I have long suspected something troubling about secondary education.  Secondary teachers and administrators are oral learners themselves and thus have difficulty communicating with their students through text.  Most secondary teachers and administrators are themselves products of an oral education, they are true-believers in the multiple intelligences, and they are committed to alternative pathways to student learning. 
 
I came by this troubling suspicion when I first began circulating my ideas in written form, either as articles, memos or blog posts.  I could rarely find anyone in education who would read what I wrote.  At first I took this very personally and was convinced that I was an uninteresting writer, possessed of ideas without much intrinsic merit.  It took long hours of observation and reflection to conclude that modern-day educators are simply not readers.  They may subscribe to learned journals, but they do not read them; perhaps they skim them, like they do web pages.  Most educators rely on face to face meetings where conversation substitutes for scholarship.

I could provide a number of anecdotal examples, but will limit myself to a single dramatic one.  I once worked at a county office of education in a large suburban district.  My boss, who was the director of all new teacher programs for this office, on one occasion asked us for our analysis and advice about a problem.  I took her request very seriously and took the time to carefully craft my response in writing.  She then scheduled a series of one-on-one meetings with her staff to talk about our individual recommendations.  I thought this was a great idea.  When we met she asked me to summarize what I had written to her, a copy of which was in front of her.  I asked if she had read it and she responded "that's not my learning style.  Just tell me what you wrote."  I was aghast and stumbled quite a bit to recover in spontaneous speech the eloquence I thought I had achieved in my written response.  This was an excellent tactic for disarming me, but was also a telltale sign of the pernicious influence of Howard Gardner's theory of the multiple intelligences.  He has given permission to the entire academic community to cast off written rhetoric, to reduce academic ideas to talking points expressed as bullets on power point slides.
The College and Career Readiness Standards, and the Common Core Standards based on them, are a timely and wonderful development for those educators who think that academics still occupy a text-based world and how something is expressed is just as important as what is expressed. 
 

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