Readings Of Note

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A Little Madison Avenue

A school superintendent and the president of a school board reveal how they won voter approval for a school bond issue: “School people rarely think of themselves as selling a product, but perhaps we should—especially at referendum time. When Community Consolidated School District 15 (K-8; enrollment, 10,160) in Palatine, Ill., needed voter approval of a $64 million bond issue, we discovered that educators sometimes must take up the marketing techniques of Madison Avenue … Selling any product (including a bond issue) is easier if consumers associate it with a single idea. For our referendum campaign, we chose the slogan ‘Education and Community, Growing Together.’ We wanted to convey the idea that voting for the bond issue was an investment in the future—and not just the future of somebody else’s children, but also the future of our entire community.”

From “We Turned to Madison Avenue for Tips on Selling Our $64 Million Bond Issue,” by John Conyers and Terry Francl (The American School Board Journal, October 1989).

Linking Teaching and Research

A science writer discusses a topic of concern to many science teachers—the link between research and teaching: “[T]he good biology teacher must understand the research process, whether or not he or she regularly participates in it. Where do the ‘facts’ come from that we base our lessons upon? Indeed, are there really any facts at all? Why are hypotheses hypothetical, but theories are not theoretical? … If we don't know the outcome of our lab activities—and admit it—our students will begin to understand that science is a journey into the unknown … The quality of our biology teaching does not depend on our own research activities, but it does depend on our understanding and use of the research process.”

From “Teaching and Research,” by Dan Wivagg (The American Biology Teacher, October 1989).

‘Outlaws’ and Administrators

David Kearns, CEO of the Xerox Corporation, and Denis Doyle, an education-policy analyst, on teacher professionalism: “[Superb teachers] share one other trait, however, not widely talked about in large school districts or schools of education—they are ‘canny outlaws,’ system beaters, creative and responsible rule benders. They have to be to succeed, because in most school districts—especially the large ones—the deck is stacked against the creative, imaginative, and entrepreneurial teacher … [T]he most telling way in which teachers differ from other professionals is how they are supervised. Typically, teachers report to administrators. Compare that with doctors and lawyers. Administrators report to them. Most hospitals, for example, will not waste a trained physician in a senior management position.”

From Winning the Brain Race, by David Kearns and Denis Doyle (San Francisco, ICS Press, 1989).

Writing is Saying Something

High school English teacher Rob Riordan, director of the Writing Center at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in Massachusetts, talks with interviewer Susan Dichter about how to encourage children to write: “The issue is, what are you asking kids to write, and why are you asking them to write? If you are asking them to write in order simply to demonstrate competence in the written language, then they are going to turn off. They have been told for years that they are incompetent, and they don’t want to hear it again … But if you can convince kids that writing is something else—that they can really say something—and if they can see themselves as writers, it turns around. Even though it’s not always easy and not always fun, writing is something that can be rewarding. We publish a lot of student writing, and kids are proud when they see themselves in print.”

From Teachers: Straight Talk From the Trenches, by Susan Dichter (Los Angeles, Lowell House, 1989).

Vol. 01, Issue 04, Page 80

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