Long Post re: Julia Frugoli

Mary Ann Sesma msesma at zeus.bell.k12.ca.us
Fri Feb 13 12:48:49 EST 1998


JULIA-- YOU ARE AN ABSOLUTE GEM.  YOU ARE SO RIGHT---  THERE IS NO RIGHT
WAY TO LEARN.   There are multiple learning styles. I  have a whole
"pharmacopeia" of techniques that deal with learning styles.   Arbitrary
division beween classes in  elementary and secondary has just forced us
(educators)  to be STUPID and avoid the concept of real learning for
convenience of time (lunch nutrition  not to say the least teacher unions
*and I am a member of them* )     The best high school classes I ever
taught were in summer school where we had four hours/class.  I could  set
up the kids for real learning.  The notion of time is ridiculous.   BTW- I
used concepts and contrasts and there was a balance between structure and
spontaneity.  From these 5 summers of teaching I have 7 Ph.d. in Science,5
lawyers , (working in biotech) 12 MD's. and 3 LCSw's.

There is a unusual school for boys:  Deep Springs--it is on the net.  Take
a look at it.

ASYNCHRONOUS LEARNING:  There may be a way through judicious use of
asynchronous learning- middle school, high school, college and university.
Thomas Edison State College in NY is a leader. However, we will have to
wait for the longitudinal results.     I like this idea having participated
in some distance learning experiences (early on); t the discrepancy at the
early point was assessment, evaluation and interaction..

THE LIST  etc  as examples:   I  enjoy and learn from this list.  Strong
minds, strong opinions, reliable information and strong interactions  all
of which carry us to new ways of thinking--that is what learning is all
about.  However, we are priviledged in that we have our computers, the
internet and have learned to express concepts, contrasts and back up
opinions with data (or least reference the data).   Project Gutenberg may
have impact.

SPONTANEITY:  I  pulled a group of students'  legs:  One Easter,my kids had
dyed an Easter egg black.  So when I went to school on Monday, I displayed
the egg and told a story about a rare animal in Tasmania the "Greater
Furred Pah Pah" (totally ficticious) Now the goal was to get the kids to
think about egg layers  and continental distribution of animals.   They had
determine what was the Greater Furred Pah-Pah.    Let the kids out of class
sent off campus and on campus to libraries  and after one week--they
realized that Teacher had pulled one over on them, and they were sure quick
to check information.  There was a great deal of discussion regarding the
continental distribution, et al, and how did we find possums on the No.
American continent etc. etc.  They also had a huge belly laugh.    It was
great.    These kids went into the four classes that I referenced above.

COMPULSORY--Yes !   a democratic society requires education for an educated
society--from special ed to the high level scientist.   How can it be
effectively delivered?  What will be the outcomes.
There is an amazing doc at this site:
http://www.cdc.gov/nchswww/data/amchild.pdf  It puts you square in the
middle of the issues.   And this education demands standards (Brouhaha).
You can meet the standards in either home or school level education.

THRIVING AND STRUCTURE:   Consider an elementary school teacher who has 30
3rd graders in the class.  Structure is essential to learning in this
arena.    Structure has to be both present in the home and in the school.
Other wise you end up with "at risk" kids.

 PUBLIC SCHOOLS are changing:  It is a slow process.  But the carrot for
reform is improved student test scores (and that is just an overall
measure)  I just want to insert a quote from an  evaluation of a program
for highly at risk kids :    (this quote is from the evaluator's tape it is
had been slightly edited for the "um, ah, etc. --
" I  (teacher) was walking down the hall and I saw [Ramiro] outside [his]
classroom just sobbing.  Now this is a kid whose whole family is affiliated
with gangs.  	His sister has a beautiful blue 	tattoo on her
shoulder and she's tough and you don't want to meet her in a dark alley.
And his brother-in-law is 18th Street  (gang) all the way.   So here's a
kid who isn't gonna cry unless he just can't handle things in any other
way.  So I asked, '[Ramiro], why are you crying?' And he goes, 'I can't do
it, I can't read.'  And so I said, 'You know, that's why Mr. [Jackson's]
here.  Because if you knew how to do everything, then you wouldn't have to
come here.  Mr. [Jackson] loves working with kids and that's his job to
help you to learn how to read.  Now he's not gonna make you read in a
language you don't know.  He's gonna teach you to read in a language you
do.'  So [Ramiro] goes in there--we went in together. . . . Then we get him
referred and he gets  counseling.  We had Mom in finally and broke the
barriers with her.  And I went in toward the end of the year. . and here's
[Ramiro] just working 	away.  And Mr. [Jackson] told me 'He's more
prepared for fourth grade than any kid I have in class.' [It worked]
because everyone had [Ramiro] as a goal .  [I.20:31-43;21:1-11] .

A BETTER WAY
We just can't all sit with Will and Ariel Durant  at the other end of a log
and wander through the humanistic geniuses of history,     But we (as
teachers)  can make knowledge accessible and point  folks, students,  kids,
et al in certain directions.  That is where the structure, the methodology,
the knoweldge and wisdome comes in and the wise teacher uses it.

SOCIAL CLASS AND ECONOMICS There is a issue of  economics and social class:
if you have a better economic base, you are potentially more able to move
into a higher social class with greater expectations for education,
regardless of ethnicity (and I purposefully do not choose to use the word
race--  Dr. Fatimah Jackson presentation at Tuskegee(1996) when  squarely
laid out  Homo sapiens sapiens as the only species currently existing.  I
can recall that at one time (pre history) Cro Magnon and Neanderthal were
co existant--but CM  won out.
Consider just a few examples of class:    Boston Brahmins:  Howard
University ,  Hispanic student who graduates from UCLA, does a post doc at
Harvard in Chem and is now an Associate Prof.  and the Rhodes Scholars.
These are social classes far and above most of  our ability to attain.
If you are Ramiro-and luck into Mr. Jackson-you survive and learn.If you
are among the far too many students of low economic base, and low level
social class you have to manage your own fate.   THAT IS WHERE SCHOOL
REFORM MUST FUNCTION.

Yes, I know I have written far too much--but this is a issue that is near
and dear to me and I suspect to all of you both professional and
personally.

I will be most interested in the list responses.


Mary Ann Sesma                          e mail
1621 Sunnyhill Drive                    msesma at bell.k12.ca.us (preferred)
Monterey Park, CA 91754                 sesma at aol.com
phone; (213)261-5860
fax:(213)261-8692





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