Student-Centered The paradigm for teaching and learning is slowly shifting from teacher-centered to student-centered. The old paradigm invented in the industrial revolution included teacher directed learning activities such as lecturing, discussion and testing. Of course, to all of us who … Continued
Harnessing the Best Practices in Education
Robert A. Southworth, Jr., Ed.D.
I grew up keeping the stats of my favorite basketball team, the 1969 New York Knicks. Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Dave DeBuschere, Bill Bradley and Dick Barnett had a “best practice” strategy for winning—score more points by passing the ball to the open man (Debusschere, 1970). Fast forward to Coach Scott Davenport, whose well-worn copy of Dave Debusshere’s book, “The Open Man,” is always with him as he yells at his players to pass the ball. Davenport’s Bellarmine Knights—a college basketball team that scores 52.9% of the time—shot better than the Miami Heat and all other professional basketball teams last year.
“The mentality of everyone on the floor is, I may have a good shot, but there’s always a chance to get a better one for someone else,” the junior forward George Suggs said. Bellarmine shoots well because the players take high-percentage shots (Cacciola, 2015).
Hi, my name is Rob Southworth and I am passionate about good teaching and learning. When I was teaching the basic course on School Improvement at Teachers College Columbia University I told my students of the “best practices” to come out of education in America: They included the project method, grouping students, hands-on learning, achieving standards, student-centered learning, problem-solving, performance assessment, accountability, experiential learning, collaborative teaching, multiple intelligences, flipped classrooms and arts-integration. And like the best coaches in basketball today, I want our students to benefit from these best educational practices.
The education reform I envision is based on more accurate assessment of student learning. We have to look at the evidence for student failure under previous reforms, including the current standards/accountability reforms that ask for ever more intense standardized testing. The reforms of the last twenty years depend on the use of standardized testing to hold states, schools, teachers and children accountable. On the surface of this reform, standardized testing sounds like the most efficient way to measure student learning and hold the system accountable for its effectiveness. But instead of accountability, it has produced failure. More students are failing. More teachers feel like failures. More schools are failing larger numbers of students.