14 March 2010

. . . Until Morale Improves


I have started this page too many times over the past week and years. In the past two weeks the latest assault on teachers has been launched by the media, first in the New York Times Magazine section, and most recently by Newsweek in a cover article entitled “The Key to Saving American Education.” On the cover and behind the bold statement is a blackboard on which is written in chalk, in a style reminiscent of punishment assignments for mischievous students, “We must fire bad teachers.”

Why have I started this page too many times over the past week and years? Because inevitably I feel compelled to make some response refuting the absurd claims made in articles such as this. Let me give one small example: in the current Newsweek article⎯about the second or third sentence⎯the authors write, “Once upon a time, American students tested better than any other students in the world.” This totally absurd statement, made with no references or even numbers to substantiate even the smallest part of the claim, is nothing more than the beginning of an elaborately woven fairy tale (hence, “Once upon a time . . .”) about the poor princesses (our children) trapped in the castle (the schools) by the evil witch (the teachers) for her own wicked purposes. Somehow, the authors suggest, we have to turn that malevolent force into good, and having accomplished this feat, the key to saving American education will have been turned. What crap!

The Times article, “Building a Better Teacher,” attempts rather lamely to probe the nature of teaching in an effort to produce a better teacher. The authors focus on the work of Dennis Lemov who has constructed a taxonomy of teacher behaviors that, he claims, will facilitate learning. The book comes out this Spring. The beatings will continue until morale improves.

Why have I started this page too many times over the past week and years? Because I won’t spend my time again defending what does not any longer need defending.

Teaching is an impossible profession. And I believe its influence is highly overrated. In the textbook I have been asked to use for a Foundations of Education course at the University, Diane Ravitch is prominently portrayed as a conservative advocate of strict standards, but over the past several weeks her change of heart⎯and position⎯has been documented volubly in the mainstream media. So what, you wonder? Well, it means that everyone who had paid attention to her voice over the past several decades and transformed their pedagogy according to her mandates, suddenly find themselves practicing the wrong profession. Not effectively teaching at all!

Teachers are artists. Some have great vision: they are the Picassos and Rembrandts and even Van Goghs of our society. Some may even be painting Brillo boxes on canvasses. But their work hangs in no museum, and their work does not sell for millions of dollars. Indeed, sometimes their work becomes a clerk in Wal-Mart, or becomes a housewife or lawyer or accountant. And sometimes their work is blown apart in a war started by some of the other products of the teacher.

And most of the teachers keep on keeping on. Many are not brilliant though they are more than capable; indeed, they are brave and they persevere amid insurmountable obstacles and odds. And they persist despite the calumnies heaped upon them by ignorant writers in popular magazines who owe their skill to their unacknowleddged teachers.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Don’t reach out to your audience. Instead, light a fire that can be seen from miles away.” - Martha Graham

15 March, 2010 11:27  
Blogger sjstrieker said...

What a powerful post that speaks to me on many levels. As I hit the last leg of my grad program, I am reminded often of your powerful insights regarding educators, which I learned early on in the Stout program. Summer reflective time sent me in search of your blog.

28 June, 2010 17:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I regret, but nothing can be made.

19 February, 2011 15:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The author is really cool. But some of the commentators are just posting stupid words.

20 February, 2011 22:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interestingly written! [b][url=http://IPODTOUCH5.INFO/Heart-and-Souls.html]Heart and Souls[/url][/b]

28 February, 2011 13:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so very much for posting this… Absolutely LOVE it!! Wish there was a way to “fav” individual posts on WordPress, would definitely favor this post.

BR, Aron
my site

14 March, 2011 19:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It’s funny how many articles and news come out on a weekly basis.

28 March, 2011 17:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks to the author for taking his time on this one.

01 April, 2011 01:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello this subject is hugely concerning. Keep it going guy !

27 April, 2011 23:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello this metter is really concerning. Keep it going buddy !

29 April, 2011 01:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Qqdwqdsaas ascaassc fdrewe:
stars were paling to the dawn, Beltane raised the hilt of his sword
Orson lieth dead yonder in Jenkyn's arms, and Roger--poor Roger is

30 April, 2011 09:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one could help me with my chemistry research paper, but you really helped me out.

29 June, 2011 15:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was an excellently written essay, thank you so much.

[url=http://www.squidoo.com/custom-paper-online]Custom essay from samedayessay.com[/url]

06 July, 2011 10:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad I detected this on google .

17 July, 2011 14:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[url=http://earth.affiliateseeking.biz/]The young of some brood parasites are coloured so as to resemble the young of the host.
From the 15th century, western European explorers push eastward in an effort to seek treasures, spices and other luxuries of that time.
Making intelligent use of the wind, Johnson was able to make his deliveries float away from the batsman, changing from his standard off-break.
B deck consisted mostly of public space.
The carrier remained in port until 8 February 1965, and sailed for fleet exercises in the Caribbean.
Historian Walter Rodney has argued that at the start of the slave trade in the 16th century, even though there was a technological gap between Europe and Africa, it was not very substantial.
Spain also restricted Cuba's access to the slave trade, which was dominated by the British, French, and Dutch.
Such institutions were a mixture of debt-slavery, punishment for crime, the enslavement of prisoners of war, child abandonment, and the birth of slave children to slaves.
The amount of irrigated crop land in the 1980s, estimated at between 70,000 and 110,00 hectares, was substantially less than the 140,000 hectares of colonial times.
December 1969; sponsored by Mrs.
[/url]
[url=http://earth.affiliateseeking.biz/top-rated-caribbean-islands.html]top rated caribbean islands[/url]
[url=http://earth.affiliateseeking.biz/number-one-cruise-line.html]number one cruise line[/url]
[url=http://earth.affiliateseeking.biz/all-inclusive-caribbean-cruise-packages.html]all inclusive caribbean cruise packages[/url]
[url=http://earth.affiliateseeking.biz/cruise-ship-message-boards.html]cruise ship message boards[/url]
[url=http://earth.affiliateseeking.biz/caribbean-cruise-info.html]caribbean cruise info[/url]

23 August, 2011 09:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even reading pleasure . Thank you. Your resource for some reason, poorly advertised and not attend. You can advertise it using software XRumer 7 Elite ( Elite Hrumer 7 ) can be obtained at http://x-rumer.ru/ heard a powerful tool for the promotion of blog sites.

30 August, 2011 09:59  

Post a Comment

<< Home