Some researchers approach schools with a certain level of arrogance: ‘We know what’s right, and we think we’ll make your lives better if only you’ll let us.’ It’s well intentioned but it’s very misguided. We have a different mindset at EDC; we hold firm to the notion that our collaborations need to be done in partnership and that our work is not about importing knowledge into a district.
the East Side of Pittsburgh, Vonnie Holbrook is known as “the
math lady.” A teacher in Pittsburgh for 24 years, she has
taught mathematics in many schools and to many children from
kindergarten to eighth grade.
How can teachers create an environment that engages even their most challenging children? How can they foster children’s ability to think scientifically as part of their everyday experiences? How can they improve young children’s literacy skills, not only in the book corner, but throughout the day?
Last June, NASA sent up a probe to gather information on the shape of the universe. Last week, Jeff Weeks showed a group of Massachusetts secondary math teachers how tic-tac-toe and other familiar games can help students explore similar questions.
What does it take to change the education system of an entire country? If you ask EDC’s Jody Spiro, she’ll tell you to start with the teachers. That’s what EDC did in April 1998, when its Global Learning Group joined with the Ministry of Education in Romania to restructure the training that educators receive in that country. Four years later, staff members of the Romania Education Reform Project have provided specialized training to an estimated 240,000 of the nation’s 300,000 teachers.
A roundtable discussion featuring Judith Zorfass, associate director of the Center for Family, School, and Community; Glenn Kleiman, EDC vice president, and director of the Center for Online Professional Education; and Robert Spielvogel, EDC’s director of technology.
comes slowly to Macon Ridge, Louisiana, a rural area spread out
over 150 square miles in the northeast corner of the state. The
region is home to five of Louisiana’s poorest counties—or “parishes,” as
they’re known locally, a term that dates back to the days when
Louisiana was still a French Catholic colony. But the slow pace
of change in Macon Ridge is evident in more than just its nomenclature:
Cotton, corn, and lumber are still the dominant industries in the
How do we know that a new approach works, adding to a practitioner’s knowledge, effectiveness, and ability? And if it does work, how can we use the model to reach more practitioners? These questions are central to two of EDC’s latest experiments with online professional development.
In our introduction to this issue of Mosaic, we referred to Paulo Freire’s description of literacy as “reading the word and world.” That same phrase-with its dual emphasis on the concrete and the abstract—can be used to characterize EDC’s definition of mathematical literacy.