The NY Times published an interesting article yesterday titled 'Despite Push, Success at Charter Schools is Mixed'. The whole article is interesting in its assessment of the charter school strategy in the US, which the author suggests if producing a small number of excellent case studies, and a lot of very mediocre schools.
What is more interesting is the way that the whole discourse occurs within the context of high-stakes testing as the way of assessing excellence. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the schools excelling at this type of tests are often the KIPP-style environments that sound more like a military academy than a high school.
The underlying philosophy of learning was laid bare about halfway through the article while criticising the classroom climate of one of the schools that failed to excel. The author found that "there was little sense of the urgency to impart and absorb knowledge that lends an electricity to classrooms at [one of the more successful schools]".
In our course we talk lots about richer, more complex pedagogies; two-way processes; collaborative learning and inquiry. I think it's sometimes important to step back and listen to the conversation within and around the industry. It reminds us that there are still an awful lot of people talking about 'imparting knowledge' for those spongy students to absorb as urgently as possible!