Monday, March 7, 2011

Education Reform's red herrings

Waiting for Superman... How about waiting for SuperLibrarian?
Joanne Barkan's, "Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools"
Letter to Duncan explaining their mistake to quote testing scores to push a misguided reform agenda.

Suzie (not her real name:-) responded with this comment to my earlier posts about Bill Gates having too much control in the current educational reform movement:
Are you alarmed by this?? Wake up! At every school site, there are always those handful of teachers that are complacent, content with pulling up a Power Point and going through the same lessons year after year after year. They have the job security - so why spice up their lesson plans, consider multiple intelligences, or differentiate their assignments when they don't have to? These are the workers Bill Gates is talking about...
Clearly, Suzie is very frustrated with the teachers she works with - maybe she is so entrenched, she can't fathom any other target. Cats fighting never notice the dog watching.

Here was my comment back to her:
Hi Suzie
My point was to look at the whole system. By playing teachers against teachers, we don't ask the deeper questions. Such as "Why are there these kinds of teachers in the first place?" and "What kind of teacher training is happening?" and "What does real learning (not testing results) look like?"
I believe all people are natural learners and even teachers can be broken down after even a few months (not years) with little or no autonomy. After all, they are just like the students that feel like there is very little in their personal control of their own learning needs.
If you have time (which most busy teachers don't :-) see if you can find "Weapons of Mass Instruction" by John Taylor Gatto and anything by Gary Stager, Roger Schank, Ken Robinson, and Alfie Kohn to understand how even the best teachers are getting it wrong in our unnatural learning environments. 
I know it feels like "what am I supposed to do about the whole system?" It starts with each educator understanding the history of education, then the reasons behind new policies or reforms - who benefits, and why would even a reasonable government continue to endorse it. - Jennie

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