Education Week - October 24, 2012 - (Page 25)

EDUCATION WEEK n OCTOBER 24, 2012 n 25 Obama education adviser Jon Schnur, right, gestures as Romney education adviser Phil Handy listens during their debate at Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York City last week. Reassembling Our Disaggregated Curriculum From STEM to ST2REAM “ ... [W]hat happened under No Child Left Behind, again there was some real good done by No Child Left Behind; there was some real damage, too. One damage was that there were very prescriptive requirements for how states had to carry out their accountability systems and carry out the implementation of No Child Left Behind. ... [T]he president’s approach, which has been [U.S. Secretary of Education] Arne Duncan’s approach, ... [is to] be tight on the goals—and have really high, rigorous goals with standards reflecting readiness for college and careers. ... There’s got to be a focus on acountability, too, but I think what you’re describing could get us back to the prescription and then states’ lowering their standards, instead of requiring the standards and giving more flexibility to get there.” JON SCHNUR MORE DEBATE, PAGE 25 > C By Kenneth Wesson about the warning signs of suicide and sources of help in the community. Schools should also develop student-assistance programs to increase a feeling of school connectedness among students. There are various levels of prevention, including “selected” prevention, which targets individuals deemed at risk for suicidal behavior, and “indicated” prevention, which focuses on those with a history of suicidal behavior. These strategies consist of identifying at-risk students, assessing risks for them, making appropriate referrals, and then following up at school. In addition to multitiered prevention strategies, an effective suicideprevention program should include “postvention” strategies, which include interventions with other students and school employees after a suicide. In 2011, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center released the Suicide Postvention Toolkit for Schools, which answers almost every question school employees might have about what to do or what not to do following a suicide. Adolescents are the most likely age group to imitate suicidal behavior, and postvention provides a time to help students with their shock, grief, and confusion and to make sure that they all know how to get help for themselves or a friend. It is also essential for schools to create some type of plan following a student’s return to school after exhibiting suicidal behavior. The idea is to lessen the student’s academic, social, and emotional burden; to offer support from school personnel; and to help in a smooth transition back to the classroom. Suicide—which takes the lives of approximately 4,600 young Americans a year—is preventable. Our schools have an important opportunity for averting many of these tragic deaths. Let’s begin with schools’ developing a suicide-prevention task force that links with the community and recognizes that the prevention of youth suicide is everyone’s responsibility. n GENEVIEVE LaFLEUR and SCOTT POLAND work in the Suicide and Violence Prevention Office at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Ms. LaFleur is a licensed psychologist. Mr. Poland directed psychological services for a large Texas school system for 24 years and is currently a psychology professor at Nova Southeastern University. Further information about the office is available at ountless millennia before the acronym stem—for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—entered our modern lexicon, early man was already engaged in stem endeavors. Our ancestors spent significant portions of their days experimenting, tinkering, and thinking their way through myriad problems and challenges. During those prehistoric periods, the dreamers, the designers, and the builders identified the urgent problems, and subsequently crafted tools, crude instruments, and strategies to resolve them, working collaboratively for both survival and human progress. Columbus’ historic trans-Atlantic journey in 1492 was driven as much by innovation as it was by exploration. Fifteenth-century art, design, engineering, and innovative technologies made his expedition achievable. Once the highly maneuverable caravel sailing ships were invented, the travel time between continents was cut in half. Caravels were smaller, faster, and easier to navigate than other large vessels of that time. The mariner’s compass and astrolabes made long-range voyages fast and feasible. Cartography, mapprinting accuracy, and European printing techniques had taken a quantum leap forward courtesy of Johannes Gutenberg. Advances in mathematical procedures for estimating the earth’s circumference gave greater precision to calculating global distances. The European discovery of the New World constituted a prime example of the realworld synergies among science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. However, Columbus’ impressive voyage has been academically quarantined to social studies, rather than viewed through a transdisciplinary lens where stem content overlaps. Problem-solving in the “real world” requires integrated solutions, in which science, language, mathematics, engineering, visualization, scientific reasoning, and technology are regularly intermingled in various combinations, sequences, proportions, and durations. Similarly, the components of stem can merge into a “st2ream” model of connected learning, where science, technology, thematic instruction, reading/language arts, engineering, art (visual/ spatial thinking), and mathematics converge to reveal not only what “human knowledge” is, but how we know it is so. Critical and creative thinking come by way of one’s ability to mentally manipulate information and to do so from a broad range of divergent perspectives. We can “hook” students on the value of learning best by “hooking” the curriculum back together through content integration in meaningful learning contexts. In the process of “acquiring” knowledge, what occurs inside the brain is more accurately described as the integration of new information into existing relevant neural networks. Thus, “learning” is hardly a process of acquisition, but instead is the integration of new elements into a complex web of ever-expanding intertwined knowledge that has personal meaning. The subsidiary benefit of these massive connections includes the capacity for complex and flexible thinking, strategic reasoning, and recognition of the possibility of multiple solutions and fused answers, rather than a single one. Understanding our external world would be extremely complicated without knowing how to produce and interpret models, illustrations, and visual information. If students lack the capability to visualize a concept, it becomes correspondingly difficult for them to describe it verbally, understand it in print, recognize it in another context, or reproduce it during subsequent assessments. When our students say, “Oh, now I see!” their declarations underscore the learning power derived from constructing the relevant visual image. The hippocampus is a subcortical structure responsible for establishing memories and plays a crucial role in daydreaming, imagination, and creativity. Thirty percent of our days are devoted to these states, when our brains shift from concentration to “wander and wonder,” paving the way for innovations and inventions. Contrary to popular belief, the evolution of memory was not governed by a need to recall the world of the past. Instead, memory evolved to assist us in predicting and navigating the future based on intelligent forecasts substantiated by our prior knowledge. We developed the capacity to solve likely problems visualized as lurking in the immediate or distant future. Synthesizing useful information is the goal of long-term learning, not memorizing disjointed information from a broad academic menu of “specialties.” Approximately Our brains naturally organize incoming stimuli based on any recognized connections to stored information, rather than by academic designation.” 4 billion bits of information are processed by our brains every second, regardless of the school schedule or the time of day. Our brains naturally organize incoming stimuli based on any recognized connections to stored information, rather than by academic designation. Memories are reinforced and expanded upon when related pathways are activated within a relevant context. The brain grants itself a chemical reward for making these connections, which is why “aha” experiences are emotionally lifting and addicting. To capitalize on the finite number of hours in each school day, educators can extend the current stem model to incorporate visualization and language. Developing visual literacy is an essential ingredient in design and engineering. Steam adds art to the equation, while reading, PAGE 27 > “ KENNETH WESSON is a former psychology professor at San José State University in San José, Calif. He delivers keynote addresses on the neuroscience of learning for educational organizations and institutions throughout the United States and overseas. His research appears and is often referenced in the journal Brain World and in Parents magazine. He can be reached at kenawesson@

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - October 24, 2012

Education Week - October 24, 2012
‘Smart Pills’ Promising, Problematic
At S.C. School, Behavior Is One of the Basics
Obama Finding Teacher Support Secure, if Tepid
Focus On: Curriculum: Calif. Laws Shift Gears on Algebra, Textbooks
Table of Contents
News in Brief
Report Roundup
‘Value Added’ Use at Secondary Level Questioned
National Board Seeks to Revive Impact on Profession
Industry & Innovation
Blogs of the Week
Debates Push Fate of NCLB Waivers to Fore
Policy Menu Varies in State School Board Elections
Policy Brief
The Election: Debating Education
Genevieve LaFleur & Scott Poland: Schools Can Be the Difference in Preventing Suicide
Kenneth Wesson: From STEM to ST2REAM: Reassembling Our Disaggregated Curriculum
Top School Jobs Recruitment Marketplace
Erica Frankenberg & Gary Orfield: Diversity or Resegregation? Why Suburban Schools Need a Plan

Education Week - October 24, 2012