November 13, 1996

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Vol. 16, Issue 11
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"It's like what they tell you in the airplane: You have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you help the child. You can't save them before you've helped yourself." So said Lee Harris, a resident teacher who mentors colleagues from the Dade County, Fla., schools, taking the rare opportunity of a mini-sabbatical at the Dade Academy for the Teaching Arts. Ms. Harris' sense of the urgency of what she is doing is not exaggerated. If public schools are going to improve, they will do so because teachers partake of high-quality, career-long professional development that is directly relevant to the classes they teach. And public schools will not improve until and unless lifelong study can be built into the teaching job. This is work that must begin now and that will go on as long as there are children to teach and new knowledge in the world.
The somewhat bogus argument of whether education reform is a top-down or bottom-up process continues to rage. At one end of the continuum are those who claim that only top-down pressure by political and corporate leaders can coerce an intransigent educational system to implement the comprehensive reform needed to make our public schools work better. Advocates of this position support such nationally visible activities as the summit of the nation's governors and business leaders last March in Pallisades, N.Y.
Robert J. Sternberg, a professor of psychology and education at Yale University, argues in his new book, Successful Intelligence: How Practical and Creative Intelligence Determine Success in Life, that appreciating the differences between knowledge useful in school and knowledge applicable to everyday life should inform the way educators and laymen alike judge the potential of the young. Those people who succeed, he says, have managed to develop a wide range of intellectual skills beyond those taught and valued in academic life. In the following excerpt, he explores the three critical elements of creative and practical intelligence
FOUNDATION SUPPORT: Coverage of specific topics in Education Week is supported in part by grants from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the CME Group Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. The newspaper retains sole editorial control over the content of the articles that are underwritten by the foundations. Additional grants in support of Editorial Projects in Education’s data journalism and video capacity come from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Schott Foundation for Public Education. (Updated 1/1/2017)

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