Friday, February 15, 2008

The Brass Ring

brass ring: An opportunity to achieve wealth or success; a prize or reward; a thing worth catching. The term comes from the practice of giving a free ride to the person who succeeded in snatching a ring out of a box while riding a merry-go-round. [Slang, late 1800s] -The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms

In this instance, the picture came before the concept. I knew that I wanted to discuss "reaching for the brass ring" but in what context? The answer came when I read Chris Lehmann's "What About the Other Days?"

Chris recounts a conversation about student assessment, in which he said
"I've come to realize that, as an educator, I am more interested in what kids can do as opposed to what they know."
When a colleague argued the importance of preparing young adults for high stakes tests like
"the SATs, the LSATs, the MCATs... serious tests and serious days that can forever alter the path of a person's life"
Chris countered with
"...those are three days in a person's life. What are we doing in our schools to prepare kids for the other 20,000 days of their lives?"

Comments have begun to appear on the site, and a discussion about the goal of education is starting to take shape.

Doug Johnson wonders
"Are some days more important than others?"
while Carolyn Foote gently reminds us that
"We need to teach students to think. That is what will prepare them for both those '3 days' and the other 20,000."
Don Lafferty suggests balance is necessary:
"Some combination of teaching to the test students methodologies for critical thinking is the best recipe for success in the current structure."

This conversation is just beginning. Why not stop by at Practical Theory and help construct an answer as to how we can best help our students grab the brass ring in life?

"Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people may be engaged in." -Abraham Lincoln

"Capturing the brass ring" by Woof Nanny

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