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Re:[teacherartexchange] learning focused schools


From: Jerry Vilenski (jvilenski_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Aug 23 2009 - 05:19:31 PDT

It appears that Learning Focused is another in a string of expensive programs aimed at promoting its concept of best teaching practices and applying it to everyday classrooms. It seems that the more education is under pressure to perform better, the more education think tanks promote essentially more of the same. It is an thriving cottage industry that has seen tremendous growth in the last couple of decades. I view such movements as an attempt to re-organize what we already inherently know how to do, slightly change the nomenclature, and sell it to desperate school systems that like to appear progressive. It really has little to do with the realities that art teachers, in particular, face daily. Learning Focused seems geared, like many of these programs, on improving literacy through increased writing and analysis. "It is as much the responsibility of performance-based educators as the regular education teacher to ensure that students can read,
 write, perform computations, use comprehension strategies to understand, and most importantly think." This is a broad statement that no one really disagrees with, but has limited practical application in an art room, and seems to imply that art teachers should act as surrogate reading and writing instructors as well.

Many of these movements, in my opinion, are geared for the academic classroom, and as such, they may have some limited value. But if even academic classroom teachers simply focused on their own successful practices and re-evaluate their deficiencies, they would reach the same conclusions and adjust accordingly without going to endless workshops. Educational think tanks tend to ignore what art teachers have known for years--that teaching is as much an art as it is a science, and adhering to a rigid uniform approach is counterproductive to the creative process.

Having been an art teacher for 34 years taught me a few things about the educational system, namely, that many of these outside organizations make a lot of money selling concepts to desperate districts, and they really don't transform much in the final analysis. It also taught me that there are some really, really good teachers out there, who don't need another workshop to fill their time, they just need a decent budget and some kids who come to school ready and eager to learn.



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