Public Education– Faster and Furiouser and Furiouser.

I am troubled.  Being a teacher in public K-12 education is giving me a cognitive dissonance migraine– one half of me knowing what I need to do and the other half knowing I will never get the administrative approval, copyright permission, standards-alignment, and a dozen other things that have to be done to write a curriculum.  In other words, I am not a publically traded company.

Education has become a huge business.  Just a few days ago, I was in a meeting where administrators were discussing a switch to a new state test as we begin aligning to new state standards, and i wondered how that company had gotten the bid, and what we were paying them.  So now we will be teaching to a brand new test, and companies will be jumping for the public ed money that will be shelled out for brand new curriculum.  Will it be worth anything?  Or are we going to kiss goodbye a new generation of kids who can’t read, do basic math, write a letter, or craft an argument?

In the same meeting, the administrator tells us that if multiplying fractions is in the curriculum, and kids don’t know how to multiply, well we can’t spare 6 weeks to teach them.  The solution?  Give the kid a calculator.  Because time is already too short, and we can’t slow down to teach.  And as that kid gets further and further away from 3rd grade math, it becomes all too clear that she will NEVER learn how to multiply.

I’ve been doing this for 15 years, and I have had to learn from scratch everything from making a lesson plan to classroom discipline to record-keeping.  It is clear to me that no one knows what the hell is going on, but people seem to fit loosely into three camps.  First are the teachers, mostly younger, that embrace the new thing, make it look great in their classrooms, and live off four hours a sleep a night and a gallon of coffee a day.  Then there are folks like me who have tried the new thing, adopted it, seen it thrown out by the new administration who brought a new new thing, adopted THAT, watched THAT get thrown out by the NEW new administration who brought in a NEW new thing, and are now angry, disillusioned, and making our own way, trying to find something that works.  The third camp are folks who ignore the new thing, the new new thing AND the NEW new thing, close their doors, and teach what they know works.

Is the whole world like this?

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. phantom44
    Oct 14, 2012 @ 19:47:38

    Yes, the whole world is like that! surprise, surprise…..What you are seeing now actually started back in the mid 80’s by my calculation (see, I don;t do math, I “calculate…..”). We don’t like basics, we like “new” stuff, which in fact isn’t really new stuff but is simply “easier” stuff. We are heading in the direction of a society that doesn’t want to have to THINK, we just want to get our way at any cost, including dumming down our children and our society. As a matter of fact, why work? You can still get fed, housed, transported, computerized, etc, etc., by just doing very little or nothing at all…..Work is becoming a dirty, 4 letter word…..but, hey, who really cares? The Chinese have one (read, one, uno, a single, etc.) education system for their entire country. They steal much of their research and development, motivate their people to work through fear, and pretty much sit on top of the pile which is made up of the rest of the world. The US is behind in technology, skills, innovation, etc. to nations like China, India, Japan and on and on…..We, however, probably lead the world in prescription drug intake, stress, obesity, and generally poor health and habits. Who would ever want to change that…..certainly teachers can’t make a difference, can they??? Sorry for the sarcasm, but there are a few teachers who are dedicated to trying to help their kids prepare for the life ahead of them. too bad the parents often aren’t doing the same….The phantom……

    Reply

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