Education Letter to the Editor

In-Service Essay Draws Further Reader Comment

April 24, 2007 2 min read

To the Editor:

I do not think I am the only reader still waiting for a response from your editorial staff to Grant Wiggins’ reasonable requests in a March 28, 2007, letter to the editor for an explanation.

In his letter, Mr. Wiggins, an internationally respected educator who has made significant contributions to the craft of our profession, asked two very important questions regarding your publication of Kim Chase’s Commentary “Understanding by Accident” (March 14, 2007). I believe he is entitled to a public response to these questions (quoting Mr. Wiggins):

• “Why did you feel the need to dignify such a diatribe without at least checking the facts?” and

• “Did you even check with other teachers in her district?”

I have waited for your response to Mr. Wiggins through three issues and, finding none, am prompted to write.

Your response (or lack of it) to Mr. Wiggins may very well cause a number of readers such as myself to question whether Education Week should continue to be on our reading list.

Kenneth D. Kastle

Southampton, Pa.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Commentaries, by their nature, express a point of view. They are opinion pieces, not news or feature articles. When readers take exception to what an author says, they are given space in the section to express their disagreement in a letter. The section is fact-checked, but opinions and personal recollections are not part of this process.

To the Editor:

Kim Chase’s Commentary “Understanding by Accident” describes the way my students learned before I accepted the opportunity to participate, with a dozen colleagues, in a weeklong workshop with Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. That workshop changed the way we taught. I don’t remember any of us grousing about it being a waste of time. We worked very hard that week, and produced an entire instructional unit by the end of the session.

I particularly recall Mr. Wiggins’ analogy of lesson design to car design. Car-manufacturing engineers base the development of an automobile on how they expect it to perform, he said, and work backwards from that concept. Educators can learn from them.

Teachers who approach every workshop or new idea with a negative attitude cheat not only the presenter, but also their colleagues, their students, and themselves. Helping students become lifelong learners begins with us, walking the walk as well as talking the talk.

While I agree that the best professional development is embedded in the context of a regular school day, and while I used that as a primary form of guiding instruction when I was a middle school principal, circumstances occasionally merit off-site meetings.

Ms. Chase should model the joy of learning, rather than dismiss a golden opportunity. She and her students could benefit from Mr. Wiggins’ ideas.

Lynne Bleier

Assistant Principal

Rockledge High School

Rockledge, Fla.

A version of this article appeared in the April 25, 2007 edition of Education Week as In-Service Essay Draws Further Reader Comment