The Hawkins Model©: Education Reimagined, One Success at a Time!, by Mel Hawkins

A Six Page Excerpt

Introduction

Look around at what you see. Is there anyone who is happy with the society we have created for our children? We are more divided than we have been at any time in my life and many of you feel the same way. We find ourselves at odds with one another over one issue after another. Rather than focus on the things we have in common, we seem fixated on the ways we differ from one another. If we cannot set aside our differences and work together in response to the challenges we will face in the balance of this 21st Century, things will not end well for some of us and could end badly for everyone. This is where we find ourselves, today.

The future is ours to choose. If we want a peaceful and prosperous resolution to the challenges we face, we must commence our response by understanding that we are what and who we have learned to be. If we want to be a better people, a better democracy, and a better society we must teach our nation’s children more and we must teach them better. We must strive to open their hearts and minds to learn as much about the realities of life and of the world as possible. This is a formidable task that can only be accomplish through a highly focused approach to education.

It is the premise of this work that the problems we face are a consequence of an education process that has become disconnected from its purpose. Over the three-quarters of a century since the end of World War II, the world has changed exponentially while the way we teach our children has changed only incrementally. The America in which we find ourselves is where education has brought us. It is said that organizations are perfectly structured to produce the outcomes they get, so it follows that the existing education process was perfectly structured to get us to the point in history at which we find ourselves, today.

If this is not where we want and need to be, we must accept responsibility for bringing about transformative change. One of the fundamental principles of this work is, “it is not until we stop blaming others and/or society and accept responsibility for our problems that we begin to acquire the power to solve them.”

I believe the state of American society, today, is a consequence of an insufficient understanding of the true nature of the complex and interdependent universe in which we live and of the people with whom we share it. What we think we understand is further compromised by our fears and prejudices. The quality of the choices we make will be determined by the level of our understanding of the world as it is, not what we wish or fear it to be.

In 1950, our leaders were bursting with optimism that there was nothing the USA could not accomplish. They thought we were living in a nation with unlimited potential in a world with inexhaustible resources. The U.S. had a population of 150 million people that was 87.5 percent non-Hispanic white in a world with 2.75 billion people. In the seventy years since, the world population has grown to 7.9 billion people while the U.S. population has grown to a remarkably more diverse 330 million citizens. Today, estimates suggest less than 58 percent of Americans are non-Hispanic white.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, we are amid a population shift in which the percentage of white Americans is forecast to decline from that 58 percent of the US population, today, to an estimated 47 percent by 2060. The challenges in the balance of this 21st Century will be unprecedented, and this is the future in which our children and grandchildren will be required to live and compete. To proceed as if it is “business as usual,” in the coming decades, seems ill-advised.

If we wish to change the course of our history, we have two generations to alter the character of America. We need a rebirth of commitment to the principles of democracy envisioned by our founders nearly 250 years ago. We must acknowledge that if we continue to teach the way we have always taught, over the next forty years or so, it will not take our society where we need to go, and we will be even less happy with where we will find ourselves.

If we are to have any hope of achieving this rebirth of commitment to democracy in America, we must begin by relinquishing our insistence on blaming our nation’s teachers and schools for the problems of our society. Blaming teachers for the problems in education and asking them to work harder will not be sufficient to produce the outcomes we need. At one time or another, each of us has experienced what it is like when asked to do a job or perform a task without the proper tools, or with tools that were in such a state of disrepair they did not work. This is what teachers are dealing with, today, and yet they continue to give their hearts, minds, bodies, and souls doing their best to make the education process work.

Neither can we blame the parents of our children. Parenting has never been easy but the:

  • The number of working parents, and an increase in parents who must work two jobs to make ends meet, somewhat offset by an increase in  work-from-home opportunities,
  • The ever-present influence of the peer group, empowered by social media, and
  • The ubiquity of mass media providing virtually unrestricted access to all the world has to offer and the challenge of shielding one’s children from whatever parents deem to be objectionable,

all combine to make parenting more challenging than ever. We believe this makes the roles of schools and teachers that much more essential.

The effort in many communities seems to be focused  on parents protecting children from what they deem to be the unpleasant aspects of society. The question we encourage parents to consider is how they can best prepare their children to deal with realities they will face as adult citizens. Should mothers and fathers strive to shield their kids from the things they fear, or would it be better to arm them with the knowledge and skills they will need to find their own solutions and create a better world for their own children?

The purpose of this work is to introduce a new education model to replace the existing American education process. It is a model designed to enable teachers to help each child learn as much as they are able at their own best pace and is premised on a belief that the human brain is the most remarkable three pounds of organic matter in all of creation and that the brains of the human child are the most remarkable of all.

The good news is, it will not take forty years to get where we need to go. It takes eighteen years to guide a child from birth to adulthood, and it takes thirteen years from the time they arrive for their first day of kindergarten, at the age of five. If we were to implement our new model, by September of 2023, we will have a full thirteen years to prepare the graduating class of 2036 for a new and better future.

For the students who will graduate in the intervening years from 2024 to 2035, we will have a shrinking window of opportunity to solidify the weaknesses in their academic and emotional development foundations that will influence the way they think about America and the world and the way they conduct themselves. Thus, it is vital we take full advantage of that opportunity and not subject them to another unproductive school year.   Each year, thereafter, we will send another class or young men and women out into society, well-prepared to work with their fellow citizens to preserve and protect our people and our democracy.                

By the time you complete this book you will understand how this new model will change the rules and expectations of education in America and the way we will keep score. We will show you exactly how and why the existing education process is letting our children down and exactly what we will do to eliminate those deficiencies and how we will ensure that the needs of all our students are met.

The changes we will be asking schools and teachers to make are simple, but will have a profound, positive effect on our children and on American society. We will also show how these changes in the way we teach will transform democracy in America so that it can fulfill its promise to all our citizens, not just a select few.

When we rely on a system that meets the needs of only some of our students, we deny other children of the value of the lessons they were supposed to have learned  and we deprive society of the value of the positive contribution they might have made.

If we are unable to make this transition in a peaceful and positive way, the future of our nation and its democracy may be irrevocably altered. We must not underestimate the magnitude of the impending population shift over the next forty years. It will help if we understand that many of the problems with which we are dealing today are symptoms of the deep fear of the possible consequences of that anticipated tipping point on the part of millions of Americans.

During that same 25 years, while those young people commence the work of rebuilding a nation, we will continue working to provide a primary and secondary education of the highest quality to succeeding generations of children who will follow in the footsteps of the first wave of students educated under the whole new way of teaching we will refer to as The Hawkins Model©.  These new classes of young men and women will join their fellow citizens in the reshaping of America.

The education model I will be introducing in this work has been named The Hawkins Model© so I can maintain the right of authorship. This new model will be offered, free of charge, to any publicly funded or parochial school entity willing to test the model in one of their struggling elementary schools. While the implementation of the model will be surprisingly easy, it will require educators to make a paradigm leap to a point where our leaders can observe our nation from a broader perspective and see that where it is taking us is not where we need to go. It requires a focused commitment of the people and educators of each community to teach by this new set of rules and a commitment to make the necessary investments to make it work.

To Teachers, Everywhere:

This letter is motivated by our assertion that we need to stop blaming teachers for the flaws in the education process. Teachers are heroes who should be credited for all the good things that happen in our classrooms despite the flaws of the process. Teachers are the glue that keeps it all from spiraling out of control.

No one knows what goes on in the classroom better than teachers, so who better to take on the challenge of transforming education in America to ensure the success of both students and teachers. Education leaders and administrators have the same opportunity, and should have the same motivation but, instead, still choose to focus on the preservation of the status quo; but let’s defer that discussion, for the moment.

The disappointing outcomes of students throughout America is not limited  to public schools, as charter school students struggle just as much if not more, according to data from NAEP and virtually every state department of education. Even the disappointing outcomes of a significant percentage of students from faith-based schools are a consequence of an “education process” that has become disconnected from its purpose.

For some time, the focus of public education has been directed toward conformance, compliance, and testing, rather than learning and true student achievement. Therefore, so many of the activities the education process demands of teachers and students impede rather than support learning.  

Each time students are pushed ahead before ready; they fall a little further behind and must strive to makes sense of future lessons without the pre-requisite knowledge those lessons require. When disappointing outcomes  become a pattern, it begins to seep into a child’s confidence and self-esteem. Just as success is a powerful motivating force, the repeated  inability to achieve success is discouraging. When children are discouraged their first instinct is to give up and stop trying. When this happens, teaching becomes problematic.

We have waited long enough for our leaders and policy makers to step outside the boundaries of conventional thinking and address the flaws in the existing education process; deficiencies that set students up for academic distress, and teachers up for blame.

When will the leaders and policy makers of education recognize that when a process continues to produce unacceptable outcomes no matter how hard people work or how qualified they are, the process is broken and must be replaced.

This letter is a request of teachers, teachers’ unions, associations, and other advocacy groups to help promote what, recently, one educator described as the “the next big thing in education.” Another prominent educator wrote, “I enthusiastically support a pioneering school district’s willingness to consider The Hawkins Model© as a means of improving student achievement, reducing maladaptive behavior and preparing students to be successful in school and life.”

The Hawkins Model© has been developed to transform the “education  process” at work in our schools by creating an environment, focused on learning and that allows teachers to develop and practice their craft and adapt to the disparate needs of students.

This model will be offered free to any publicly funded or faith-based school willing to put the model to the test in the K – 2 classrooms of even just one struggling elementary school. The only revenue I expect to generate is from the royalties from my yet-to-be-published book, The Hawkins Model©: Education Reimagined, One Success at a Time, which was written to introduce the model. A synopsis of the book is available at my website at https://bit.ly/3MGMTks. If you are reading these words, you will find the link along the bottom of the black border at the top of this page.

You are encouraged to invite your most innovative colleagues to join you in previewing my book and model, as a group, not in search of reasons why it might not work rather to imagine what it would be like for teachers to teach and students to learn in an environment that is a learning laboratory. The manuscript can be made available to you but please recognize, it is copyrighted material over which I will need to maintain some level of control.  

Let us be clear, the status quo in education is under attack and community public schools are the central target of that offensive. If it has not occurred to you, yet, the futures of teachers, superintendents and their school boards, and other public-school administrators are inextricably linked to the future of local community public schools. More importantly, the future or our nation’s children and our democracy are similarly linked.

This model provides an opportunity for community public schools to set themselves apart and you would be wise not to let “school choice” advocates get the jump on public education. Imagine how much more successful the “school choice” movement will be if their claims they can do a better job are borne out by the data. Public schools must seize this opportunity to reclaim the confidence and loyalty of the communities they serve.

Community publics school leaders can be prompted to act by the ardent advocacy of teachers. The Hawkins Model© provides a perfect solution around which teachers and other educators can rally.

Thank you all for the incredible work you do, and please join me in striving to reestablish public education as the key to the preservation of our democracy. Please share this message with every teacher you know, the broader their platform, the better.

Most Sincerely,

Mel Hawkins, MSEd, MPA

A Note to my Friends, Colleagues, and acquaintances on Twitter

Recently, a couple of you have asked if I am okay, as I have not been active on Twitter in recent months. Thank you for that. As I announced at the beginning of what proved to be several months of silence, I have been writing a book with a working title The Hawkins Model©: Education Reimagined, One Success at a Time. I am excited to announce I am nearing completion.

I would also like to report that, in just a few weeks, I will be contacting many of you via Twitter’s personal messaging, seeking readers to give me a pre-submission review of the work. Let me clarify, I am not asking any of you to edit the work, although I understand, for many educators, grammatical errors tend to jump out at you.  I have someone to do the editing for me. I will be grateful for any feedback you might choose to provide with respect to content.

My objective is to seek an agent and/or traditional publisher, rather than go the self-publishing route.

I am also hoping to be able to provide prospective agents and publishers with a list of educators who judge the book to be deserving of an audience. Endorsements are, of course, wonderful, but only if you are motivated to provide one. 

So, please, until you hear from me, give my request some thought, as time will be of the essence.

The following is a brief excerpt:

Assertions, Assumptions, and the Questions they Raise

All logical constructs, whether a point of view, an organization, process, or software application are constructed on a logical foundation comprised of assumptions and assertions of which we must be aware. We believe our assertions, assumptions, and the questions they raise are bridges to understanding. There are many on which this book and education model are founded, the most important of which are:

  • Every child can learn. The brain of a child is programmed to soak up the world and to learn as much as it can, at its own best pace within the context of its unique genetic potential and the environment in which it finds itself.
  • It is not that some kids cannot learn rather they have not yet learned.
  • Street smart is the same as any other “smart.”
  • The rules of the American education process, effectively if not formally, limit students to a specific amount of time to learn. For many, it is not enough.
  • Once we learn something, how long it took becomes inconsequential.
  • It is not the job of educators to decide what our students will become; rather it is to help children build a solid foundation from which they will have choices.
  • We do not expect all students to grow up to become doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers, teachers, journalists, accountants, etc. because society has many roles to cast.
  • Tradespersons who fix our plumbing; the electrical wiring of our buildings; who pour concrete for our roads and highways; who lay bricks and beams for the structures we build; who grow, prepare, and serve the food we eat; and who help groom us add value to our lives as do those employed in many other jobs.
  • Every job well done adds beauty and value to the world.
  • All students can get the equivalent of “As” and “Bs.”
  • Some will say not all can be “A” students. We choose to believe they can achieve mastery over whatever they need to learn to get where they need to go,
  • We must answer the question “is it better to learn many things badly, or fewer things well?”
  • Whatever and however much our students are learning—and when and wherever—we want their outcomes to be successful, encouraging, and esteem-building.
  • What we are doing as we teach our students, over thirteen years of school, is help them lay a foundation for whatever futures they choose for themselves.
  • That foundation must be academic, emotional, moral, and even spiritual in an ecumenical way. Everything we learn helps reveal the magnificence of the universe that has been created for us and over which we have the responsibility of stewardship.
  • Every citizen must possess a sufficient understanding of the world in which they live to make thoughtful decisions about important issues and understand that everything and everyone of us is interdependent.
  • Success is neither an achievement nor a destination, it is a process. We must each learn how to create success for ourselves and learning how to master the process of success requires students to experience it for themselves.
  • All success is compounding, and student must have the opportunity to celebrate each success.
  • Success is one of the most powerful motivational forces in life. When people experience success, they always want more.
  • Human beings, including children, are blessed with an extraordinary ability to overcome hardship, suffering, and disappointment, provided they have a little help from at least one other human being who cares about and believes in them.
  • Everything of value in life, including life itself, is a function of the quality of our relationships with other human beings. Similarly, a quality education is a function of a student’s relationship with his or her teachers.
  • Blaming teachers for the problems in education is like blaming soldiers for the wars they are asked to fight.
  • For all of us, the quality of work we do is a function of the quality of the tools and resources at our disposal. We all know how difficult it is to do a job without the proper tools. We must understand the education process in our schools is nothing more than a sophisticated tool for teaching and learning.
  • All organizations and processes are structured to produce the outcomes they get.
  • When a process routinely produces unacceptable outcomes no matter how hard people work or how qualified they are, that process is flawed and must be replaced or reimagined. Asking people to work harder is rarely enough.
  • It is only when we accept responsibility for our problems that we begin to acquire the power to solve them.
  • The blame game is a lose/lose scenario. Our time must be devoted to viewing every disappointing or unacceptable outcome as a learning opportunity.
  • The value of all material things in life is a function of their utility to people.
  • Mission and purpose must never be sacrificed for operational efficiency or convenience.
  • Many believe our education system is the cause of poverty when, in fact, the phenomena are interdependent, creating a chicken versus the egg conundrum.
  • All human beings need affirmation. Children and their teachers need it often.
  • There is no such thing as a perfect organization, system, or process. Excellence requires the ability to adapt to the peculiar and the unexpected.
  • It is on education that the future of our children depends, and it is on our children the future of our society will depend.

Throughout The Hawkins Model©: Education Reimagined, One Success at a Time, these and other assertions and assumptions will influence everything you read and every solution I offer.

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A New School Year with Unprecedented Challenges!

Never have we begun a new school year with as much enthusiasm as students are bringing to the first day of this 2021/22 school year. Even man of the children who have traditionally dreaded the return to school look forward to seeing friends, favorite teachers, and a return to some semblance of normalcy. It will not be the same normal, of course, as we cannot yet know how the year will play out and what the new normal will be.

We must not get so caught up in our own enthusiasm we forget there will be other children who will return to school with trepidation. Many of these children have taken refuge in such things as shelter-in-place, quarantine, social distancing, and remote learning.  For them, the return to school will be traumatic and teachers and administrators must be prepared to recognize the signs and help such students make the transition. We have all read about the mental health crisis facing children, post coronavirus. Post-traumatic stress disorders can have a devastating impact on the lives of children as well as adults.

There will be many children from families whose lives have been forever altered by the coronavirus. Many will be grieving for family members whose lives have been lost or have had to deal with the trauma of separation from loved ones during prolonged hospitalizations. The children of these families have had to live and may still be living with the fear they and other members of their family are vulnerable and may face greater risks upon return to school.

There will be classmates, across the aisle, who have witnessed and maybe embraced the anger and frustration of parents over what they call the Covid pandemic hoax perpetrated by conspirators perceived to be “radical leftists in a government out to destroy their democracy.” Some of our students have stood with their parents during anti-vaccine demonstrations and protests over mask mandates.

As teachers strive to form relationships with and address the varied emotional issues with which their students will be dealing, they must begin to assess and address the disparity between what students have or have not learned during long stretches of remote learning. Given the variance of the progress or regress of students, do we choose to remain loyal to a tradition of moving students forward as a class, from one benchmark to the next, per our respective state’s academic standards or, do we try something new that will allow us to focus on building relationships and differentiating based on the unique needs of our students?

Do we encourage students to share their experiences from the last eighteen months using oral, written, and other forms of communication or expression? Would such stories be beneficial in helping children of such divergent points of view gain better insight into classmates who view and interpret the world through different lenses?

Given the crises we have faced, even if from different perspectives, how fervently do we seize the teaching/learning opportunities presented  by the full range of events of the last few years?  How do we factor in the demands of parents concerned what we teach in school will conflict with what they teach at home? Will there ever be a better time to use current events to broaden the perspectives of our young people and find our way out of a contentious political and social environment where the truth has become whatever we choose it to be?

Even if we choose not to incorporate such discussions, formally, it seems inevitable these issues will come up during the normal course of events. How do we prepare our teachers to deal with them?

Has there ever been a better time teach our students the value of education and how the knowledge and skills they acquire will determine the number and kinds of choices and opportunities they will have as they transition from childhood to the responsibilities of citizenship? It will not be many years before today’s students will be tomorrow’s leaders, faced with the challenge of seeking resolution of many if not all these issues, or finding common ground. Do we strive to help them prepare for that responsibility or do we shun our own responsibilities?

The experiences during the coronavirus and such controversies as the Covid Pandemic hoax, social distancing, anti-vaccine protests, mask mandates, and other conspiracy theories have changed us and have changed the world. Some changes have frightening implications for the future. The blessing is, the Covid pandemic has provided an incredible opportunity to make a fresh start, to do something new and exciting in many aspects in our lives, not the least of which is education. Has there ever been a better time to reimagine the education process that dictates how we go about educating our children.

The reader is urged to examine The Hawkins Model© created to provide a new way to help our students learn as much as they are able at their own best pace, even in such times as these. An overview of The Hawkins Model© can be found at www.melhawkinsandassociates.com.  Please examine it not seeking reasons why it will not work rather striving to imagine what it would be like to teach and learn in such an innovative environment.

How much proof do we need that what we are doing is not working?

How much proof do we need before we acknowledge what we do in our schools isn’t working and commit to trying something new? A grading period or semester; a year, a decade, or generations? These are our kids we’re talking about, our children and grandchildren.

Not every problem has an easy solution but what is so difficult about giving students a little more time to learn things they will need to know to make a decent life for themselves; things they will need to know to provide for themselves rather than be dependent on the rest of us? Time is an essential variable in the education equation.

Albert Einstein once said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s that I stay with problems longer.”

Is America better off with a system that impedes the ability of teachers to teach and students to learn?

Is America better off with millions of people who do not understand the science of climate change, infectious diseases, and other natural sciences?

Do we benefit from a population of millions of people who do not understand the way a democracy is supposed to work or what the U.S. Constitution means?

How is it working out to have elected officials at every level of government, who are more focused assigning blame than putting their heads together to solve the problems of a troubled society? Leaders who spend more time claiming people who disagree with us cannot be trusted, are conspiring against us, and are trying to get something for nothing.

Are such leaders and other public figures correct when they tell us the only way to keep and protect what we have is to keep other people from getting what they need? The solutions to the problems we face as a people will be found by looking out into the future, not by looking to return to a past that was never as idyllic as we like to think it was. Look at the world around us.

We have an education system in which more than half of our students do not learn things well enough they can use what they know in the real world.

We have a healthcare system that makes a lot of money for a few people but does not allow all of us to get the medical care needed to treat the illnesses and injuries of our families.

We have a justice system that seems incapable of providing justice for every citizen.

We have a society that does not provide equal opportunities for everyone.

The problems we face as a society will not be solved by us. The future will be determined by the efforts and talents of our children. Maybe we should focus our attention on doing a better job of teaching future generations what they will need to know to create a better future for their children and grandchildren.

The only way to accomplish this is to change how we teach all our nation’s children, not a fortunate few. We have great teachers. We need to give them an environment where they can practice their craft  and teach their students what they will need to know. The solution to education is right here in front of us. All we need to do is act.

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Education is the key to everything!

We are what we have been taught to be and our children will be what we teach them to be. The solution to providing equality in education to every child would be so easy, most people would think it to be “too good to be true!”

If all educators would put their heads together with advocates for children of color, English language learners, and other disadvantaged kids and consider a new idea, they would wonder why we have waited so long and would be asking “why would a school district choose not to implement The Hawkins Model©?”

Surely, we have learned we cannot legislate an end to discrimination and racism. We have been trying for over fifty years, and discrimination still ravages the lives of men and women of color. Only an education of the highest quality can render these young people impervious to discrimination.

No matter how hard our teachers and principals work or how dedicated they may be, they cannot make the existing education process work for all kids, especially the disadvantaged. The problem is not teachers and schools, it is the education process at work within those schools; it is the way we go about teaching our precious sons and daughters. Consider what happens in even the best public and parochial schools, today.

Kids show up for their first day of school, at age 5, and we do not take the time to thoroughly assess their level of academic preparedness, nor do we utilizes that knowledge to create an academic plan tailored to the unique requirements of each child.

These youngsters show up in a classroom in which there are too many students to allow any one teacher to forge the kind of nurturing relationships these kids need to feel safe, secure, and cared about, all of which are essential to learning. The positive relationships that do develop for a fortunate few, will be severed at the end of the school year. These students will return to school in the fall and can only hope to be assigned to a new teacher who will believe in them and make them feel special.

Students are given lessons for which they may or may not be prepared and, after a few days, they will be given a test over that material.  It will not matter whether they understand the lessons they are asked to learn, or whether they get an F, D, C, B, or A. Ready or not, they will be moved on to a new lesson.

Teachers are given only so much time for each lesson. Children who do not yet comprehend their most recent lessons will be moved on with the rest of their class and be expected to learn subsequent lessons without the pre-requisite knowledge their prior lessons were intended to provide. Neither will they enjoy the benefit of the confidence that flows from successful learning.

A student’s scores will be recorded in his or her teacher’s gradebook, to become part of the child’s academic record and will begin to influence their teachers’ assessment of the child’s academic potential and intelligence. Worse, those grades will affect each child’s perception of themselves.

These boys and girls will then be asked to repeat this ritual in every subject area, for each lesson,  semester, and school year for the next thirteen years, without relief or exception. Somewhere along the line students who struggle will begin to think themselves incapable of learning and unable to keep up with classmates. It is only a matter of time until these kids give up and stop trying.

After thirteen years, these—now young men and women—will leave school, with or without a diploma, lacking the knowledge, skills, wisdom, pre-requisite knowledge, confidence, and self-esteem necessary to overcome the ravages of  discrimination. They will lack meaningful choices for what to do to make a life for themselves and their families and to participate in their own governance.

They will, also, begin to produce their own offspring who will replicate the same ritualistic childhood their parents and grandparents have endured for generations. None of this will change until we replace an education process that has been dysfunctional to the point of obsolescence, for as long as any of us can remember.

Do not be deceived by the false promise of “school choice” that suggests a charter school will provide a better opportunity for our sons and daughters. Please understand, there is nothing inherently wrong with the concept of a charter school other than most rely on the same education process at work in the public and parochial schools they were intended to replace; nor do they serve entire communities.

Let me introduce you to a solution.

The Hawkins Model© was designed to provide the education each one of our children deserves and is available for free to any public or parochial school district willing to implement it, beginning in their elementary classrooms. The model has been engineered to eliminate all the issues addressed in the preceding paragraphs. It will be transformational, and the decision to act is already within a school district and its superintendent’s purview. They need only say “yes!”

You will be surprised to learn how easily the model can be implemented. It changes the way the game is played.

Although instruction will still be guided by academic standards, progress will be a function of a student’s success rather than arbitrary timelines. Transformation will require a few adjustments to the way a school organizes its teachers and classrooms, and how long they remain together. Minor physical modifications of classrooms might be nice but are not essential. 

Other significant changes are redefinition of purpose and changing expectations for principals and teachers. Students will be expected to learn as much as they can at their own best pace. The model is constructed on the premise the brains of children are programmed to learn and that failure is a choice the existing education process requires us to make.

We must choose otherwise and give every student whatever time and attention they need to learn.

How we teach will be altered to focus on the primacy of relationships between teachers and students and converting time from a parameter that limits time to learn, to an asset available to kids in whatever quantities their success requires. Once they have learned, how long it took is inconsequential.

Implementation will be so simple the question educators and leaders of advocacy will be asking is “why would a school district choose not to implement The Hawkins Model©?”

This is not a request for financial support. Whatever revenue I generate will come from the royalties of a book I will be finishing, soon. I am asking organizations that serve as advocates for people of color and educators to help convince school superintendents to test The Hawkins Model© in one or more of their underperforming elementary schools. Consider how many schools and school districts are struggling to provide a quality education to children of color, English language learners, and the other disadvantaged students they serve and how many of those kids are giving up and will, soon, stop trying.

There are many wonderful programs available for kids who have fallen behind but if all we do is wait until they fall behind before we help, we have waited too long. Besides, there are many kids these programs never reach. We must choose to prevent students from “falling behind” in the first place. Nation-wide, there are millions of boys and girls at risk, waiting for us to act, and there are millions more waiting to follow. The Hawkins Model© will help all students learn how to create success for themselves.

With your help, children could begin benefitting from my model as early as this fall. Let us not forget, however, it takes thirteen years to educate a child; thus, we dare not drag our feet. I urge you to become advocates, reaching out to school districts with which you have a connection and encouraging them to act.

Please examine The Hawkins Model©. It may prove to be one of the most important things you will ever do.

Learn how easy it can be to implement a new education model

Although all of you who are educators—whether superintendents, principals, or teachers—strive to do an excellent job for your students, you also agonize over kids who struggle, no matter how hard you work or how innovative you may be. What critics seem to have no clue about is, not matter how valiant the effort of our teachers and other educators, even the best of them cannot make a dysfunctional education process work for every child. It is only because of the heroism of educators that so many kids enjoy success at all.

But many is not enough!

This post-Covid era has provided a unique opportunity to transform the way we teach our children but seizing it will require bold leadership. I am asking superintendents and principals to consider testing my education model in one or more elementary schools, this fall.

I assure you, implementation of The Hawkins Model© will be much easier than you imagine. It will be transformational, and you and your school boards already possess the authority needed to act. The model will be available to any public or parochial school for free.

Although instruction will still be guided by academic standards, progress will be a function of a student’s success, not arbitrary timelines. Transformation will be achieved by making a few adjustments to the way you organize your teachers and classrooms and how long they stay together. Although a few minor physical modifications of classrooms would be nice, they are not essential and will be at the bottom of your priority list.

Other significant changes are reclarification of purpose, changing expectations for principals and teachers, and simplification of the objectives for and expectations of students. We must expect students to learn as much as they can at their own pace. The model is constructed on the premise all children can learn and failure is not an option.

How we teach will be altered to focus on both the primacy of relationships with students and converting time from a parameter to an asset/resource available to students in whatever quantity their success requires. Once students have learned, how long it took them to learn becomes inconsequential. Learning is the only thing that matters.

Until the education process is reimagined to produce the quality outcomes our kids deserve, many high school graduates will continue to leave school with limited choices and students of color will remain ill-equipped to overcome the ravages of discrimination. We cannot legislate a solution to the challenges we face as a society. It is only through education we can begin to change the hearts of a nation, ensure meaningful opportunities for all students, and render children of color impervious to discrimination.

The Hawkins Model© is a game changer. Given the ease with which it could be implemented and the potential benefit to students, the appropriate question to ask yourselves might well be, “why would a school district choose not to do this?” Education is challenge for which no stone can be left unturned.

Please help by examining the The Hawkins Model©, at my website at www.melhawkinsandassociates.com and sharing it with every Superintendent, Principal, and teacher you know. We only get so many chances in life to do something special and never has doing so been more necessary.

Troubling Questions for Troubled Times

In what kind of world do we want our children and grandchildren to grow up? What kind of people do we want them to become? What questions would you add?

Do we want our children and grandchildren to believe all people are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, or that some people are entitled to privileges because of who they are?  

Do we want them to treat people with respect and dignity or to think it okay to insult, ridicule, accuse, or attack other people?

Do we want them to be kind to one another or hateful?

Do we want our children to view the colors, shapes, and sizes of our bodies and the languages we speak as varying shades of beauty or do we want our differences to be a basis for judging others as good or bad?

Do we want them to live in a world where all lives matter, or a place where some lives matter more than others, and some seem to matter not at all?

Can we teach them police reform is not advocacy for lawlessness rather a demand, through better training, that law enforcement professionals rise to a higher standard?

How do we teach our children and grandchildren the best way to protect our rights is to protect the rights of others?

How do we teach them rights must be balanced by responsibility?

Do we want our children to learn to respect freedom of religion or learn it is okay to impose their religious beliefs on others?

How do we teach them their rights do not allow them to infringe on the rights of others?

How do we balance the interests of individuals against the good of the community?

When did it become okay to view people who disagree with us on important matters as evil, or unpatriotic, or un-American?

What happened to the days when there were issues about which reasonable men and women could disagree?

When things go wrong, shall we teach our children to find someone to blame or should we teach them to work together to find solutions that work for all?

Will the interests of society be better served when all children have a quality education or should a quality education be reserved for a fortunate few?

Do we want an education process in which all kids learn how to be successful and how to develop their  potential or an education process that functions like a competition in which some kids win, and others lose?

Do we want our children to think of science as an honest attempt to understand how the universe works, or as a strategy to justify a point of view?

Is history an opportunity to learn from the past experiences of human beings and their governments, or is history something we are free to change to justify whatever we may have done or want to do?

Is it okay if the way we teach children does not work for every student?

Do we teach our kids to always tell the truth or that it is okay to lie if it will help them get whatever they want or do whatever they want to do?

When did the truth become whatever we choose it to be?

How will life be for our children if they live in the world where there are no fundamental truths on which we can all agree?

Let us not forget we are all who and what we learned to be.

Kids Learn from Experience to Acquire Pre-requisite knowledge: A Lesson on Dysfunctionality

Even though we do not think about it, how we learn in the classroom is just a variation of learning from experience. Lesson presentations, practice assignments, review sessions, quizzes, and tests are all experiences gained in the classroom.

In education, we place too much focus on mistakes and failure.  Of course, we learn from mistakes; in fact, that is where much learning begins.  We try something we want to learn but rarely do we accomplish it, to our satisfaction, after the first attempt. We must strive with determination.  With each unsuccessful attempt, we gain more experience which, in turn, allows us to make adjustments that produce better outcomes.  For most of us, it may take multiple attempts before we are fully satisfied with the outcomes we experience, whatever the endeavor.

Often, we refer to our unsuccessful attempts as mistakes, but in the minds of many people, educators included, the word mistake is often mistaken for a form of failure, if you will forgive the pun. We would be better off to use the term “disappointing outcomes.” Whatever we choose to call them, however, what they represent are “learning opportunities.”

 Mistakes/disappointing outcomes do not rise to the level of failure unless we give up and stop trying; until we settle for less than a full understanding of something, or less than subject mastery.  In our classrooms, students do not choose to stop trying or settle for less than their best and, it is not their teachers who make that choice for them. The decision to abandon one lesson and begin another before students are ready to move on, is what the current education process requires of teachers. Giving up is what the education process has been teaching  many children to do from their first day of school. We have not been prompted to think about it that way.

Teachers are unknowing facilitators in this process because it is what the education process demands of them. Every time teachers must record  a C, D, or F in their gradebooks, that grade becomes a specific, documented example of a student who has been required, by the education process,  to give up and stop  trying before they have gained comprehension;  before attaining subject mastery. Once that window closes on a given lesson, rarely do kids get another chance.  

This is only half of what we must come to understand as one of the most dysfunctional components of the education process on which teachers and students must rely. The other half of the dysfunction has an equally devastating impact on our most vulnerable students.

What we learn from our successes is no less important than what we learn from our unsuccessful outcomes. Every time teachers are required to move students on, ready or not, the education process deprives a child of an opportunity to experience success.  If there is no success there can be no opportunity to celebrate success, to relish in it, take pride in it. These students are deprived of  essential  building blocks of confidence and self- esteem; and  it happens to millions of children, hundreds of times, every school year.

Each of our experiences whether good or bad, positive or negative, successful or unsuccessful, acceptable or unacceptable, expected or disappointing, satisfactory or unsatisfactory are learning opportunities.  We learn from experience, not just mistakes, each  one of us, both learners and teachers. Think about what this means to our students and it becomes apparent why this discussion is so important.

Success in learning leads to proficiency. We become proficient when we have acquired the ability to utilize what we have learned in real life situations, whether they be subsequent lessons, state-competency examinations, college-entry applications and exams;  job applications, qualification for military enlistment; and, solving problems on the job and in our everyday lives. We need to think of each lesson  we ask our students to learn as an opportunity for them to acquire the pre-requisite knowledge and skills they will need to achieve success on future endeavors, whatever the venue or level.

Once we grasp the magnitude of the devastation wreaked by the existing  education process we have been utilizing in our schools for generations, we must feel compelled to change the way we think about what we do and why. How can we rely on an education process that deprives millions of children of opportunities to acquire the prerequisite knowledge and skills they will need for the rest of their lives?

Our existing education process is dysfunctional to the point of obsolescence. Is it any wonder there are so many American men and women who seem unable to make informed decisions about the cogent issues of this 21st Century, and who rely on the leadership of demagogs and conspiracy theorists to tell them what is true and what is not?

The good news, as overwhelming as this may seem, is that a solution is relatively easy to implement. Reimagining the education process is what The Hawkins Model© has been designed to do. One of the things it requires is that we utilize time as an independent variable in the education equation, rather than a constant or fixed asset.  You are invited to check it out at www.melhawkinsandassociates.com/education-model-white-paper/

Putting Covid 19 in Perspective Against the Trauma of World War II

Most Americans living today, beginning with baby boomers like me, have no way of appreciating how traumatic World War II must have been for the American people.

Possibly this Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020 has given us a taste of how it must have felt to have the entire world at war.

Front-line military personnel, like frontline healthcare workers and first responders, had to deal with the trauma and tragedy every single day. While it is true one cannot understand the trauma of combat unless he or she has been immersed in the violence, death, fear, and horror of it; it is equally true people must be surrounded, daily, by the fear, suffering, and death while caring for coronavirus patients to fully comprehend the trauma. 

During the whole of WW II, when 9 percent of the U.S. population served in the Armed Forces, almost everyone knew of someone on the front lines, or of their families. It is likely the same as true for over one million casualties.

The number of people in present day who must risk exposure to the virus extends well-beyond frontline healthcare workers and first responders, although those men and women are at the greatest risk: God bless them. Essential workers who must come into contact or interact with the public are also putting themselves at risk, just by helping the rest of us do all the things we believe we need to do, whether or not the need is real. Their public includes people wearing masks and taking precautions as well as those who have declined to take precautions. Essential workers have no way of knowing who might be contagious and who is safe, yet we expect them to serve us with a smile behind their masks.

There are few events in history for which the impact on citizens was as profound as WWII or the Covid-19 Pandemic.

As the number of deaths and infections during this Pandemic have increased, even those of us who cling to the notion Covid-19 is a hoax, are more likely, each day, to hear of someone whom they know or know about, who has suffered from the disease or who works amid the suffering as part of their daily life.

One of the biggest differences between the WWII war and the pandemic is that almost all Americans of the 1940s pitched in to support the war effort in any way they could. The war effort was a powerfully, unifying force.

Like Americans of the 1940s, we have been asked to make sacrifices and endure unprecedented hardships, and we have, also, been asked to rally around the disease-prevention effort. For reasons that are difficult to fathom, the pandemic has proven to be a divisive phenomenon rather than the unifying force created by WWII.   Some people have been told the virus is a hoax and that being told to wear masks and taking other precautions is an infringement of their rights as Americans.

During this pandemic, everyone of us faces a direct risk of infection, everywhere we go, and from everyone with whom we come into contact. The virus is an invisible enemy. Lack of awareness or heads in the sand do nothing to mitigate that risk and can only elevate it.

Millions of Americans refuse to rally around the flag and accept the minimal responsibilities asked of them. Wearing masks, social distancing, and sheltering in place, are simple—if not easy—things for us to do that have been proven to protect ourselves and others. By doing one’s duty, people who wear masks, keep their distance, and stay home are saving lives and flattening the curve.

Possibly, our elected leaders, would have gotten a better response had they chosen to ask people to step up rather than demand compliance.  It would be nice to think, whatever their politics, the American people care enough about their nation and their fellow citizens to do the right thing and serve the common good. Why people are willing to politicize such things is unfathomable.

The one thing that seems to stand out, during these trying times, is that large numbers of Americans have lost faith in their government.  Many seem not to understand that, while imperfect, both the Constitution of the United States and the government it established, exist to serve and protect the people.

We are now a society of 330 million people, one of the most diverse populations on the planet. Somehow, our government must be able to meet the needs of everyone, not just a lucky few.  This is no easy thing and the less unified we are the more difficult it becomes.

Look at the world and think about how many nations exist where citizens endure great suffering and injustice.  The only thing that will prevent the U.S.A. from devolving into such a place is our commitment to our principles and to one another. Determining our mutual best-interests is what free elections are all about.  The challenge is that the more diverse we become the more difficult the job of government becomes and the more tolerant Americans must be.   

Does this pandemic rise to the stature of World War II? Judge for yourself.

Here are some facts to compare the impact on life in America as a result of WWII and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Pandemic is like World War II in the sense that there was no place one could go to get away from the consequences of all that was taking place around them. Consider:

  • The pandemic has been with us for about 10 months. For Americans, the duration of World War II was about 3.7 years, or 44 months.
  • In its 10 months, 16.1 million Americans have contracted the virus out of a total population of 330 million; and, it is far from over. This represents 4.9 percent of the US population. The total number of casualties from WWII was 1,070,000, which represents less than one percent of the population in the 1940s.
  • The number of deaths in WWII, numbered approximately 400,000, or 0.3 percent of the population of 131 million people. So far more than 316,000 or 0.9 percent of the population have died from the Covid-19 Pandemic and more die every day.
  • Like the hundreds of thousands of service men and women in WW II, hundreds of thousands of front-line healthcare workers, first responders, and essential workers are called upon to go to war for us, putting their lives on the line every day.  
  • During the 44 months of World War II the average number of casualties per day was 811, which included 303 fatalities.
  • During the ten months of the pandemic, so far, the average number of new infections per day is approximately 53,000, and there have been an average of 1040 deaths per day.

There are probably conspiracy theorists who believe World War II was a hoax, but there are historical records from innumerable sources to verify both the data and the reality of the war.

For the Americans who believe the Pandemic is a hoax, these infections and deaths are happening in real time. If you do not already know someone who contracted Covid-19, or died, it is likely you will soon.  If you want proof, you could visit a hospital near you and count the number of patients arriving at the hospital and the number of coffins that are carried out.

If the hospital staff did not care about your safety, you would be able to visit their intensive-care units where you could see the suffering of patients, first-hand, as well as the number healthcare workers fighting through exhaustion to save as many lives as they can.

One can only wonder what has happened in the seventy-five years since the end of World War II, that has altered the character of a nation and its people.

We must contemplate what we can do to restore the shared commitment to democracy that was once so assured and vibrant. The one thing of which we can be certain is that turning back the clock is never the answer. Time only marches forward and we either adapt or fall behind. Neither can we choose to exclude segments of the population from the rights and privileges of citizenship. History teaches us such  exclusions do not turn out well.

How do we get from here to where we need to be? We cannot legislate changes in the hearts of human beings. What we can and must do is focus on education. It is a recipe for disaster to have millions of people whose knowledge of the world, its history, its science, and their government is so limited they depend on others to tell them what to believe and what is true.