within our students?  Why is nothing meaningful or relevant being done regarding ecuation reform?  Does nobody see the cracks in the foundation of our educational system?  China and other Asian countries admit how their systems are defunct and not best serving their students.  They are applying changes to better support and help their students develop creativity, self-confidence, and collaboration so that the next big idea comes from Asia.  Why is America pushing a national curriculum that caused the problems in Asian countries?  It seems as though the people in power don’t seem to care.  They don’t want to change in the way that will best serve our country.  They want to do what every other country is doing.  America used to be the leader in education and the way things were done globally.  Now we are followers.  We’ve seen where that has gotten other countries yet we refuse to deviate from our path of destruction.  Why?

Change needs to happen.  First, every educational or government leader needs to read World Class Leaners by Yong Zhao.  Then, while those in charge of “generating new ideas for educational reform” are brainstorming changes, let’s pool our resources as educators and open a bunch of free-form, Montessori, and Waldorf schools around the country.  If not now, when?  The future of our world depends on it.

Thoughts About Summer Reading Part 8: Who’s Right?

I’d be the first to admit that I am not a great teacher.  Sure, I strive for excellence, but I feel as though I have plenty of room for improvement.  Now, some of my colleagues would disagree and say that I am one of Cardigan’s best teachers.  So, am I great or not?  Who’s right?  Can there be more than one right answer?

According to the book World Class Learners, the author explains how despite having some of the best global test scores and being praised by the American media for having a successfully rigorous educatrional system, China views their educational institution as defunct and in need of an overhaul.  They see kids who have very low self-esteem and lack creativity.  Sure, they may know how to take a test, but at the end of the day, will taking a test make China a better, more creative country?  In the eyes of the Chinese, America has it all figured out.  They allow their students to play and explore.  They don’t foster a sense of more work=better test scores.  According to China, America has the best educational system that cultivates entrepreneurial minds like Steve Jobs.  However, America , like China, sees its own system as broken.  So, who’s right?  

Back in the 1980s, there was a cartoon called the Wuzzles.  Disney created it, of course, as they own the world.  Wuzzles were a combination of two or more animals in one.  There was Elaroo who was part elephant and part kangaroo.  Like the Wuzzles, perhaps the best solution to the educational conundrum is a combination of the good parts of both systems and maybe even some other parts from other countries.  Clearly, teaching to a high-stakes test is not the answer, but the rigor involved can be a positive quality.  How can we do that in a way that also fosters creativity and individuality?  A nationalized curriculum will not do the trick.  So, then what?  What about more broad standards that can be greatly interpretted by schools around the world.  Not a prescription of how to educate students but rather an outline map.  The individual schools and teachers get to put the states, cities, and countries where they want.  Perhaps that might work.  At this point, change is what is needed.  We need to try something new or else we’re going to lose even more students to the factory model of education.

Thoughts About Summer Reading Part 7: We Need to Change our Education System

Imagine a world in which our students are educated in the same manner and using the same curriculum as all other countries.  Equality sounds great at first, right?  Now, what about those developing countries that were able to prepare their students in the same way as developed countries, but for a lot less money.  Now, those same students who are in the same global job market as our students are able to and willing to do the same jobs our students want for less money.  Our students become the losers in this soon to be global reality.  Unless, as Yong Zhao suggests in his book World Class Learners, the world changes the way in which students are educated.

Prior to starting chapter one, I had thought that a national education curriculum was a great idea.  It makes sense.  There’s no fluctuation in what some schools are teaching.  All students are mastering the same objectives at the same pace.  Plus, if students move from state to state, what they have learned will not be lost or repeated, but built upon.  I love it, or so I thought until I looked at it through the global glasses of reality.  Schools and teachers are now teaching to high-stakes tests based on these standards and national curriculum.  There is no longer time for creativity, play, or exploration because the standards need to be covered and mastered so that the students do well on the tests.  On top of that, many countries are now trying to tie their national curriculum to each other.  England has changed the national education standards to align with countries whose students fare well on standardized tests such as PISA, which is used to judge a countries ability to educate their students.  Soon, we will have a global educational curriculum.  Again, at first this sounds like a brilliant, unifying idea.  United as one to build a better global community.  But, if all students are trained on the same content and standards in the same way, how will the next Steve Jobs or William Kamkwamba come about?

The world needs more creative problem solvers and entrepreneurs.  A national education curriculum fosters the opposite of what our world needs.  The factory model of education no longer applies to our world yet we continue to push it in that direction.  We need to throw the standards out the window and create a culture of risk taking, failure, and creative problem solving.  Our students need to get dirty by playing and exploring the world around them.  William Kamkwamba didn’t harness the power of the wind for his small African village by studying a national curriculum in Africa.  He had a chance to play and explore the problems that exisited in his immediate community and created a unique solution.  If we globalize education and schools, future generations of students might not know how to change a spark plug or fix their vacuum when it stops working.  That sounds like one dusty and slow world in which I do not wish to live.

Thoughts on Summer Reading Part 6

Everything most teachers do in the classroom is preventing our students from growing and developing into entrepreneurs.  Students in America are not growing up inventing things and starting transformational companies and businesses.  And this needs to change or else our numbers as a country will continue to decline across the board regarding education and the economy.

As I finished my required summer reading book, I thought I would try out one of the methods of making ideas memorable: Be Unexpected.  I also began reading another text entitled World Class Learners by Yong Zhao.  Despite only being on page 12, still part of the introduction, I’m already enamored by the author’s ideas and assertions.  He’s suggesting that, globally, schools are not promoting creativity and the entrepreneurial mindset.  Some schools and districts that adopt an entrepreneurial curriculum, actually kill creativity within our students.  Because so many schools focus on getting through a curriculum, students have very little time to play and take risks.  As teachers, we need to fix this.

We need to put the idea of getting through the curriculum on the back burner and present one core standard at a time.  We need to do so in an engaging way that promotes creative problem solving.  We need to allow students the opportunity to take risks, create solutions, fail, and try again.  If the objective is, Students will understand how the various Native American tribes influenced the colonists, then we need to bring our students outside to explore the land once inhabited by the Native tribes.  We need them to explore and observe the natural world.  We want our students to think like English colonists coming to America.  What did they know how to do and not know how to do?  What flora and fauna would have been new to the colonists?  We want our students to try and harvest crops, make dwellings, find food, and survive without the knowledge the Native Americans provided the colonists.  We want them to figure out on their own through hands-on play how the colonists would have been influenced by the Native people.  Making the learning tangible and real through play and exploration fosters creative problem solving and makes the engineering process relevant for our students.  Now, take this experience and hold it up against how most teachers would cover this standard.  Read this text and discuss with a partner, make a T Chart of how the Native Americans influenced the colonists, and then write a report or paragraph about how one tribe greatly changed life for the colonists.  Will students be inspired to take risks and try new things in this scenario?  Will this activity engage students and make the learning tangible and real?  No, of course not.  As teachers, we need to change the way we teach or we will continue to fail our students.

Yes, I know, it’s not easy to change and bring play into the classroom with the great demands placed upon you by your district or principle.  However, if we keep venturing down this same broken road, we’ll be even more lost in ten years than we are now.  What’s that famous quote? “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result.”  Yeah, that’s it.  We need to bring about change in schools around the world so that our students are inspired, engaged, and learning how to take risks, solve problems, collaborate, and recognize opportunities.  I’m making a stand against stagnent education.  I’m going to change the way I teach and educate students next year.  I’m going to create projects and activities that foster play and exploration.  I can’t be in this alone though, we all need to pledge to change the way we teach and work with students because what we’re doing now is failing them.

Thoughts About Summer Reading Part 5

As I delve deeper into the novel Made to Stick, I realize how useful this text is to teachers.  Not only do the authors provide examples of how teachers can incorporate the concepts covered in the book in the classroom, but the overall equation to making important messages resonate and stay with people just makes sense.  Cut out the clutter from ideas and get to the core of the message.  Instead of using the same language the Next generation Science Standards use when introducing an assessment and skill to the students, I need to reduce the verbosity and get to the heart of the standard or objective.  An example of this is a standard I’m looking to utilize in my STEM curriculum next year: Develop and use a model of the Earth-sun-moon system to describe the cyclical patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and seasons.  That’s a mouth full.  The students can’t possibly wrap their brains around that standard.  So, I need to unpack it.  What do the students need to be able to do?  Make a correctly proportionate model of the sun and Earth and it’s moon.  That’s the first part.  Then, the second objective is, Using the model, make a video explaining the phases of the moon, how eclipses work, and how seasons are created.  By breaking the standard up into two objectives, the students will know exactly what to do.  They need to make a model and then create a video using that model.  Easy-peasy lemon squeezy.  Keep it simple.

The second idea the book mentions about making ideas sticky is finding an unexpected way to deliver the message.  Start with mystery or catch your audience off guard.  For my astronomy unit, I might tell a fictional story that could have happened thousands or millions of year ago about a boy who looked up at the night sky and saw an object the size of our planet.  It was huge.  What was it?  The moon.  Why was it so big?  Is it that big now?  What happened?  By creating what the authors call knowledge gaps, I can hook the students into wanting to know more about astronomy and space.  Public service commercials approach their messages similarly.  In the 1980s, a big anti-drug commercial showed an egg frying in a pan and said, “This is your brain on drugs.  Any questions?”  The power comes from the fact that we don’t often think of our brain as an egg.  It was unexpected.

The third chapter that I just finished reading explains the importance of keeping an idea concrete and understandable.  Reduce abstraction from the message you want to convey.  That makes sense.  Rather than talk about space and astronomy, I could show views of space from a telescope or find some space rocks to show the students.  Make the learning tangible or real for them.  One very interesting factoid I learned from this chapter was about how teachers from Asian countries approach the teaching of mathematics.  The authors referenced a study done a few years back in which teachers were obsereved as they taught about subtraction.  Instead of writing subtraction problems on the board with numbers and symbols, the teachers explained the conept in terms of the students.  One teacher used a word problem: If you have 100 yen and then buy a notebook that cost 70 yen, how much money do you have left to spend at the candy store?  The kids can easily understand subtraction in this context because it is how they live their lives.  It makes sense.  Make the learning real.  now, this goes against how most Americans think about how Asian students are taught math skills.  We’ve often wondered how students from Asian countries scored far better on math assessments than students from America.  I’ve always thought that it had to do with the rote memorization of drills and skills.  It turns out that it’s just the opposite.  Students from Asian countries learn math skills in a tangible and concrete manner.  Now, being the critical thinker that I am, I cross-checked the information in the book with other, reputable online sources.  It turns out that the study was accurate.  It’s not just about rote memorization.  Teachers in Asian countries use concrete examples and have a strong understanding of the content that the students will see in future math classes.  So, everything I thought I knew was inaccurate.  American media sure does like to skew results and information when it shows our country in a negative light.  

I’m excited to learn more from this book as I dig even deeper in the coming days.  Thinking about how I can make information and content stick for my students is very crucial.  I want to figure out how I can help my students remember the information they’re learning and also inspire them to want to learn even more.  My goal is to merely whet their appetite for knowledge.  I want to foster a love of learning within my students.  So far, I’ve learned a few simple tricks.  Let’s see what’s next.