The hallmark of everything we do on Hurricane Island comes down to education and research that are place-based and meaningful to our students and our communities regardless of the subjects we explore. We work with schools to customize programming tailored to their student's needs, which frequently center around standards or other learning expectations that the students must meet during the course of that semester or school year. My experience working with these teachers, and my own experience teaching in public school, is that standards that are more prescriptive become very straightforward in regards to both the learning target and how students are expected to demonstrate that learning. This can be very helpful for new teachers and often a relief for more experienced teachers who have weathered many changes in education. The sentiment of those teacher becomes, "if they are going to change it on us again, at least they are telling us exactly what they want". On the other hand, when standards become too narrow and prescriptive it can make it harder to fit more place-based, authentic science opportunities into traditional school systems.
We are fully in the midst of one of these sweeping shifts in education as most states have adopted the Common Core State Standards for both their English language arts and math standards and many have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards as well. I recently was part of a small group who submitted comments to the Maine Department of Education about their proposed revision of the Maine Learning Results for Science and Technology. These comments, in collaboration with Bill Zoellick (Schoodic Insitutute) and Yvonne Thomas (Island Institute), are posted on Bill's blog, Thinking About Schools. We are looking forward to continuing to think about the ways we can move forward with the positive aspects of standards based education while avoiding some of the pitfalls that happen when things get too prescriptive.