Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More on teacher certification

Do you ever wonder why so many teachers can't pass a simple skills test? I have a friend with a masters degree who is getting her teacher certification. She pointed out some of the ridiculous course work she is forced to take to be a "certified" teacher.

Here are a few excerpts from the text book, Foundations of American Education: Perspectives on Education in a Changing World, used in her first certification class:


Teachers as Social Activists (p. 129)
Multicultural education requires educators to be active participants in the educational process. Social justice, democracy, power, and equity are more than concepts to be discussed in class; they are guides for action in the classroom, school, and community. Educators become advocates not only for their own empowerment but also for that of students and other powerless groups.

Silly me, I though teacher were supposed to teach basic math and literacy skills. No wonder academic subjects are falling by the wayside. Teachers are busy working as social engineers "for their own empowerment." I shudder to think how are teachers empowered through their students.



Thinking Critically (p. 129)
Educators who think critically ask questions about why inequities exist in their classroom and schools. They wonder why girls are responding differently than boys to science lessons. But they don’t stop with wondering; they explore and try alternatives to engage the girls in the subject matter. They realize that teaching equitably does not mean teaching everyone the same way. Nor, however, does it mean using thirty different lesson plans each tailored to the individual learning style and cultural background of each student. Teaching equitably may mean helping students function effectively across the multiple cultural styles used by students in the classroom. Teachers who think critically figure out ways to build on the diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences of students, acknowledge the value of that diversity, and help them all learn.

Remember, it is important that all children act and think the same. If they don't, it is inequality in the classroom which is very bad. I'm getting flash backs to George Orwell's 1984.


Critical thinkers are able to challenge the philosophy and practices of the dominant society that are not supportive of equity, democracy, and social justice. They are open to alternative views; they are not limited by narrow parochialism that is based on absolutes and the notion of one right way. They question content for accuracy and biases, and they value multiple perspectives. They seek explanations for the educational meanings and consequences of race, class, and gender.


There is no such thing as right and wrong. "Narrow Parochialism" translates to "your parents are stupid, don't trust them."

Making School Democratic Socialist/Communist (p. 131)

....The goal is to understand that democracy is not so much an ideal to be pursued as an idealized set of values that we must live by and that must guide our life as a society.

Democratic schools reflect democratic structures and processes and include a curriculum that provides students with democratic experiences. These schools require students, teachers, parents, and community members to be active participants in the educational process. Equity undergirds the structure of democratic schools. All students have access to all programs. Tracking, biased testing, and other practices that deny access to some students are eliminated. The emphasis on grades, status, test scores, and winning is replaced with an emphasis on cooperation and concern for the common good. Those involved in this democratic project also work toward the elimination of inequities in the broader community as well as in the school.


Can you say "dumbing down?"


A democratic curriculum encourages multiple perspectives and voices in the materials used and the discussions that ensue. It respects differences in viewpoints. It does not limit information and study to the areas chosen by members of the dominant group. It includes discussions of inequities in society and challenges students and teachers to engage actively in eliminating them. Establishing a democratic classroom or school is not an easy undertaking.

Sometimes colleagues and parents resist it; some people believe that teachers should he all-knowing authorities who exert control over their students. Those who want schools to prepare students for social efficiency are supportive of stratified systems using grades and test scores to sort students into tracks that prepare them for future jobs. Supporters of schooling as a route to social mobility expect competition to determine which students deserve the greatest rewards, such as acceptance into gifted programs or admission to prestigious colleges. Democratic schools, on the other hand, support equity, equal access, and equal opportunity for all studlents.

Remember, schools don't exist to teach children how to read and do math. Schools exist to support equity because all children "deserve" the same "rewards" regardless of their own efforts or talents. We can't have those kids at the top ruining the program. And what ever you do, don't listen to the parents.



Teaching for Social Justice (p. 131)
Culturally relevant teaching helps students struggle in class with social problems and issues that many students face daily in their lives both within and outside of school. Racism, sexism, classism, prejudice, andl discrimination are felt differently by students of color than by members of the dominant group. Anger, denial, guilt, and affirmation of identity are critical elements of learning about and struggling with the pernicious practices that permeate most institutions. Although it is sometimes difficult to discuss these issues in classrooms, doing so means they are confronted in a system based on diversity and equality.

You are a victim by default. If you disagree, you are a heterosexual, white male or in denial.

(picture from page 131 of text book)


Most students of color, females, low-income students, students with disabilities, and gay students have probably already experienced discrimination in some aspect of their lives. They may have not acknowledged it, or they may be angry or frustrated by it. On the other hand, many students from the dominant group have never experienced discrimination and often do not believe that it exists. In most cases, they do not see themselves as advantaged; they do not think that they receive any more benefits from society than anyone else. These students will have a difficult time fighting social injustices if they have neither experienced them nor become aware of their existence. Are they receiving a good education if they are never exposed to the injustices that do exist or helped to confront their own biases?

The question should be "Are they receiving a good education if they can actually read, write, and balance their checkbook?"

In teaching for social justice, teachers help students understand the inequalities, oppression, and power struggles that are realities in society. But this kind of teaching does not stop there. It provides hope for a world that is more equitable and socially just. Students and teachers become engaged in confronting injustice and working to remove the obstacles that prevent equality as an academic subject is studied.



This is why my children don't go to public school.

So, if you are wondering why teachers can't pass a basic skills test, it is because their training is light on academic content but heavy on "equity." There are so many bad ideas to point out in this text, it is like shooting fish in a barrel. I really wanted to do more commentary, but I just don't have the stomach for it.

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9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very, very scary.

Eleanor Deakin said...

There is no right or wrong, and they're right about that and anyone who disagrees is [wrong] in denial.

Also, if you are anything but a white boy, you've been discriminated against, therefore, we must forget the little white boys and concentrate on all those little 'victims' in the classroom. Of course, while we supposedly try to prevent victimhood, we will cause the whole lot to become victims of our own stupidity!


They have a lot of nerve to talk about what "critical thinkers" do. The very idea of text book defining critical thinking like this - and worse, people accepting it and taking it to heart - is hard to believe. *blood boiling*

I'm also having flashbacks of, "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others."

Henry Cate said...

"All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others."

It is sad that few public school graduates know what that line is referring to, and very few have read the book.

Crimson Wife said...

The one thing in that excerpt I agree with is that there is too much obsession about external markers of achievement such as grades, test scores, and winning admission to the "right" schools.

These often get in the way of true learning, since they discourage students from challenging themselves academically. Why risk a challenging class in which one might earn a lower grade rather than the easy "A"? Also, overreliance on standardized testing results in at best "teaching to the test" and at worst outright cheating.

It's certainly possible to provide a very rigorous education without using grades or tests. Yes, it's more work for the teacher to use alternative assessments such as portfolios but they ultimately provide much more useful information.

Janine Cate said...

This reminds me of the "Punished by Rewards" concept. There is an intrinsic reward to learning. An emphasis on an artificial reward like grades can poison the process.

Still, there needs to be some kind of feed back. We don't use grades in our homeschool, except the kids really like getting the percentage right marked on their papers.

I don't know how a large institution would effectively handle this issue without grades and test scores. I know some schools have gone to porfolios, but that seems a bit wishy-washing to me.

davidjensen said...

Dear Sir or Madam,

The website Conservapedia is creating a free family friendly contributor based encyclopedia that is an alternative to www.wikipedia.com which is not very family friendly (pornographic related material, etc. ). As you may know, www.conservapedia.com was started as a homeschooling project. It has considerable grown since its humble beginnings. However, we need more contributors if we are going to be a viable alternative to Conservapedia. Could you tell others about Conservapedia at your website? Also, is there any way that conservapedia could be more helpful to your efforts?

Sincerely,

David Jensen

davidjensen said...

Dear Sir or Madam,

The website Conservapedia is creating a free family friendly contributor based encyclopedia that is an alternative to www.wikipedia.com which is not very family friendly (pornographic related material, etc. ). As you may know, www.conservapedia.com was started as a homeschooling project. It has considerable grown since its humble beginnings. However, we need more contributors if we are going to be a viable alternative to Conservapedia. Could you tell others about Conservapedia at your website? Also, is there any way that conservapedia could be more helpful to your efforts?

Sincerely,

David Jensen

Marcy Muser said...

Jeanine,

When I was studying education - some 25 years ago now - we at least spent the majority of our time learning how to teach more effectively, how to motivate, and so on. Even then, there were many who were trying to become school teachers who didn't have a basic understanding of math. I don't know how well they read or how much they knew about other subjects, but in my "Math for Elementary School Teachers" (at an expensive, private university), we basically did a rehash of eighth grade math, and I was horrified how many of my fellow students struggled terribly to pass it. No wonder kids struggle with learning long division - their teachers don't understand it!

I assume, since our education system hasn't improved much, that teacher candidates today are no better off academically than they were 25 years ago. If they aren't, and they then spend the classroom hours they do have learning the kind of nonsense you've posted here, it's no wonder our kids don't learn to read, write, and do math.

I'm so thankful to be able to give my kids the gift of being homeschooled. They are actually learning the things they need to know in order to function in society.

Thanks for the info.

Janine Cate said...

>When I was studying education - some 25 years ago now - we at least spent the majority of our time learning how to teach more effectively, how to motivate, and so on.

Problem is that teachers need more emphasis on content, not psychobabble. As you said, it is hard to effectively teach what you do not understand.