With his article “Redefining Teachers with a 21st Century Education ‘Story’,” Thom Markham shows himself to be a devout critic of the current school system, and the school systems for over a century for that matter. Essentially, Markham feels schools need to inspire students to be “motivated, committed,” and participate in ways that are “rewarding” as a way to develop “innovation” and “creativity” (Markham, 2015). An issue arises from the fact that according to Markham, this is not the case in modern schools. As he states “top performing organizations” achieve all this through “a rich blend of cultural, work, and engagement” to create a “mission and purpose;” which is exactly what he advocates schools and teachers promote (Markham, 2015). The article does not make light of the role of the teacher; on the contrary it acknowledges the difficulty and even uncertainty of the job, but also notes the need of teachers to tackle the challenge to improve individuals and society.
The usual terms thrown out such as “higher standards…teacher evaluation, merit pay, and testing requirements” are acknowledged by Markham as useful, yet he does not find them to “inspire” students either (2015). Instead of following along with the traditional calls to reform, he has argued that teachers need to make some particular adjustments. Markham promotes an idea in which teachers reinvent the story of teaching, where they embrace their opportunity to shape the future; connect and collaborate with other educators, particularly through social media networks to help global communities; and stop viewing college degrees and test results as the indicator of intelligence, but start to emphasize “grit, resilience, empathy, curiosity, openness, creativity, and evaluative thinking” as well (Markham, 2015). Essentially, it is the educators’ responsibility to mold motivation and creativity through their personal enthusiasm, to share their experiences and discoveries of what works, and move toward local and global improvement in education and society in general.
Personally, I believe Markham is correct in his evaluation of education being counterproductive towards inspiring students. There are indeed some real issues with promoting high stakes testing, and in the idea that you simply need to work towards a degree, rather than discovering and developing a love in learning. Students almost learn to maneuver their way through education, rather than become inspired life-long learners. Having said that, despite him providing some good remedies, such as becoming collaborative and connected teachers, I feel Markham is a little too vague in his ideas for change. Additionally, I believe some of his ideas are a little idealized. For instance, sure teacher enthusiasm in their work can be beneficial, but I’m not sure if that is going to change the system; there almost needs to be some new freedom, or policy that allows teachers to experiment with little threat of job security, at least for a set time period. This way we will really see teachers try to improve education, without major barriers.
Markham, T. (2015, February 11). Redefining Teachers with a 21st Century Education ‘Story’. MindShift. Retrieved from http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/02/11/redefining-teachers-with-a-21st-century-education-story/
In Thomas Friedman’s “How to Get a Job at Google, Part 2,” he continues his interview with Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president of operations. In the interview Bock continues on with what he feels is wrong with the established norms of education, particularly in college. In the end, Bock claims that though that “college education” and degrees are not “worthless,” they are not as relevant in the past; places such as google care less about “what you know or where you learned it,” because once most that can be googled (Friedman, 2014). To add to his point he details a story that had been brought up in 2011 by The Wall Street Journal. In their article they detailed a female college student who transitioned from a degree in “electrical and computer engineering” to one in “psychology” for the purpose of receiving good grades more easily, disregarding pay gaps (Friedman, 2014). This was something the Bock had strong conviction against. Bock feels you should stick with what will pay off in the end, “even if it meant lower grades” currently (Friedman, 2014).
The question becomes if other fields that have traditionally been popular are now irrelevant. According to Bock this is not so. Bock himself acknowledges the importance of “liberal arts” especially when combined “with other disciplines,” which can provide great “backgrounds” to develop useful skills (Friedman, 2014). This is the primary concern of Bock; what can build effective skills that you can use in the real world. He looks for creativity, and Google looks for “cognitive ability — the ability the learn things and solve problems,” for they find it “invaluable” to “understand and apply information” (Friedman, 2014). That is what matters in the end. Really Bock does not want people to have the mindset that they absolutely need to go down the college route just because it is expected, but that they instead should really think out what they need to do, and if college is the most reasonable route to achieve what they desire (Friedman, 2014).
I will say as I did in my last blog on part 1 of this topic, I agree with this philosophy to a great extent, yet have to emphasize how important college can be if you decide to go down that route. Ultimately, however, as Bock argues, it should be a thought out process in which other options are weighed as well. Plus, I would like to add the importance of picking a career that you really enjoy. On the topic of if I myself preparing to get my students jobs at Google; I would have to state that I have made some strides to get my students collaborative, build some cognition, claim ownership of their thoughts, and build some expertise, but as a new teacher I have a bit of a way to go. My last blog post acknowledged cognitive, leadership, ownership, expertise, and humility skills, and though I have address some of these to a degree I could currently make strides towards a more student-centered format that would more effectively hit these, and thus Google’s benchmarks. Am I currently preparing my students to work at Google? Not quite yet, but I am working towards moving further in the direction that would prepare them, and once I get some more autonomy over my own class, I will push for these shifts.
Friedman, T. L. (2014, April 19). How to Get a Job at Google, Part 2. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/20/opinion/sunday/friedman-how-to-get-a-job-at-google-part-2.html
Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times wrote an article entitled “How to Get a Job at Google” in which breaks down what Google looks for in future employees according to their senior vice president of operations, Laszlo Bock. The overall message to take form this piece is that education in the traditional sense, of get good grades and go to college to become an expert of the field of “X” is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Essentially, what google does find to be important is that people are intelligent, diligent, cooperative and collaborative, and inquisitive. As Bock states himself, “There are five hiring attributes we have across the company,” which includes, “cognitive ability;” “leadership” skills, whether taking a lead or getting someone else to step in; “humility,” to be willing for others’ perspectives and not feel invincible; “ownership” of what you did correct and wrong; and lastly “expertise,” which Bock feels can be matched with hard work and patience (2014). Basically, real life skills rather than established prior accomplishments are what Google is looking for.
I have to say, despite fitting the traditional model of doing well in school, going to college and getting a degree, I have to agree with Bock’s view of Google’s hiring process. I do, however, not want to completely invalidate this conventional model, for I see a lot crossing sections between the two paths. Not that it is always the case, but I feel that a lot of people who go down the college, and expertise route often do have to develop these skills that Google is acquiring about. For instance, many of these same people indeed do have high cognitive, leadership, ownership, expertise, and even humility skills. Suffice to say, the two sides are not mutually exclusive. The part that I really like that Bock highlights, however, is that expertise “traditional metrics” are not the be-all end-all (Friedman, 2014). As Bock claims “Your degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job,” you can just as well be an inquisitive and diligent worker who comes up with the “same” results, even if it takes a few more attempts (Friedman, 2014). Sure degrees can be important and a good measure of how much effort put into something, but it does not guarantee it, or mean that someone who has not accomplished this is any less qualified.
Friedman, T. L. (2014, February 22). How to Get a Job at Google. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/opinion/sunday/friedman-how-to-get-a-job-at-google.html?_r=0
In Grant Wiggins’s blog “A veteran teacher turned coach shadows 2 students for 2 days – a sobering lesson learned,” he discusses the struggles of being a student in classrooms, and how his discovery would change how he taught in the past had he known. Within the blog is Wiggins’s experience “shadowing” a “10th grade” and a “12th grade” class, where he followed all the same expectations as the students (2014). The overall lesson that he takes from his experience doing this, is that the traditional, teacher-centered classroom, form of schooling is a very difficult process to go through, and requires a lot of focus and patience. Wiggins talks of three main “takeaways” such as that “Students sit all day, and sitting is exhausting,” that in high school they sit “passively and listening during approximately 90% of their classes” and that after a full day, teacher sort of come off as a “nuisance” (2014). Essentially, students are constantly sitting, making it hard to focus, yet they are expected to listen with very little interaction and freedom of choice in their learning; all the while teachers constantly via to keep them in this process with negative attitudes if they depart from it.
In response to what he sees as a flawed system, Wiggins makes suggestions of how to improve these takeaways. For instance, he suggests things such as “mandatory stretch” breaks, “hands-on” activities, small “mini-lessons” with group work, students’ choice on “Essential Questions,” stand by a “no-sarcasm” approach, and alter his testing, to be more broken up (Wiggins, 2014). After reading his blog I realized that I could stand to learn a bit from it. For one, I could definitely try and find a way to break up the class a little more often to allow students some breathing time, and I could try and find ways to provide them more autonomy. I am not too far removed from being a student myself, thus when reading this I envisioned myself in some of these scenarios and it brought back some negative memories. There is validity to Wiggins claims, and his piece just further validates to me that it is imperative that we as educators start to shift to a more student-centered dynamic.
Wiggins, Grant. (2014, October 10). A veteran teacher turned coach shadows 2 students for 2 days – a sobering lesson learned [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/a-veteran-teacher-turned-coach-shadows-2-students-for-2-days-a-sobering-lesson-learned/
My name is Michael Zora. I graduated from Cal State San Marcos with a degree in History with Single Subject Preparation in Social Science. I am now working on obtaining my teacher credential, also from Cal State San Marcos