Volume 52, Number 27 March 28, 2005
He set out to change that when he developed Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS), a specialized program for accelerating the learning of economically disadvantaged and learning disabled students in grades four through eight. The program, which enjoyed its first surge of popularity in the 1980s, trains teachers to help develop their students' conversational skills in intensive question and answer sessions before or after school.
"People worry about drop-outs. I worry about the drop-ins: talented and bright students who don't speak up," says Pogrow. He points out that by the time children reach the age of four, those from economically disadvantaged families have averaged 40 million fewer verbalizations than those whose parents are in higher income brackets.
"Teachers need to step back and like a parent create an environment where kids can talk about ideas, practice moment to moment, learn how to have a conversation," he says.
Last fall Pogrow joined the faculty of SFSU's doctorate program in urban leadership to address another important issue in public education: a shortfall of school superintendents across the nation. A partnership with the University of California, Berkeley, Cal State East Bay and San Jose State University, the program prepares students for careers as urban public school superintendents as thousands of these leaders are now at or approaching retirement age.
"Professor Pogrow is an educational find for the department, College of Education and the University," says Professor Marilyn Stepney, chair of the department of administration and interdisciplinary studies. "His is a nationally recognized voice that readily takes on the difficult educational issues. He brings another important dimension to the department's development of educational leaders for the Bay Area."
Previously a professor of teaching and teacher training at the University of Arizona, Pogrow says he's enjoying his new students and colleagues in San Francisco. In his spare time, he likes to ski and play tennis, but he's most passionate about traveling. Three things he'd take to a desert island? "A jet, a pilot and lots of fuel."
Recently Pogrow merged his love for travel and his passion for education when he brought the HOTS program to a group of teachers in the Cherkassy region of Ukraine. The professor, who plans on returning in the near future, is confident that a successful group of teachers and trainers will be able to bring thinking skill development techniques to both orphanages and high poverty public schools in the developing country.
At home, the current focus on testing in the classroom nationwide has made HOTS a tough sell these days, but Pogrow hopes the tide will turn.
are an illusion. If an employer is looking to hire those who do well
on state tests, that's great but [employers aren't
concerned with test scores]. The thinking is that these kids are not
doing well, let's give them more of the same. But they need something
different. The best way to get test scores up is to develop creativity
-- Adrianne Bee
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