Old School Rebranded to Vintage

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old school
via Flickr, common usage (license)

Old school is not a derogatory term in my opinion. We put men on the moon with “old school” instruction.

The term old school, conjures up memories of fish on Fridays, apple brown betty, and jumping rope at recess. Old school meant that getting in trouble at school brought double trouble at home. At this point I would happily embrace many of the old school practices, and I wonder when will the pendulum swing back? 

Educational mandates are passed by uninformed legislators looking to line their resumes with passed school reform bills.

One old school practice that I long for is the one time annual Spring state assessment. In our school calendar this year there are only 27 days that are not in a testing window. That means that there are only 27 days this school year when children in our district are not being tested for one thing or another!

Certainly not all students are being tested with each assessment on the calendar but it does tell the story as to what teachers are spending their time doing…giving the assessments!

My Title 1 teacher has lost 5 weeks of instruction this year because she has been one of those responsible for testing. We are so busy testing that we have little time to teach. We are so data rich that we do not have time to analyze the data! Whose decisions are these? Not educators, I can assure you. Educational mandates are passed by uninformed legislators looking to line their resumes with passed school reform bills.

Years ago we gave one state assessment per year in April. That was it. We got the results back in May, reflected upon our instruction, and got back to what we loved doing–teaching. Old school at its finest!

Foucault’s pendulum via photopin (license)

As we approach the PARCC assessment we prepare to give it not only once but twice this year. Twice! And we do not get the results back until next Fall. By then my entire fifth grade will have moved on to the middle school. I pine for the days of old, when education was simple and quality was defined by instruction, not by a state assessment.

As we move to the future of education let us not lose sight of the past and the common sense practices that are in some ways connected to inventions like the microwave, GPS, and current computers we depend on today. Let the pendulum begin to swing back and find some middle ground.

Let us have dessert with school lunches, find time for free play, and have parents partner with us to hold children accountable for their actions.

Let’s rebrand the term “old school” to “vintage education.” Vintage implies respect, quality and refinement.

Not everything old school is outdated. I celebrate vintage education, a common sense approach that takes the best practices of old schools and molds them into the schools of tomorrow. Fish on Fridays and kids jumping rope at recess.

What components of vintage education would you like to resurrect?

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Cathy Beck

Principal of a dual language IB elementary school. Beck is the co-author of Easy and Effective Professional Development, published by Routledge. She is a professor at both Concordia University and American College of Education. You can reach her on Twitter @cathypetreebeck.

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