Featuring Faculty Guest Blogger Dr. Sharon J. Lynch
Participants in our 10th annual Educational Symposium for Research Innovations (ESRI), or at least those who were lucky enough to wake up early on Saturday morning for the keynote address, had the extra bonus of hearing Dr. Joan Ferrini-Mundy’s superb talk about the National Science Foundation’s commitment to improved STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education at all levels. The timing of ESRI and of Ferrini-Mundy’s visit was exquisite, coming just a few weeks after President Obama reaffirmed that the state of our union hinges on continued investments in education to meet changing job and skill needs of the coming century. (By the way, major kudos to Professor Rick Jakeman, the faculty supervisor for ESRI, and to Chris Harriss, Student Chair, for pulling off yet another outstanding conference!)
Today I am happy to welcome my first faculty “guest blogger” to this site, Professor Sharon J. Lynch, who is involved in critically important research on STEM education. Here Professor Lynch reviews preliminary findings from her NSF-funded project. I urge you to read on for her thoughtful summary, which is not only substantively rich but also is a model for the ways in which GSEHD strives to connect rigorous research to improved policy and practice.
February 25, 2013
I recently returned from an exhilarating faculty mission to Israel aimed at discovering and shaping potential exchange programs and collaborative research ventures with colleagues in various Israeli education and research organizations. We participated in an all-day joint workshop at the Western Galilee College, met with education leaders in various cities including Rahat (a Bedouin village near Beersheva) and Jerusalem, held intensive deliberations with senior staff of the Mandel Leadership Institute, and visited with the President emeritus and senior scholars of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. While in Jerusalem, I had the good fortune of being invited to speak at a major international education conference. The theme of this meeting, organized by the renowned Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, was “From Regulation to Trust: Education in the 21st Century,” and featured workshops, working groups, lectures, and sessions that probed the tensions – along with possible remedies — between trust, accountability, and regulation in education.
In my remarks I addressed some of the origins of accountability in democratic societies and some of the risks associated with relying too heavily on testing as the preferred metric by which the public acquires knowledge of the quality of schools, teachers, and learning. I encouraged a more moderate approach to developing a balance between blind trust of teachers and stifling controls that prevent professional excellence in the classroom.
An abridged version of the speech is below. Valerie Strauss, author of the Washington Post blog The Answer Sheet, was kind enough to post this version on her blog, which you can view here.
June 21, 2012
Abridged version of the Van Leer Institute Speech – Jerusalem, June 2012:
The topic of this conference brings back fond memories of my undergraduate years at Queens College (CUNY), where lessons of accountability and trust were a central part of the informal curriculum. The president when I was there, 1969-1973, was a remarkable young man named Joseph Murphy. Joe had come to Queens after writing his PhD under Herbert Marcuse at Brandeis University, drafting speeches for the Kennedys, and directing the Peace Corps in Ethiopia – all by the time he was 38. The name Murphy sounds Irish, but there was more to it.