A Conversation with Jim Zellmer

Authoring a book about the importance of early childhood education has created many wonderful opportunities for me. Copies of “Grandma Says it’s Good to Be Smart” are now in all of the Madison Public Libraries and are for sale at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Recently I was interviewed by Jim Zellmer (link to his zmetro.com blog), a leading education blogger (link to schoolinfosystem.com) whose School Info System reaches tens of thousands of educators, parents, activists and policy makers.

Our conversation about the current state of American education is available  via this 17MB mp3 audio file CTRL-Click to download or read the transcript. I enjoyed visiting with Jim and hope you will find the conversation  interesting. Here’s an excerpt:

Jim: What’s the best, most effective education model these days? Obviously, there are traditional schools. There are virtual schools. There are chartered schools. There are magnets. And then there’s the complete open-enrollment thing. Milwaukee has it, where the kids can go wherever they want, public or private, and the taxes follow.Ellie: [32:52] I think there’s no one best model from the standpoint of those models that you just named. [32:59] What is important within any one of those models is that a key player in making that education available to your child believes that no matter how good the curriculum, no matter how good the model, the children they are about to serve are different, that children are not alike.

[33:30] And that they will have to make differences in the curriculum and in the way the learning takes place for different children.

[33:45] And I have experienced that myself. I’ve served on the boards of several private schools here in the city, and I have given that message: “This may be an excellent curriculum, and I believe it’s an excellent curriculum. But that’s not enough.”

[34:05] You cannot just sit this curriculum down in front of every child in the classroom and say, “We’re going to turn the pages at the same time, and we’re going to write the answers in the same way.” It does not work that way. You must believe in individually paced education.

Thanks to Rick Kiley for arranging this conversation.

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