Today’s lessons are a continuation of yesterday’s.
- I will be analyzing CSAP data in the main office today. I have left my substitute these plans.
Much of today’s lessons are a continuation of yesterday.
Today’s lessons are extentions of yesterday.
I am now taking a graduate course called Language Theory at the University of Colorado at Denver for my graduate program, “The Teaching of Writing.” It is taught by Ian Ying. This is my first introduction to Linguistics, so much of my notes will be of an elementary nature.
I was not tagged to contribute to the book meme, but that is okay because I mostly thought that memes were a little bit hokey. That is until I started looking into memology. I am really enamored with the concept of viral ideas, that we contribute to one anothers conciousness in such a contagious way. I also think that is a great idea to talk about reading as having a large impact our lives. So, here is my contribution to the book meme, even though no one asked for it.
1. One book that changed your life:
Slaughter-House Five. I will always remember the first time I realized the true power of “So it goes.” After every death in the book (including the deaths of inanimate objects) this phrase is echoed. It makes me so happy that world goes on after us, that everything around us is normal, even death. Of course, in the book, time travel and aliens are normal, so maybe I keep missing the point.
2. One book that you’ve read more than once:
Catcher in the Rye. Every time I read this book I am at a new stage of my life. I identify with a different part of Holden. I used to understand his rebellion so much better because I was rebellious. Now I understand his preservation of innocence because I want that for my daughter.
3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
The Old Man and the Sea. I think if I were on a desert island I would finally have enough time to analyze the meaning of all of the simple and beautiful words.
5. One book that made you cry:
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. He lost his mother and father within a few months of one another. The weight of loss in his story is so overwhelming that it is hard to imagine reading it without at least welling up once.
6. One book that you wish had been written:
Simple Answers Suck: A book about the inherent complexity of searching for anything worth knowing.
7. One book that you wish had never been written:
Toxin. I had to teach this trash novel once in a Modern Literature course. It has the worst dialogue imaginable and the characters could not be more flat. I eventually had to teach it as an example of bad writing.
10. Now Tag Five People You Want to Hear From:
I would rather tag all of my students. I can’t wait to see what they say.
I have never been so convinced that our political leanings dictate our pedagogical leanings as when I read the comments from “The 95 Theses of Progressive Teaching.” As I was posting it, I thought it would create a lot of a debate upon wording and ideas, but I was not prepared for the debate it created in terms of core beliefs. I was so sure that I had hit upon the universal themes of good education that no one could possible get on the other side of. I mean, who doesn’t want teachers that reflect on their teaching, that are teaching to students’ needs, that are supporting one another, that are constantly trying to learn from others, that are passionate about their job?
When I got the first comment of dissent, I started to think about what I was really putting across with my 50 theses. I realized that much of them could be seen as a grand plan for revolution in modern education. Now, I see that as a good thing, but some people would say that most revolutions either don’t work or are revolutionizing the wrong things.
The other aspect of these comments that really caught me off guard was the way that they were reacting to the title: “Progressive teaching.” Do I mean that I am a liberal democrat when I say this or do I mean that I simply want things to change for the better and not have us become either complacent in our successes or lost in our failures. I was hoping for the latter.
Are we so polarized in this country that even the words we use must either be in support of republican or democratic views? I had always said no. Words are how we enter into debate; they are how we strengthen our communication so that things can actually get done. I was not trying to throw fire onto tradition, and I was certainly not trying to align myself with a hopeless pedagogy.
Now to address the specific concerns that have been raised:
The first firm disagreement from another representative of the Edusphere came from Darren. In picking apart my first four theses, he said,
1. Teachers should be the change they want to see in their schools. What the heck does that mean?
2. Teachers should constantly reinvent the wheel to make it ride smoother and faster over any type of terrain imaginable. Why? There’s another sensible saying: if it works, don’t fix it. This doesn’t mean that teachers shouldn’t practice a critical pedagogy to determine if their instruction is meeting the needs of the students, but change for its own sake seems a tremendous waste of time to me.
3. Teachers should never teach the same things the same way twice. See #2.
4. Teachers should see tradition for what it is: the hope that things will stay the same forever. This is the most insidious. Tradition isn’t the hope that things will stay the same, it’s a link between the past and future. It gives us a foundation, a rock, something upon which to build. Graduation exercises are a tradition we have–should we get rid of them out of some belief that they’re stale or out of date? That’s not progressive, that’s destructive.
I would like to address each grievance individually.
The second comment that really got me thinking was by another man named Jeff:
Let it suffice to say for now that any random five of these items gives ample reason why my wife, my son and I commute over two hours each day to his modest private school. His school is a cornucopia of diversity; each class in his three years there has been filled with students from across the globe. At the end of first grade he was reading at a fourth grade level and he was by no means the best reader in his class. They are busy mastering subject matter while their public (and many private) school counterparts are being subjected to “an environment that encourages life-long learning”.Our nearest public school is 600 yards away from our house.Public education has been in the stranglehold of the “progressives” for what…about 100 years now?And this is what you have to show for yourselves?
I am willing to swallow any stupid idea I may have, but my focus will always be on making myself a better teacher and making my students better learners. If you want to argue with me about my methodology, fine. But please don’t accuse me of not wanting what it best for my students.
These lessons are a continuation of yesterday.
Much of today’s lessons are a continuation of the ideas from yesterday.