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08 July 2012 @ 03:14 pm
Assigning Blame  
This morning's New York Times contained an op-ed piece by David Brooks. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/06/opinion/honor-code.html?_r=3

Once again, someone from the outside is doing the finger pointing at problems he or she perceives in education. Remember the old saw about finger pointing? When one points a finger out, there are three more pointing back. I wish more people would think about this before pointing those bony fingers. Brooks talks about how toxic schools can be, especially for boys. Ah, the trouble with boys. Seems as though Brooks has just discovered this as another failing on which to hang the blame for the sorry state of public education (which seems to have produced lots of great results despite being the bastion of terrible teachers :>). Too bad he has not been reading much for the past, oh let's just say quarter of a century to be kind to the Mr. Brooks. Apparently, he has never heard of Smith and Wilhelm and so many others. But, this is not the point I really want to belabor today.

You see, I have been a firm advocate of the Noah Principle: no prizes for predicting rain. only for building arks. Instead then, of pointing fingers at the problems, let me point some fingers at something else. When I read posts like the one this morning, it would be easy to become depressed and overwhelmed. And then I remember these things (cue Julie Andrews singing from THE SOUND OF MUSIC):

Donalyn Miller and her classroom library,
Mr. Paul Hankins and Skyping with authors,
Elementary school students teched out to the max:
These are a few of my favorite things.

Mr. Schu reading some 2000 plus books
Mr. Sharp's Nerdbery posts and his passion
Titletalk Sundays we look forward to join:
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the words sting,
When someone posts stuff
When I feel overwhelemed
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad.

Okay, not terribly original. But I do think of all the people doing great things: Franki Sibberson, Sara Kajder, Linda Rief, Kylene Beers, Janet Allen, Patrick Allen, and other heroes of the classrooms and this is how I push all the naysaying out.

One final thing. though, Mr. Brooks. As some suggested in the hundreds of comments left at the posting: come and spend time teaching. Then, let's see if you still have the energy to assign blame.
 
 
Current Location: home, rainy, home
Current Mood: angryangry
 
 
 
(Anonymous) on July 8th, 2012 08:36 pm (UTC)
I am a classroom teacher and a mother of three. The three have varying degrees of "smarts," but more diverse in interests and how they learn best. The two who learn by listening and flashcards etc., college scholarships. The one who m ight be an award winning artist fits the bill of "needing meds." I do not think he blanes just one person or entity. I was not offended. He has some good points. We can't just assume any opinion that is not our own is without merit.
professornana: delete catprofessornana on July 8th, 2012 10:16 pm (UTC)
opinions
What bothers me most about Brooks is how he structures his arguments: lots of straw men. I agree that not all kids learn in the same structured environment, but NCLB and CCS have made classrooms even more like straight-jackets than they were in the past.

Brooks feels free to criticize education often. That is his right, of course. However, I do grow weary of critics who: a) do not offer solutions or at least ideas; b) have never been in classrooms or schools in the role of more than a visitor.

Most of all, though, as my post indicates: I want to talk about the good things being done. Seems to me there is more of a chance for solutions in focusing on the things that work.
Christine MargocsChristine Margocs on July 8th, 2012 10:06 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the support!
I can't believe there is still that diatribe being posted about teaching. Yes, there are some "bad" schools and classrooms, but more often than not it's the fault of lack of funding and forgetting children who are deemed to be "lost" already. (I only know this because I have a teacher-friend who just "escaped" after 20 years in the Flint, MI system to teach in the UAE.) Thanks so much for putting the good stuff in print; hope it gets circulated too!
professornanaprofessornana on July 8th, 2012 10:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks for the support!
Thanks, Christine. Every time I see the finger pointing, I cringe. So much good to report.
David Lubardavidlubar on July 9th, 2012 01:25 pm (UTC)
Someone has to use the phrase "Babbling Brooks." Guess that's my contribution tot he discussion. :-)