Have We Become Too Cynical About Public Education Reform?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by Jackstreet, Feb 10, 2011.

?

Have We Become Too Cynical About Public Education Reform?

  1. Yes

    11 vote(s)
    50.0%
  2. No

    11 vote(s)
    50.0%
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2009
    Messages:
    1,476
    Likes Received:
    58

    Feb 10, 2011

    Their agenda is money--That's the primary focus above all. I can't comment specifically as to what money, because I don't have a clue where/how people make money on those levels. But that is it: money.

    Whereas virtually every school in every district, city, state in the country will say the same thing in their mission statement--that they are all about educating and all that good lip service... but in the grand scheme, that (i.e. the quality of educaiton) takes a backseat to other (money-reated) factors, ranging from seniority/tenure dictating job security to whatever (rackets) it is that TPTB fight so hard to protect at the highest levels.
     
  2. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Messages:
    17,362
    Likes Received:
    46

    Feb 10, 2011

    I agree with mm (no surprise there) about the need for testing. We do need that, I get that. But in TX we start testing in 3rd grade (that count in accountability, I know more goes on at the lower levels). Here's a breakdown of what tests are taken when:
    3rd-2 tests *must pass to move on
    4th-4 tests
    5th-3 tests *must pass to move on
    6th-2 tests
    7th-2 tests
    8th-4 tests *must pass to move on
    9th-2 tests
    10th-3 tests
    11th-4 tests (end of course exams that must be passed to graduate)

    Do you think we're testing just a bit much, especially when the majority of instruction time is not spent on actual content, but how to pass the tests, what to look for, strategies on how to find the answer? I think so....

    And no, I don't think the 'leaders' are looking at that because they just seem to come up with the same tests under a different name.

    And here are some excerpts from a board meeting that took place in my daughter's school district:

    So you see a lot of eliminating teaching positions, but yet, administrators get their contracts extended. And district administrators make the salary of 2 teachers. The district could eliminate some of their positions and save tons of teaching positions. These same district admins take 1 hour lunches, go to conferences hours away for multiple days, but yet our students aren't seeing the results of these conferences.
     
  3. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2003
    Messages:
    1,931
    Likes Received:
    162

    Feb 10, 2011

    THIS is one of the the real problems when morons (see lawmakers)
    are allowed to dictate school policy and curriculum. Parents see commercials on TV telling them their toddlers can learn to read.
    Our PreK now has a rigid morning curriculum. It is absolutely insane.
    Lets be honest. We have fifty states all doing their thing. In fla we bow down to Tallahassee for the flavor of the when it comes to what we do in our schools. Education (at least in Fla) is just a damned political football they kick every few years when someone is looking for votes.
    As for reforms I have seen them fade in a fade out my 34 year as a teacher. Money talks and teachers dont have the power or even the inclination to lead us out of this the testing nonsense and micromanaging of the instruction they get now.
    All that said I love my job and the kids and what we do each day.
    We are the best hope many have and I do my damnedest to
    help.
     
  4. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Messages:
    8,414
    Likes Received:
    1,559

    Feb 10, 2011

    Good point. I had a staff development day all day yesterday. Instead of working on content for this or next year, we worked on strategies for how to help our students pass the state tests. Those of us who teach students who have already passed our subjects still have to design our classes to help teach how to take the tests in case our students have to take state tests in other subjects. This gets especially frustrating when I create an extremely creative assignment and then am told that it must fit into a certain essay or multiple choice format.
     
  5. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,746
    Likes Received:
    1,156

    Feb 10, 2011

    cat, that's horrible. It's also counterproductive: the most easily discombobulated test takers I've ever seen are the ones who couldn't adjust to a question coming in an unexpected format - and the way to fix that isn't to try to feed 'em every format but rather to give 'em tools with which to recognize the question inside the question. And that, ultimately, isn't a test taking skill, it's a thinking skill that happens to be applicable to testing.
     
  6. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Messages:
    8,414
    Likes Received:
    1,559

    Feb 10, 2011

    Well, thankfully I see a lot of my teaching success as working in a sonnet format. I've gotten some fun assignments created while still working within the parameters of the test questions. It was just frustrating that so much of our time was comandeered yesterday.
     
  7. G00d d00bie

    G00d d00bie Rookie

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2010
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 10, 2011

    I guess I don't understand the question? Doesn't the question contain a lot of built in bias? Also, and I don't mean to be sarcastic, but who is "we?"
    I hope I don't hear any say "We are doing it for the children," like I have heard for the last billions of $$$ and ages.
     
  8. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

    Joined:
    May 10, 2008
    Messages:
    1,592
    Likes Received:
    4

    Feb 10, 2011

    A lot of the ideas I have heard suggested from Duncan and other "reformers" sounds like techniques to down grade our public education system more and give more impetuous to handing it over to private corporate control. It is important to recognize our country is in many ways controlled by corporations and the public education system must look like potentially available profit to the CEOs.

    Looking from that view point the goal is to try various methods that are unproven and use the lack of success for more support in the portrayal of teachers as poor quality and the system as defunct. I do not trust these people who just destroyed our economy to do a quality job of educating the children of our country.
     
  9. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Messages:
    3,094
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 10, 2011

    So they are bringing together board members, union leaders and administrators? Nice. Notice who they are NOT bringing? TEACHERS, student leaders, active parent volunteers. In other words...the ones that are on the front lines.

    Perhaps those front-line personnel consider these meetings (and their collaborative "findings") meaningless, because - once again - those actually ON the front lines are not being included in the collaboration. :unsure:

    Because those scientists haven't been demonized by the media for not finding a cure yet, nor have they faced annual evaluations in which the outcomes of their tests determine whether they will continue to be employed by the research firm.

    In other words, they haven't been fired (or threatened with firing) for their lack of results nor have they been told these failures are THEIR FAULT and that they must be bad scientists since they haven't been able to differentiate their testing methods to produce better results.

    I've not seen or heard a politician yet who did NOT say "Education is a top priority and we need to focus on what is best for the students". I've also not seen any of those same politicians (upon being elected) state "We're facing a serious budget crisis, but the one area we are NOT going to cut is Education."

    Almost universally, the exact opposite is true; education IS a top priority - but only when it comes to finding ways to cut the budget.


    As for all the rest of your comments in questions, the reason there is so much cynicism and disconnect is because most veteran teachers have seen and heard ALL of this before, but the idealistically grandiose plans never actually come to fruition because politicians and many administrators DO just give "lip service" to improving education.

    I hope that clarifies some of the disconnect you are seeing.
     
  10. Jackstreet

    Jackstreet Companion

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2009
    Messages:
    181
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 11, 2011

    In a word, WOW!

    Went to dinner, came back and was surprised at how this discussion has evolved. Many surprises actually starting with how deep the cynicism appears to be. It's *much* deeper than I expected. (still not sure how wide)

    I spent the rest of the evening reading and thinking about the comments posted here and want share some observations:

    First, if the comments here are representative; ( big unknown) then it appears that a significant slice of the education community has simply shut down and is not listening or paying attention to what is going on in education at the national level. It's as if some are simply saying, "shut up, I don't want to here it."

    I arrive at this conclusion because of the level of misinformation that I'm seeing across a number of the posts. It's one thing to contest the "intentions" of union leaders, school board leaders or the DOE. ( these are arguable points) However, for example, the existing various forms of merit pay for teachers and teachers earning over $100k a year are facts that contradict the assertion that "they" don't want to pay teachers. Point of clarification: I acknowledge that at one point this was generally true. Further that in some states or localities this may still be pervasive. However, enough real, tangible, measurable progress is being made in the area of teacher pay for this kind of sweeping general statement to be credibly made without some kind of qualification. Moreover, seeing this sort of general statement in the face of what is actually happening further suggests that some have perhaps simply tuned out and turned off.

    2). Another interesting observation is that if you look at the poll above, (which admittedly is not scientific) you'll notice that 40% (six people) believe that we have become too cynical. Yet as I picked through this thread of discussion I am unable to clearly find those voices represented here. Why is that?

    Finally, the most striking comment involves the notion that teachers don't have the power to change things. This is particularly worrisome to me on several counts.

    As you know teachers are among the earliest sources of civic knowledge for our children, and a hallmark of our nation is that citizens *do* have the power to change things --in fact that *one* individual with commitment can change things. In my mind, teaching this should be at the top of the common core standards list.

    I truly hope that the resignation that was expressed on this point is: 1) not wide spread and 2) not being passed on tacitly to children.

    Many other thoughts, but I'll respond to them specifically in another post.
     
  11. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Messages:
    8,414
    Likes Received:
    1,559

    Feb 11, 2011

    Jackstreet, I don't think the problem is that we teachers are shutting down and not listening on the national level. I think we're gravely worried that the national level isn't listening to the trenches and are doing things that look great on paper but are somewhere between difficult and harmful to implement.
     
  12. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    6,678
    Likes Received:
    1,615

    Feb 11, 2011

    I'd like to reply to these statements:
    1. teachers who get paid more than 100k per year are in the ABSOLUTE minority. Try googling salaries around the nation and you will find that even top salaries after 25 years of teaching are not that high
    2. teachers do not have the power to change things on their own. Lip service is given by the higher powers that be, but, ultimately, all change is governed by the almighty budget
    3. I can just about guarantee that any teacher you speak to will tell you that their students come first. They do everything within their power to give their students the best education they can, regardless of all the drama going on outside the classroom.

    If you take anything away from this discussion, it is that there is a lot of unrest among teacher because of the unreasonable demands placed upon their profession. BUT, the most important thing out there are our children, and we do everything to protect them from the unrest.
     
  13. Jackstreet

    Jackstreet Companion

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2009
    Messages:
    181
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 11, 2011

    The worry is understandable and clearly real... The question is, is the worry clouding the perception, as there is a clear disconnect between some of what is being asserted as true and what is objectively is observable as true.
     
  14. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Messages:
    3,094
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 11, 2011

    That is an incorrect assumption, but it certainly illustrates why there IS such a disconnect between teachers in the trenches and education leaders at the national level.

    None of the members here are saying "Shut up, I don't want to hear it". Rather, they are saying "We've heard this all before and it still didn't result in significant change." It's kind of like America's dependence on foreign oil. EVERY President since Richard Nixon (literally) has stated "We need to decrease our dependence on foreign oil and MY administration is going to be the one to do it". This same song and dance has been going on for more than 30 years and 7 Presidents, but no significant change has actually occurred. The same seems to be true regarding education reform.

    The examples of merit pay and teachers making in excess of $100k are in the great MINORITY compared to those earning less than $50k and facing possible job cuts ever single year because of budget shortages. Teachers are not ignoring the "measurable progress" being made, they are saying the "measurable progress" is still infinitesimal in the overall scheme of things.

    Several years ago, my sons complained about sitting the back row at church and asked "Can't we move closer to the front?" I said "Absolutely, we can do that", then I moved forward ONE row. It was "measurable progress", but certainly not significant enough to satisfy them.

    Having examples of increased merit pay and teachers earning $100k is a step in the right direction and is great for those who actually get it, but until these changes are implemented nationwide (which should be one of the goals of this collaboration at the national level), teachers are going to continue saying "That's great for the ones that get it, but I'M still not seeing it in MY district."

    You claim to be genuinely interested in the opinions of teachers, but when those opinions don't agree with your own, you seem dismissive towards them, accuse teachers of "ignoring the progress that is being made" and then wonder why there is a disconnect between the national and local levels. I submit the disconnect occurs because, just like the national leaders you so obviously admire, you ask for teacher input, but then ignore or dismiss the input provided. It seems you are the one saying "I really don't want to hear this anymore because we did make progress in this area over here and you are just ignoring that."

    I understand the leaders your mentioned are passionate about their positions. That doesn't mean they are necessarily right. When they (and you as their conduit) ask for teacher input, then turn around and tell teachers they are ignoring steps that have been made after receiving that input, it becomes pretty clear the leaders already have their chosen agenda and criteria and are really only interested in hearing views that support the positions they have already taken.

    It is equally worrisome to me (and I'm sure many others) when you claim to have a genuine interest in our thoughts and comments, but then spend entire posts rebutting the thoughts being offered. And despite this wonderful collaboration you are exhorting, I point out once again that it does not include any teachers that are actually on the front lines. That makes it appear your interest (and the interest of the leaders you represent) is nothing more than the same lip service teachers have been getting for years....and THAT is why teachers have become cynical and don't feel they have the power to change things.

    First, they are almost NEVER included in meetings or discussions regarding change. Second, when they are included (or their comments solicited, as in this case), their opinions are very often trivialized, denounced or simply dismissed.

    It isn't that teachers have "just given up", it is the fact they have realized that, a great deal of the time, their national leaders really don't have any interest in what they have to say, so they have resigned themselves to adapting whatever "changes" new leaders implement and chosen other battles to fight.
     
  15. Jackstreet

    Jackstreet Companion

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2009
    Messages:
    181
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 11, 2011

    I deeply appreciate your comments about teacher's commitment to give students the best education they can under any and all conditions, regardless. I come from a family of teachers so I know this is absolutely true and have witnessed this first hand.


    I also get the unrest, and the more I read the more palpable it becomes. I also understand why. However, I do have to push back against your notion that teachers don't have the power to change things on their own. The emphasis is on the can't versus what can be done.

    I think this is a disempowering point of view. Moreover, it discounts the enormous new possibilities for driving change that are now available to us all. Hey... if thousands of young people can leverage Twitter and Facebook to effect change in Egypt (Mubarck just stepped down!); teachers certainly have the tools to be heard and make a difference here in the U.S. Clearly there is no longer a need for any of us to wait for Superman, or our "leaders" to impact change.

    I think it's critical that we change the narrative on this point.
     
  16. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Messages:
    8,414
    Likes Received:
    1,559

    Feb 11, 2011

    I think we all evoke the small changes where we can on a daily basis. When we reteach material, we figure out what didn't work the last time and train ourselves to improve our strategy. When we are told we have to teach to the test, we figure out how to make it engaging and challenging as well. There is still hope and change out there. A lot of us have learned to pick our battles.
     
  17. Jackstreet

    Jackstreet Companion

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2009
    Messages:
    181
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 11, 2011



    Three points:

    1. To your point that very little has been done: The active teachers in my family routinely remind me that acknowledging progress and positive reenforcement of what I want produces more progress toward what I want. Might the same apply here?

    2. To your questions about my intentions and approach: The reason I chose media advocacy as my path to effect change is that it leaves me free of the politics of any interest group. I have no constituents to appease, no party line to tow and no agenda beyond driving toward genuine understanding and positive change. That said, robust thorough, respectful, intelligent examination of ideas is the foundation of the sector of the educational world in which I live. I would hope that all educators are in favor of rigorous thoughtful, discussion. So I'm neither arguing for the sake of arguing, ignoring what is being said, nor advocating for "our leaders." I am simply saying, can we reason together? In that process, if there are disconnects, then in my mind, they should be examined further.

    3. Finally, some have lamented the fact that we have engendered a generation of children who can only fill in bubbles but can't think. The other side of that coin is that when we teach people to think we end up with discussions like these with diverse points of view --- some of which we might not appreciate.
     
  18. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,534
    Likes Received:
    2,590

    Feb 11, 2011

    This pretty well sums up my feelings on all counts.
     
  19. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

    Joined:
    May 7, 2008
    Messages:
    3,544
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 11, 2011

    I will never give up hope on educational reform. It's why, even after working in several crazy school environments, I went back for one more try. I will always be involved in education-through my business, through outside tutoring/teaching endeavors, etc. I think that the loss of hope is not about the possibility of the reform-there are WONDERFUL ideas and and people with the energy and passion out there to implement it. My loss of hope right now is caused by the administrators and school directors who squelch that hope and passion in their teachers. To me, this is a top-down issue. I'm ready to work on reform, but I need a school team where EVERYONE has that hope and passion and energy. It sounds like there are schools out there that are ready for that-I use to work at one in Michigan-but there are many that are not.
     
  20. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

    Joined:
    May 7, 2008
    Messages:
    3,544
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 11, 2011

    It's pretty hard to change things when you're constantly being boxed in by guidelines that go against everything you feel is right about teaching. If you step outside of the box, you get dinged on your evaluation, verbally corrected by your admin, ostracized by your team, etc. I've been told by three administrators 'not to rock the boat' because my lessons were too creative and not following the textbook/test model. Where in the world are you suppose to go with that? If you want a job, you can't continually fight. If you continually fight (raises hand), you loose your job. And it's hard to make changes in a school when you're not IN a school.
     
  21. Jackstreet

    Jackstreet Companion

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2009
    Messages:
    181
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 11, 2011

    Jem people like you are so important and are the reason I get up every day and get back to work. You still have hope and are looking for how to engender positive change. What's missing is the answer to the question how. Though it's counter intuitive, I submit for your consideration the notion that perhaps "out" versus "IN" may be the place to effect change. I'm not suggesting that you have to leave teaching, but merely becoming aware of "other levers" that can effect change -- some of which are outside your local system and conventional wisdom.

    Further, I would suggest studying other change agents. Our world is filled with wonderful examples of single people and small groups who have had profound positive impact on calcified systems.

    I agree with you that it's hard to changes things. But the status quo isn't exactly a walk in the park.

    In an increasingly pessimistic, skeptical and cynical world I appreciate people like you because you keep hope alive... Thanks!
     
  22. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,746
    Likes Received:
    1,156

    Feb 11, 2011

    Jem's comments raise an important point that I've seen elsewhere on A to Z: it's not clear that we really DO want teachers to be creative and take initiative. It's much easier on administrators (and, I suspect, school-of-education faculty) to assume that teachers must be spoon-fed - given set curricula to parrot word for word.

    At the same time, it's much easier for teachers to assume that administrators and legislators and so on have it in for them uniquely than it is to try to imagine good intentions on the other side - and those teachers who do try to collaborate tend to be branded... well, "collaborators", and I mean in the World War II sense of giving aid and comfort to a despised enemy.

    I am, in short, an equal-opportunity cynic. We have gotten where we are because NO ONE in the system is willing to trust either the willingness or the capacity of anyone else - and that is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
     
  23. Jackstreet

    Jackstreet Companion

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2009
    Messages:
    181
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 11, 2011

    Wise, balanced and insightful...
     
  24. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

    Joined:
    May 7, 2008
    Messages:
    3,544
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 11, 2011

    I agree with this. When I feel constantly criticized without balanced support/encouragement by my administration, I get defensive of their programs and directives. It becomes a them vs. me situation and I shut down. I understand completely where my director is coming from with her thoughts this year. I disagree with them, but I understand where she is coming from. If I felt support and kindness from her, I might even be willing to compromise a bit and let down my guard. But the all-or-nothing approach that is taken puts up my walls and makes me feel like I'm drowning in a sea of nonsense! I went to a very good university for five years. I've participated in numerous PD offerings. I'm CONSTANTLY researching best practice. I would like to be included in the process!
     
  25. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    24,958
    Likes Received:
    2,109

    Feb 11, 2011

    I happen to work in a school where teachers are valued as professionals...with that comes TREMENDOUS responsibility...one can be very creative and kids can be engaged and there can be beautiful glittered bulletin boards and beautifully decorated classrooms where there is no accountability...I'm all for stepping outside the box IF you are facilitating student success...that success ( sometimes unfortunately) is measured in specific ways... We should keep our minds on helping students succeed and providing concrete evidence of that success...whether that be anecdotal notes, sound recordings of reading, tests, portfolios...what have you. One develops a certain reputation...not based on where their degree is from, but from the results they produce....one must walk the talk... We all have the potential to make small changes...I personally don't need 'reform'..I'm in a highly successful district which carefully and judiciously hires and keeps teachers who facilitate success. So called 'school reform' may only restrict the efforts of districts such as mine but I can appreciate the need for such efforts.
     
  26. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,746
    Likes Received:
    1,156

    Feb 11, 2011

    You mean me to feel complimented. Do please reread and ponder my whole post, however. Soliciting viewpoints/feelings and then individually explaining how those feelings are in error is a brushoff: the act of one who is either callow or part of the problem.

    In your case, let's assume callowness. Then a word of advice, young man: If you truly want to find out what teachers think, ask: but then spend at least as much time listening as you do defending your prior beliefs.
     
  27. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2007
    Messages:
    6,873
    Likes Received:
    229

    Feb 11, 2011

    All one has to do is look at the vast amount of teachers who leave teaching because of the current manner in which education is conducted. Education is no longer about really educating students; it's about bubbling in the correct answer. Teachers in the US have almost no power as to how they can conduct their own classes (teaching wise). Students are discouraged to be creative, and are forced, instead, to do "hard time" in their seats instead of engaging in real, authentic work that might, well, produce real understanding. Education in the US is failing, and any reform that might or might not improve things is surely to be slow-coming in any case. Change takes time, people are slow to move away from what they are comfortable with, and incompetent persons who know nothing about educating students get to dictate the entire thing. I am so disillusioned with the education system in the US.
     
  28. CanukTeach

    CanukTeach Companion

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2010
    Messages:
    175
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 11, 2011

    I believe education is better than it was 10/20/30/40/50 years ago. More students are in school and more students stay in school longer. If we compare 30 students today to 30 students 40 years ago, the students today may appear less literate, etc. However, if we compare 30 16 year olds today to 30 16 year olds 40 years ago, I'm confidant our 16 year olds are better educated.
     
  29. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,746
    Likes Received:
    1,156

    Feb 11, 2011

    At the same time, TamiJ, teachers are often readier to be helpless in the face of The Crushing Bureaucracy than is entirely warranted. In addition, it's remarkably easy to pit teachers against each other. Any number of discussions of merit pay bear testament to that.
     
  30. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2007
    Messages:
    6,873
    Likes Received:
    229

    Feb 11, 2011

    Are you saying that teachers do not stand up to "The Crushing Bureaucracy"?
     
  31. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Messages:
    17,362
    Likes Received:
    46

    Feb 11, 2011

    :clap:
     
  32. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,746
    Likes Received:
    1,156

    Feb 11, 2011

    Once they've decided it's Crushing, no. Some of them decide it's like that from the outset; others are instructed by those around them (either in word or in deed) that it's like that; a few learn the hard way that the local bureaucracy is very not into listening (and heaven knows there are idiot bureaucracies like that)...

    ... AND some find that, when they've got their facts together and present their case calmly but firmly, things can in fact move.

    ALL of these outcomes are attested in A to Z, most with some regularity.
     
  33. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2007
    Messages:
    6,873
    Likes Received:
    229

    Feb 11, 2011

    Well, I can't say I disagree with you. In my opinion, there are many teachers who can find many things wrong, but are slow to take an initiative to make a difference. This is true in my own school. There are many teachers with a long list of things that should and could be changed, but few actually seek to make those changes happen.

    To tie this into what you're saying, I agree that there's probably many bureaucracies that might be open to discussion, and potential change. To say I am disillusioned with the educational system in the US is not saying I do not believe in it all. I do believe that things can change, but it will be a slow process, and it will take the participation and willingness of many parties (not a small feat).
     
  34. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,534
    Likes Received:
    2,590

    Feb 11, 2011

    In terms of general knowledge, you're probably right that a 16-year-old today knows more than a 16-year-old from 40 years ago. I think the real measure, however, is how well that 16-year-old, either from today or from 40 years ago, is able to use that knowledge and function in the world.

    I would feel pretty confident in saying that a 16-year-old from 40 years ago could leave high school at that age, get a job, and generally do okay in society. A 16-year-old today...eh. Not so much, if you ask me. Based on what I've observed, students today are pitifully helpless and have an unbelievable sense of entitlement. They believe that they deserve everything they want and that everything they want should be given to them now, post haste. They become frustrated when asked to do work or to think, and rather than push through that frustration like their counterparts from decades ago, kids today simply shut down. They feel no pride whatsoever in a job well done, and they don't feel any sort of need to do that job themselves.

    So I guess since I feel like students today won't be as productive or successful members of society as students from many years ago, I'd have to say that education today is not better.

    Breadth of knowledge is not the same as depth of knowledge. I feel like we try to teach lots and lots and lots of things, like as far as your arms can stretch, but only an inch deep. What I think we should be doing is teaching fewer things but teaching them really deep. That's probably bad phrasing but it creates a visual in my head that I can understand.
     
  35. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,746
    Likes Received:
    1,156

    Feb 11, 2011

    Um. Forty years ago, Caesar, trust me, the prospects weren't so good for a sixteen-year-old high-school dropout. Better than now, yes - but not so good.
     
  36. Jackstreet

    Jackstreet Companion

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2009
    Messages:
    181
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 11, 2011


    Interesting point of view...

    Not quite sure what to make of this comment. The implication seems to be that proof that one "is listening" is demonstrated only by expressing agreement, support or silence. Apparently there is no room for disagreement, diverse perspectives or even rigorous intellectual exchange in this model.

    I have listened enough to hear that there is a lot of pain and frustration among teachers in the trenches.... that there are deep feelings of distrust and contempt around polices that limit the ability of teachers to really teach..... I have listened enough to have heard that there is a sense that the those on the front lines are regularly ignored.... I've heard thoughts about why conditions are as they are and what should be done about it.

    The "feelings" I accept unequivocally. Opinions, perceptions of reality, proposed solutions, strategic approaches I examine thoughtfully. Some I accept, some I reject. Perhaps this sort of discretion is out of favor now.
     
  37. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,534
    Likes Received:
    2,590

    Feb 11, 2011

    I wasn't trying to say that things were better back then or that kids had more opportunities. The point I was trying to make was more that a kid back then could do more with his knowledge than a kid today, who likely struggles tremendously in applying his knowledge in any meaningful way.
     
  38. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Messages:
    17,362
    Likes Received:
    46

    Feb 11, 2011

    You might have 'heard' what is being said here, but it's how you are responding to it that led TG to post what she did. We mention something, and you say yes I understand BUT....
     
  39. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,534
    Likes Received:
    2,590

    Feb 11, 2011

    To me it feels like you ask a question to which you already "know" the answer and then systematically break down all the reasons that someone might disagree with what you know. It doesn't feel like these threads are about discussion and hashing out solutions....It feels like teachers are again getting bashed for not doing enough, not knowing enough, not wanting enough, and not expecting enough. It feels like you're saying that if we're not lobbying and striking and running for president that we don't care enough about the solution and we are part of the disenfranchised.

    Please know that we teach because we love our students and subjects. We want things to be for them as good as they can possibly be. Especially here at A to Z, we're teachers who are using our personal time to offer suggestions and find solutions. We might be cranky sometimes and we might get discouraged now and then, but we really do want what's best. We also live in a world of reality and know that a status quo does exist. It's not easy to work for change when that means rocking the boat and angering TPTB. We need to keep our jobs. We also work long hours and are severely limited in terms of how much time we can devote to making improvements. For many teachers, it's about doing the best job we can within the system that exists now. That doesn't make us bad teachers or part of the problem or lazy or uncaring; it makes us real people who have classroom lives and private lives, with families and responsibilities and lives. The truth is that there is only so much we can do, and we're trying our hardest to do it. We usually have to rely on others to plead our case to TPTB, as long as we fully believe that those others really understand where we're coming from and what we're about. We're not asking for unreasonable things. We just want what's best for our students. It is frustrating when it seems like others believe that we don't know what's best for us and for our students. We see them everyday. While we may not know everything about everything, we do tend to know what works and what doesn't, because we've seen it and done it. A little faith in us and our collective knowledge as professionals would go a long way.
     
  40. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Messages:
    3,094
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 11, 2011

    No. Proof that one is listening is demonstrated by acknowledging the validity of at least some components of opposing perspectives. I find your own perspective "interesting" because, frankly, you have also exhibited no room for disagreement or diverse perspectives in your own model and your idea of "rigorous intellectual exchange" appears to consist of rigorously "challenging" any viewpoints that differ from your own while rigorously supporting those that agree with you (or that you think agree with you).

    In a true intellectual exchange, each side is able to acknowledge valid parts of the opposing viewpoints, especially when a convincing argument is offered. I've discussed politics, religion and all the controversial sub-topics they contain on the internet for almost a decade now. I can certainly defend my position on any issue very rigorously, but I can also respectfully acknowledge valid points made by those with opposing views.

    You have acknowledged the validity of the frustration, fear and resignation felt by many teachers, but your proposed solution has once again been for these frustrated teachers to see the issues from the perspectives of the national leaders rather than these national leaders listening to the frustrated teachers.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. sevenplus,
  2. mrsammieb,
  3. RainStorm
Total: 263 (members: 7, guests: 232, robots: 24)
test