Sunday, December 15, 2013

The word teacher certainly doesn't mean what it used to...

As I've witnessed for over two decades now, the school system teaches children dependence rather than independence, they teach them that behaviors don't have consequences, and words like accountability and responsibility are only meant for teachers and not students.

This same system now deems that students should suddenly be able to monitor their own behavior and learn on their own.  They want the students separated into small groups for the majority of each class where they believe students will teach themselves.  The "teacher" is supposed to serve as a facilitator of learning only.  Basically, the new belief is that teachers give what's called a "mini-lesson" instead of actually teaching the class.  This is supposed to last about 10 minutes long.  Then the students will magically get into their groups that are supposed to be by ability (imagine what happens to those that are lacking in knowledge and self-control) and practice their new-found skill. The teacher must differentiate the tasks for each group because every child learns differently.  By the end of class, the students should be able to successfully do the work independently.  They call this gradual release.  To me, gradual release is that by high school students are able to apply what they learned in grammar school so that they can succeed on their own. They even want the students to be able to have input into their own assessments. (Don't you wish you could have helped make up your own test or had a hand in how it was graded?)

Without a solid foundation in the basics, kids today don't have a chance today.  

Do you remember your grade school days? I do.   I was a decent student who cared about her grades, but I also remember having to be "taught" in order to learn and most of my practice came in the form of homework.  I also remember how it was when we were left to our own devices.  We were children after all and children need someone to teach them - not just "book learning" either. Children need guidelines and structure too.  

Teachers are being set up to fail by raising the bar so high that it's unattainable while the bar for children is being lowered each year. I keep saying the face of education is changing, and it's not a pretty one.

Charlotte Danielson is the model that the schools have adopted. Below is a satire on how this system works. I did not write it but found it on the internet.  No one put their name to it, but whoever wrote it certainly hit the nail on the head.

The Danielson Guide to a Highly Effective Thanksgiving

Unsatisfactory: You don't know how to cook a turkey. You serve a chicken instead. Half your family doesn't show because they are unmotivated by your invitation, which was issued at the last minute via facebook. The other half turn on the football game and fall asleep. Your aunt tells your uncle where to stick the drumstick and a brawl erupts. Food is served on paper plates in front of the TV. You watch the game, and root for the Redskins.

Needs Improvement: You set the alarm, but don't get up and the turkey is undercooked. 3 children are laughing while you say grace. 4 of your nephews refuse to watch the game with the rest of the family because you have failed to offer differentiated game choices. Conversation during dinner is marked by family members mumbling under their breath at your Aunt Rose, who confuses the Mayflower with the Titanic after her third Martini. Only the drunk guests thank you on the way out. Your team loses the game.

Proficient: The turkey is heated to the right temperature. All the guests, whom you have invited by formal written correspondence, arrive on time with their assigned dish to pass. Your nephew sneaks near the desert dish, but quickly walks away when you mention that it is being saved until after dinner. You share a meal in which all family members speak respectfully in turn as they share their thoughts on the meaning of Thanksgiving. All foods served at the table can be traced historically to the time of the Pilgrims. You watch the game as a family, cheer in unison for your team. They win.

: The turkey, which has been growing free range in your back yard, comes in your house and jumps in the oven. The guests, who wrote to ask you please be invited to your house, show early with foods to fit all dietary and cultural needs. You watch the game on tape, but only as an video prompt for your family discussion of man's inhumanity to man. Your family plays six degrees of Sir Francis Bacon and is thus able to resolve, once and for all, the issue of whether Oswald acted alone.


  1. Anytime I hear the word "facilitator" I cringe. I've seen facilitator's come is to "change the world" in my business and it has always ended in disaster. This format is laughable. Rather than students teaching themselves in small groups, unfortunately, it will probably be the ones that don't care keeping the ones that do from actually learning. I wonder if you'll see a rise in home schooling (that's another topic altogether)? Hang in there ~ there's always at least one student whose life you impact in such a positive way.

    Paul R. Hewlet

    1. Thanks for stoppin' by Paul. And you're right...the students that don't do are the ones that influence the others. I'm just counting down the days until Christmas vacation.

  2. I think you should compile all your blogs, wrap them up and hand them out to those who need a gentle reminder. You are awesome and an inspiration, in a most distinguished way.