HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Economy & Education » Education (Group) » Education Without "S...

Sun May 18, 2014, 08:29 AM

 

Education Without "Stuff"

Wow. This is good. The argument in a nutshell:

>>>>>>>What’s lost here is a sense of economy–of keeping one’s basic duties as simple as possible so that one can do interesting things. Instead, teachers learn to produce volume: long, elaborate lesson plans, even longer justifications of these lesson plans, and still longer lists of evidence that the lesson plan attained the desired goals.>>>>



The piece in full:


>>>>>Education Without “Stuff”

In many areas of life, the less “stuff” we have, the better. A person learning a musical instrument works toward simplicity. Technique that at first seems cumbersome and complicated later becomes easy; it is ultimately meant to be easy, so that one can do what one wishes with it. An actor goes “off book” as early as possible so as not to be encumbered by the book. In relationships and friendships, the less “baggage” we carry, the more open we are to others–and so on. The principle “get rid of unnecessary stuff” has exceptions and qualifications, but overall, it’s sound.

Yet education reform tends to pile the “stuff” on. That’s one of my main criticisms of the Common Core–that it results in extraneous work that has little to do with what’s important. But this problem is not limited to the Common Core. One sees it in everything from pedagogical mandates to bulletin board requirements to tenure applications to writing instruction. There’s a prejudice against brevity and simplicity, and a great push for more, more, more.

I do not envy colleagues who have to put together massive tenure portfolios. (I was tenured when the rules were different–so I haven’t been subjected to this.) In these portfolios, they must not only demonstrate the range and quality of their work, in accordance with a set rubric, but also demonstrate that they are demonstrating it, with labels, reflections, explanations, and so on. Even those who have worked assiduously on their portfolios–and who have plenty to show–may worry that they haven’t included enough. Recently a teacher told me that she keeps all of her students’ work (after showing them their grades and comments), just in case she needs to document what she has done.

Now, granted, there is value in keeping track of what one has done as a teacher–but does it need to be done in such volume? That leads to another area of bulk: the Common Core.

The Common Core State Standards are neither terrible nor spectacular. They have some decent ideas, imperfectly articulated. As a gesture, >>>>>>>

the rest: http://dianasenechal.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/education-without-stuff/

15 replies, 2145 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread

Response to Smarmie Doofus (Original post)

Sun May 18, 2014, 08:40 AM

1. Great observation! All the work of teaching has become about teachers proving to administration

that they are teaching, rather than teachers actually teaching. If the administration can't see a teacher teach and understand that they are teaching, they shouldn't be administrating!

And this goes into all aspects of the school system. People having to basically talk to themselves in order to produce the required paperwork rather than actually putting their efforts into furthering the goals of their job.

Great article.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Squinch (Reply #1)

Sun May 18, 2014, 09:08 AM

2. Which brings up the question of whether this is really necessary at all:

 

>>>>If the administration can't see a teacher teach and understand that they are teaching, they shouldn't be administrating! >>>>

"Administration", that is. Or... "administration" as distinct from "teacher".

In my utopia, the "administrator" would be a part-time teacher. Modern administrative tasks are largely artificially generated by politicians and lawyers.

The fundamental and elemental relationship should be between teacher and *student*. Or between teacher and student and student's family. In other words, between provider and consumer.


Not between teacher and lawyer. Or teacher and politician.

The idea of a principal ( the term derives from "principal teacher" as distinct from classroom teacher is a recent and profoundly undesirable historical development.

The rest of the bureaucratic swamp begins right at that point.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Smarmie Doofus (Reply #2)

Sun May 18, 2014, 09:19 AM

4. Absolutely! But now we have this situation where there are so many

administrators who have never been in the classroom (for example, the Principal's Academy in NYC) and have no idea what they are talking about.

A friend, teacher of 31 years (not in NYC), was just observed by an administrator who spent 1 year in a classroom twenty years ago. The teacher teaches special ed in a very low grade and has always had the highest rate in the district of her kids going from her class into general ed and doing well. The administrator gave her low grades because of things that routinely happen in the teacher's classroom, but which didn't happen to occur in the half hour the administrator observed.

The result of all this nonsense is that EVERYONE is treated as if they are a lousy employee.

My advice to this friend was to nod sagely, and say to the administrator, "You're absolutely right. I would like you to teach a few lessons to my class so I can see the correct way of doing it."

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Squinch (Reply #4)

Sun May 18, 2014, 08:45 PM

12. No. They'll never do it. In the first place they *can't*.

 

>>>My advice to this friend was to nod sagely, and say to the administrator, "You're absolutely right. I would like you to teach a few lessons to my class so I can see the correct way of doing it.">>>>>

In the second place their own union won't let it happen. It's not in their job description. They create out of classroom jobs for teachers ( i'e. as "coaches" for this purpose. ( Anything to create more bureaucracy.) Or they just show the teachers Danielson videos. Or if even that's too much trouble they tell them to watch Danielson videos online.

Whoever heard of a union for people whose function is to *break* unions, anyway?

The world we live in.


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Smarmie Doofus (Original post)

Sun May 18, 2014, 09:10 AM

3. Eh. I think it's an arc.

You practice things over and over until you get to the point where you have internalized them enough to do them more instinctually. Yes, it takes a lot more effort to figure out how to put together good lesson plans, and you have to take the time to evaluate them as well. But the more you do, the faster you do them, and the better sense of what works and what doesn't you develop. You don't become a good teacher simply by flying by the seat of your pants. You put in the effort to learn to be better. And over time, you spend less and less time putting together good lesson plans.

So it's not about 'volume for volume's sake'. It's that when you first start teaching, just like when you first start doing anything else, you're still learning. You get experience by doing, and the more effort you put into planning in the beginning, the better your experience will be. You can learn to be a good teacher, or you can learn to be a mediocre, or even a bad teacher. People who don't want to put in the work are most often not going to become good teachers.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Erich Bloodaxe BSN (Reply #3)

Sun May 18, 2014, 09:19 AM

5. You haven't been in a classroom for a while, have you?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Squinch (Reply #5)

Sun May 18, 2014, 09:52 AM

6. I've barely ever left.

I've been in classrooms for over 30 or my 45 years on the planet, admittedly mostly as a student, but the last lesson plan I put together was oh, a good... two weeks ago.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Erich Bloodaxe BSN (Reply #6)

Sun May 18, 2014, 10:09 AM

8. This is an interesting wording. Are you currently a teacher or not? And if so, are you a teacher

in a school that is subject to the changes that are taking place in the wake of the Common Core/Testing/Teacher Evaluation changes?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Squinch (Reply #8)

Sun May 18, 2014, 10:26 AM

9. I am not currently a teacher.

And, to answer you didn't know to ask, I have almost exclusively taught 19 yr olds and up. I am currently an RN, and although most of the teaching we do is in small-scale settings to either patients and families or inservice type setting with other nurses, as part of the BSN (or at least in the BSN program I took) you also take a dedicated teaching course, and spend a lot of time learning to create lesson plans, creating them, and then teaching from them. The 45 minute or so lesson I taught last week to a phlebotomy class was on the pathophysiology of the heart, along with a brief recap of anatomy and physiology of same.

I've seen a lot of good teachers and a lot of bad teachers in the course of racking up six college degrees as well, and the good ones always spent a lot of time outside of the classroom in preparation. My own father taught for 3 decades, and I recall all too well that he went in 3 hours before the students did to prepare for the day, as well as often working some in the evenings.

As to common core, I've been watching it closely, but from the outside. The overall notion is a good one - a common set of standards that all students should be able to meet at various levels. The implementation, sadly, seems more to be about finding ways to siphon off public funds for private 'curriculum development' enterprises that are weaving conservative ideology into lessons. I don't believe administrators who are not, nor have been teachers, are best suited to evaluate teachers. Teachers are best evaluated through peer review.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Erich Bloodaxe BSN (Reply #9)

Sun May 18, 2014, 03:27 PM

11. So, you are unfamiliar with what is going on in the k-12 setting.

I am also a health professional, and also teach adults. In addition, I work extensively in k-12 schools, though not in a teaching capacity. What you are describing as your teaching experience, and what I know about my own teaching experience, bears no resemblance to what I see k-12 classroom teachers being subjected to on a daily basis.

Though I have no trouble teaching adults, I would not in a million years subject myself to what is inflicted on k-12 teachers in public schools today.

And though you chose to couch it as if "I didn't know to ask" if you were an RN teaching adults, really it was just that I was trusting you, after your one somewhat evasive reply, to give a straight answer about exactly what your position was from which you dismissed the concerns of these people whose lives are being made miserable.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Squinch (Reply #11)

Sun May 18, 2014, 10:22 PM

13. I don't think that I 'dismissed the concerns'

of anyone. I don't think we were talking about the same things at all, since the original text was worded so broadly as to include all lesson planning as being essentially too much work and gushing about 'simplicity'.

Once you narrowed down to only complaining about additional 'teach to the test' issues and supervisors who had no academic experience being the ones who judged actual teachers, I thought we were basically in agreement.

And though you seem to want to be judgmental and and proclaim my reply 'evasive' and that you were only seeking 'a straight answer', I'm not going to assume you're a bad faith actor, as you seem to be implying I am. I gave a short, admittedly rather flip answer, that was truthful. When you decided you needed to know more so that you could 'be dismissive' of my words, I answered again, with another truthful answer.

I'm not 'unfamiliar' with what is going on in many k-12 settings, I'm just getting much of my info second hand, from current students and current teachers I speak with. Again, as I noted at the top, the OP was worded so that it seemed to be overly dismissive of the notion of all classroom preparation, not just the ongoing fiasco being foisted off onto American classrooms first by Bush, and then continued by Obama.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Erich Bloodaxe BSN (Reply #13)

Sun May 18, 2014, 10:40 PM

14. The OP is about the Common Core and education reform.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Squinch (Reply #14)

Sun May 18, 2014, 10:53 PM

15. Eventually.

Common Core shows up about halfway through the post. And given that the poster goes on to say

The Common Core State Standards are neither terrible nor spectacular. They have some decent ideas, imperfectly articulated.


It doesn't even specifically slam Common Core entirely. And I agree with that part of the post. The idea of national standards, rather than state or district standards that can vary wildly does seem like a useful idea. I just feel that development of CC and curricula to implement it should be left to actual teachers. Lessons that fulfill the standards should be written by teachers, vetted by teachers, and should be shared, free of charge, between districts.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Squinch (Reply #8)

Sun May 18, 2014, 10:35 AM

10. And, btw,

I wish we'd been required to take education classes before we taught as doctoral students in college. I feel that the freshman and sophomores who were our 'teaching guinea pigs' would have learned far more had such courses been required. Even the single course I took later during the BSN would have made a world of difference. I have no illusions that the quality of my teaching is anywhere near as effective, though, as an actual education major. And I laugh derisively at 'Teach For America'. The notion of wasting students' time by putting in 'teachers' with 5 weeks of training is ludicrous.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Smarmie Doofus (Original post)

Sun May 18, 2014, 10:04 AM

7. Paper: the barrier to prevent any actual, personal contact

 

Paper prevents Administration and really bad teachers from having to deal with real people in real situations....esp. little people, who are so annoying....

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread