Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I some how feel that the message of people helping each other is lost here.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Everybody is feeling the crunch these days.

And with the added stress of the elections people tend to jump on things to try to say one side is doing something right or wrong when it comes to education.

But we have to remember to put the power of education not only in the Educators but also in the Local School Districts.

Case in point?


If there was any chance to save some teachers and help students learn would they not be worth it?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

This is important information that can not be ignored.

How we can shift the work load from teachers constantly proving their jobs to teachers and just allowed to teach and letting students learn.


Please read this and pass it on.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Painting time!

Where do I go when I don't post for days on end? Well I'm off making art of course, and just to help prove this here is what I'm working on.


Please note the use of Value in the painting.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What are the Elements of Art? Value addition!

So let's talk about the Elements of Art, and how they impact our everyday lives.

Yes, I am talking about this after my more serious posts.

But follow me on this for a moment. Art, and more importantly the Elements of Art, effect every aspect of your day-to-day life and most people can not name more than four of them.

Here get a piece of paper again as well as a writing device of your choice. There will be several questions so give yourself some room to continue working.

Question number one: Without using an outside device, and solely based on your own understanding of art, write down the different elements of art.

So unless you are an artist, or an educator of some sort, a lot of people just drew a complete blank on that. So to make things a lot easier on everyone if you ever have any questions about art terms go to this site right here. Artlex.com. Bookmarked that yet? Good let's move on.

The elements of art are as follows:

Do not worry the explanation on how they effect your life will follow over a series of blog posts.

1. Value
2. Color
3. Line
4. Shape
5. Texture
6. Form
7. Space

Now to explain how these have an impact on our lives...

1. Value- a measurement of light and darkness. To put it simply, Value deals with how much light there is in something.

The first way to point out how the artistic term of value is used by everyone in the real world is...

When you go out deer hunting and you're trying to pick out a deer from the underbrush, you are using your understanding of Value to pick out the details.

If you don't like the hunting analogy, you can always think of this as trying to walk through the house at night and trying not to step on any LEGOS'.

I give these two examples as the most upfront examples of use for the Elements of Art. But it gets a little more complex in a minute.

Take your paper and and do this.

Write down a top-down layout of your home. Take your time and mark where north is. (Your work does not have to be perfect). No one is grading it but yourself. But if you want to send in your pics my twitter is @TheLeer1. So send them in so we can all see.

Done with your sketch?

Now take a look at your drawing. Since you have marked North, you will be able to pick out which sides face East and West. Now we all know the sun rises in the east so we can pick out which rooms have the most light in the morning. These rooms have the highest value, and the rooms facing west have the darkest value in the morning.

How does knowing about value effect our lives? The rooms with the highest value are not the rooms you want to put your kids in, unless you want them to be the first ones awake each and every day. Yes this example may be pulled from my own daily life. If you want your kids to sleep in, put them in a West-facing room or impede the ability for light to get in the room. Light damping blinds and shades are your tools here. Again these objects affect the room's Value using the artist definition.

Now a word about value in the classroom.

Often this is taught to students by having them do a grey scale in paint or charcoal. In a more liberal project you can have students cut out newspaper clippings and build a value scale that way. This is often followed up by taking the value scale and building a portrait from a black and white picture from the value scales. To see an example you can see what someone named Tsukareru has posted online.

But this is costly in the amount of time you have to teach multiple lessons during the year. Also, unless you have a filling system for students to keep your massive collection of paper clippings, you're going to run out of room quickly and students will start "missing" their work.

I say missing because anyone who has had to teach art has heard "someone stole my work" so many times it haunts their dreams.

So give yourself a pat on the back you took a one question quiz and had to do a sketch of your home. All so you can find out for yourself what Value means as opposed to when a teacher tries to explain it to you. Some of you forgot this information or didn't learn it the first time in school.

Don't worry, we all fall down, it only is failure when we don't pick ourselves up again.

- The Leer

Discipline in the classroom: Why the argument about school uniforms isflawed.

I am a fan of structure. The fact that I can say that and know that it does not conflict with Art or being an Art Teacher may confuse you.

I am not going to lie. I will be forward with you right now and tell you that the military structure changed my life.

The Air Force gave me the opportunity to grow up into an adult with responsibility and achievement that comes with accomplishment.

That is why I feel that some are going to automatically dismiss my stance as some sort of pseudo-military lock step statement and not consider it as a fair portrait of the state of education.

We desperately need school uniforms. Yes, quote me on that. I will stand by that statement day and night. But I will explain that statement and allow you to see why it has become necessary.

Uniforms are a needed component for discipline. Every person in the military knows this; some more than others. Let's consider your average 18 year-old, fresh from graduation and eager to enlist. What common life experiences does he have with a 32 year-old former boxer who has also enlisted?

That answer- the shared experience of basic training and the uniform that they are wearing. I was that 18 year-old kid once. And the other guy was an other guy in my basic training flight. This man was a former light weight boxer from Miami. We did not have a lot of common ground, but I recognized one thing right away.

He knew how to exercise. He kept a steady gait when he ran. He knew how to save his strength and when to expend it. So I emulated his behavior; I modeled how I worked out during basic training on his example. I respected him then, and I still do today.

But let's face facts. In another life, like in the civilian world, he probably would have considered me a pesky kid and ignored me.

But why then did he help me? Discipline. And not the kind of discipline that is created out of fear of some one else. Instead the military teaches each soldier the proper care and wear of their uniform. It starts off small. I can not express to you the number of threads each soldier in basic has to hand pull out of their freshly issued uniform. The Technical Instructors seem to have a radar-like ability to detect and illustrate each and every stray thread. The results of which are such that a recruit does not want to experience them again.

But this is only the smallest step- pulling loose threads out of uniforms. Soon there is how to properly display the uniform when its not in use, how to polish boots and shoes, and even how to wear the hat.

This is time spent ensuring everyone looks like everyone else. These are shared experiences that allow you to demonstrate that you have paid your dues. That you want to be a part of the crowd of individuals who are all wearing the same clothes that you are. Each uniform and your ability to wear it is a clear indicator of your dedication to your purpose.

Why then could we not use a similar means to teach students how to take pride in their appearance? And can that not bridge into teaching students to take pride in their work?

People who are against the use of school uniforms will tell you that there are no hard scientific facts saying that school uniforms improve the academic performance of a school. They will also tell you that it does not make it safer to attend at a school that has a school uniform. They will also tell you that poorer school districts are more likely to have a uniform policy and that the use of a uniform restricts students' freedom of expression and their right to express themselves.

The purpose of school uniforms should not be to strictly raise the test scores of a school. It does not work like that. There is not a grand machine for a school where you plug in factors and watch grades come out. The purpose of school uniforms should be to and yes I am going to quote on this one. Discipline is a primary instructional function of military academies, and it starts with the proper wearing and care of the uniform; when successful, it ends with a code of citizen conduct, self-esteem and pride. This is a quote from the book "Military High Schools in America" by William Tousdale.

When you look at this against Maslow's hierarchy of needs you can plainly see that the use of school uniforms helps students meet the esteem level of development. Furthermore you can see friendship achieved through the use of uniforms as well. By focusing on schools in poorer districts and point at the lack of increase in school grades you are only ignoring the greater detour to achievement, poverty.

Looking at Maslow some more you can see how violence in a school system further blocks a student's ability to achieve.

That leaves only the last issue that objectors of school uniforms will use against it.

The issue of free speech. For this issue I will once again turn to the book "Military High Schools in America," page 95 and 96.

"A question I consistently asked cadets I interviewed is related to this new social group in which the boy finds himself. I asked them if they ever thought about what their teen years spent at a military academy have meant in relation to what their life in the larger outside teen world might have been. I asked whether they missed being able to dress as they please, change their hair style and color whenever they had a whim to do so, go to fast-food restaurants with friends, attend impromptu parties, drive around with friends, 'hang out,' go to the movies on weekends, attend rock concerts, wear earrings, and have body piercings, tattoos, or brandings, if these appealed to them. In short, I asked whether they regretted not living the public high school life out side of home of permissive parents so common today. With one exception, the answer has been a clear and emphatic "No." One cadet said he sometimes thought about missing the senior prom. More commonly, cadets replies that when they were home on leave they found that they no longer had much in common with the kids they had hung out with before, that they had changed a lot in ways that seemed important to them whereas their old buddies and acquaintances appeared much the same as before. One cadet, a boy from an abusive home, said 'When I look in the mirror I feel proud of what I see, of what I have become.'"

The use of a uniform does not limit ones ability to express oneself. If anything it removes a lot of the distraction that inhibit individuals from making meaningful expressions. This is a stance you would fully expect from a Veteran, that I know. But it might be a stance from an Art Teacher that may confuse you. But discipline is something you need every student to be aware of in the art room.

Consider then an art room. They will have lots of paints and other chemicals that need to be, at the very least, closely supervised when in use. It may have a wheel for pottery, and the tripping hazard that comes with it. If it has a wheel then there will be a kiln. A small furnace that can turn dried mud in to a substance similar to stone. Then there are the collections of scissors, exacto knives, box cutters, paint stirrers and other tools. To throw students in a room with all of this without trying to inspire discipline is not only foolish but is dangerous.

Are school uniforms a bandaid and something that will fix education in America? No and I am not going to say they are. Can they turn a middle tier school and help them achieve more? Absolutely, Maslow illistrates that. Are they a start? Yes they are; a start at least.

Just like getting that brand new uniform you have to take a step, find that first thread and pull it. Have some discipline.

Monday, July 23, 2012

NCLB: How are we doing?

Today I'm going to comment on the hard decisions again.

But what are schools struggling with? What goals are they trying to reach?

In short all publicly funded schools are trying to meet the standards of No Child Left Behind.  Likely you're asking yourself "Who doesn't know what NCLB is?" Well to be fair to everyone let's first look at what NCLB does.

I am going to go to the Education Week let this explain this to everyone. But I will touch on some of the big marks.

Schools must have annual testing.

Schools must meet academic progress.

Schools must post their results of testing and if they meet AYP (annual yearly progress) on a school report card.

Schools must have "highly qualified teachers."

Reading First which was developed to set up "scientific, researched-based" reading programs for K-3.

Schools are expected to have resources directed to them with poorer districts receiving funds first.

All of this sounds great. Honestly, these sound like excellent ideas and standards. It is no wonder why this was ushered in with bipartisan support.

Which makes the next part of this so confusing. Especially If you vaguely remember NCLB being passed and then watched the recent rounds of teacher bashing on television.

More than HALF of U.S. states have received waivers from being held to the standards of NCLB. Yes I said that correctly over half of the states have requested and received waivers to no longer be held to the requirements. But these waivers are only good for one year.

Now why would so many states want to opt out of the program? Well let's look at what schools are expected to achieve. The goal of NCLB was that 100 percent of students would be proficient in all subject areas by 2013-2014.

In high school alone that means that 100 percent of students graduate. Never mind that anyone who ever went to high school knows not everyone is going to make it. How many people can think of at least one person who left to go work full time? How many people can think of someone who got pregnant and dropped out? Or someone who just did not understand the material and needs that extra year to fully grasp it.

Also the standards to make AYP are also broken down in to subgroups, including economically disadvantaged students, students who are minorities, and students with disabilities.

While the purpose of NCLB was noble, there has been a very distinct result, and by no means is it a good one.

Report: Students say school is too easy

Not only have we created a system where half of the states admit they can not meet the requirements, but the students themselves tell us that school has become too easy.

We have lowered the bar so we can make an unreasonable AYP. The consequence is schools are not preparing students to be successful in post-secondary education and/or the work force.

So what are we to do?

That is a question that is going to make someone very unpopular in congress. Let's hope someone asks it soon and does more than have a photo op about it.

But the answer is so simple.
The answer is...
Let our teachers teach again. Put the power of education back in the hands of our states, back in the hands of individual school districts, and most importantly - back in the hands of our teachers. Hold teachers accountable for teaching, make tenure harder to get and harder to keep. But ultimately, let our teachers teach. And not just how to take a state mandated test. If we let our teachers teach, then we will once again start producing students who can read (and comprehend), can write, can problem solve and can think critically. Then our country, known for it's greatness, will stop being ranked so low in education on the global scale. Students will once again have a curiosity and thirst for learning. Hallways will be filled with intrinsic-motivated learners. Standards will still be met. And our education system can be truly effective once again.