Your Brain or Your Butt: which matters more?

A major shift in educational thinking is happening, it has to do with which part of student anatomy lawmakers value and emphasize when making decisions on graduation requirements and school funding equations–the brain of the student or the butt of the student.

Insert Brain Here

courtesy Simpson Crazy

It may seem obvious to many that we educate brains not butts, however lawmakers have fallen into a trap. If they use test scores which inherently measure brain…then how do they deal with discrepancies caused by genetics and environment and not particularly the school or teachers. So in most states they measure by seat time, in other words schools are paid by the number of butts in them and the length of time they stay. The problem here is that well, the location of your butt is not a very good indicator of brain power. Personally, most of my best thinking happens when my butt is sequestered from others–long car drives, sitting on the toilet, etc. However, the presumption is that like clocking in and out of an hourly job, students are prepped to learn during their seat time.

As this debate rages, a resurrection of brain over butt is occurring because of the disruption of traditional education by online forms of learning. Since a student can be anywhere (with access) and working anytime– the seat time equations have ceased to adequately describe when students are expected to be in learning mode.

Education Week

Education Week Published an article this week on State’s Loosening “Seat Time” Requirements

They are also hosting a webinar on the Topic -Beyond Seat Time Requirements  You can register by clicking here.

Thursday, March 29, 2012, 2 to 3 p.m. ET.

In recent years, states have enacted policies allowing students to receive academic credit based on what they know, instead of how much time they spend in class. Long-standing “seat-time” requirements are giving way to competency-based credits, awarded based on students’ proficiency. The changes are, in large part, a response to emerging alternative learning models, including virtual schooling and blended learning, that give students the chance to learn outside the classroom and at their own pace. However, that’s sparked concern about the credibility and rigor of these alternative forms of education, and the private companies often offering them. In 2005, New Hampshire became the first state to eliminate seat-time requirements. Michigan allows waivers for seat-time requirements on a district-by-district basis. Our guests will discuss various approaches to seat-time requirements and the challenges of making such policy changes.


Paul K. Leather, deputy commissioner of education, New Hampshire

Michael Yocum, executive director of learning services, Oakland Schools, Mich.


Jason Tomassini, staff writer, Education Week

No phone is required to participate in the webinar. The event is not close-captioned.

For optimal viewing, the recommended browsers are Internet Explorer v.7 or higher for PC users, and Firefox v.6 or higher for Mac. Please check your audio settings and speaker volume. Underwriting for this webinar is made possible by a grant from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


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