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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

May 3, 2013 at 8:05 AM

Five fascinating things education researchers are talking about

When university researchers who study education get together, conversations range from methods of research to the next new way to schoolchildren. My column this week looked from afar at the American Educational Researchers Association‘s annual meeting in San Francisco. Naturally there were sessions devoted to neuroscience and its applications in classrooms and promising educational theories about motivation and culturally-relevant learning. Indeed, I’m still thumbing through the white papers presented by American Institutes for Research. There were also rapid-fire Ignite sessions and ED Talks. The best summary of the event, which I did not attend, is from Education Week.

Here’s some of the ideas, thoughts and strands that I expect will show up as concrete legislative policies or at the least influence what policymakers are talking about.

1) Poverty’s impact on students. One of the best lines of the week came from Pedro Noguera, an education professor at  New York University: Poverty is not a learning disability. Dr. Noguera is a sociologist focusing on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions. Pay attention to this guy.

2) Harnessing the power of Twitter and other social media applications for use in education.

3) Shaking up school leadership – from administrators to parents and teachers

4) School climates – Ever walk into a school and think you wouldn’t want to spend more than five minutes there, let alone have your child attend?

5) Standardized tests have flaws, agreed Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Doesn’t everything? But the Obama administration’s acknowledgement starts the conversation about where to go from here.  It takes years for ideas to turn into proven theories and make their way into practice in the classroom. The above are among those I hope take hold.

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