21 de agosto de 2017

Antonio Gois: A conta não fecha


21/08/2017 , O Globo
Falta de prioridade no orçamento, crise econômica e teto de gastos sem reforma da Previdência indicam cenário preocupante para a educação

No início do mês, o governo federal sancionou a Lei de Diretrizes Orçamentárias para 2018 com vetos a um artigo que previa prioridade de recursos para cumprir as metas do Plano Nacional de Educação. No mesmo artigo vetado constava também a determinação para que fosse implementado o Custo Aluno Qualidade Inicial, estratégia que consta do plano e que foi pensada como mecanismo para estabelecer um padrão mínimo de financiamento necessário para um ensino de qualidade.
Como esperado, as principais entidades e movimentos do setor educacional criticaram o veto, feito pelo Executivo com o argumento de que o artigo incluído na lei por parlamentares de diversos partidos colocaria em risco o cumprimento da meta fiscal. 
Em 2014, último ano para o qual há dados oficiais disponíveis, o Brasil investiu 6% de seu PIB em educação pública. Foi também naquele ano em que o país aprovou o Plano Nacional de Educação, com metas para serem alcançadas no setor pelos próximos dez anos. Vínhamos de uma década de crescimento econômico e de ampliação nos investimentos em educação. 
Este percentual de 6%, quando comparado ao de nações desenvolvidas hoje, não é baixo. O problema é que, quando se considera o tamanho da população, o peso da economia brasileira é muito menor em relação aos países mais ricos. É por isto que este investimento resulta num gasto por aluno na educação básica que não chega sequer a metade do valor verificado na média dos países da OCDE (organização que congrega, em sua maioria, nações desenvolvidas).
É claro que, considerando a ineficiência do gasto público em educação no país, mais dinheiro, apenas, não é garantia de melhoria da qualidade. Mas é difícil acreditar que, gastando menos da metade da média por aluno em relação a países desenvolvidos e ainda considerando todo o nosso atraso histórico, conseguiremos ao menos chegar próximos do nível de qualidade do ensino registrado nas nações mais ricas.
Por outro lado, é fato também que a simples aprovação de uma lei não é suficiente para resolver o problema do financiamento educacional no país. Para que mais recursos cheguem ao chão da sala de aula, é preciso que a economia cresça. Esse foi um dos argumentos utilizados pelo governo Temer para aprovar no final do ano passado a PEC que estabeleceu um teto de gastos públicos. Ao responder as críticas de que a medida tiraria recursos da educação, o presidente garantiu que o setor continuaria sendo priorizado em seu orçamento. O recente veto ao artigo da LDO vai na direção contrária.
Além das incertezas em relação ao crescimento econômico e à prioridade que será dada ao ensino público nos próximos anos, há ainda outro sério agravante para o financiamento do setor: devido ao envelhecimento populacional, o estabelecimento de um teto de gastos públicos sem mudanças na Previdência levará inevitavelmente a uma diminuição dos investimentos no setor. 
A conta para a educação não fecha. 

Reformas educacionais no país esquecem o principal, o professor


fábio takahashi
É coordenador do Núcleo de Inteligência da Folha e vice-presidente da Associação de Jornalistas de Educação.


Cingapura e Finlândia eram pobres até meados do século passado. A melhoria da educação básica foi vista em ambos lugares como base para tornar suas sociedades mais produtivas e criativas. Hoje são nações desenvolvidas.
O caminho para impulsionar o ensino teve variações. Os escandinavos optaram por salas de aula e jornada escolar pequenas. Os asiáticos foram para turmas e jornadas maiores
.
Apesar das diferenças, há políticas em comum. A busca por melhores professores é a fundamental, mostra Linda Darling-Hammond, professora emérita da Universidade Stanford, no livro recém-publicado "Empowered Educators" (Educadores Empoderados).
Ela liderou grupo de pesquisadores que analisou redes educacionais de ponta (consideraram também províncias da Austrália, Canadá e China). Encontraram nesses sistemas dura seleção para quem poderá atuar como professor.
Em Cingapura, apenas quem está entre os 30% melhores alunos do ensino médio entra em cursos que formam docentes. Na Finlândia, também ingressam apenas os melhores alunos nos cursos para o magistério, que duram cinco anos, com teoria, prática e pesquisa.
Esse rigor, aliado a salários que ao menos se equiparam ao restante da população com diploma universitário, dá status aos professores. E atrai para escolas algumas das pessoas mais bem preparadas da sociedade.
Por aqui, virtualmente não há seleção para quem quer ser docente. Há abundância de vagas, pois são cursos de baixo custo para faculdades privadas.
Como o magistério não têm grande apelo para jovens com bom desempenho, são alunos abaixo da média no Enem que tendem a aproveitar a oferta na pedagogia e licenciatura.
Nos últimos anos, houve avanços pontuais. A licenciatura passou de três para quatro anos. Em 2008 foi aprovado piso salarial para professores.
As alterações, porém, não fazem parte de projeto sistêmico e foram incompletas. Pouco se discutiu a qualidade dos cursos. E metade dos Estados e municípios não paga o piso de R$ 2.298.
A prioridade na educação hoje é construir bons currículos para alunos do infantil ao médio. O esforço começou durante a gestão Dilma, e agora o governo Temer corre para deixar como sua marca.
Ainda que os guias fiquem bem formatados, eles serão aplicados pelos mesmos professores cujo recrutamento foi falho e que raramente recebem bom treinamento em serviço.
Nos anos 1990, o país também colocou as fichas na melhoria de currículos, com diretrizes do que alunos deveriam aprender (atualmente se busca detalhamento maior).
À época, 12% dos jovens se formavam com conhecimento adequado em matemática. Hoje, o nível caiu para 7%. 

Cartoons on Beginning of School Year by larrycuban



Yep, it is that time when children and youth return to school. This month's cartoons celebrate that momentous time celebrated every year by parents and cartoonists. Enjoy!

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larrycuban | August 21, 2017 

18 de agosto de 2017

Fads and Fireflies: The Difficulties of Sustaining Change by larrycuban

I have written a lot in the past 50 years about the history of classroom practice, uses of technology in lessons, policymaker decisions, and school reform that is faddish and permanent. From time to time I will look through my writings to see what I said then and what I think now. I find that common themes (not necessarily the same words) appear again and again over the decades.
In some respects that bothers me. Am I a Johnny One Note who says the same thing over and over again without questioning the one note? Even with the life and professional experiences I have had over the decades in and out of schools, do I still play the same strings on my harp? Yes and no.
The "yes" part is that themes that are woven into the articles and books I have written deal with abiding issues in the history of a politically vulnerable institution embedded in every community throughout the U.S.  Issues such as "good" teachers, "good" schools, how to improve lessons, get better principals and superintendents, and make the "system" better have tracked the history of American schooling for at least two centuries. Every generation, "reforms" arise to deal with those issues.
The "no" part is that the contexts for school reform change over decades and what is important at one time is often less important at another moment of reform. Yet if contexts shift, still many of the same reforms get recycled and appear again. Puzzling but accurate and, in my opinion, in need of explanation.
I try to deal with the "yes" and "no" of being a Johnny One Note in an interview I did 17 years ago with journalists at Educational Leadership about the history of school reform and other persistent issues that accompany efforts to improve U.S. schools.
This is what I said then. In looking at it in 2017, I stick by what I said in the interview that follows. A Johnny One Note?
John O'Neil of the journal Educational Leadership conducted this interview and it appeared in April 2000, v. 57(7), pp. 6-9
___________________________________________________________

Educator and historian Larry Cuban reflects on why reforms are proposed and what happens when they are brought to the complex laboratory of schools.
With a background that includes teaching and serving as a school superintendent, as well as training as a historian, Larry Cuban is uniquely positioned to analyze the past century's many waves of school change. He is author of several books, among them Teachers and Machines and Tinkering Toward Utopia. He is coeditor, with Dorothy Shipps, of a new book due out this year, Reconstructing the Common Good in Education: Coping with Intractable Dilemmas.
In this interview with EL staff members John O'Neil, Holly Cutting Baker, Carol Tell, and Marge Scherer, Cuban returns to a central theme of his research: School reforms are a product of the cultural, political, and economic forces of their times. Although critics have charged that schools are too faddish, too prone to bend to the current "reform du jour," Cuban's view is that the implementation and sustainability of school reforms are heavily influenced by public deliberation and discourse. After all, "schools reflect what the public wants," Cuban reminds us.
On the whole, do you think that schools are too resistant to change or too faddish?
Our society is faddish. Schools as one institution experience these fads. Think of the corporate sector, for example. Total quality management didn't start in the schools, it started in corporations! Medicine, the fashion industry, the media—all are subject to these gusts of innovation.
People are highly critical of schools because they seemingly bend to every new fashion, but when we begin thinking about it, we could easily say that schools are one of the most democratic institutions we have. Schools reflect what the public wants.
In what ways?
Schools are extremely vulnerable to pressures from different constituencies. So if members of a school board or a cadre of parents say that schools ought to have tutors or a new writing program, school boards have a hard time saying no. This is so especially because there is often a lack of scientific evidence that shows that one kind of innovation is clearly superior to another.
When David Tyack and I wrote Tinkering Toward Utopia, 1   we used the metaphor of fireflies. We were speaking about the way that changes or reforms so frequently appear, shine brightly for a few moments, and then disappear again.
What innovations have the most staying power?
The innovations that have the best chance of sticking are those that have constituencies that grow around them. For example, when Title I funds were first appropriated in 1965 as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, this program quickly got a lot of support from constituents, ranging from educators to parents to members of Congress. So Title I and many of the other titles of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act have stuck around, even though there has been controversy over whether Title I funds were being used effectively. Another example is the constituencies that have come together to support special education.
What else besides a constituency helps sustain a change in schools?
One of the biggest factors seems to be that the reform reflects some deep-rooted social concern for democracy, for equity, or for preparing students to lead fulfilling adult lives. Basically, schools reflect cultural, political, social, and economic changes in the larger society. The school is not an institution apart—if anything, schools tend not to be at the forefront of change in the society. They tend to reflect what the elites and coalitions of parents and taxpayers believe is important. Because of how the nation came about, there is an enormous stake in schooling as a way to improve the life chances of any child—we don't depend on hereditary privileges being passed from generation to generation.
Can you give some examples of social changes that have promoted lasting changes in schools?
Take the example of kindergarten. The nation was industrializing rapidly, and urban living for families, particularly immigrant and poor ones, had become more difficult. Kindergartens were introduced to public schools in the 1870s; before that, there were private kindergartens that were mostly aimed at middle- and upper-income families in the Midwest and New England and other places. Public kindergartens were introduced as a way of "preserving" childhood before kids encountered the rigor of grammar school or high school, as well as of teaching parents how to live in the cities. And kindergarten slowly spread, so that by the 1960s, kindergarten was a mainstay.
This gradual growth came not only from the formation of constituencies but also from a general belief that the earlier a child learns in formal situations, the better chance that child will have at academic and financial success. Public schools have always been looked at as an escalator for social mobility, and parents have always wanted to give their children an edge. So this notion of an early start gradually became fixed, and no one today would think of banning kindergarten or preschool.
Another example is the growth of high schools, and the development of "comprehensive" high schools that provided different curricula for diverse students. Up to the turn of the century, schooling for most children ended after grade 8. But by World War I, the comprehensive high school had been introduced and enrollment expanded. Labor laws kept children in school longer—and out of the workforce, where they were competing with adults. The democratic belief that every child has a different employment future pushed school administrators to provide different curricula for different students. The high school was called comprehensive because it had a job future in mind for every kid coming to school and was seen as a very democratic institution because of the equality of economic opportunity that was presumed to be embedded in the different curriculua.
What characterizes reforms that don't stick?
The reforms that have the least potential for sticking are those that try to bring about changes in teaching, primarily because those innovations are often proposed by policymakers and officials who know little about classrooms as work places.
A lot of people think that because they've been in schools, they understand teaching, but the true complexity of the classroom is not clear to them. So what happens is that non-educators often will propose teaching innovations, and they may be successful in getting new laws and policies approved, but these policies will not necessarily be implemented. Attempts to change teaching and learning have often had a very short-term or inconsequential effect.
In Tinkering Toward Utopia, we make a clear distinction between policy talk, which is the current rhetoric in the media; policy action, which means that programs or innovations are adopted; and policy implementation, which relates to what actually occurs in the classroom. It's important not to confuse these very different levels, but that frequently happens.
An obvious example is what's going on with the teaching of reading. People were led to believe that many classrooms were being taught through whole language because there was a lot of talk about it among educators and in journals and in the media. Actually, most classrooms were not teaching reading through whole language; most teachers were using combinations of phonics and whole language to begin with. The evidence about the takeover of reading instruction by whole-language enthusiasts was very slim, but it was a great talking point for public officials who wanted to make a major issue out of it. So there's an important distinction between the policy talk and the policy implementation, and we shouldn't forget that.
You're working on a new book about school technology. What can you say about how technologies are being used in the average classroom?
Computers have become one of the tools teachers use, and many teachers have in their repertoire instructional strategies that use technologies. But I think that these will still be peripheral—I don't see the evidence that they'll affect the core practices of teaching.
Why not?
First, I reject the argument that's been made that teachers are resistant or incompetent or lack expertise or are technophobes. In the research we've done, we've found that teachers and students are using computers—both groups that we interviewed said that they use computers at home all the time. That made us refocus our attention on what goes on in school to try to explain the infrequent and limited use of computers for instruction even in those schools where there are abundant technological resources.
What we see is that the structure of school—for example, in the high school, where you have grades organized by age and departments—works against a lot of the changes that have to be made for technology to be used in more imaginative and creative ways. So there are institutional kinds of concerns that have to be raised about the structures of elementary and secondary schools that I think come between teachers and their use of the technology.
Another reason we've found in our research that the technologies themselves have flaws. Time and time again, we found teachers scrambling to cope when the server was down, or the cascading effects of new software on two-year-old machines would cause the computers to metaphorically "blow up." And schools can't keep investing capital costs to purchase newer computers all the time. These are the realities facing teachers. You can't expect a teacher to have a contingency lesson B when lesson A, which relies on using the computer, doesn't work. That's why teachers continue to use the textbook, the overhead projector, the chalk. They're reliable. They're flexible.
As you know, some analysts have said that to achieve true change in public education, we have to look to reforms that challenge the status quo of school governance. That's one of the arguments made in support of vouchers or charter schools. What are your impressions of these as an impetus for change?
Well, changes in government do not automatically mean changes in teaching and learning. That's often forgotten in the heat of slogans and bumper stickers about vouchers or charter schools.
To the degree that the schools can provide more choice within the public sector for parents and for children, I think that's a plus. When I was a school superintendent in Arlington, Virginia, we encouraged more alternatives. And I believe in that. But vouchers, which call for using public funds for private uses, give me pause. The use of private funds or public funds for private purposes will ultimately decrease the amount of resources for public schools. And I think that's unconscionable.
Basically, tax-supported public schools were set up in this country to build citizens, to help kids become literate, to strengthen their moral character, and, ultimately, to help them succeed in the workplace. So schools serve many essential social functions. They are institutions designed to promote democratic purposes and the common good. But the idea is that they are public. Vouchers assume a marketplace metaphor that suggests that every parent, every teacher, every school will compete to improve. Well, who's going to be concerned about the public good? The advocates for marketplace competition and for breaking up the public monopoly forget that. Schools were set up to develop citizens who care for a community, who can contribute to that community. You don't have that when you go to the local supermarket. You're in there to get a product and get out.
Some surveys suggest that people have lost faith in public schools. What's your view?
Schools are part of the larger national fabric of institutions. There has been a general erosion of faith in government institutions, period. So maybe there's been some loss of faith, but I think that core faith that Americans have about education is still there. People believe deeply in the ability of schools to solve societal problems and to help children reach their potential. Think of that parent who wants her 2-year-old to get into a great preschool program that's going to be the escalator to Harvard or Stanford. Think of the recent immigrants—the first thing they want is to have their kids enrolled in school. So I believe the core faith is there. It's been rocked, but not shattered.
We've talked about the ways reforms have changed schools—what about the ways schools change reforms?
Schools, like other institutions, adapt most changes to reflect the unique environment. Think about kindergarten, where the change—as it first emerged—was to promote the emotional, intellectual, and social development of children through play and exploration. Well, kindergartens are now becoming boot camps for the 1st grade. This trend began, by the way, in the 1930s and 1940s, although it accelerated greatly in the 1960s and 1970s. Preschools have become more like kindergartens, and both now aim to get kids ready for that 1st grade.
Another example is what's going on right now with social promotion and accountability. The "reform" was to hold kids accountable for meeting learning goals, and a lot of policymakers were adamant that social promotion needed to end. Students who didn't get satisfactory scores on tests should be held back.
But when these proposals collide with the complex reality of teaching and learning, there are often counter-movements, and schools must adapt again. I read recently that three states are now moving to lower their cut-off score for holding children back or denying a diploma. This is consistent with what occurred during the last great wave of testing—the competency movement of the mid-1970s. As soon as it becomes apparent to middle-class parents that their kids are not going to be promoted, or will have to attend summer school, official positions of school boards start to crumble.
Again, does this mean that schools have failed to "reform"? My answer is that schools as democratic institutions are continually adapting to these external pressures and, in doing so, maintain old practices as they invent new ones.
Endnote
  Tyack, D., & Cuban, L. (1995). Tinkering toward utopia: A century of public school reform. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

larrycuban | August 18, 2017

17 de agosto de 2017

Avanço educacional no Brasil citado pela OCDE não convence


érica fraga
É jornalista com mestrado em Economia Política Internacional no Reino Unido. Venceu os prêmios Esso, CNI e Citigroup. Mãe de três meninos, escreve sobre educação, às quartas.

John Vizcaino - 30.set.2015/Reuters
Teacher Father Juan Humberto Cruz poses for pictures with 4th grade students at Semillas de Esperanza (Seeds of Hope) school in Soacha, near Bogota, Colombia, June 11, 2015. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers' Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, the U.N. says, down from 100 million 15 years ago. Reuters photographers have documented learning around the world, from well-resourced schools to pupils crammed into corridors in the Philippines, on boats in Brazil or in crowded classrooms in Burundi. REUTERS/John Vizcaino PICTURE 9 OF 47 FOR WIDER IMAGE STORY "SCHOOLS AROUND THE WORLD"SEARCH "EDUCATORS SCHOOLS" FOR ALL IMAGES ORG XMIT: PXP09
Estudantes em escola na Colômbia; país tem conseguido progressos mais rápidos no Pisa que o Brasil
Há alguns dias, queria pesquisar sobre reforma educacional e entrei na página do Pisa, exame internacional de aprendizagem aplicado pela OCDE (Organização para a Cooperação e o Desenvolvimento Econômico).
De cara, vi uma chamada para um vídeo justamente com o título: "How Does Pisa Shape Education Reform?".
Olhei a legenda e me surpreendi ao ler que os dois exemplos de países que foram capazes de "melhorar seu desempenho no teste e fazer seus sistemas educacionais mais inclusivos" citados eram Alemanha e Brasil.
Acostumada a escrever e ler exaustivamente sobre o fiasco da aprendizagem brasileira, achei interessante que justo nosso país pudesse ser mencionado como uma história positiva.
O espírito do vídeo, bem curto, é ressaltar que, ao revelar o que diferentes países têm atingido em termos de educação, o Pisa os estimula a ir atrás dos bons exemplos.
O exame é aplicado a cada três anos tanto em países membros da OCDE (os desenvolvidos e alguns emergentes como México e Chile) quanto em nações parceiras (caso do Brasil) e busca avaliar a aprendizagem de alunos de 15 anos em matemática, leitura e ciências.
No caso da Alemanha, o vídeo destaca que a primeira edição do Pisa, em 2000, mostrou um desempenho fraco e desigual —considerando os estudantes mais e menos favorecidos— do país em leitura na comparação com a média da OCDE.
Apontando em seguida que, em resposta, políticas especificas para mudar o quadro foram adotadas: escolas em tempo integral viraram norma; obrigações foram estipuladas; professores receberam incentivos para investir em seu desenvolvimento.
Resultado: o sistema se tornou mais igualitário e a Alemanha avançou de um patamar abaixo da média da OCDE em leitura para um nível superior a esse recorte.
"A meio mundo de distância", diz então o vídeo, o Brasil foi o país com a nota mais baixa na edição do Pisa de 2003.
Em seguida, menciona que mais da metade dos alunos brasileiros teve desempenho inferior ou igual à marca considerada como o mais baixo nível de proficiência em matemática, disciplina que foi o foco do exame naquele ano.
Acrescenta, então, que o país estipulou a meta de atingir a média da OCDE em 2021. Mas não menciona politicas especificas adotadas.
Apenas diz que, desde então, os alunos brasileiros com pior desempenho avançaram o equivalente a um ano letivo de aprendizagem, mesmo em um contexto de forte inclusão educacional.
O vídeo afirma ainda que o Brasil ainda precisa avançar muito, mas que se baseia em parâmetros internacionais.
O que eu tinha na memória sobre nossa trajetória no Pisa era que avançamos muito pouco em leitura e ciências e que demos um salto em matemática —de um patamar catastrófico para outro péssimo—, mas que parte desse progresso foi devolvido nos últimos três anos.
Depois de ver o vídeo, deu vontade olhar os dados. Eu pensava: o Brasil é um dos países com desempenho mais baixo, mas já foi o pior! E, realmente, em 2003, entre os 40 países testados, a nota brasileira em matemática ficou em último lugar, atrás da obtida pelos alunos da Tunísia.
E em 2015? Bem, há dois anos, cinco países tiveram desempenho mais baixo que o do Brasil na disciplina. Mas a amostra se expandiu significativamente desde 2003. Em 2015, 73 nações foram testadas e, entre as cinco piores que o Brasil, apenas a Tunísia havia participado da edição de 2003.
Ou seja, nesses 12 anos, alguns poucos países ou territórios com desempenho mais sofrível que o nosso entraram na lista, e o Brasil só conseguiu ultrapassar a Tunísia.
Mas tinha outra questão mencionada pelo vídeo da OCDE: os alunos brasileiros com pior desempenho conseguiram progredir.
A organização separa as notas dos alunos em sete níveis de proficiência, que vão de "abaixo de 1" (o pior possível) a 6.
Entre 2003 e 2015, o percentual de estudantes do Brasil no patamar mais catastrófico diminuiu de 53,3% para 43,7%.
Trata-se de uma redução importante principalmente por ser reflexo de uma melhora no nível de aprendizagem dos alunos com menor nível socioeconômico.
Mas é inevitável perguntar: dada a gravidade do nosso problema, será que não deveríamos estar avançando ainda mais rapidamente?
O nível 2 de proficiência é considerado o mínimo necessário para o exercício da cidadania e espantosos 70,3% dos alunos brasileiros ainda estão abaixo desse patamar em matemática.
Desde 2003, o país conseguiu uma redução de 4,9 pontos percentuais nessa taxa, menos do que as quedas atingidas por Peru (-8,4) e Indonésia (-7) em apenas três anos, entre 2012 e 2015 (partindo de níveis parecidos com o nosso).
Restava um ponto também relevante. O Brasil conseguiu pequenos avanços em um contexto de forte inclusão educacional, que poderia ter levado a pioras nos nossos resultados.
Fato, mas não somos os únicos. A Colômbia, por exemplo, tem conseguido progressos mais rápidos que os nossos —partindo de patamares próximos— também em meio a grande expansão da cobertura escolar.
Os resultados do país vizinho estão longe de ser uma maravilha. Mas, em 2015, a Colômbia nos ultrapassou em leitura, ciências e matemática. Também conseguiu reduzir a taxa de baixíssima proficiência um pouco mais do que o Brasil.
Talvez um propósito do vídeo da OCDE seja ressaltar que tanto nações desenvolvidas quanto as menos ricas podem progredir. Só não me convenci de que o Brasil era um bom exemplo do segundo grupo. r

15 de agosto de 2017

Apple Classroom of Tomorrow: A Glimpse into the Past by larrycuban

Apple Classroom of Tomorrow (ACOT) began in 1985 with three classrooms in which every student had access to a desktop computer at school and at home. This 1:1 ratio in a classroom at this time when most schools had 125 students per computer was not only innovative but rare.  As the head of the Apple-sponsored research said: "we set out to investigate how routine use of technology by teachers and students would affect teaching and learning."
While much has been written about the pluses and minuses of ACOT after it shut down a decade later (see herehere, and here), a glimpse inside one of those classrooms in its first year is like seeing a fossil preserved in amber.
Researcher Jane David described her visit in May 1986 to a fifth grade classroom in Blue Earth school (then a K-12 school housing all students in the rural Minnesota district). One of three initial classrooms chosen to participate in the experiment, David's description of  her two day visit to the classroom raises questions that in 2017 are just as relevant about routine use of devices in the nation's classroom. Here is, in part, what she had to say.*
The ACOT classroom is one of three fifth-grade classes in Blue Earth's only school, a K-12 school with roughly 1000 students and 250 computers.** The number of computers reflects the fact that Blue Earth has been in the forefront of computer use in schools even prior to ACOT....
The ACOT fifth grade class consists of advanced students who averaged in the 99th percentile on previous standardized tests and began the year with keyboarding skills ranging from 30-80 words per minute. These students were introduced to keyboarding in the third grade and participated in the Project Beacon classroom in the fourth grade [part of large, three-year state grant called the Beacon project]. Moreover, ACOT is enhanced by school leadership and hence a climate that encourages innovative uses of computers. From the classroom to the library, cafeteria, nurse's office andcentral office, computers are am integral part of the daily routine.
The ACOT [fifth grade] teacher began teaching in 1980 with no computer background. Seeing computers at the school, he purchased an Apple and taught himself Appleworks. With $100 from Apple, he took a course in Logo.
In the ACOT classroom, the computers are arranged in five rows going away from the teacher's desk; four of the five rows are adjacent (with monitors back-to-back). All computers are on three-shelf work stations, with storage beneath and monitors on top. A printer is located at the end of the double rows and a large monitor above a chalkboard in the front of the room and a second large monitor on one side wall.
The computers in the ACOT classroom are used roughly 50% of the time. Word processing is the main use, with applications ranging from daily journal writing to dictation in which students enter answers to oral questions and then reorganize the information into a story or poem. Students have also created a class newspaper using Newsroom and have personal dictionaries (databases which sit on the desktop)consisting of the words they have difficulty spelling (which they quiz each other on). The most advanced students use a math CAI program with a spiral of math skills....
David also looked at a classroom in Eugene (OR) and described that as well in her report to Apple. After summarizing the information she gathered from the two visits to these classrooms, she offered research questions that she felt needed to be answered when a full study of the half-dozen or more ACOT classrooms were done. The research questions covered the influence of computers on how teachers taught, how students reacted to computers, and how organizational and physical arrangements affect the use of computers.
These questions, I believe, are just as relevant for researchers to investigate as for practitioners to consider now as they were then. For example,
#Do computers change the way teachers teach?
#How are computers used instructionally?
#Do computers simplify or complicate teaching?
David also was sensitive to the organizational constraints teachers faced in using 1:1 devices within the confines of the age-graded school within a district and state that had its own requirements. For example, she says:
A number of ingrained characteristics of the existing system seem to run counter to a vision of students using computers as vehicles for exploration, independent learning, and individual pursuits.
-teacher-centered classrooms;
-curricular objectives required by the district or school;
-individual and school evaluations based on traditional standardized tests not sensitive to new kinds of learning;
-the need to 'stay with' the other classes in the school at the same grade level (pressure from teachers and parents);
-the need to prepare students in the way that the next grade's teachers expect (and ultimately graduation requirements.
All of the above questions--there are more in her report--and the imperatives of the Blue Earth age-graded elementary school nested in a district and state in 1986 are, in my opinion, not only a glimpse into the past but also a pointed reminder that efforts to integrate computers into daily lessons must reckon with these questions and imperatives in 2017.

14 de agosto de 2017

Ciência à míngua

14/08/2017  Folha de S.Paulo


Num Estado às voltas com profunda crise fiscal e orçamentária, não há setor público que escape à desorganização imposta por draconianos cortes de recursos. Cabe ao governante, entretanto, dosá-los com alguma inteligência, para não aleijar áreas estratégicas.
A pesquisa científica figura –ou deveria figurar– entre elas.
A produtividade alcançada, com o Brasil saltando da 1,39% para 2,57% da produção científica mundial entre 2003 e 2015 (de 19 mil para 63 mil artigos anuais), resulta de investimento de longo prazo na capacitação de cientistas e em equipamentos de laboratórios.
Um torniquete mal aplicado nas verbas, mais que atrasar alguns anos projetos de investigação, pode desencadear um processo de gangrena. Ou seja, a decadência irreversível de grupos de pesquisa, começando pela fuga de cérebros.
Foi o caso de Suzana Herculano-Houzel, destacada neurocientista e colunista desta Folha. Se não tivesse deixado o país há pouco mais de um ano, por não suportar a mediocridade e o corporativismo acadêmicos, teria mais razões para fazê-lo agora que a penúria asfixia as universidades públicas.
Não por acaso o exemplo mais catastrófico está no Rio de Janeiro, Estado falido sob a irresponsabilidade fiscal de governos do PMDB. Os 41 mil estudantes da universidade estadual (Uerj) viram adiado neste agosto o início das aulas que deveriam ter começado em fevereiro; falta dinheiro até para faxina.
A Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos (Finep), órgão federal de fomento à inovação, mal consegue honrar desembolsos dos projetos em andamento, devido ao contingenciamento de recursos.
Já o Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) chegou ao limiar da inadimplência. O ministro da Ciência e Tecnologia, Gilberto Kassab (PSD), assegura recursos apenas para pagar as bolsas de pesquisa e pós-graduação no próximo mês.
Até o final do ano, o CNPq deveria receber R$ 570 milhões para honrar seus compromissos.
Não se trata de advogar que a ciência seja liberada da contenção fiscal, mas de registrar que o Planalto pode buscar alguma margem de manobra –a meta de ajuste orçamentário, afinal, está em processo de reavaliação– para não ferir de morte a pesquisa.
Das universidades e instituições de fomento deve ser exigido um esforço de austeridade e adaptação.
Maior eficiência na administração de recursos, solução para o crescente peso da folha de inativos, busca de receitas próprias em parcerias com o setor privado e quebra do tabu contra pagamento de anuidades por alunos com poder aquisitivo –eis aí um bom começo.