omorka: (Janine Not Impressed)
So, my adopted state's GOP has put its foot well in its mouth yet again; they've taken a controversial anti-critical thought stance. Which, despite claiming it was a mistake, they apparently can't fix until 2014. Kind of like the Legislature in general, honestly.

Honestly, their stance against higher order thinking skills (which they did not walk back) doesn't make any sense, either; assuming they're referring to Bloom's Taxonomy (and I can't find a reference to the HOTS acronym that doesn't use the Bloom's definition), they're talking about analysis, synthesis, and evaluation - and while I share a certain skepticism that "evaluation" should be the "top" of the chart, I am very much in favor of being able to use all three skills (as a higher-level math teacher, the vast majority of what I test falls into either anlysis, synthesis, or the next level down, which is application). I suspect that at least the religious-right end of the Texipublicans is terrified of their kids learning how to evaluate a proposition, for fear that they'll apply it to Bible study, but that presupposes that they already know they're wrong.

And the party that brought us the NCLB standardized testing system objecting to "outcome-based education" is whiplash-inducing. Granted that multiple-choice testing was not what the original authors of the various OBE programs had in mind - most of them imagined something closer to a portfolio of task- and performance-assessments - but the 50 statewide assessment systems required for those would be enormous.
omorka: (Janine Not Impressed)
So, my adopted state's GOP has put its foot well in its mouth yet again; they've taken a controversial anti-critical thought stance. Which, despite claiming it was a mistake, they apparently can't fix until 2014. Kind of like the Legislature in general, honestly.

Honestly, their stance against higher order thinking skills (which they did not walk back) doesn't make any sense, either; assuming they're referring to Bloom's Taxonomy (and I can't find a reference to the HOTS acronym that doesn't use the Bloom's definition), they're talking about analysis, synthesis, and evaluation - and while I share a certain skepticism that "evaluation" should be the "top" of the chart, I am very much in favor of being able to use all three skills (as a higher-level math teacher, the vast majority of what I test falls into either anlysis, synthesis, or the next level down, which is application). I suspect that at least the religious-right end of the Texipublicans is terrified of their kids learning how to evaluate a proposition, for fear that they'll apply it to Bible study, but that presupposes that they already know they're wrong.

And the party that brought us the NCLB standardized testing system objecting to "outcome-based education" is whiplash-inducing. Granted that multiple-choice testing was not what the original authors of the various OBE programs had in mind - most of them imagined something closer to a portfolio of task- and performance-assessments - but the 50 statewide assessment systems required for those would be enormous.
omorka: (Bi Symbol)
So, the governor of Maine vetoed a bill that would have given the teachers of his state funding towards NBPTS certification - because the state branch of the NEA disagreed with him on a number of things, one of which was marriage equality.

WTF? I mean, I can imagine in Jesusland castigating the MEA for talking about things that aren't directly about the classroom (never mind that making sure that every teacher knows their SO is covered by their health insurance is something I think any teacher's union should be concerned about), but - Maine? Really? And then yanking funding for a completely unrelated certification program?

In related news (and quoted in the article), Rep. Frank, when asked about the four-year-old singing about Teh Ghey not getting into heaven, said:

Sometimes when people know they’re losing, they get more virulent. That can be a dangerous time.


Especially one to be lovers in.

Nothing worth the having comes to us already made; gotta kick at this brightness 'till it bleeds deep shade.
omorka: (Bi Symbol)
So, the governor of Maine vetoed a bill that would have given the teachers of his state funding towards NBPTS certification - because the state branch of the NEA disagreed with him on a number of things, one of which was marriage equality.

WTF? I mean, I can imagine in Jesusland castigating the MEA for talking about things that aren't directly about the classroom (never mind that making sure that every teacher knows their SO is covered by their health insurance is something I think any teacher's union should be concerned about), but - Maine? Really? And then yanking funding for a completely unrelated certification program?

In related news (and quoted in the article), Rep. Frank, when asked about the four-year-old singing about Teh Ghey not getting into heaven, said:

Sometimes when people know they’re losing, they get more virulent. That can be a dangerous time.


Especially one to be lovers in.

Nothing worth the having comes to us already made; gotta kick at this brightness 'till it bleeds deep shade.
omorka: (Educator At Work)
This post by [livejournal.com profile] neededalj is really about Survey!Fail, but it encapsulates pretty much everything that I find enraging about both the educational trend towards "brain-based learning" (*blech*) and the whole "gay brains" trope.
omorka: (Educator At Work)
This post by [livejournal.com profile] neededalj is really about Survey!Fail, but it encapsulates pretty much everything that I find enraging about both the educational trend towards "brain-based learning" (*blech*) and the whole "gay brains" trope.
omorka: (Educator At Work)
Bad News: The Texas State Board of Education passed their stupid Islamophobic resolution.

Very Slightly Mitigating News: Only by one vote. (7-6, if anyone was curious.)

Somewhat Amusing News: Then they had to amend it to remove a factual error concerning one of the textbooks they were complaining about. *headdesk*

I do have to say, there are very few things in the world that could make me grateful for Lawrence Allen, but these cuckoos are seven of them.
omorka: (Educator At Work)
Bad News: The Texas State Board of Education passed their stupid Islamophobic resolution.

Very Slightly Mitigating News: Only by one vote. (7-6, if anyone was curious.)

Somewhat Amusing News: Then they had to amend it to remove a factual error concerning one of the textbooks they were complaining about. *headdesk*

I do have to say, there are very few things in the world that could make me grateful for Lawrence Allen, but these cuckoos are seven of them.
omorka: (Educator At Work)
. . . many of which, I know, were actually made in the first half of the '60s, before things got Weird. But until [livejournal.com profile] mordath linked to this, I'd never seen a '60s educational film before (which was actually made in the early '70s, but who's counting?).

Protein Synthesis As A Group Dance Happening

This also reminds me of [livejournal.com profile] binaryathena's Sugar Synthesis Summer Solstice Ritual, although obviously this has a lot more costuming involved.

Anyone up for the MST3K, or does this sufficiently make fun of itself?
omorka: (Educator At Work)
. . . many of which, I know, were actually made in the first half of the '60s, before things got Weird. But until [livejournal.com profile] mordath linked to this, I'd never seen a '60s educational film before (which was actually made in the early '70s, but who's counting?).

Protein Synthesis As A Group Dance Happening

This also reminds me of [livejournal.com profile] binaryathena's Sugar Synthesis Summer Solstice Ritual, although obviously this has a lot more costuming involved.

Anyone up for the MST3K, or does this sufficiently make fun of itself?
omorka: (WTF?)
So Sarah Palin's comment at 9:12 in this liveblog? This one here on YouTube?

HOLY FREAKING CRAP! WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?

First of all, how tacky is it to say to a man whose first wife is dead that his second wife's reward is in heaven?

Second, the little head bobby thing there makes the "god bless her" part sound entirely too much like "bless her heart." (Also, the fake-folksy thing makes me want to put on the ol' plantation drawl and get mean. I will not subject you to the drawl.)

Third, uh, no. Her reward is not in heaven, nor is mine, nor is any other teacher's. Our reward is right here on Earth, filling thirty-two seats a day, struggling through a concept and finally getting it, shrieking with glee at winning a trophy at a competition, juggling school and a part-time job and swim team practice and still managing to make it in for tutorials, working through college and sending back an e-mail saying how much easier college algebra was because they had you. That reward is right here, here in flesh and blood, and in all of our futures together. For those Christian teachers, that reward will stay here on Earth and do good after them, for a generation or more, long after they've gone on to their heaven.

Fourth, way to make the church crowd comfortable while making all the rest of us squirmy. I'm sure the thought never entered Palin's mind, but if a teacher's reward were in her heaven, what would the point be for all of us non-Christian teachers?

Grr and arrgh.
omorka: (WTF?)
So Sarah Palin's comment at 9:12 in this liveblog? This one here on YouTube?

HOLY FREAKING CRAP! WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?

First of all, how tacky is it to say to a man whose first wife is dead that his second wife's reward is in heaven?

Second, the little head bobby thing there makes the "god bless her" part sound entirely too much like "bless her heart." (Also, the fake-folksy thing makes me want to put on the ol' plantation drawl and get mean. I will not subject you to the drawl.)

Third, uh, no. Her reward is not in heaven, nor is mine, nor is any other teacher's. Our reward is right here on Earth, filling thirty-two seats a day, struggling through a concept and finally getting it, shrieking with glee at winning a trophy at a competition, juggling school and a part-time job and swim team practice and still managing to make it in for tutorials, working through college and sending back an e-mail saying how much easier college algebra was because they had you. That reward is right here, here in flesh and blood, and in all of our futures together. For those Christian teachers, that reward will stay here on Earth and do good after them, for a generation or more, long after they've gone on to their heaven.

Fourth, way to make the church crowd comfortable while making all the rest of us squirmy. I'm sure the thought never entered Palin's mind, but if a teacher's reward were in her heaven, what would the point be for all of us non-Christian teachers?

Grr and arrgh.
omorka: (Educator At Work)
The video behind the cut should be required viewing for any educator who teaches kids from generational poverty, or adults who used to be those kids for that matter:

Read more... )

ObHurricane: It's not even that windy yet, or raining more than a few drops at a time. I know it's not supposed to get bad until 10 pm, but for something with a windfield and a pinwheel like Ike has, you'd think it'd be messier by now.
omorka: (Educator At Work)
The video behind the cut should be required viewing for any educator who teaches kids from generational poverty, or adults who used to be those kids for that matter:

Read more... )

ObHurricane: It's not even that windy yet, or raining more than a few drops at a time. I know it's not supposed to get bad until 10 pm, but for something with a windfield and a pinwheel like Ike has, you'd think it'd be messier by now.
omorka: (Educator At Work)
Yet Another Learning Styles Index: The Felder-Silverman Model

My results: )

And yes, this is the same Dr. Silverman that I've gone on about previously.
omorka: (Educator At Work)
Yet Another Learning Styles Index: The Felder-Silverman Model

My results: )

And yes, this is the same Dr. Silverman that I've gone on about previously.
omorka: (Educator At Work)
Those of you who are educators, or who have ever toiled in the profession, you can skip this.

Otherwise:

I am sick and tired of people who think education is a godsdamned assembly-line job.

It's the model we have, I understand. Ever since we abandoned the one-room schoolhouse, these brick buildings have been, metaphorically, factories. There are 5 or six stops on the assembly line, and here the elementary teachers stand, with their rulers and their chalk, to rivet the right places on the malleable minds. Then the line forks, wish some units getting music bolted on, others art, or shop, or ROTC. Six or seven more stops, each with six to eight steps. Then the units roll off the end of the line to go join factories of their own.

There didn't used to be any quality control, and then the plutocrats who bought the units off the line complained that some of them were defective, or the bolts fell out. Just before the last couple of stops, now, in all the government-owned factories, an inspector comes in and tests each unit. The ones that fail are sent back through that stop on the assembly line again. Occasionally, an inspector will even admit that it wasn't that stop that had bits missing - it was some earlier stop - but we can't send a unit back down the wrong way on the assembly line, can we? And of course, privately-owned factories we all know are superior, so there's no mandatory QC check on them.

*spit*

There are dozens of reasons to repudiate this model, but I assert first and foremost that the biggest one is that it totally devalues the student.

A child, adolescent, or young adult is not a passive recipient of bits of learning bolted on by a teacher like pieces of sheet metal. If you, as the teacher, approach it that way then the vast majority of the bits will fall off into the great bit bucket. Any learning is a cooperative effort, and there is nothing a teacher can do that will make a student learn something if that student is actively resisting, or even passively resisting.

I am not a pitcher, pouring knowledge into the empty cups of the students; it's more like taking a model apart, demonstrating what each one looks like, hoping that the kids have the raw materials already (and knowing where to point them if they don't), and showing them how to construct the same model for themselves. But even if the pitcher metaphor worked, even if it didn't require active effort on the part of the kids, you can't force a kid to drink.

In short, any educational model that considers the student a passive recipient, or assumes that every child is inherently an enthusiastic participant in his or her own education, is going to (epic) fail. It will fail the kids, and it will fail the greater culture in which it is embedded.

And it is this, more than anything else, that I think is the great problem in public education. Fifty years ago, a kid who didn't want to be there was allowed to mark time until it was legal for him or her to drop out, and then he could join the Army or go take a drudge job in a factory or drive a combine on the farm, or she could get married, get pregnant, and take care of kids for the rest of her life, preferably in that order. And while this was a tragedy, it was not a huge one; people who didn't earn a high-school diploma could still work, live, eat. They may have lived lives of quiet desperation, but then so did middle-aged housewives with a year of college under their belts before they earned their MRS degree. The kids who stayed in school had a motivation to stay there - they wanted to go to college, or they wanted to become foremen at the factory and so needed that diploma, or their parents wanted them to stay because they valued education, or they wanted to graduate with their friends.

Now, we know better than that. Education is mandatory in almost all states until the kids' senior years; schools are penalized for having high dropout rates. One in three kids in their junior year in high school now is someone who wouldn't have been there fifty years ago. And the schools can't brush them off into a vocational track at the start of junior high, either - which is a good thing, but it means that kids who want vocational education, things like carpentry and textile arts and welding and auto shop, are often not able to find them now, and certainly not in junior high middle school.

What we desperately need is not necessarily 'better teachers,' although encouraging women to enter elementary education as a major because "it's easy" or steering highly capable undergraduates away from education as a career choice doesn't strike me as a good idea. What we need is a way - more accurately, a panoply of methods - to motivate students, starting from the early grades and continuing through the end of twelfth grade at the very least, to not just show up but to choose to participate in their own learning. We don't need better textbooks, or fancier technology in the classroom; we need non-coercive ways to draw kids' interests. Technology may well be part of that, for many kids, but it is no cure-all.

And still, I suspect that a 0% drop out rate and a 100% passing rate - which, make no mistake, with a few exceptions for special ed kids, that's what No Child Left Behind will ask of us, and sooner than you think; that's what that title means - is not in our power. I mean that literally; that is not in our power to do, because the achievement measured is not ours. It's the kids'. Anything else denies their personhood, and makes them nothing more than units on the assembly line.
omorka: (Educator At Work)
Those of you who are educators, or who have ever toiled in the profession, you can skip this.

Otherwise:

I am sick and tired of people who think education is a godsdamned assembly-line job.

It's the model we have, I understand. Ever since we abandoned the one-room schoolhouse, these brick buildings have been, metaphorically, factories. There are 5 or six stops on the assembly line, and here the elementary teachers stand, with their rulers and their chalk, to rivet the right places on the malleable minds. Then the line forks, wish some units getting music bolted on, others art, or shop, or ROTC. Six or seven more stops, each with six to eight steps. Then the units roll off the end of the line to go join factories of their own.

There didn't used to be any quality control, and then the plutocrats who bought the units off the line complained that some of them were defective, or the bolts fell out. Just before the last couple of stops, now, in all the government-owned factories, an inspector comes in and tests each unit. The ones that fail are sent back through that stop on the assembly line again. Occasionally, an inspector will even admit that it wasn't that stop that had bits missing - it was some earlier stop - but we can't send a unit back down the wrong way on the assembly line, can we? And of course, privately-owned factories we all know are superior, so there's no mandatory QC check on them.

*spit*

There are dozens of reasons to repudiate this model, but I assert first and foremost that the biggest one is that it totally devalues the student.

A child, adolescent, or young adult is not a passive recipient of bits of learning bolted on by a teacher like pieces of sheet metal. If you, as the teacher, approach it that way then the vast majority of the bits will fall off into the great bit bucket. Any learning is a cooperative effort, and there is nothing a teacher can do that will make a student learn something if that student is actively resisting, or even passively resisting.

I am not a pitcher, pouring knowledge into the empty cups of the students; it's more like taking a model apart, demonstrating what each one looks like, hoping that the kids have the raw materials already (and knowing where to point them if they don't), and showing them how to construct the same model for themselves. But even if the pitcher metaphor worked, even if it didn't require active effort on the part of the kids, you can't force a kid to drink.

In short, any educational model that considers the student a passive recipient, or assumes that every child is inherently an enthusiastic participant in his or her own education, is going to (epic) fail. It will fail the kids, and it will fail the greater culture in which it is embedded.

And it is this, more than anything else, that I think is the great problem in public education. Fifty years ago, a kid who didn't want to be there was allowed to mark time until it was legal for him or her to drop out, and then he could join the Army or go take a drudge job in a factory or drive a combine on the farm, or she could get married, get pregnant, and take care of kids for the rest of her life, preferably in that order. And while this was a tragedy, it was not a huge one; people who didn't earn a high-school diploma could still work, live, eat. They may have lived lives of quiet desperation, but then so did middle-aged housewives with a year of college under their belts before they earned their MRS degree. The kids who stayed in school had a motivation to stay there - they wanted to go to college, or they wanted to become foremen at the factory and so needed that diploma, or their parents wanted them to stay because they valued education, or they wanted to graduate with their friends.

Now, we know better than that. Education is mandatory in almost all states until the kids' senior years; schools are penalized for having high dropout rates. One in three kids in their junior year in high school now is someone who wouldn't have been there fifty years ago. And the schools can't brush them off into a vocational track at the start of junior high, either - which is a good thing, but it means that kids who want vocational education, things like carpentry and textile arts and welding and auto shop, are often not able to find them now, and certainly not in junior high middle school.

What we desperately need is not necessarily 'better teachers,' although encouraging women to enter elementary education as a major because "it's easy" or steering highly capable undergraduates away from education as a career choice doesn't strike me as a good idea. What we need is a way - more accurately, a panoply of methods - to motivate students, starting from the early grades and continuing through the end of twelfth grade at the very least, to not just show up but to choose to participate in their own learning. We don't need better textbooks, or fancier technology in the classroom; we need non-coercive ways to draw kids' interests. Technology may well be part of that, for many kids, but it is no cure-all.

And still, I suspect that a 0% drop out rate and a 100% passing rate - which, make no mistake, with a few exceptions for special ed kids, that's what No Child Left Behind will ask of us, and sooner than you think; that's what that title means - is not in our power. I mean that literally; that is not in our power to do, because the achievement measured is not ours. It's the kids'. Anything else denies their personhood, and makes them nothing more than units on the assembly line.
omorka: (Educator At Work)
Someone finally researched the bloody obvious: that private schools do better because they can weed out kids who don't do as well, not because they educate the kids they have any better. There may be an exception for Jesuit schools and other Catholic schools run by the orders, not the diosces. The SAT exception mentioned in the article is bullshit; private schools admit their scholarship students based precisely on SAT-like tests, and he's wrong that they're not based on innate ability - they're actually closely akin to IQ tests, which most folks who have any stake in them would like to claim measure something innate.
omorka: (Educator At Work)
Someone finally researched the bloody obvious: that private schools do better because they can weed out kids who don't do as well, not because they educate the kids they have any better. There may be an exception for Jesuit schools and other Catholic schools run by the orders, not the diosces. The SAT exception mentioned in the article is bullshit; private schools admit their scholarship students based precisely on SAT-like tests, and he's wrong that they're not based on innate ability - they're actually closely akin to IQ tests, which most folks who have any stake in them would like to claim measure something innate.

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