Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday's Keynote Speaker

Dr. Patricia Mannix-McNamara
Co-director of the Research Centre for
Education and Professional Practice
The keynote speaker for the final day of the conference was Dr. Patricia Mannix-McNamara, Co-director of the Research Centre for Education and Professional Practice at the University of Limerick The title of her presentation was: So What is all this Education For?  She spoke about the disconnect between what teachers do in classrooms and what is going on in society. Her concern is that the push for grades and high test scores, and the deep involvement of business and industry in developing educational policies and curriculum have changed the focus of schools from being concerned about the the development of the whole child to a narrow focus on achieving high grades and test scores. Her research has been conducted in numerous places in Ireland and also in other European countries.

She feels that the incidences of corruption and dishonesty we see in industry and politics and the bullying prevalent in schools affirm that something is deeply wrong in society and that teachers are not trained, nor are they given the class time to focus on mental health needs, self esteem and values. Ireland has one of the highest teenage suicide rates of any country and Dr. Mannix-McNamara feels that schools are failing young people in the area of human development. She discussed the fact that Finnish schools, often touted as among the world’s very best, have moved away from the exam system and to a more holistic system of education. 

Among the authors and researchers referenced was Sir Ken Robinson, with whom Dr. V and I are familiar. If you have not viewed his video on schools killing creativity, you may be interested in hearing his ideas

If you would like to read more about Finland's schools, here is an article from Smithsonian:

How can classroom teachers ensure that they are not neglecting human development issues as they ensure that they are teaching as well?

What resources might help teachers in this effort?

Is this an area where elementary teachers have opportunities that secondary teachers may not?

Do teachers have a responsibility to do more than teach content?


Micah Cotton said...

Hi I am a EDM 310 students at the University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed reading your post it has a lot of good information and it was a very good topic. I had no clue that Ireland had the highest teenage suicide rate that blew my mind. I also watched the two videos they were very good. Thank you so much for this post I myself I really enjoyed it. Thank you

Keiko Ito said...

I am Keiko Ito and a student in Dr. Strange's EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I love your post and I enjoyed to read it. I got lots of surprised and impressed information. I had already watched Ken Robinson's video. I like this video because I agree with him and learning creativity is important for students. Thank you for sharing lots of information. Keep up your great work!
Keiko Ito

Susan Santoli said...

Micah, I did not know that about Irish teenagers either. It was interesting, and disturbing, to hear of such common problems throughout the world.

Keiko. Glad you got some new info!

Michael Oakwood said...

Test scores does seem to be the main focus of public education. If we keep up with the news, we can see there is a problem in crime, especially crime committed by our youth. If children are not getting the required human developmental growth at home, teachers have an obligation to fill the gap. Again, because of the pressures of pacing guides and test scores, time will be limited for secondary teachers for providing these life lessons. Elementary teachers, who for the most part have the same children for an entire day, may have more time to teach the "whole" child.

Kacey Waldrop Harbison said...

HI! I am in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 and also in Dr. Vitulli's class. I thought the fact about Ireland having the highest teen suicide rate was crazy! I had no idea. I do agree with you that teachers are not trained to deal with bullying. Especially now that cyber bulling is so prevalent in our schools. I am interested to hear what all you have learned and what ideas you have to share with our local schools.

Thanks for posting!

Kayla Nelson said...

The more I observe in schools the more I realize that teachers are slipping away from their interest in motivating students to become life-long learners, and more focused on meeting AYP and other test scores. I am also seeing more young adolescent suicides on the news that were caused by bullying at school or through social media. I think that schools need to take action quick and get a handle to develop harsher consequences for bullying whether it be verbal, or through social media applications.

Meredith Anderson said...

Hi, my name is Meredith and I am in EDM 310 with Dr. Strange. It's sad to think that the schools are growing away from creative programs. The things that I remembered the most from grade school were the things that we learned outside of the testing criteria. Students are starting to resent school because they don't enjoy the material; It's not fun. School should be a safe place for students to come and learn about things that they care about. Not a place that they hate.

Mary Helms said...

I think character education should be a component that is taught in schools- whether it is part of the formal curriculum or not. I am a nurturer by my nature and want to demonstrate to my students that I do care for them - past what their test scores tell me. We must remember that as teachers- we do strive to teach the whole child and not just focus on our content area. We may be the only source of good values, morals, etc that some children see in any given day so it is best to take time to model good behavior and good character.

Cinda Prescott said...

I would agree with Mary, that showing students that we care for them and nurture them could in turn improve thier character. The focus has shifted from the whole child to just their academics. Teachers are with their students 5 days a week, this is gives us plenty of opportunity to be a positive influence.

Jessica LaForce said...

Hi, I'm Jessica La Force and I'm a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. This post points out that we are too focused on kids getting passing grades and high test scores. I agree with this. I know when I was in middle and high school it was very simple to get information from other students without learning it myself.

Anonymous said...

Hi my name is Will Smith and I am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. Test scores are most definately the main focus in education and I feel that there is a greater need for human development in education today. What good is having knowledge if students do not know how to live amongst society and use this knowledge with other people. Great Post.

Barclay Thompson said...

Hi I am a EDM 310 students at the University of South Alabama. I share the concerns of this post. We seem to be very worried about the standardization of education. I am happy to start seeing a shift toward a more logical plan. Thank you for this post!

Anna Zhuo said...

Hi Dr. Vitulli and Dr. Santoli,

My name is Anna Zhuo and I'm a student in EDM310. I am also in your class EDU301, Dr. Vitulli! It is fantastic that you are both sharing your Ireland trip with us!
I agree with Dr. Patricia Mannix-McNamara that there is something deeply wrong in society and those teachers are not equipped, or trained, to focus on values, self-esteem, and the mentality of the students. Compared to many years ago, schools are more focused about high test scores, comparisons with other schools, and etc. It's not about the students anymore. The school and the teachers push the student to do what they feel is best for them.

I've watched Sir Ken Robinson's video many times and it's the exact concept. Schools do kill creativity more so now than ever!! I say this because I am a victim of it. I was always told I need to make high scores to get into top schools. I need to make good grades so the school stays as a top ranked school. I was told I should focus on math, science and English if I want to do well in the future. I can do all of that but I am not a robot. I got scolded and made fun of for not doing well compared to the other children. Is that how classrooms should be? No! Teachers should not play a part in that either. Teachers should not encourage that kind of behavior! That's bullying!

I think the teachers have a responsibility to do more than teach the content. A type of friendship (limited) should be formed. Students need to know that you care about them and you are there to help them if they need it. Teachers need to let them know that. They have the responsibility to motivate their students too and teach them values. Students need to be nurtured. Every relationship needs to be cared for and nurtured.

I really hope there is a change on what the school focuses on.

Thank you for the post! There are many questions we, future educators, need to ask ourselves based on this post.

Anna Zhuo

Kayla Moran said...

I am Kayla Moran and am an Education major at the University of South Alabama. Just by reading this post I learned a lot of new things about Ireland. I have to agree with Dr. Mannix-McNamara on the fact that schools are more concerned with test scores and grades these days than they are the overall upbringing of the children.

Annie Marie said...

Hi, Ms. Vitulli,

My name is Annie Turner, I am in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class and was assigned to comment on your blog this week. I am also in your ART class on Thursday night in Fairhope. I am looking forward to hearing about your trip! I really enjoy reading your blog. I wanted to answer your questions that you posted at the end of your blog post:

How can classroom teachers ensure that they are not neglecting human development issues as they ensure that they are teaching as well?

Teachers have a responsibility to make it a priority to educate their students this means in anyway possible , going the extra mile for individual and all students. If a teacher is not capable or willing to do this then they do not need to be an educator.

What resources might help teachers in this effort?
ANY resource available to them. Technology, is an asset to the modern classroom for sure. However, a good teacher will develop one heck of a PLN so that they are prepared and fully stocked on fresh ideas and different ways to teach any type of student.

Is this an area where elementary teachers have opportunities that secondary teachers may not?

Oh Absolutely, because in Secondary education your students are already set in their ways in their study habits and educational patterns, it is much easier to mold a young mind and get them excited to learn, as well as instill good study habits.

Do teachers have a responsibility to do more than teach content?
YES! If I had more teachers who went the extra mile and made sure I was learning I would have been better prepared. Rather than just being required to make a 60 to say I "passed." Test memorization that is forgotten as soon as the test is turned in, is a joke. I feel I would have been a better student then, if before arriving on college's doorstep with no clue how to truly study or learn, I had a teacher instill study habits in me.

CONTENT is important obviously, but a teacher knows through experience if other information will be beneficial to know . If a teacher will take the extra time to share those items with the class, along with the content items, students might come out a little wiser and stronger.

Kathryn Reynolds said...

Hi, I am in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class as well as Dr. Vitulli's EDU301 class. I found this post very interesting. If one really steps back and looks at how we grade our students, it seems outdated or even something that should have never been integrated in the first place. We as people all have different sets of skills and to base futures on a number you achieve while taking a written test seems ridiculous. I was excited to read that Finnish schools, which have moved to a more holistic system of education, are said to be the best in the world. It goes to show that children have to be looked at individually instead of as a group; One may be great at reading, the other at math and still another may be a wonderful artist. Perhaps one day we can integrate a more holistic system into our schools.Thank you for this great post! Enjoy Ireland!

Giorgio Lymon said...

Hi Dr. Vitulliand and Dr. Santoli
I’m Giorgio Lymon a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I certainly agree with the points in this post. I was extremely shocked to find out that Ireland has one of the highest teenage suicide rates in any country. I also believe that human development does play a big role in the way young teenagers respond to stressful situations. I viewed the two videos are they taught me great information. Thanks for all that you guy's do, Giorgio Lymon

Jessica said...

I would have loved to hear that lecture because I totally agree that teachers and schools are NOT preparing students for the future. In most situations, school has become obsolete. However, I think that teachers aren't prepared or even expected to teach human development. The schools need more counselors that are trained in that area and bring them into the classroom. The teacher and counselor can collaborate together with human development issues. I think its a great idea, but it would just cost more money and in my opinion not very likely, because the state doesn't see it as necessary. In my opinion, teachers are NOT responsible for anything other than content. If we were then we would be getting more than a teaching certification. However, because I'm interested in the social aspect of people and how children can develop for the better, I'm very interested in learning how I could help this problem as a teacher. Not everyone would have the same opinion though.

Elizabeth said...

I agree 100% with Dr. Mannix-McNamara. We are now teaching to pass standardized tests in America whereas we need to be teaching how to be better citizens. We need to be encouraging students to discover and develop their talents. Students need to understand the proper way to work in groups and work with others. Factual information is readily available these days so the focus in schools needs to change. Finland is considered the world's second happiest country in the world. I think the education system might have something to do with that!

Paige Vitulli said...

I am encouraged by the number of replies this post has generated. We were certainly inspired by the keynote speaker and her passion. It is great to read the concern many of you have for being effective and caring educators of the "whole child." Dr Santoli and I were also somewhat surprised at some of the commonalities between the US and Ireland education systems.

I can't wait to catch up with all of my EDU 301 students this week!

Anonymous said...

Its so inspiring how the keynote speaker noted what's wrong in society and how the lack of educational diversity in the classroom is causing these problems to spill into the classrooms (bad grades, bullying). I think as teachers, we should have the responsibility to teacher beyond content that is given (English, Math, and Science) and encourage creativity and by doing so improving basic lessons. I agree with Dr. Vitulli, it does seem like even though Ireland and the U.S. Are so far apart and yet share the same educational problems! I for one hope more focus on art is placed in the classroom, it really helps the student grow mentally. - Courtney Dumas EDU301

Anonymous said...

Test scores are a main focus in schools. I believe that there should be more attention towards human development within the schools. Students need to be able to take what they learn in school and use it in the world around them. And it is interesting to think that we share the same educational problems as Ireland even though we are so far away, as stated above.
Jordan Neely-EDU 301

Anonymous said...

Hi Dr. Vitulli!
I am so glad that you were able to share your Ireland trip with us. I want to go back one day and stay for a while. I agree with Dr. Mannix-McNamara. Everything seems to be centered around test scores and high grades. It doesn't make sense to push and push for just good test scores and high grades.

Marianne Lane said...

Hi Dr. Vitulli!
I am so glad that you were able to share your Ireland trip with us. I definitely want to go back and spend more than just a week there. I agree with Dr. Mannix-McNamara. We need to do more than just push and push students for high grades and high test scores. But it seems that's all the school system wants.

Raven Chamers said...

Dr.Vitulli & Dr.Santolli

I am a student in EDU 301 and I believe teachers have a responsibilty to teach more than just content. Not only do you learn about the real world at home but it starts in class as well. Teachers instructions are what you need to know and sometimes what you don't want to know.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Vitulli!
This post caught my attention, because of the suicide rates and bullying in schools. As a future educator, I will make it my business to step aside from teaching to make sure that no bullying goes on in my class! Students need to be able to talk to their teacher about anything, and no question should go unanswered! We as educators, can do things to prevent this type of action from happening. -Derkesha Dale