all right

Occasionally adding corroborative details to add verisimilitude to otherwise bald and unconvincing,
but veridicous accounts
with careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination.

14 April, 2013

Standards at Taroona High School

Some pages from Taroona High School’s Student Planner for 2013 supply some evidence of the standards of writing and thinking demonstrated by the school’s staff.
For example, the planner’s guide to bullying—which reveals, inter alia, that “Ignoring”, “Body language” and, more astonishingly, “Texts, Emails” constitute non-verbal bullying—asserts that “to ignore [bullying] is to condone it” but that, “if you are being bullied”, you may “choose to ignore it”; however, a student who prefers not to take such recommended actions as ignoring or approaching a bully, or talking to a trusted person, may instead choose “to take action”.
The section on “Habits of the Mind”, for me, is most revealing: the arrangement, punctuation, expression, and vocabulary—such as the use of “verbal” for “oral”, and its odd contention that “the right thing to do is always the hard thing to do”—furnish little evidence that Taroona High School’s teachers and administrators provide a particularly high standard of thinking or writing or much “striving for accuracy” which students ought to emulate.
Habits of the Mind
When smart people have a problem to solve, they think in certain ways.
– they change their thinking to fit the situation.
There have been 16 different ways to think found.
They are called Habits of the Mind and will help you greatly
– know when and how to use each habit
– know why each habit will help you
– be willing to use them.
It’s time to think about your thinking.
Remember, habits are things you do often and easily.
Score yourself out of 10 for each of them and set a target to reach by the end of the year.  […]

Striving for accuracy 

Being able to take time to check the accuracy of your work; check it again.
Taking pride in lifting the quality of your work to the highest level you are capable of.
Not being threatened to settle for second best to get work out of the way.

Questioning and Posing problems
Being able to ask the right questions to fill in the gaps of what you don’t know
Asking questions that begin with “what if” “why do” “How.”
Being able to recognise the reasons behind why and how questions are asked. 

Applying past knowledge to new situations
Being able to use experiences and knowledge learned for new problems.
Being able to adapt what you have learned from a previous experience to a new situation and make connections.
Being willing to apply yourself to use experience in your thinking; use what you learn. 

Thinking of communicating with clarity and precision
Being able to communicate your thoughts in accurate and clear language, both written and verbal.
Being able to explain, compare and give evidence using correct names and labels; think clearly.
Avoiding vague and generalising language such as “you know” “it’s weird”, “everyone says”, “stuff-like”.

Gathering Data through all senses
Being able to gain a feeling for a situation through taking in messages from all of your senses.
Being able to form mental images through what your senses experience.
Being able to feel and communicate by considering aspects such as colours, sounds, patterns, tastes, textures, rhythms, etc.; living is not just describing it; use you natural pathways.

Being able to accept and believe that you “just don’t do something”, but you must plan, reflect and think.
Accepting that in all top performers in any activities you find a higher level of thinking.
Having the courage and willingness to do the “hard things” and leave behind the everyday easy way of thinking; actually uses habits of the mind.

UPDATE I (17 April):  see also my logical extension in verse of the odd notion that “the right thing to do is always the hard thing to do” in “The Right Thing to Do”.

UPDATE II (10 May):  according to my son, his English teacher insists that, if you’re the important person, then the sentence “My mother told Peter and I to stand by the car” is grammatically correct!

UPDATE III (1 October)here is the full text of a recent assignment from my son’s “Wellness” class:
Surviving Adolescence

You must complete all of the activities below, A, B and C.

Activity A – Dear Abby
'I think I am starting to go through puberty, I don't know what is happening, I don't know what to do. Some advice please!'

Write an answer for Abby, by outlining some advice/tips boys and girls need to help them survive adolescence.

Some things you may want to think about….
⇒ What is the message you want to get across to the reader?
⇒ What pictures/diagrams could you use to get the message across
⇒ How do you want to present your advice? (letter, poster, brochure, picture)

Activity B – Other cultures
Investigate adolescence/puberty in other cultures. How is it similar to the experience someone in our culture goes through? How is it different? What does this mean?

Activity C – A Taste of Activities
The Alphabet - complete a list of words from A to Z associated with puberty
The Question - chose a word from your alphabet list and write 5 possible questions that could only have that word as an answer
The Brainstorm - brainstorm solutions to some of the problems faced by someone during puberty
The Word Find - Google puzzle maker, use the site to make a word find using as many words as you can from your alphabet, you may add other words associated with puberty if you wish.
⇔ Wordle - Create a wordle related to 'Surviving Adolescence'
We may well wonder (quoting from the “Habits of the Mind” which students are exhorted to follow) whether the Wellness teacher took much “time to check the accuracy of [her] work” or took much “pride in lifting the quality of [her] work to the highest level”.

UPDATE IV (13 November)a teacher at Taroona High School recently explained to a Grade 7 History class (orally and by way of a printed hand-out) that “China is the largest country in Asia.”

My son, rightly, protested that Asian Russia is far larger than China, but his teacher merely reiterated that “China is the largest country in Asia.”  Siberia, a part of Russia (over three quarters thereof) since the seventeenth century, covers an area of over 13,000,000 square kilometres; China’s total area is less than 9,597,000 square kilometres.  I submit that 13,000,000 is larger than 9,597,000 and that, therefore, Russia is the largest country in Asia.

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