Thinking about thinking 
Author Message
 Thinking about thinking

I am not down playing or ignoring the need for high standards, but I have a
tough time with "one size fits all" high standards. Set the standards
according to and with the kid. Lets not break the kid to fit the mold.

Paul Kosuth

Quote:


> > when a student "fails" what has he/she failed? They have failed only o
> > live up to our misunderstandings.

> This seems to fly in the face of the need for high expectations idea. Or am
> I misunderstanding you?

> Tom

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Thu, 11 Nov 2004 13:28:12 GMT  
 Thinking about thinking

Quote:


> > I am not down playing or ignoring the need for high standards, but I have
> a
> > tough time with "one size fits all" high standards.

> Question: Are "high standards" and "high expectations" synonyms?

I think that a short answer are that the expectations are for the individual
and the standards are for the content. For example I have some expectations
about my students behavior in the short term. How they interact with the
material, the ay they interact with themselves, others, and me. Expectations
about how they approach a math/sci situation, ways to communicate with
themselves and others. Etc. The standards seem to be more about the content
though I am sure standards about the more metacognitive expectations could be
formulated especially about communication. But the standards about what needs
to be known and developed with respect to linear functions are pretty clear.
The question to me, and maybe to brian are when must these be met. Do they have
to be met when approached the first time in Algebra 1 ? Or is it ok to have
them developed over several years? I think that gary talked about his
experiences with exponents and not really knowing them until he had to struggle
with them some years after HS or college. I had a similar experience with the
distributive property. I could always do the standard  a(b+c)) stuff and
factoring ab+ ac but it never really his home as unifying theme until I had a
teaching math in secondary ed course. This was even several years after I had
abstract algebra as an undergraduate. ( I got my teaching certificates several
years after my undergrad days.) Anyhow, I don't recall the topic, but the
teacher made some comment about the distributive property and it relation to
long multiplication. Never in my wildest dreams had I connected the two. I
could do long multiplication, I could do the distributive property but I never
saw the pattern that connects. In that class, at that time, it came together.

I am not sure of my point here. Maybe that expectations and standards are
muddled (like my writing and thinking tonight!) I met some of the standards of
multiplying, dividing and performing the distr. prop in HS alg and abstract
algebra but did I meet the standards of connection? authentic knowledge? Is it
ok that it came way later? What if I had to demonstrate the connection between
the distr. prop and mult could I have done in HS or earlier? Should I have done
it? Did I do it?

I sound like a Dr Seuss book so I need to stop!  Maybe I think that keep the
high expectations on a daily basis. Keep the high standards there in mind and
at some time the two shall meet.

Take care,

paul Kosuth

Quote:


> >Making "high expectations" mean "jumping through hoops" is harmful

> >one thing that's problematic is to organize school around the idea that
> >everyone progresses at the same speed in every subject

> >"High expectations" as applied in schools also, as other people have
> >said, confuses *speed* of learning with *depth* of learning.

> Questions:
> Given these problem areas, where might high expectations be useful and
> beneficial?
> What exactly IS an expectation? Is it a prediction, a desire, a demand, an
> accepted standard, something else?

> There seem to be different kinds of expectations, some seem less toxic than
> others. Some are easily attached to the words "low" or "high," but others
> don't have this critical quality. Is it the critical quality that makes some
> expections harmful, or is it the consequences or outcomes (e.g. success vs.
> failure, satisfaction vs. disapointment), or is it the external vs. internal
> locus of control (i.e. I strive to meet YOUR expectations vs. MY own)?

> Tom

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Sat, 13 Nov 2004 12:54:50 GMT  
 Thinking about thinking
Thank you Brian and Paul, for your thoughtful responses. Anyone who has
suffered my rants knows that I have strong opinions about expectations and
the assumptions we make about their value. I've been trying to come to terms
with them. They are so pervasive, and so much of what schools do is based
upon them, it's hard to imagine a system where expectations are not
foundational. I have a few questions.

Quote:

> I am not down playing or ignoring the need for high standards, but I have
a
> tough time with "one size fits all" high standards.

Question: Are "high standards" and "high expectations" synonyms?

Quote:

>Making "high expectations" mean "jumping through hoops" is harmful
>one thing that's problematic is to organize school around the idea that
>everyone progresses at the same speed in every subject
>"High expectations" as applied in schools also, as other people have
>said, confuses *speed* of learning with *depth* of learning.

Questions:
Given these problem areas, where might high expectations be useful and
beneficial?
What exactly IS an expectation? Is it a prediction, a desire, a demand, an
accepted standard, something else?

There seem to be different kinds of expectations, some seem less toxic than
others. Some are easily attached to the words "low" or "high," but others
don't have this critical quality. Is it the critical quality that makes some
expections harmful, or is it the consequences or outcomes (e.g. success vs.
failure, satisfaction vs. disapointment), or is it the external vs. internal
locus of control (i.e. I strive to meet YOUR expectations vs. MY own)?

Tom

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Fri, 12 Nov 2004 04:36:44 GMT  
 Thinking about thinking

Quote:

> Is it the critical quality that makes some
>expections harmful, or is it the consequences or outcomes (e.g. success vs.
>failure, satisfaction vs. disapointment), or is it the external vs. internal
>locus of control (i.e. I strive to meet YOUR expectations vs. MY own)?

All of the above.  But it can also be harmful *not* to have expectations of
kids.  Let's say your kid wants to watch TV all day.  You're convinced that
s/he would really enjoy more intellectually demanding activities, once past
the startup struggle.  "Play chess or else!" is harmful, but so is "fine,
just watch TV."  One good thing is to model intellectual fun yourself,
another is the *occasional* "you can do it!", etc.

It's really no different from learning to walk.  The kid needs encouragement
without pressure.  It's just hard to achieve the right balance (no pun
intended).



Sun, 14 Nov 2004 20:51:07 GMT  
 Thinking about thinking

Quote:

>"Play chess or else!" is harmful, but so is "fine,
> just watch TV."

I see a minefield here. Of course you want what's best for the child. That's
the expectation. But the danger lies in how "best" is defined and who
defines it.

I'm sure we have been irritated by well meaning people who try to tell us
what to do because they think they know what's best for us or they think
they know what we *should* do, or what we *need*. I'm sure I have
disappointed such people when I could not or would not live up to their
expectations.

I suppose what you're saying is it's ok to have expectations as long as they
are good expectations. What I wonder is who gets to say what's good? Even
those who are the most harmful with their expectations believe theirs are
good. It becomes a question of who has the power.

Quote:
>One good thing is to model intellectual fun yourself,
> another is the *occasional* "you can do it!", etc.

This is the way out of the minefield. We can model, but if we get upset or
disappointed because another person chooses not to play our game, then we're
letting our expectations get in the way (THEN what are we modeling?). We can
encourage. This is different from what we've been talking about because
encouragement is acknowledging the worth and importance of the child's own
expectations of him or herself. This is a fundamental mark of respect in my
view, and we model it every time we encourage someone. BTW, this mark is not
present when we want others to meet our expectations, when we tell them what
they *should* do, or what they *need*.

I think another legitimate thing we can do is help people, to give them
choices, to help them form and pursue goals.... but they can't be OUR goals.
They must be the individual's.

Quote:
> It's really no different from learning to walk.  The kid needs
> encouragement without pressure.

You're probably right. I hope you'll agree that ultimately it was the
child's own goal to walk and parents help the child pursue that goal. A
parent wouldn't try to make the kid learn to walk because that is the
parent's expectation, would he (or she)? Well, I guess it's possible, but I
sure wouldn't want to be that kid.

Tom

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Tue, 16 Nov 2004 12:45:27 GMT  
 Thinking about thinking

Quote:

>I suppose what you're saying is it's ok to have expectations as long as they
>are good expectations.

No, I don't mean that.  I think most expectations, even from teachers, are
"good expectations."  I'm saying it's ok to have expectations that grow out
of the kid's own goals, and I guess I think that it's okay to have
{*filter*}-driven expectations once in a while in the context of a good
relationship.  For example, one that's come up in my own parenting, I think
it's okay for me to expect my kid not to use "fag" as a (nonspecific)
insult, even though all his friends do, especially since this is a kid who's
very sensitive about racial insults.  (We once had a very interesting
conversation, on his initiative, about whether or not the word "wigger,"
meaning (insultingly) a white kid who tries to act black, is okay.)

It's complicated.  Right now I'm visiting friends who have four kids, all of
whom play (and therefore must practice) musical instruments.  The parents'
position is that a kid is allowed to say he doesn't want to play any more,
but as long as he's taking lessons, he has to practice seriously.  How does
that rate?  It's formally up to the kid, and in fact the kids *do* all enjoy
playing, over the long haul, but it doesn't feel up to the kid on some
particular day when the kid would rather goof off than practice.

(And the details matter.  Does it change your feeling about the situation
in the previous paragraph when I tell you that among the four kids there are
two violins, a viola, and a cello?)

For that matter, at least some of the time I feel there are things that
people have a duty to understand, like it or not -- politics, mainly, because
of voting.  And that entails being able to read the newspaper, not just in
the sense of being able to read the words, but also being able to read it
critically, since the newspapers all lie, at least by omission.



Tue, 16 Nov 2004 20:48:51 GMT  
 Thinking about thinking

Quote:

> A
> parent wouldn't try to make the kid learn to walk because that is the
> parent's expectation, would he (or she)? Well, I guess it's possible, but I
> sure wouldn't want to be that kid.

I would (and am); how else do you learn that out in the real world there
are real expectations of you that have nothing much to do with what you
want or would prefer, if you have been protected all your upbringing
from the idea that there are expectations other people have of you that
you _must_ meet, will-thee, nil-thee?

Think about that kid getting drafted and going to boot camp.

Hyperprotectionism toward little kiddie egos counts as child abuse in my
book.

xanthian.

--
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Wed, 17 Nov 2004 00:58:55 GMT  
 
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