Here's a good example of what I was talking about in this post when I wrote that "it's a lot of hard work educating children when you actually care about what those children are learning. Better to focus on stuff that can't be measured like the process of education and other nonsense." Many educators seem to care more about the process of educating, rather than the end result of that process. These process-oriented educators inevitably have common characteristics. One common characteristic is that they aren't getting good results so they want to ignore or downplay them. Another characteristic is that they practice educational methods that are known not to produce good results--constructivism, child-centered education, discovery learning, and the like. Instead of jettisoning these failed methods that are producing low student achievement, they want to redefine education.
Today's example comes from Borderland's Doug Noon (Ed: the link is to a google search since cowardly Doug has redirected any links from this site to his):
My classroom doesn’t work the way I want it to. In the Age of Accountability, I focus on process, and see product as a secondary concern. I’m an ill-fitting peg, uneasy about participating in what, for me, amounts to a charade - emulating archaic practices designed for kids from bygone eras.Yeah, those basic reading and math skills are as obsolete as the buggy whip in today's high tech world. Nowadays, we all have calculating and decoding robots that follow us around to perform basic math calculations for us and decode written text so we can focus on higher-order thinking.
Do you know any skilled reader whose decoding skills aren't automatic? Do you know anyon skilled in solving mathematics whose basic math facts aren't automatic? Of course not. These skills are as important today as they were 200 years ago and probably always will be. The only dispute is how best to teach those skills, not whether they are necessary. It is unfortunate for our new-fangled educators that those "archaic practices designed for kids from bygone eras" continue to work best, but wishing your new processes work better isn't the same as them actually working better.
Looking at the group I’m with now, thinking about them, and not the generic, bloodless beings called Students, statistical incarnations of demographically catalogued learners, I feel more strongly than ever that I owe each of them more than mere delivery of the curriculum, and concern for where they stand relative to a standard that I don’t endorse.First of all, we don't just expect "mere delivery of the curricilum," we expect students to actually learn the curriculum. Students don't need a tour guide through the curriculum, they need someone to teach it to them. It's all well and good if you think they need more, but don't shirk your fundamental obligation to make certain they've learned the curricular requirements.
And what's this busines about a standard that you don't endorse? Whether you endorse it or not is irrelevant, your job is to assure that your students meet the standard.
Being a teacher means too many things for me to say that I know how to do it well. I surely don’t know how to move a group of kids to universal competence when their needs span the curricula for 4 different grade levels, and when they come with varying interests, talents, and beliefs about themselves and about school.
I don't think it's the four different grade level span that's causing the problem. I'm sure, if three of those levels were above grade level, we wouldn't have this gnashing of teeth. No, the problem is that your class has low performers that have not and are not learning the material which is being presented. So, maybe focusing on the process is the solution; so long as the focus results in disgarding the failed process.
Discussions about teaching and professionalism on both The Education Wonks’ and Jenny D’s recent posts illustrate the difficulty we have in making headway on the question of what we Should be doing, because a critical perspective is altogether overlooked in discussions about How we should measure teacher effectiveness.This one is easy. Teacher effectiveness should be measured by how effective you were in getting the students to learn at least the minimal material required by that standard that you don't endorse. Otherwise you wind up in the odd situation unwittingly highlighted by this parent whose school which isn't making AYP:
That's great, a tiny art connoisseur who can't read or do basic math. Who endorsed that standard?
Grand Ledge parent Shari Burg approves of the new teaching techniques. Her third-grade son, John, can easily identify Van Gogh and Monet paintings because of Willow Ridge Elementary School's teachers.
Growing up, Burg never received that kind of learning.