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Saturday, December 14, 2013

How Neckties Prevent Disease

In university, I remember one of my professors sharing an anecdote about a trip to Sierra Leone. He explained that the villagers (from one local area he visited), believed that neckties protected people from disease. Strange - yes; but the conclusion that they had formed derived from the fact that all the agency workers, professionals and outside visitors (most of whom wore a tie) were never sick or impacted by the diseases to which they were often succumb. None of the local villagers wore neckties, and therefore, it must be the lack of neckties which caused there succeptability. In turn, ties were associated with health, prosperity and safety.

What I think we need to take away from this interesting anecdote, as educators, is the importance of drawing appropriate (and rational) conclusions. Especially, when it is those same beliefs that drive our programming, instruction and assessment decisions.

What the villagers had come to believe makes sense when you look at the surface evidence. Yet, when we add in the other factors and forces at play in this situation - there is certainly more to it than meets the eye.

In terms of the learning that occurs in your classroom - what assumptions are you making and how are using those assumptions to plan and assess for student learning going forward?

What "ties" are you focused on as indicators of student learning and appropriate assessment strategies?

Through what lenses can you observe, track, assess and provide feedback - in order to program for future learning opportunities?

Ultimately, what key issues do we need to shine a more critical eye on, in order to support student well-being and success?

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