Passive acceptance of the teacher's wisdom is easy to most boys and girls. It involves no effort of independent thought, and seems rational because the teacher knows more than his pupils; it is moreover the way to win the favour of the teacher unless he is a very exceptional man. Yet the habit of passive acceptance is a disastrous one in later life. It causes man to seek and to accept a leader, and to accept as a leader whoever is established in that position. - Bertrand Russell

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

fed up

i suppose i should be talking about how wonderful my second year is going. i wish i was posting just that. i wonder what my role is here in this blog. i've kept private journals both on paper and online so i've never worried too much about what my purpose was other than to express my feelings. so i'm going to go with that instinct.

i find myself questioning daily whether or not teaching is for me. or maybe it is teaching special ed. i don't know. there are so many things that i feel "get in the way" of me doing what i want to in the classroom. primarily there is NCLB. as educators we are being told not to think about what each child needs but to focus more on teaching a test. because we are doing just that. we can't get by teaching critical thinking skills, writing skills, etc. we must do so in a way that ensures success on a standardized test.

so i have a question. i'm opening it up to the educators out there as well as those that are reading for other reasons.

we are taught in education classes that there are different kinds of learners. oral, visual, kinesthetic. this isn't some kind of wacky "theory" either. i feel certain that it has been proven. i look at the people i know and i see different types of learners. so why are we expecting all types of learners to be the same kind of tester as the next person? why aren't we giving students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge in a variety of ways?

i'm going to spend this year being the best damn teacher i can be. i just can't promise i'll be returning for more next year.

but i will update more often in this space while i work it out. i promise.


Blogger Smithie said...

I feel your pain. I am a secondary "regular ed" teacher in his fourth year and I am asking the same questions you are. I think many teachers do at some point. If you're not asking your not growing as a teacher. You might find this post interesting maybe helpful, maybe just infuriating. Either way it's good.

11:04 AM

Blogger Smithie said...

Forgot the link.

11:06 AM

Blogger dthomas96 said...

I do understand your frustration, and I'm not sure about the constitutionality of NCLB. But as far as that being what limits you, we need to stop using that excuse.

It is indeed difficult to teach/facilitate students in critical thinking. But that has a lot more to do with their lack of prior knowledge and vocabulary than with NCLB. The curriculum is mandated--we agree what should be in Civics class. The challenge is to help the students to analyze/communicate what they learn in the course.

If they know nothing of the Congress, or Declaration of Independence--which is in reality the majority of students--then it is difficult to get them to think critically on such subjects.

So therein lies the challenge: teach the students the knowledge base while at the same time preparing them to think critically about said knowledge base. Very difficult, but not a conspiracy by the ed wonks in DC to keep you from succeeding.

10:09 AM

Blogger mama t said...

dthomas - thanks for telling me what i'm using as an excuse or not. NCLB is telling me that my students, who are in special ed because they have learning disabilities, that they are supposed to be taking a test - one VERY limited way of testing knowledge - to be successful and that they should be on grade level with every other kid in school.

the problem? they have learning disabilities! they are not on grade level. the government or "ed wonks in DC" as you put it are not seeing this. they are not acknowledging that there are different types of students with different skills.

conspiracy to keep me from succeeding? hardly what i said. i was simply talking about the impossible situation that they are creating and the ridiculous standards and ways of meeting those standards that they have set up.

2:59 PM

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Blogger bitchphd said...

FWIW, more than one person told me last year that the second year is the absolute hardest: the novelty and excitement of the first year is worn off, but you're still essentially "new," and trying to figure out not only a classroom persona and strategies but also where you fit in with your colleagues. It's certainly true that this, my third year, is a LOT easier for me than last year was.

And part of what I, at least, try to do as an educator is get students to differentiate their intelligence and learning from the test measurements (or grades). I know that we all have to worry about tests, and tests are important, but I make sure students know that they are not the be-all and end-all, and I try really hard to get students to internalize the idea that a test measures *one* kind of thing on *one* day under *one* particular set of conditions, and that whether or not you do well at that sort of thing says nothing about whether you do, or can do well on a myriad of other things.

6:19 PM

Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

You're forgetting that not everyone agrees with the "Multiple Intelligences" theory-- certainly not those who are crafting NCLB, either.

I myself am sceptical about large parts of it simply because I think we need to not just shut ourselves off and say "I can't learn that way..." and too often MI becomes just that, although I know it wasn't intended to do that.

There comes a point when kids need to have the faith in themselves to adapt to a variety of situations. That is what will be demanded of most of them once they leave school. Too often, this aspect is ignored.

7:38 PM

Blogger Anonymouph said...

Wow, I couldn't have said it better myself. Based on your most recent post, it sounds like things are getting better for you. I find myself questioning my wisdom in staying for a 3rd year. But, like you, I'm going to continue doing my best until the schoolyear ends. Then, I can think about other things. Let us know how everything is going.

8:59 PM

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