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View Diary: This is all so wrong. (91 comments)

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  •  Your first and second halves (13+ / 0-)

    The first half of your essay is a perfect distillation of what I have encountered, over and over again, and the dreams are exactly the same. In fact, they have been the same since 1989 (except for the CSI... back then, there was a lot of "computer engineer and make video games," despite the fact that the school had no CIS).

    The culture wars do enter into the curriculum, and diversity does cause grief, but if you want to see the crisis, look to the middle and early high schools. American kids out perform the globe in elementary school, and then they under perform in high school. What happens between? 1. Middle school. 2. Adolescence.

    A lot of attention goes to #2, and it invites the culture war to amplify its distorting effects.
    "Conservative" efforts include (people won't agree)
           The Christian creation Adam and Eve stuff
           "Standards" and "testing"
            This latter is, effectively, a corrections based approach, as it says that the schools can't be trusted, the teachers are incompetent, and the students are wild, and so there will be a prison-like uniformity.

    "Liberal" efforts include
           Individual tracking
           Proliferation of special education classification schema
           Adapting outputs to cultures.

    But the problem is that middle school, no matter what those jerks do to kids in high school, is a null. Look at what children do in those years. They repeat. They get skills in grades 1-4 and then repeat them for four years. Look what the prep schools do: keep moving at the same pace.

    Result? Preps are doing calculus in 10th grade, reading Joyce meaningfully.

    Love bears all, but lust bares it all.

    by The Geogre on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 04:53:44 AM PDT

    •  I teach in an urban HS (8+ / 0-)

      I have to agree with this. It seems like many of our incoming 9th grade students know just about as much as they did when they were in the 5th grade. The "spiral" curriculum is only good if the curriculum adds new knowledge to what had been learned before instead of just repeating it for reinforcement.

      But don't forget that most men without property would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich, than face the reality of being poor. (1776)

      by banjolele on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 05:31:25 AM PDT

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    •  The year I was almost fired from the NYC BoE (14+ / 0-)

      I made the mistake of showing my urban 9th grade writers a stack of papers from my son's suburban 9th grade classmates.  I made the point that in order to do well in, say, sports, you analyze what other teams do.  

      The two groups had written essays on the same topic. There was no parity, no equivalent basic knowledge or writing skill.  Most of the kids got the point and paid more attention for a day or two, but the principal called the lesson racist or elitist or both or worse and said people with such bad attitudes really should not be teaching. She had done some staff-development sessions on student self-esteem, which she said I was harming.

      (It was the late 1990s and the school had a hall b-board highlighting President Carter's trip abroad. The project came from a current events class. They had used materials from the school library, which hadn't ordered Time or Newsweek in more than 10 years. Their teacher and the principal thought this embarassment deserved a public showcase.)

      Repeat?  Some kids are drilled to be clueless.

      •  Yes, but... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fiddler crabby, ER Doc, Panurge

        I agree about cultural problems, and I especially agree about "educationalists." The self-esteem culture was a mistake that served as methamphetamine to a disaster. It took a bad turn and hit the gas pedal.

        It also went across the curriculum and across the country. This is partly due to an underlying problem in the education business.

        Education is in perpetual revolution so long as it is an academic discipline. All academic disciplines must be, as they are founded on progress. As such, their fundamental assumption is that there is something to improve. The grander the improvement, the greater the "progress."

        We who are progressives may believe in this mantra when it comes to economic distribution and cultural coercion, but Ed. in college must refute and replace every few years, and it must also find problems to solve. Once it finds them, it must solve them, and always globally.

        You speak of one of these.
        1. Immigrant, non-native speakers and minority students in an integrated classroom feel dissuaded, self-identify as "stupid."
        2. When the curriculum fosters self-esteem for these students, they begin to expect more from themselves and try harder.
        So far, so good. Now, some bright spark says that this needs to be The Plan. So it goes out nationally, with suburban white kids, rural Black kids, urban mixed classes, suburban mixed classes, border classes... everywhere. Everyone must get that self-esteem to increase expectations.
        Except that the "self-esteem" part gets isolated from the "expectations" part, because it's easier, and it's a great bludgeon to use against other faculty and administrators.

        I agree with you on that, but I don't agree that the cultural filters aren't real, don't agree that dialect interference isn't genuine, or that the things the "self-esteem" movement set out to correct aren't real, but our idiot-infested Education programs have an untenable assumption.

        Love bears all, but lust bares it all.

        by The Geogre on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 08:14:38 AM PDT

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        •  TG, I'm glad you're not actually grading me! (5+ / 0-)

          But, really:  in that particular time and place, a  lot of people were teaching and administering outside their areas of expertise/training.  In the 90s, the first stirrings of fly-by-night, money-driven, accreditation-related grad courses were cropping up in strip malls, and poor districts (rural and urban) were desperate for staff.  

          What this meant in practice was that (a) the districts would hire anyone with the legal number of credits to do a job; (b) the credentialing organizations would approve pretty much anything as creditable; and (c) people with actual seat-time graduate degrees in actual academic subjects were quickly hired, but just as quickly resented by certain underprepared administrators and colleagues.
          The disparities that allow some children to sail through school while others come out after 12 years barely able to read extend to teacher and administrator preparation.  

          Schools with needier populations ought to have (and be able to keep) the absolute best-prepared, most experienced educators.  They should have generous funding and lots of first-rate support services.  They should be able to bring parents in to learn with their kids, and they should have really nice playgrounds and wholesome, tasty food in the cafeterias, too.  

          Instead, they get too many people who see education as a 20-year retirement track with paid summer vacations, who think kids do better when kept in their place, who feel threatened by difference in every form, and who probably, themselves, never had much chance to see things any other way.

          The underlying idea sustaining these inequities might be that we are still a wealthy nation -- rich enough not to care about how much we waste, even human beings and their potential.

          •  I agree. I saw it, too. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            fiddler crabby, ER Doc

            I, too, was one of those people with credits in the thing I taught who was resented.

            I kept running into the resentment, though, at level after level, and then I started teaching at college again and running into the Ed. teachers and their ideas. Oh, and I lived in three states that were each and every one "48th in the nation in education."

            The entrenched and lazy met the professional obfuscatory to make the mess we're in, and I've just gone through a round of "assessment reporting" for our college, where education is supposed to be captured, weighed, and dissected for how much is the instructor, how much the curriculum, and how much the student, and all at the last day of class. Whee!

            Love bears all, but lust bares it all.

            by The Geogre on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 10:22:31 AM PDT

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    •  ISTR this. (0+ / 0-)

      We read one Joyce short story, "Araby", in our 10th-grade English Lit. class.  I don't know if I got much out of it, but I think I'd "get it" now, FWIW.  

      My school system was working on a two-tier system back then.  Sometime around 1995, I think, they went to a three-tier system, so I don't know how things have turned out.  

      (BTW, what about "junior high", grades 7 through 9, IIRC, instead of middle school?  I remember being in first grade and thinking the 7th-graders seemed more like high-school students than us; maybe they ought to have been in a high-school environment anyway.  Not having been in a middle-school system, I don't have much of an idea what so many people have against it besides the misuse of the "spiral curriculum" and The Puberty Question.)

      The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

      by Panurge on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 08:40:28 PM PDT

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