Sometimes the answer is right in front of us!

Sometimes the answer to our most important questions can be found right in front of us. Often, we are so distracted by what we are asked to do and why, the simple truth is obscured. This is particularly true with respect to the American education process and the way we interpret and respond to the results of the high-stakes testing to which both students and teachers are subjected.

Let us apply some simple logic and utilize it to ask the question:

“What do the data from standardized tests tell us?”

As a point of clarification, let us confirm we are referring to data from the high-stakes testing we administer to our students, each Spring. Further, let us utilize one of our least favorite yet one of the most common forms of assessment, the multiple-choice question. Let us phrase the question:

Select the answer that best describes what we learn, each year, from the standardized tests administered in the schools of our state?

a) Some schools are failures and should be closed or replaced by charter schools and other alternatives;

b) Many classroom teachers are incompetent and overpaid and should be replaced by technology or by paraprofessionals;

c) Many students in the U.S. are incapable of learning, particularly poor and minority students;

d) The education process, with which teachers are expected to do their important work, is ineffective in meeting the needs of a diverse population of American students?

Understand, our answer to this question drives education policy decisions at the local, state, and federal level.

If we choose answers “a”, “b”, or “c”, policy makers will continue to pursue a combination of the policies of the past and their preferred education reform initiatives, the most popular of which is  “school choice.”

If we choose, “d”, something different must happen. We will need to step back and challenge our assumptions about what we do and why.

What we will discover, despite the best efforts of our teachers, is the existing education process is neither organized, structured, tasked, nor resourced to give students the quality relationships they need to be successful; the amount of time they need to learn each lesson so they can apply that knowledge to future lessons and other real-life situations; and, the opportunity to experience and celebrate their success. Every student must learn success is a process that must be mastered, just like any other skill set.

The reader is invited to examine an education model that has been reimagined to make these essential functions the focus of everything teachers do for their students. What most people will be surprised to discover is the relative ease with which such changes can be incorporated. Please review The Hawkins Model© at my website, melhawkinsandassociates.com.

A message to my friends on Twitter and LinkedIn and followers of my blog, “Education, Hope and the American Dream,” about a non Covid health issue I’ve been dealing with.

It is my hope that a few of you, at least, have wondered why I have been so silent for so long, with both Tweets and blog posts. There have been no blog posts at all from late July to late October and only a few from the first of April, a couple of which were recycled.

I want to share a little about the “non-Covid-related” health condition I experienced that began early in 2020 and is only beginning to resolve. Because it is a health condition I had never heard of, and one that many people in my age range may be at risk for, I want to tell you about it.

The condition or syndrome is Tardive Dyskinesia, “TD” for short. It is caused by long-term use of medications, individually or in combination, for psychiatric, neurological, and gastrointestinal ailments. For some time, I had been taking medication for ailments in two of those three conditions.

My symptoms included cognitive problems such as memory loss, inability to focus, mood fluctuations balance, as well as some repeating involuntary movements. These symptoms came on so gradually the condition was not diagnosed for nine or ten months. I can tell you it was a frightening time for me and my family. We were fearful it was the onset of some form of dementia. It was diagnosed this past December and, after changing some of my medications, symptoms have begun to abate. A couple of the symptoms persist and I have been advised it may take a few months or more before I feel fully normal, again.

To give you a couple of examples, my short-term memory was awful and not just pulling an occasional word out of my memory banks, something that many people of my age group are prone to experience. So, so often, I would struggle to come up with a word and once I was able to recall it, I might be  unable to spell it.

Writing became problematic as I would sit down to type a sentence and forget what I wanted to say before I finished typing it. Often, when I was able to produce a paragraph or more, I would later discover that what I had written made no sense at all. Often, I would find words missing that were necessary for  a sentence. Occasionally what I had written would be non-sensical.

In addition, at its worst point, I would lose my balance for no obvious reason, was unable to perform simple manual tasks such as deal from a deck of playing cards or peel potatoes, and would experience repeating involuntary movements.

Most all of us know how horrible dementia can be for a family and being faced with the prospect this could be my future was frightening.

So. any of you in your late sixties, or beyond (I am 75), who take medications individually or in combinations for any psychiatric (e.g. depression), neurological, or even gastrointestinal conditions (GERD), be alert to the development of the kind of symptoms I have described and talk to your physician, immediately, if any should surface.

Some of you are aware of the book I have been writing to introduce my education model. I had hoped to complete it last Spring. Needless to say, little progress has been made in almost a year.  I am beginning to get back to work on the book, slowly, and I want to devote most of my available writing time to that purpose. Since I also want to maintain a presence on Twitter, and other social media, I will be recycling a few articles from my blog as far back as 2013; a few on topics that remain cogent.

I hope you have fared well in the Pandemic and wish all of you the best.

Mel Hawkins @melhawk46

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.

For as long as any of us can remember

For as long as I can remember we have talked about reforming, changing, re-inventing and re-imagining education and yet the outcomes our schools produce, today, are not much different than they were last year, 10 years ago, or even 20 or more years ago.

We have implemented countless ideas and innovations; we have initiated long lists of new  programs; and, we have introduced a profusion of digital technologies, teaching methodologies, and learning materials. Each of these  efforts have had an impact on some children; but rarely beyond a local level and, rarer still, has the impact penetrated the boundaries of our segregated neighborhoods and communities. The problem is neither a lack of ideas nor a prevalence of bad intentions; and, neither is it a lack of good teachers. The problem is our intransigence.

What we have never done is examine the logic behind everything we do, systemically. Notwithstanding a few experiments, we have never changed the way we structure the education process and the way we guide students along the path dictated by academic standards, from Kindergarten to twelfth grade. We have never overhauled a scoring system that is misdirected and misguided. It is as if we do not know that how we keep score drives how we play the game?

We have gone overboard with standardized testing that measures student achievement and retention as inadequately as it measures teacher effectiveness.  The one thing high-stakes, standardized testing has achieved is to distract us from our essential purpose and immerse us in the blame game.  

When will we acknowledge a body of compelling evidence, gathered over the decades, suggesting what we have been asking our teachers to do has not worked for tens of millions of American students?  We waste millions of dollars on testing, along with the precious time of our teachers and students, because we think it will hold teachers accountable, never stopping to consider the people who should be held accountable are the politicians, policy makers, and our education leaders. These are the people responsible for determining what we teach and how.

Think about this for a moment.   

Which is  more likely, that  our nation’s finest colleges and universities, and the millions of teachers they educate, are ineffectual or, that the education process is flawed?

Children whom we consider to be our nation’s most precious assets, and the very people on whom the future of our society  will depend, are languishing. When will we learn disappointing outcomes cannot be explained by superficial analyses and shallow thinking?  The longer we put off facing the truth, the greater the harm to millions of young lives.

It seems to be the perception that those millions of young lives include mostly blacks and other minorities, but white students are well-represented in the population of American students who are victimized by our obsolete education process. 

Let us be clear about this. The obsolescence of the American education process is doing harm to a far broader population of children than we have imagined. The damage to these children is pervasive as is the damage it does to our society. Nothing will alter this reality until we rethink all we ask teachers to do to prepare kids for a meaningful future.

There are many success stories of young men and women of color who go on to non-stereotypical careers, but they remain the exceptions.  We have been talking about and protesting inequality in education since the 1950s and the only thing we have accomplished with certainty is breaking down the barriers to entry to public schools.

Despite our efforts, over a span of decades, we keep the schoolhouse to jailhouse express filled beyond capacity.  We have over-filled poor urban and rural communities with streams of young men and women who completed twelve to thirteen years of schooling that fails to give them choices. With but a few exceptions, these young people continue to live and raise their families in segregated pockets of poverty. As mothers and fathers, they send their own children off to school with little hope the cycle of poverty, powerlessness, and hopelessness will be broken.

We know this is the reality for black kids, but how can we not know of the impact on millions of white students. If we look at the first two decades of this 21st Century, we see evidence of large numbers of Americans from all demographic groups, who are insufficiently literate and numerate to:

  • Participate in their own governance and be motivated to exercise their right to vote;
  • Understand the science behind the challenges we face in our natural world;
  • Shed the satchel full of prejudices with which so many Americans have been raised; and,
  • Understand how their own decisions and actions contribute to the very problems about which they complain so loudly.  

We have become adept at blaming everyone but ourselves for our problems and we shirk responsibility. We, all of us, are the problem.

Is it not time to stop blaming our teachers for problems over which they have little or no control? Is it not time to radically alter the way we teach our nation’s children to provide true equality for all Americans? It is not all that difficult if only we would step away from our classrooms and look at the whole picture.

Follow this link and let me show you one way this can be accomplished

https://bit.ly/2ZqGWxR

A question for teachers and, also, an opportunity

Notwithstanding the innovations, methodologies, resources, technologies, or other initiatives you have endured over the last 5, 10, or 20 years, has anything of significance really changed in your classrooms with respect to student achievement?

If you teach in what we refer to as one of our nation’s “under-performing” schools, do your students continue to struggle no matter how much of yourself you give or how diligently you strive. There is no reason to think this will change, anytime soon.

It is not your fault and do not believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

Do not give up on your students, your school, or public education. Your students, your schools and your communities need you more than ever. Whatever happens, do not give up on yourselves.

When you return to school things will be different but you will still be unable to give every student the time and attention they need; you will still be asked to try new approaches and methodologies and train for new software applications that will be frustrating, will complicate your professional lives, while engendering few  meaningful outcomes.

You must, still, brace yourselves for another round of standardized tests on which the same students will do just as poorly as they did the years before, and you will still be blamed for their disappointing outcomes.

You will still be denied the pay raises and the respect you know you deserve and this demoralizing pattern will repeat itself year after year, leaving you to fantasize about what it will be like when you can retire.

Think about your return to school. Has there ever been a more opportune time to do something new and different? Not a little different but “life-changing” different?

Whether it is teachers who will drive the changes that are coming or will be driven by them, remains to be see. Have no doubt, however, significant changes are coming whether we like it or not.

The danger for public school educators is that you will squander this opportunity by devoting your time, resources, and energy to get back to what we have always done. If this is the choice you make, you can be sure someone else will seize the opportunity and teachers will be fortunate to be taken along for the ride.

Teachers need to answer a question, for themselves, if for no one else. Do you want to return to the same classrooms and with the same constraints and limitations? Or, do you want something better?

We have all witnessed new ideas, products, or services that have captured the imagination of the American consumer. This is how markets are transformed, by the relentless advocacy of people who are excited by an idea and are determined to share it.

With respect to education, there is an idea afloat that is said to have the potential to transform education in America. Understand, if we transform education, we will transform America because people are who they were educated to be.

This new idea is an education model that exists to serve its teachers and students rather than one in which educators and their students exist to serve the model. It is an education model that is waiting for the relentless advocacy of teachers who want to believe there must be a better way to educate our children.

Why not take an hour or less of your time to examine this new way to educate our children; a new education model designed to support you and your students in doing the things your students need from you and that you need for your soul and sanity. You have little to lose and almost everything to gain.

The Hawkins Model©

The Purpose of Education reimagined!

In a recent Tweet, @DavidGeurin wrote:

“The purpose of education isn’t mastering standards, getting good grades, or earning diplomas. The Purpose of education is better human stories. It’s about helping people be wiser and better able to care for self and others.”

So true! Our colleague’s thought is consistent with purpose of the education model I have designed. What we teach our children, whatever the subject matter, must not be about grades or standards or diplomas. It is about helping our students  become the best versions of themselves. We want our students  to be able to use what they have learned to make a life for themselves among the people and in the world around them. The subject matter must be a means to an end they will choose for themselves rather than an end we have chosen for them.

We must strive to teach the whole child. We want them to learn how to think critically and creatively. We want them to learn how to get along with the people in their lives however far they spread their wings. We want them to learn how to become good citizens who can participate in their own governance. We want them to understand the cogent issues of their time so they may think and act on the basis reason and wisdom rather than fears and prejudices. We want them to be able to create new and better solutions to the problems the next half century will unveil. We want them to learn that freedom must be balanced by responsibility; and, that we are all interdependent. 

People want to blame our teachers for society’s problems, but unfairly so. Teachers are dedicated men and women who have only done what they were trained and instructed  to do with the resources provided for them. Teachers are constrained by an education process that has evolved gradually over the decades while the world in which our children must live has undergone exponential change.

Is there any reason to think that things will get better if we continue to do and teach what and how we have in the past? We are a society faced with unprecedent challenges and we will not rise to them without a quality education, equitably distributed. What we have done to date has gotten us to this unique point in history. Where we go from here depends on education reimagined, which my model does.  

Go ahead, check it out! Read with hope that it might truly be something new and better that will assure a quality education for all our children and a more fulfilling career for teachers.:

The Hawkins Model©

An Open Letter To: Van Jones re: his 3-Step Pathway

I was fortunate to hear your interview with Brooke Baldwin on CNN, earlier today (6/3), and was encouraged by your suggestion that a there is a 3-step pathway to a better future in the aftermath of the George Floyd tragedy.

The reader can find a link to this interview at the end of the post.  

Yes, we must stop the bleeding and we must help those who suffered injury and, of course, we must have justice. It is vital that we  restore some level of trust in our public safety and criminal justice systems,  in the minds of black citizens and other minorities. These three steps are essential to moving us closer to a world approaching true equality for all, but they will not take us as far as we need to go.

Please consider adding a fourth step on your pathway:  “reimagining education in America.”

Equal opportunity has been the law of the land since 1964, but it is not the reality in which most blacks and other minorities have lived for the intervening 56 years. The reason is that our education system has not provided a quality education, equally distributed to all children. The education process at work in our schools  has grown obsolete. The process impedes the vital work of our teachers and their students. This education process  is perfectly structured to produce the unacceptable outcomes we have seen for generations.

Americans must understand there will be no equality of opportunity and justice until there is equality in education. It is a quality education that gives young men and women meaningful choices about what do in life to provide for themselves and their families and empowers them to participate in their own governance.

Unless we act to reimagine education in America, the next fifty years will be little better for black men and women and other people of color than the last fifty years.

As tragic as they have been, the time-out provided by the Covid-19 pandemic and the momentum the tragic death of George Floyd has generated, together, have opened an unprecedented window of opportunity. Now is the perfect time for people of principle to unite and follow the, now, “four-step pathway” to a new reality.

To facilitate the fourth step, I offer an education model designed to transform education in America by helping every child learn as much as they are able, at their own best speed. I invite you to examine this model at: https://melhawkinsandassociates.com/education-model-white-paper/

Sincerely,

Mel Hawkins, MSEd, MPA

Link to Van Jones interview with Brooke Baldwin on CNN https://www.mediaite.com/tv/cnns-van-jones-calls-police-brutality-an-atomic-bomb-were-one-videotape-away-from-five-or-10-american-cities-on-fire/

How do we extricate ourselves from the mess in which we find ourselves?

I want to share a message my daughter posted on Facebook because she said it better than I could ever hope to. Her message reminds us there are no simple answers to what is happening in our society and that nothing will change until each of us is ready to change:

“Please don’t let your outrage at the fires and looting distract from the reasons why it is happening. Our country is deeply damaged. Anger has festered for decades and it is time for a change. This type of anger is not always expressed quietly and calmly. It is ugly and uncontrolled. As ugly as the racism that has led to it. We must rebuild a better America. An America that is not great AGAIN but great for everyone going forward. White people must realize that people of color are not to be feared – WE are. We have caused this and contributed to it and we must be a part of the change. Do what you can. Donate, volunteer, demonstrate. Speak out when you see something wrong. Find your own way to help. But most importantly, learn empathy and examine yourself. We can all do better.”

                                              -Jeanne Hawkins Beaupre, Facebook, May 31, 2020

We must work to change the fundamental character of America and this can only begin with our system of education, whether public schools, parochial, or private. There is no other way.

Every child must be given the absolute best education we can provide, and this will not happen until we are willing to change how we teach them. We must not allow a single child to fail and we must never forget they can only fail when we choose to allow it. 

We have the power to ensure the academic success of every one of our nation’s children.  

We cannot accomplish this by teaching the same things we have always taught in the same way we have always taught them. We must change the very nature of our education process. While this may seem like an almost impossible task, you will discover it to be easier than most of you can imagine.

We must help every child learn as much as they are able at their own best pace. We must help children establish a foundation of knowledge and skills from which each can begin to create a positive future for him or herself. We must help every boy and girl choose whatever direction suits their interests and abilities.  The education we provide must give them a wide menu of choices of what to do with their lives in order to find joy and meaning; must prepare them to provide for themselves and their families; and, it must enable them to participate in their own governance.  

If you would like to learn how this can be accomplished, please check out The Hawkins Model© at my website at www.melhawkinsandassociates.com

As you read the model, strive to imagine what it would be like to teach and learn in such an environment, not in search of reasons why it will not or cannot work.

If you like what you read, please help me find a superintendent willing to test the model in one of his or her struggling elementary schools.

What do we have to lose? If we continue to do what we have always done, we will continue to get the same disappointing outcomes  we have been getting for as long as any of us can remember.

Teachers: have you considered creating do-over opportunities?

So many teachers are expressing frustration with their limitations in this interlude of distance learning. Possibly the most important thing principals can do for their teachers and students is to stress the fact that this is not business as usual. When it is not business as usual,  we cannot have the usual expectations for our students and teachers.

Expect them to strive to tackle less, but to do it better. Sometimes less truly is best.

Essentially, this pandemic experience has placed us in “time-out” mode. In sports, which sometimes does provide lessons for academic instruction, a “time out” is when we strive to fix what is not working; remind our players to focus on doing their jobs: or, maybe draw up a new play. What is unique about “time outs” is that the clock is stopped, and in this instance, think of it as an extended time out.

Teachers: consider how many occasions there were when you and/or your students  were unable to learn or accomplish something because of insufficient time. Figuratively speaking, we now find ourselves in a  situation where we have a virtually unlimited, if unknown, amount of time.

Maybe educators should view this unique time as an opportunity to do somethings differently or, better yet, do something over.

We are far enough into the semester  that most students have had lessons with which they struggled. Why not give your students an opportunity to have a “do-over” with a lesson on which they struggled or where they never really got the point of the lesson or acquire a skill that was being taught.

Possibly teachers could go back to their gradebooks and identify a few of the lessons on which individual students received their lowest grades. Or, give them this opportunity to go back and review the lessons with which they would have loved to have had more time. Give them an opportunity to convert a grade of C, D, or F to an A or B grade.

Challenge them to go back and review the lesson, re-do the practice assignments, make certain they are given enough time to discuss the mistakes they make or the things they do not understand, and then re-take a quiz or test. Let them then earn the credits, grades, or points they would have liked to have earned the first time around.

Then, when their work is done and you are satisfied that they made the kind of effort you were hoping for, make it a big deal—a celebration event—to go back and change that C or D grade to an A or B.

If there is still time, let them select another lesson.

For students who did well on all their lessons, let them pick one on which they would have liked to have had more time. Let them dig deeper and report back on what they learned or discovered,

There must be worse ways to use the time we have been given by this extraordinary event.

As Simple as 1-2-3-4-5-6

Let us make the solution to the challenges facing public education in America as simple as possible.

Providing a quality education to every child who arrives at our door is as simple as 1-2-3-4-5-6.

  1. Children need to feel special and experience what it is like to have one or more favorite teachers on whom they can depend for the long term;
  2. Students must start at whatever point on the academic preparedness continuum where we find them when they arrive at our door;
  3. Boys and girls must be able to depend on us to give them however much time and attention they need to learn from the mistakes they make, every step along the way;
  4. Kids must understand they are being asked to both learn and employ the lessons, principles, and discipline with which each of them can create success for themselves, throughout their whole lives; it is a process of success;
  5. Our children must be taught to celebrate their successes and the successes of the people in their lives, always; as success is an experience best shared; and,
  6. Educators must learn that it is the success of our students, not the promises we make, that will draw parents and guardians in as partners.

We must understand there is no one, perfect solution to the challenges of public education. Technology is but one example. Digital technology is  not the solution to the problems in education rather it is a tool, the value of which is measured by its utility to teachers and students.

We must reimagine how to ensure that everything teachers and schools are asked to do will support our mission.  The mission is to send every young adult out into the world with the knowledge, skills, and wisdom they need to find joy for themselves and their families; in pursuit of whatever meaningful goals they set for themselves.

To carry out this mission superintendents, administrators, teachers and policy makers must be willing to break from the traditions of the past. The Hawkins Model© is one example of how that might be done.

The logic behind these six objectives might be simple, but the work they will require of educators will be hard. These goals require that we embrace the notion that education is an uncertain science. It requires that we all work, relentlessly, to develop our craft.

What does a craftsperson do? They must apply all their knowledge, skills, and collective wisdom to discern the unique needs of individual children and then utilize an eclectic portfolio of tools and methodologies to instill success in the hearts and minds of those children. Not everything they do will work so they must keep striving until they find something that does. They must never stop learning and they must never give up. Teachers must never permit their students to give up and stop learning.

Our teachers must be free and willing to give fully of themselves, without fear of recrimination. Creating a quality education for all will require a level of effort, dedication, courage, and camaraderie comparable to that which our medical professionals, first-responders, and so many other men and women are demonstrating in response to Covid-19.

These men and women are heroes and the work they do saves lives and a nation. Teachers are also heroes and the work they do will save lives and, also a nation.