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I could see very easily, in fact, my professional judgment would be that by the year 2000, reading, writing, and arithmetic might be elective subjects in the school because there will be so many other places where you could learn those via television and via other kinds of nonschool experiences that only those students for whom that has not been taken satisfactory elsewhere would have to deal with them in school.
However, the required curriculum in the school would have more to do with quality of human life, with man's relation to man. Schools have been preoccupied with man's relation to things.
Now I think we need to shift more to emphasis on human relations and man's relation to man and the quality of life and the quality of environment and to help men gain perspective.
That would be a real flip-flop in terms of the basic assumption we now make about curriculum and staffing.
Mr. Reid. On that, if I may interject a question, we never learn from history and like President Kennedy, we are frequently in a position of repeating the same error time and time again. What is it in our teaching that neither recognizes truth nor past experience?
Why are we condemned to repeat the same mistakes over and over?
Dr. Allen. Education historically for good reason has been preoccupied with information retrieval. The presumption is that you have to have a basic factual level of information before you can do anything.
But yet if you look at it, this produces some real anomalies. For example, I won't ask this august body to name the capital of North and South Dakota, or the capital of North Carolina and South Carolina.
But in this room I bet one out of four people can't do that. Yet you can't even get out of fifth grade unless you know that.
Now, the question is, is it stupid that we don't know it or is it stupid to teach fifth graders that? I once asked a fifth grade teacher, "What is it that you really want kids to know ?”
She said, "I want them to be able to operate an atlas” and that finally boiled down to the fact it they could use an atlas that was prob). ably an educated functional level.
So I suggested she allow kids to use the atlas the next time she gave the test. She said, “No, I could not do that."
I said, “Why not?" She said, “Because they would all get it right." The assumption is for someone to succeed, someone has to lose. So long as we establish an educational system that is based on the fact that the teacher is not doing his job until someone falls over the edge, we are going to be caught in the same morass.
Factual information is going to become increasingly less important. Processes and the way to use information and synthesize it and deal with it and speculate about it are going to become more important.
That is going to require a different kind of school, a different kind of teacher, a kind of interphase between school and society. You could, of course, for example, prohibit a school from requiring more than one-third of the curriculum and have other two-thirds depending on who is there and events of the world so the teachers and students could in fact become learners together.
You could get rid of the notion that teachers have to know everything, that you can give a little more credibility that we are trying to teach kids to be critical thinkers and evaluate the likelihood of what they are hearing. If those are the kind of assumptions NIE starts dealing with, then I think it can be a successful and viable operation in terms of helping education go a step forward.
Otherwise it is just the frosting on the cake. There has to be really basic reorientation of the educational philosophy of this country. I think it is too bad that right now schools have lost credibility in society and educators say the reason we are not doing a good job is because we need more money.
I grant we may need more money but I really don't trust us as educators to spend it well if we have it. I look at free schools and they have budgets less than the public school budgets.
So I think what is called for is somehow to find two things. One, to create a symbol or set of symbols that can give people some hope about education and to create the notion that education can become the vehicle of upward mobility much like the Horatio Alger stories of 50 years ago.
At the same time we have to then create the regulatory mechanisms which will encourage experimentation. Right now within the educational establishment all of the rewards are for maintaining the status quo. Anytime you move slightly off center, you are shot at.
Right now as dean of education at the University of Massachusetts, if I run a standard operation, nobody minds. Anytime I move a little bit away from that and try and involve students more in the governance of the school, I am susceptible to criticisms from all sides.
I think there are ways to develop regulatory mechanisms or create experimental options to encourage experimentation rather than dampen it.
One is to avoid the need of consensus so those people who want to experiment with something, and those who wish to associate themselves in experimentation, have the right to do so. I think that is within the American tradition that we have the right to make mistakes, that we have the right to individual alternatives.
Mr. Reid. Thank you, Dean Allen.
Mr. PEYSER. Your testimony, Dean Allen, does excite me in many positive ways and in some ways that would be negative ways, such as the alternatives that we are talking about. I think one of the real problems, and I don't know how educators are going to do this, but I think it is a problem, that a lot of these things come down to the public and local school boards and the communities that are involved and when you have meetings at local levels, and I think this is true in many communities, when we have educators who are visiting, whether it is a PTA meeting or a board meeting and speaking to the public, inevitably when they reach the point of kind of things they are talking about as a change, they have a policy of referring to reports and studies which the public does not have the slightest idea, and when this kind of a quotation comes out from the educator, the public nods their head and they don't know what the study is and the whole thrust of what is trying to be established is lost.
I am very hopeful that in the NIE, which I very much support the concept of this type of organization, educators are going to be able to talk to the public on it, because that is who the public is going to want
to hear from, is going to be able as a group and the message is going to have to come through from people like yourself to educators, that they have got to talk in terms that are understandable to the public and relate to the public because educators I think, and I don't want to classify all in this capacity, have the same kind of tendencies of putting people in boxes as you are speaking, even those who are trying to bring about the change.
I really made a statement, but the hope is that there is a way of the educational society talking to itself sufficiently to know how to talk to the public and maybe you can give me some thoughts.
Is this type of thing a feasible hope that we can gain in the future and if NIE comes in, that this kind of information will reach the public in a right way?
Dr. ALLEN. I hope it will. Here we are really dealing in symbols. I think for NIE to succeed, it is going to have to have a balance of short-range and long-range programs. There are a lot of issues that are long-range reserve issues that will take 20 or 30 years to find out.
If that is all NIE does it will never make it. There are other kinds of things where we can get immediate payoff.
Simple things like reoriented vocational opportunities, for example. To allow immediately the establishment of some alternatives, and if you will, to mandate the need to evaluate those alternatives in real times, so you get the benefit of establishing something new at the same time as you get benefit then of evaluating what is going on.
To do this I think we may have to change completely the notion of the order of magnitude of funds necessary for evaluation. In a paper appended to my testimony, I suggest that we may need evaluation and funds that equal or surpass the program funds.
In other words, if we are trying to evaluate something in real time, that is a task and a half. We have technology now that suggests that we might be able to do this in terms of computer retrieval of data and so forth. But it may
be an enormous effort. I would like to see some exciting alternatives developed that would be symbolic in terms of being highly visible, very exciting, give people hope in a way that they have not had hope before, and then tie to those an evaluative effort that would be of equal magnitude or larger magnitude so you start getting evaluative evidence at the same time you are implementing the program rather than waiting until the program is at an end and then evaluate it.
I think that is an extremely important kind of strategy.
The other thing is that we fool each other about the fact that you can't change education because they won't let you and where you say "hey," fill in the blank anyone you want.
Teachers say that they can't do it because administrators won't let them or the public won't let them or PTA or Congress won't let them. One of the worst things you could do to an educator is take away all of his excuses because I am not sure he could produce on anything at that moment.
I am not being pejorative of colleagues in education because I think that is also true of myself. The point being that somehow, again I come back to the word alternatives and experiments, there is an image that the public won't let you experiment with kids.
The standard thing. You can't experiment with kids. They are too poor. You can experiment with dogs but not kids. The best answer to that comes from my good friend Madeline Hunter at UCLA when she says before she was director of laboratory school at UCLA she was a rat psychologist.
She said, "When you say that I cannot experiment with kids, I resent that as a rat psychologist but when I experiment with rats, my rats are very well taken care of."
When you experiment with kids you provide more resources, you monitor carefully, and you take obligation for something when it goes wrong, kids who are experimented with are lucky kids. You look at some of the experiments we have in education, Parkway project in Philadelphia or Metro project in Chicago or any of the alternative school notions, and they are oversubscribed.
Hundreds or thousands of children apply to get into a Parkway school where they don't have the foggiest notion of what it is going to be like.
It is only the hope it is something different from what now goes on. If you take that and put it in perspective, the conservatism with which we go about education reform is unwarranted.
I don't want to mandate that we have to throw everything out in education because I would not be able to get away with it. If I could I would like to because we could not make it much worse.
Instead we could invent mechanisms where a certain percentage of students could be shifted over to experimental programs with an option that every year or two a larger percentage could be added until we gain equilibrium between demands for option and the options which exist.
I think you get two benefits. One would be benefits of options thenselves in letting people out from under a system that they don't respect.
I think that is a very important benefit. Even more important, once you create competition within educational scenes that is going to shape up the establishment because right now there is no mechanism whereby anyone gains any respectable accountability.
That is a big word in education these days. It is hard to understand what it means. I am afraid if it means performance that we may put undue focus on those objectives which are easily measurable rather than some of the other things that may be more important in my judgment.
I think we have to find new mechanisms for accountability. One of the best mechansims is to have alternative programs coexist where the marketplace becomes the evaluative mechanism of accountability.
Mr. PEYSER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BRADEMAS. Dean Allen, I have been very impressed by your response to the questions of both Mr. Reid and Mr. Peyser, and I will just put one related question to you. As I understand it, you make the case that we must give much more attention in the kind of educational research that we undertake, to its implementation and dissemination, both for substantive reasons, and I press a step further, to the question that I put to Dr. Bailey, namely, the importance of persuading practicing politicians like us that it is worthwhile. I say this because if we don't see any change coming out of research, even though we may be
impressed by the observation you just made that anything is better than what is, that is not always a persuasive argument in this kind of institution.
You may be able to make that case logically but not necessarily be able to do so politically.
Having said that, I would ask you to comment on two or three points. You decried university-based research but you were decrying university-based research not because it was based in universities but because it was not related to the real world out there. What about the problem of which Mr. Reid spoke at one point in his questions the problem of basic research into the learning process? You did not touch on that very much.
Third, what further comments can you give us on possible relationships in the research field between the universities and the schools? How can we get university people like yourself into more direct concrete dialog and coexistence and interchange with a given school system?
Dr. ALLEN. If I may take the last one first, one of the most important problems in education today is inservice teacher education.
I think that inservice teacher education is a real scandal. You bring teachers back once a year and you inservice them, or 4:30 on Thursday afternoon they go into an inservice kind of mechanism.
Now if it is true that schools need to be radically changed, then the teachers have to find some legitimacy in terms of the way in which they can participate in the change. We can't write off a whole generation of teachers. Here is where the university has to stop defining the basis of inservice education or the basis of education in some theoretical model, and has to come and relate not only to what is there because hopefully we are trying to change what is there, but to relate to how you get to there from here.
In other words, to join partners with the schools in mounting programs of school reform. One model, for example, that we are attempting to inaugurate at the University of Massachusetts is where we may find a series of school districts that would be willing to embark on a 3year program with the university.
The first year, the university and school district jointly explores ways in which the program would change substantially. The second year the university and school would work jointly to develop the logistic support and ability to implement such programs.
And the third year the university sticks around to take some responsibility to implement the program of reform. In the process of that 3year period study, you could base your inservice teacher education and your preservice teacher education out in the schools.
So this would be another way of building a bridge between the university and school district. It may very well be that you would bring disciplinary scholars into the schools. Here one of the problems is not the lack of willingness of schools to listen to disciplinary scholars but there are no brownie points for disciplinary scholars to do that.
Their points are for research and education. To get them involved in programs of practical educational reform at other levels is just outside the purview of current university practice. If you are going to really take seriously the development of new relationships between