Thursday, April 23, 2009
Why We're Still 'At Risk'
The Legacy of Five Faulty Assumptions
Our new president has looked into the abyss of our current economic, energy, environmental, and health-care policies and promises to challenge the fundamental assumptions on which they are based. He admonishes us to join him in thinking and acting boldly.
We can only hope he feels the same way about education policy.
After nearly 25 years of intensive effort, we have failed to fix our ailing public schools and stem the “rising tide of mediocrity” chronicled in 1983 in A Nation at Risk. This is mainly because the report misdiagnosed the problem, and because the major assumptions on which current education policy—and most reform efforts—have been based are either wrong or unrealistic.
Most of the people running our public education systems and leading the reform movement are knowledgeable, dedicated, and experienced. But they are so committed to a strategy of standards-based accountability that different ideas are marginalized or stifled completely.
One could write a book about each of the five major assumptions on which education policy rests, but in this limited space, a few brief paragraphs will have to suffice.
Assumption One: The best way to improve student performance and close achievement gaps is to establish rigorous content standards and a core curriculum for all schools—preferably on a national basis.
Standards-based accountability has been the national school reform strategy for nearly two decades. It is essentially a “get tough” strategy made tougher by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. By all measures, it has not lived up to its promise, and the reason is that it is based on the premise that if we demand high performance and educational excellence, schools, teachers, and students will somehow “just do it.” It is a strategy that basically expects schools to be highly structured institutions with uniform practices and policies, where a common version of education is delivered to all students.
Standardization and uniformity may work with cars and computers, but it doesn’t work with humans. Today’s student body is the most diverse in history. An education system that treats all students alike denies that reality.
The issue is not whether standards are necessary. Schools without standards are unacceptable. Society should indeed hold high expectations for all students, but those expectations should reflect the values of the family and society—doing one’s best, obeying the rules, and mutual respect—and not simply the archaic academic demands of college-admissions offices. We should be preparing young people for life, not just for college.
Standards don’t prepare students for anything; they are a framework of expectations and educational objectives. Without the organization and processes to achieve them, they are worthless. States have devoted nearly 20 years to formulating standards to be accomplished by a conventional school model that is incapable of meeting them. We will make real progress only when we realize that our problem in education is not one of performance but one of design.
Assumption Two: Standardized-test scores are an accurate measure of student learning and should be used to determine promotion and graduation.
The standards-based-accountability strategy, not surprisingly, has led to the alarming overuse of standardized tests, even in the opinion of some test-makers and psychometricians.
Some measures of accountability are necessary in any endeavor that spends public money and is responsible for an important societal mission. But is testing all students virtually every year really necessary to determine whether the system is working effectively and the money spent well? If test scores are the accepted indicator, schools have not been meeting the needs of students for the past couple of decades. So why spend more money and time on constant testing to tell us what we already know—especially when standardized tests do a poor job of measuring real learning, don’t assess most of the characteristics valued by parents and the larger society, and contribute almost nothing to the process of teaching and learning.
If the purpose of standardized testing is to measure student achievement so teachers can help individual students learn better, it fails miserably. Standardized-test scores tend, instead, to say more about a student’s socioeconomic status than about his or her abilities. If testing is to have a positive effect on student achievement, it should be formative testing that is an integral part of classroom teaching and learning.
The most disturbing aspect of today’s standardized testing grows out of the "get tough" strategy’s emphasis on high-risk tests. Using standardized-test scores to determine promotion and graduation is unconscionable. A recent Texas study confirms the negative impact of high-risk testing on students. The report notes that 135,000 high school students drop out each year, and that “the state’s high-stakes accountability system has a direct impact on the severity of the dropout problem.” Teachers complain that they are compelled to devote valuable instructional time to preparing students for the test. They argue that the demand of ubiquitous accountability testing tends to narrow the curriculum. And they say that by teaching to the test, as they are expected to do, they are forced to turn education into a game of Trivial Pursuit.
Except in school, people are judged by their work and their behavior. Few of the business and political leaders who advocate widespread use of standardized testing have taken a standardized test since leaving college. It is probably a safe bet that the majority of them, even after 16 years of formal education, could not pass the tests they require students to pass.
"But I took those courses years ago," they say. "I can’t remember all that stuff." Exactly.
A common justification for standardized testing is that it’s the best proxy for student achievement we have until something better comes along. The performance-based assessment used in many charter schools (and now statewide in Rhode Island and New Hampshire) is better.
Assumption Three: We need to put highly qualified teachers in every classroom to assure educational excellence.
A great idea! If we could do that, we’d be a long way to solving our education problem.
But it won’t happen for decades, if ever.
As a host of studies over the past 25 years have revealed, the teacher pipeline is broken at several points. We don’t attract enough of the brightest young people into teaching; we don’t prepare them well for the job; many find their working conditions and compensation unacceptable; and teachers are not treated as professionals.
Highly effective teachers are more crucial to the success of standards-based accountability than anything else. Without enough of them, the strategy can’t work. As any reasonable person would have anticipated, we missed the NCLB goal of having a highly qualified teacher in every classroom by 2006. Improving teaching is as difficult as improving student achievement.
More accountability is again seen as a major part of the solution: more-rigorous certification, tougher teacher evaluation, and higher teacher pay. But certification guarantees a high-quality teacher about as much as a driver’s license guarantees a good driver. Tougher evaluation would help get rid of ineffective teachers, but it’s hard to see how it would produce more good teachers. Higher pay is fine, but it is no more likely to improve teaching any time soon than raising pilots’ pay would make flying safer.
If we want effective teaching, we should change the ways schools are organized and operated, and shift the teacher’s primary role from an academic instructor to an adviser, someone who helps students manage their own education.
A rational system would redesign itself and make organizational and procedural changes that optimize the positive influence of good teachers and minimize the negatives. Creating opportunities for teachers to work together, to teach in teams, to share in professional development, and to be more involved in educational decisionmaking are ways to bring out the best in teachers.
Again, there are examples on the ground that such an approach works.
Assumption Four: The United States should require all students to take algebra in the 8th grade and higher-order math in high school in order to increase the number of scientists and engineers in this country and thus make us more competitive in the global economy.
This assumption has become almost an obsession in policymaking arenas today. Requiring every student to study higher-order math is a waste of resources and cruel and unusual punishment for legions of students. It diverts attention away from the real problem: our failure to help kids become proficient readers and master basic arithmetic.
The United States must indeed produce more scientists and engineers to compete in a global economy. But it is fallacious to assume that we can accomplish that by requiring every student to take algebra in the 8th grade and higher-order math through high school. It is like believing that by requiring high school students to take a few courses in painting, we will make them all artists.
Most young people who go into science and engineering are well on their way by the time they start high school, because they become hooked on science or math in the early grades and do well in mathematics in elementary and middle school. Some will go on to become scientists and engineers; others will not. To expect otherwise is unreasonable.
If the nation wants more scientists and engineers, then educators need to find ways to awaken and nourish a passion for those subjects well before high school, and then offer students every opportunity to pursue their interest as far as they wish.
Assumption Five: The student-dropout rate can be reduced by ending social promotion, funding dropout-prevention programs, and raising the mandatory attendance age.
Arguably, the dropout rate is the most telling evidence of public school failure. Nearly a third of entering high school freshmen drop out. The percentage is higher for blacks, Hispanics, and English-language learners. And in many urban districts, the dropout rate borders on the horrendous.
Most students drop out of school for legitimate reasons, and trying to talk them out of it with “just stay in” programs, or forcing them to attend for an additional year or two, makes no sense. The “get tough” strategy of high standards, rigorous curricula, and more testing has not lowered the dropout rate and, as the Texas study cited shows, probably increases it.
Dropping out of school is not an impulsive decision. The process begins long before high school, often by the 4th or 5th grade, when courses begin to be content-heavy and students can no longer get by with the ability to “decode” English, but must be able to understand what they read. If scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress are reliable measures, only about a quarter of 4th graders can read proficiently, and the percentage declines in the 8th and 12th grades.
Students who fail early and often come to accept failure as inevitable and are on the path to dropping out as soon as they can. Probably a third of students who plan to drop out have made up their minds by the 8th grade and mark time until they can legally leave school.
To reduce the dropout rate, we must first understand and accept why students choose to leave school. The reasons most often given are boredom, personal or family problems, and inability to understand and do the work required. A smaller percentage of students drop out because they find school to be a waste of time; these often are young people with the ability to succeed in school but who find that what is offered in the classroom doesn’t interest or challenge them. (Some years ago, a survey of students asked what word they would use to define school. “Boring” won hands down.)
The key to graduating is learning; the key to learning is motivation. There are innovative public schools that graduate most of their students because they personalize education, encourage students to pursue their interests and build on that enthusiasm, and offer multiple opportunities to learn instead of a one-size-fits-all education.
President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan should open a second front in this war on mediocrity and failure.
We need to continue making every effort to improve the existing public schools. They will enroll most of our young people for many years to come.
Simultaneously, we should pursue a parallel strategy of creating new, innovative schools and giving them the autonomy and resources to explore new ideas. These new schools can be a much-needed research-and-development sector for the conventional system.
Secretary Duncan should support a national effort patterned after Renaissance 2010, the program he launched in Chicago to replace failing schools with new, diverse models different from conventional schools and from each other.
It is neither wise nor necessary to bet the future on a single reform strategy, especially when hundreds, perhaps thousands, of schools are demonstrating every day that there are other and more successful ways to help children learn and succeed.
But we can pursue two strategies only if we act to assure that the dominant strategy does not smother the fledgling movement in its crib.
Ronald A. Wolk is the founder and former editor of Education Week. He is retired and chairs Big Picture Learning, a nonprofit organization in Providence, R.I., that creates innovative new schools. He is also the chair emeritus of Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit corporation that publishes Education Week. The views expressed here are his own.
Special coverage marking the 25th anniversary of the landmark report A Nation at Risk is supported in part by a grant from the Broad Foundation.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
What is a relationship, and what special qualities are present in informal education? We suggest that the focus on learning, mutuality and the emotional bond between people are important features of the sorts of relationships that informal educators are involved in.
Contents: introduction · relationship for starters · some features of relationships · relationship as a catalyst · relationships that facilitate learning · conclusion · further reading and references · links
There is, and has been, a lot of talk about relationship in youth work and informal education. Two themes emerge with some regularity. These are:
Education for relationship. The ability to develop good and satisfying interpersonal relationships is seen as the main, or a major reason for fostering learning. This has been one of the main themes lying behind many informal educators concern with social education.
Education through relationship. Our relationships are a fundamental source of learning. By paying attention to the nature of the relationship between educators and learners, it is argued, we can make a significant difference. In particular, the quality of the relationship deeply influences the hopefulness required to remain curious and open to new experiences, and the capacity to see connections and discover meanings (Salzberger-Wittenberg et al. 1983: ix).
Here we are going to explore what we mean by ‘relationship’, some particular features of the relationships involving informal educators, relationship as a catalyst and the facilitative qualities of relationship.
Relationship for starters
Relationship is one of those words often used, but taken for granted. We ‘know’ what it means. We know relationships are important. We know relationships can be difficult. We know relationships can bring great happiness and sadness. But what actually is a relationship in the context of human behaviour?
George Goetschius and Joan Tash (1967: 137), in one of the classic texts of youth work, provide us with a good starting point: ‘A relationship is a connection between two people in which some sort of exchange takes place’. In other words, there is some sort of link between people – and it involves interaction. That connection may be something that we are born into, such as is the case with families, or it might arise out of a particular need. A classic example of the latter can be found in the marketplace. We might want to buy bread, so we look for someone who can sell us it. What is interesting about this is that the two sides have different interests (buying and selling). However, they can come together as their interests are compatible – both can be satisfied. There is advantage to both in the link. We can also see here the nature of the exchange – bread for money. At this sort of level there is at first glance very little emotion involved. As George Goetschius and Joan Tash (1967: 137) again say, a relationship ‘may be verbal, emotional, physical or intellectual, and is often all of these’. They further comment:
It may include an exchange of ideas, skills, attitudes or values, or even the exchange of things – money, tools or food. Relationships ‘happen’ at all times, in all places, in all parts of society, and in all phases of the development of individuals. We are involved in relationships all the time.
It is important to hold onto an appreciation of relationship as something everyday. However, we also need to recognize just how complex even apparently simple relationships such as buying and selling are. They entail cooperation and trust.
Building such cooperation and trust is a fundamental aspect of relationship. We have to work at them. Relationships are things people do, not just have (Duck 1999: 21). This said we should also recognize the contribution of our social instincts. As Matt Ridley (1997: 249) put it, ‘Our minds have been built by selfish genes, but they have been built to be social, trustworthy and cooperative’. He continues:
Matt Ridley - The origins of virtureHumans have social instincts. They come into the world equipped with predispositions to learn how to cooperate, to discriminate the trustworthy from the treacherous, to commit themselves to be trustworthy, to earn good reputations, to exchange goods and information, and to divide labour… Far from being a universal feature of animal life, as Kropotkin believed, this instinctive cooperativeness is the very hallmark of humanity and what sets us apart from other animals. (Ridley 1997: 249)
To this extent, the cultivation of reciprocity, honesty and trust is less about building alien institutions and structures, than creating the conditions for their emergence. Relationships are strongly influenced by context.
Lastly, it is worth making the distinction between personal relationships and social relationships. The former are relationships between two people ‘who cannot be exchanged without changing the nature of the relationship (Duck 1999: 124). An example of this would two people who are ‘best friends’. In contrast, social relationships are where ‘two partners in an interaction could be exchanged and the relationship would be the same’ (op. cit). Here a classic example would be sales assistant and a customer in a shop. Informal educators largely work through personal relationships.
Some features of relationships
Felix P. Biestek (1961) in The Casework Relationship argues that while the many possible interpersonal relationships have similarities, each has its special features. He suggests a number of questions:
What is the purpose of the relationship? The purpose will largely determine its nature and qualities. For instance, the purpose of parent-child and the caseworker-client relationships immediately suggest many differences.
Are both parties on terms of equality, are the benefits resulting from the relationship mutual? They usually are in a friend-friend relationship but not in the teacher-pupil or leader-follower relationship.
Is there an emotional component in the relationship? It is present in the parent-child relationship but absent in the ticket-agent-traveller relationship.
Is it a professional relationship, such as physician-patient, or non-professional, as between friend-friend?
What is the normal duration of the relationship? The teacher-pupil is temporary; friend-friend may be temporary or permanent; the parent-child relationship is lifelong. (Biestek 1961: 5-6)
If we then consider these features with regard to educators (he looks at the casework relationship) then a number of interesting aspects appear. To rephrase Biestek (1961: 6), the educative relationship differs from others on a number of points. It differs from the parent-child relationship in that it is temporary, and the emotional content is not so deep and penetrating. It is unlike a friend-friend relationship in that there is not quite the same degree of mutuality and equality. This is how Biestek op cit. describes it in terms of casework:
The caseworker and the client are fundamentally equal as human beings; but in the casework situation the caseworker is the helping person, while the client is the person receiving help.
The same applies to educators. While there is some mutuality in the exchange – the educator may learn as well as the ‘learner’ – the fundamental focus of the exchange should be the learning of the student or participant.
It is also interesting to look at the emotional content of the exchange. In some teaching situations the interaction may be at an overtly intellectual level; in others an emotional component may be a necessary element for achieving the purpose of the relationship. A common mistake (and one that Biestek falls into) is thinking that teaching and educating are essentially intellectual.
Another interesting dynamic arises out the extent to which both parties are active. It could be said, for example, that arguably most doctor-patient relationships are characterized by a fair degree of passivity on the part of the patient. They are the receivers of the doctor’s services. Patients have to cooperate, but it is the skills and medicines of the doctor that do the curing (Biestek 1961: 6). In contrast, Biestek suggests, ‘In casework the client does more than merely cooperate; he is helped to help himself’. Within the literature of lifelong learning and adult education, this theme is reproduced in discussions of self-direction.
If we go down Biestek’s list when considering what informal educators do then we might conclude that:
The fundamental purpose of the relationship lies in the fostering of learning in the group or the individual that the educator is working with. There are two important elements here as we have seen. First, through the relationships people make they learn about the interests, issues or enthusiasms that have brought them together. For example, an informal educator may encourage a group to take part in an ‘adventure weekend’. As part of that experience the worker may invite them to try canoeing. Because of the relationship they have with the educator, the group is willing to try new activities. The worker may also encourage them to reflect upon the experience and to gain new understandings. Second, a significant part of the learning will be about the experience of relationships themselves. If take our example further, it is quite likely that the educator will ask people to think about the relationships in the group (if they need any encouragement!) – how they work together and treat each other, who takes leadership roles and so on. In other words, people learn about relationship through being in relationship.
There is a strong degree of equality and mutuality involved in the relationship – it should be one where people encounter each other as subjects rather than the educator seeking to act upon the other as an object. This is a point that Freire makes with some force. However, we cannot get away with the fact that as educators we do have some areas of expertise. For informal educators this may well be around the process of learning, an appreciation of the nature of human relationships and human flourishing, and in some subject areas. This is not to deny that our partners in the encounter do not also come with expertise and understanding in particular areas. Indeed, it is important to recognize the encounter as an exchange, a dialogue.
There is a significant emotional content to the relationship. As Salzberger-Wittenberg et al. (1983) have shown, fundamental emotions are involved in learning and run through the relationships of educators and learners. Learning can be painful as well as exciting. Educators, thus, have a particular role to play in creating environments in which powerful feelings of fear and pain can be contained. Informal educators may well try to create places of sanctuary, spaces where people feel safe. One aspect of this is people having some sense that they are away from the things that cause them pain or concern. Here they need educators and the other people in the setting to treat them with respect, to be tolerant, and to give them room. An important feature of this is for educators to acknowledge people’s pain and difficulties, but not to push and prod. Sanctuary doesn’t involve sweeping issues under the carpet, but rather creating the conditions so that people can talk when they are ready. This often involves educators in treading a fine line between quietness and encouraging conversation. Often powerful feelings are contained because people feel they are with someone who is safe, who will not condemn them for the emotions they are experiencing or the things they have done. This brings us squarely to the person and disposition of the educator. As we will see below when we come to discuss Carl Rogers’ exploration of the core conditions for a helping or learning relationships the ‘realness’, ability to prize and accept, and capacity to appreciate what people may be feeling are of fundamental importance.
A further, key, aspect of such helping or learning relationships is the extent to which transference’ may be present. Freud argued that transference lies at the core of the therapeutic relationship but it also can be a significant part of educative relationships. In therapy it entails patients placing ‘the intense feelings associated with parents and other authority figures’ onto the therapist (Tennant 1997: 23-4).
We mean a transference of feelings on to the person of the doctor, since we do not believe that the situation in the treatment could justify the development of such feelings. We suspect, upon the contrary, that the whole readiness for these feelings is derived from elsewhere, that they were already present in the patient and, upon the opportunity offered by the analytical treatment, are transferred on to the person of the doctor. (Freud 1973: 494)
In other words, in an educative relationship all sorts of things might be ‘placed upon’ educators. They may come to represent in some way someone else who is significant to the experience of the people they are working with. Exploring how people see us educators may well give us some clues about people’s other relationships.
We need to attend to our role. Informal educators may be specially trained and paid to work with individuals and groups, or they may be an educator by virtue of the relationships they have. Parents, for example, often teach their children, or join with them in ‘learning’ conversations. This involves them in establishing and maintaining a role as an educator. However, this is often more easily said than achieved. Many professional informal educators, for example, operate in settings where they have to work very hard at being recognized first and foremost as educators. The agency may well employ them as, say, a key worker within a hostel or day centre. As such they may well be drawing upon an understanding of a role derived from social work or care management. Similar conflicts can arise within youth work, community development and other agencies. There is a further struggle in terms of working with the project participant or client. They may well come to the group or the setting not recognizing it as an educational setting. For example, they may have wanted to take part in a particular activity or interest such as a sport or some sort of creative arts. Deepening their abilities in football, say, may well be part of their agenda, but they may well not see the worker in the group as an educator. What we have here is a classic question of role. The educator is seeking to establish themselves in that role – and they need that role to be accepted by others if they are to function.
One further thing needs noting here. The behaviour that is directed at us may well derive from the way people see and experience our role, rather than the people we are. In a community group we may get abused because we ask questions about the way money is being handled. These questions can arise directly from our role with the group (as informal educators we are committed to certain values e.g. around justice and truth, and to furthering and deepening associational life). Some of the abuse may come because of the way we ask questions (i.e. the person we are in the situation); sometimes there may be transference (see above); but often it is the role that is the issue.
For professional informal educators relationships are mostly temporary. Indeed, they can be very short – just one encounter. However, in some working situations, such as in a school, club or project the relationship may exist over a number of years.
Relationship as a catalyst
Helen Harris Perlman argues that what we call ‘relationship’ is ‘a catalyst, an enabling dynamism in the support, nurture, and freeing of people’s energies and motivations toward solving problems and using help’ (1979: 2). She is guided by two propositions. That:
The emotional bond that unifies two (or more) people around some shared concern is charged with enabling, facilitative powers.
In an increasing anomic and depersonalised world, there may be potential humanizing value in even brief and task-focused encounters between one person and another. An understanding, emphatic relationship contributes to a person’s sense of inner security and alliance with their peers. (ibid.: 2-3).
The fact that someone is prepared to ‘share’ our worries and concerns, to be with us when we are working at something can be very significant. It can reduce the feeling that we are alone and that the tasks we face are so huge. Their pleasure in our achievements or concern for our hurt can motivate us to act. Crucially, their valuing of us as people can help us to discover the worth in ourselves, and the belief that we can change things. Relationships can animate, breathe life into situations.
Relationships are obviously not all that we need. It is not at all a substitute for the opportunities and material things people need in order to flourish. But it is an essential accompanying condition, ‘because it is the nourisher and mover of the human being’s wish and will to use the resources provided and the powers within himself to fulfil his personal and social-well-being’ (Perlman 1979: 11).
Relationships that facilitate learning
Carl Rogers once wrote, ‘The facilitation of significant learning rests upon certain attitudinal qualities that exist in the personal relationship between facilitator and learner’(1990: 305). He highlights three significant qualities or attitudes that facilitate learning:
Realness in the facilitator of learning. Perhaps the most basic of these essential attitudes is realness or genuineness. When the facilitator is a real person, being what she is, entering into a relationship with the learner without presenting a front or a façade, she is much more likely to be effective. This means that the feelings that she is experiencing are available to her, available to her awareness, that she is able to live these feelings, be them, and able to communicate if appropriate. It means coming into a direct personal encounter with the learner, meeting her on a person-to-person basis. It means that she is being herself, not denying herself.
Prizing, acceptance, trust. There is another attitude that stands out in those who are successful in facilitating learning… I think of it as prizing the learner, prizing her feelings, her opinions, her person. It is a caring for the learner, but a non-possessive caring. It is an acceptance of this other individual as a separate person, having worth in her own right. It is a basic trust - a belief that this other person is somehow fundamentally trustworthy… What we are describing is a prizing of the learner as an imperfect human being with many feelings, many potentialities. The facilitator’s prizing or acceptance of the learner is an operational expression of her essential confidence and trust in the capacity of the human organism.
Empathetic understanding. A further element that establishes a climate for self-initiated experiential learning is emphatic understanding. When the teacher has the ability to understand the student’s reactions from the inside, has a sensitive awareness of the way the process of education and learning seems to the student, then again the likelihood of significant learning is increased…. [Students feel deeply appreciative] when they are simply understood – not evaluated, not judged, simply understood from their own point of view, not the teacher’s. (Rogers 1967)
As we have discussed elsewhere (see Carl Rogers, the core conditions and informal education) his third condition 'empathetic understanding' does raise a number of problems. Rogers emphasizes achieving a full an understanding of the other person as is possible. Here we might argue that in conversation, the task is not so much to enter and understand the other person, as to work for understanding and commitment. This is not achieved simply by getting into the shoes of another. Conversation involves working to bring together the insights and questions of the different parties; it entails the fusion of a number of perspectives, not the entering into of one (Gadamer 1979: 271-3). However, the core conditions that Carl Rogers identifies are a very helpful starting point for considering the attitude or orientation of informal educators in relationships.
In this piece we have seen how relationship is both a medium through which informal educators work, and a state that they want to foster. Being in relationship allows us to flourish. It involves an emotional connection with another and can animate us.
Relationship is a human being’s feeling or sense of emotional bonding with another. It leaps into being like an electric current, or it emerges and develops cautiously when emotion is aroused by and invested in someone or something and that someone or something “connects back” responsively. We feel “related” when we feel at one with another (person or object) in some heartfelt way (Perlman 1979: 23)
Informal educators should not just be concerned with the way in which one individual relates to another, they should also look to the group and the life of the association. In other words, their concern with relationship isn’t an individual affair. It links to a concern to work so that all may share in a common life. As Richard Bernstein once put it, it is important ‘to try and try again to foster and nurture those forms of communal life in which dialogue, conversation, phronesis, practical discourse, and judgment are concretely embodied in our everyday practices’ (Bernstein 1983: 229).
Further reading and references
Biestek, F. P. (1961) The Casework Relationship, London: Unwin University Books. 149 pages. Classic exploration with an opening chapter on the essence of the casework relationship and then a discussion of what Biestek sees as the seven principles of the casework relationship: individualization, purposeful expression of feelings, controlled emotional involvement, acceptance, non-judgemental attitude, client self-determination, confidentiality.
Perlman, H. H. (1979) Relationship. The heart of helping people, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Rogers (1967) ‘The interpersonal relationship in the facilitation of learning’ reprinted in H. Kirschenbaum and V. L. Henderson (eds.) (1990) The Carl Rogers Reader, London: Constable, pages 304-311.
Salzberger-Wittenberg, I., Henry, G. and Osborne, E. (1983) The Emotional Experience of Learning and Teaching, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. 155 + xii pages. One of the few books to tackle the subject at any length. Written by a group of writers attached to the Tavistock Clinic, the book examines the nature of the relationship between the student and the teacher and the emotions involved.
Bernstein, R.R. J. (1983) Beyond Objectivism and Relativism. Science, hermeneutics and praxis, Oxford: Blackwell.
Buber, M. (1958) I and Thou 2e, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark. Translation: R. Gregory Smith.
Duck, S. (1999) Relating to Others 2e, Buckingham: Open University Press.
Gadamer, H-G. (1979) Truth and Method 2e, London: Sheed and Ward.
Goetschius, G. W. and Tash, M. J. (1967) Working with Unattached Youth. Problem, approach, method, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Perlman, H. H. (1979) Relationship. The heart of helping people, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Rogers (1967) ‘The interpersonal relationship in the facilitation of learning’ reprinted in H. Kirschenbaum and V. L. Henderson (eds.) (1990) The Carl Rogers Reader, London: Constable, pages 304-311.
Tennant, M. (1997) Psychology and Adult Learning, London: Routledge.
Vermes, P. (1988) Buber, London: Peter Halban.
How to cite this piece: Smith, M. K. (2001) 'Relationship' in the encyclopaedia of informal education [www.infed.org/biblio/relationship.htm. Last update: October 01, 2008 ].
Acknowledgements: the picture of the Amish figurines is by Philip Sasser 2004 and is used under licence from stock.xchng. All rights reseserved.
© Mark K. Smith 2001
Monday, April 06, 2009
|Robots crash and bang into the corner at Saturday's FIRST Robotics competition at EMU|
Posted: Saturday, 04 April 2009 5:27PM
Pontiac Northern, Milford, Utica Win FIRST Robotics Michigan
By Matt Roush
A coalition of teams from Pontiac Northern, Milford and Utica high schools won the FIRST Robotics state championship at Eastern Michigan University Saturday afternoon, earning the right to represent the Great Lakes State at the FIRST world championships April 16-18 in Atlanta, Ga.
They bested a coalition of teams from Fremont, Berkley and Grand Rapids Creston high schools.
Around 4,000 students, mentors, teachers, family members and volunters crowded EMU's Convocation Center for the raucous finals, complete with team mascots, flags, slogans, pounding music and big-screen video.
Teams that made the quarterfinals but didn’t advance to the semis were Auburn Hills Notre Dame Prep, Belding, Bloomfield Hills Andover, Bloomfield Hills International Academy, Madison Heights Bishop Foley, Pontiac Oakland County Schools, Romulus, Saginaw Career Complex, Southgate Anderson, Troy, Ypsilanti Willow Run and a combined team of Zeeland East and West high schools.
FIRST, an acronym for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, was established in the late 1980s by inventor Dean Kamen as a way to get American high school students as interested in science and engineering as they are in sports. The robotics competitions borrow a great deal of their style from big-time sporting events, as teams of robots work together to accomplish specific tasks in a game that changes every year.
From Feb. 27 through March 28, FIRST in Michigan operated seven district events to determine which teams would qualify for the state finals. The 2009 season in Michigan has seen an entirely new competition format that is serving as a pilot program for FIRST, with smaller "district" competitions restricted to Michigan teams replacing larger, more involved "regional" events in the state that were open to teams from anywhere. The idea was to cut travel and other expenses for the teams to make FIRST more affordable.
Michigan added 16 new rookie teams this year and how has 134 total, trailing only California in the number of participating schools.
This year's game, called "Lunacy," saw robots designed to pick up and dump 9-inch game balls into goals hitched to their opponents' roobts for points during a two-minute, 15-second match. Additional points are awarded for scoring a special game ball, the Super Cell, in the last 20 seconds of the match. Teams can also score by tossing balls into their opponents' trailers from designated points around the competition floor -- meaning that many teams this year recruited basketball or baseball players who could throw the balls accurately for long distances. A first this year was a low-friction competition floor and low-friction tires, which made the robots slip and slide and piloting more diffiicult.
The state's top 64 teams qualified for a chance to compete in the state championship. A day and a half of seeding matches whittled that down to the top eight teams. Those teams got to choose two alliance partners each -- teams they thought offered robots that could complement their own. Thus, eight three-team alliances competed in best-of-three elimination rounds in quarterfinals and semifinals before a thrilling finals showdown that offered all the drama and surprises of a state championship athletic match.
More at www.firstinmichigan.org.