professornana (professornana) wrote,

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So many fools, so little knowledge

Boy, some folks have been busy of late demonstrating that they know little or nothing about teaching, the state of education, and learning. Most notably, for today's post, is David Coleman who offered some advice to teachers to "help" them. Here is the report from his comments:

I thought I might return the favor.

Dear Dr. Coleman (it is Dr., right?):

Since you have felt free to offer suggestions to teachers about how to do a good job in the classroom this year, I decided I would be generous and offer you some suggestions as well. I am not aiming for a list of ten as I think David Letterman does that better than I can. However, here are three tips I have for you as you continue to "reform" education.

1. Know thy audience.
2. Know thy audience.
3. Know thy audience.

See, it is simple, right?

For you to suggest to teachers that they read aloud and cultivate wonder is so incredibly absurd. The reason? You seem to think we do not already do these things. And in the reading aloud not only do we cultivate wonder, we slow things down, collaborate with our students, make connections beyond the text, and build knowledge as well as literacy. See how this works? The act of reading aloud (and we elect to read worthy texts though maybe not by YOUR standards) basically addresses so many of the things you believe we do not already know and do.

As for your riff on crafting questions, we DO ask questions beyond recall. However, the first questions I see from the PARRC assessments ask kids for main idea and supporting details, so I think we better keep those in mind too, right?

Phonics has been shown to be of value for very young kids, and it is a part of most classrooms where it is appropriate. Heck, I remember learning some phonics when I started school even though I was already a reader. But, hey, it still might come in handy one of these days when I need to sound out a word like PHONICS (try sounding it out one letter at a time, go ahead). If kids come to school and can talk and communicate in sentences, they probably know grammar, too. Teaching it in isolation (i.e., this is a noun) is not of much value. So says research from DECADES ago (Hillocks, in case you are blissfully unaware).

And as for making classrooms places of inquiry, I wonder when you last taught in the K-12 system? It has been 25 years for me since I left to teach at the university, but I can recall that my classroom then (and now) was always a place for inquiry. The Industrial Age remnant to which you refer is your concept of education from what must have been a traumatic experience in your youth. However, when you demand college and career readiness, how is that NOT a remnant as well? I want kids to love reading and writing and learning. Your work as an architect of CCSS indicates to me that you do not care about passion; you care about test scores.

So, let me be bold enough to offer you one more piece of (unsolicited) advice: spend the next years of your life teaching the kids for whom you have written the CCSS. Ask those good questions, build a sense of wonder, read aloud, etc. You do all of those things and then perhaps come back to your creation and see it for the monster you have created. If you are unwilling to do this, please leave the rest of us alone.

Thanks so much. Bless your heart for all the advice.


P.S. Some employers will give a sh*t about the person they are employing. And I value the personal stories of my college students.
Tags: advice, ccss, coleman, idiocy

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