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View Diary: But Why Do We Bash Teachers? (180 comments)

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    I think we bash teachers for many reasons but one of the most basic is that people mistake the act of having been taught with understanding what it means to teach and to learn. Successful teaching and learning are somewhat mysterious but there's a lot we actually understand about how the brain is wired to learn and how to create right conditions that support true learning. We also know a lot about how to tie meaningful assessments to the work we actually ask students to do. When I say "we" I'm talking about professional educators and researchers.

    Due to teachers holding a sort of "glorified babysitter" role in the minds of most voters, who really do not understand the nature of learning/teaching, but who think they understand enough to critique teachers freely, we have seen a march toward lay people evaluating teachers, a ridiculously low bar set for administrators and what they need to know in terms of how people learn and therefore what reasonable support for teachers looks like and what reasonable expectations of students  look like and a general level of low information people with far too much power who are making decisions almost entirely out of budgetary concerns. It's not a system that promotes excellence (tho' I must say that, despite all that,  teachers remain so remarkably talented, committed, and professional and our schools, when controlled for poverty, are performing well--which sez to me that we have a poverty issue just as much as an education reform issue).

    What bothers me most is the lack of understanding among policy setters and administrators of the most basic and uncontroversial facts about how our brains are wired to learn and what can be done at very basic levels to create the right conditions for learning. The very first thing that we should do is stop expecting students to learn so much so quickly. We are asking them to drink water from a fire hydrant, cognitively speaking.

    Leslie KY up thread mentioned some of her feelings about how school didn't support her growth as a human being. I think education is moving in an increasingly dehumanizing direction--dehumanizing of children and dehumanizing of the teachers on the front lines.

    Let the yoke fall from our shoulders; Don’t carry it all, don’t carry it all; We are all our hands and holders; Beneath this bold and brilliant sun; And this I swear to all - The Decemberists

    by Tookish on Sun May 01, 2011 at 09:38:47 PM PDT

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