Friday, April 11, 2014


I've always been fascinated by that word (and think it would be a great name for a rock band:).  Zeitgeist is a German word meaning "spirit of the age" or the prevailing thought system of the time (i.e. the world is flat).  I first came across this word in a history course in college talking about how Martin Luther set in motion a change in the Zeitgeist from a religious view of the need for a hierarchical church relationship with God to a personal relationship with God.  As a lover of history, I've always been intrigued by the prevailing thoughts of different eras how things are excepted as something that "always was and always will be" (and how they seem to change every couple of centuries).

Knowing how schools of thought change, I was thinking of the ever-changing Zeitgeist of education.  What do we believe and what do we hold as essential truths about teaching and learning (and how is it different from past generations).  I would say our current view of education is about 100 years old and some aspects even less than that.  Let's look at some of the changes in the educational Zeitgeist starting with our current view and where we came from:

All kids can learn (this is a popular mantra in education and part of every school improvement plan I've seen in the past 20 years).  However, this was not the common thought for most of history.  The example of Thomas Edison being labeled as "ineducable" is a popular feature of the changes in education views.

Universal Education (different from all kids can learn).  The belief that everyone should be educated.  This hasn't been true for a very long period (and I'm not talking about minorities or women).  For much of history education was expensive and given only to the wealthy and ruling class.  It was not expected (or even considered as an option) for all citizens until the 20th century.  I often wonder if the same fights over using tax dollars for universal education mirrored some of the current discussion over universal health care??

Global vs Local: When universal education started in the country, there was a firm belief in local control (that's the reason we have local school boards).  Districts had a wide berth of freedom on curriculum and assessment and there was no comparing or competing with other districts.  Today, we have a national curriculum with national assessments and students compete against students from around the globe!  I can't think of a bigger change in education than the shift to standardization and globalization.

Finally, there is literacy. For much of history, literacy was an attribute held by a very few.  Rulers had to be literate and educated, but the vast majority of the population did not.  This really didn't change until a form of government that was run by the people (and could include members of the population as rulers) blossomed and spread and made it necessary for an educated populace.  Literacy for most of history has been in reading and writing.  But what will literacy look like in the 21st Century and beyond? If you ask one of the technical directors in our district, he will say "the inability to use technology will be the new form of illiteracy". (in fact I stole that from his email tag line:).  I think that will be an ongoing debate and perhaps the next major change in the educational zeitgeist.

It's really hard to see the prevailing views of one's own time, because they are so ingrained in our culture and mindsets.  As educators, it's important to know where we have been and also where we currently are.  What is our educational Zeitgeist??  Most important of all, in which direction are we moving education and how will we impact future generations (and in turn their view of their world and ours).  Heavy Stuff, I know;)


PEARLS OF WISDOM (It wasn't easy finding quotes on "zeitgeist":)

"The zeitgeist is ever-changing. If you try second guess what people want, you'll miss it." - Nick Frost

"Everything we say signifies; everything counts, that we put out into the world. It impacts on kids, it impacts on the zeitgeist of the time". - Meryl Streep

"I love pop culture, It's a total reflection of the zeitgeist." - Siobhan Fahey


Monday, April 14: K-2 Mini-Observations this week

Tuesday, April 15: Tornado Drill in the AM
                              Jon and Shannon to Perrinville for student observations 2:30 pm

Wednesday, April 16: 2nd Grade Talking Zoo!

Thursday, April 17: Staff Meeting 8:00 am

Friday, April 18: Good Friday and the start of Spring Break!

April 28-May 2: All School Write
April 30: No Students - Building Based PD (School Improvement/Smarter Balanced Assessment)
May 1: Staff Meetings (work on grouping cards
            PTA Meeting 6:30 pm (Election of New Officers)
May 2: Volunteer Tea 2:30-3:45 pm
May 14: Arts,Beats.Eats&Books 6:00-8:00 pm
May 15: Kindergarten Round Up
May 16: F&P Scores in Class A
May 20: Student Growth Data to Jon
May 30: Spring Fling/Technology Basket Raffle 6:30-8:30 pm

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