Playing to weakness: Our weakness

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach says¹:

"We have got to move from a deficit-driven education system to a strength-based education system. Kids come to us, we diagnose what their problem is and we teach to the gap. And the problem with that is if we spend most of our time trying to help kids just meet the gap, they are never going to realize their full potential- they are never going to achieve excellence. [...] The weaknesses will take care of themselves if you appeal to [the] passion [of the kids]."

Not to mention focusing solely on students' weaknesses (their least favorite things), we're convincing them this "learning thing" is just not for them.

My district is very focused on data teams & data driven decisions. We're supposed to figure out what skills students are doing poorly and have them practice these skills more. A good idea in theory. In reality it's like this:

Teacher: "We're going to do more reading."

Student: "I hate reading."

Teacher: "That's why we need to do it more, because you don't like it."

Student: "I hate this place."

Compare to this tact:

Teacher: "What things do you really love to do?"

Student: "I like werewolves & vampires & monsters & stuff."

Teacher: "Sweet! You know, I know of a few books that are all about monsters like that. I'll bring them in tomorrow."

Student: "Awesome!"

Same mission. Different tacts. Very different results.

¹ Quoted from her keynote at ACTEM 2008: "Schooling for the 21st Century: Unleashing Student Passion" given October 17, 2008. Thanks to Bob Sprankle's Bit By Bit Podcast for pushing this out there.