Saturday, October 26, 2013

My thoughts on a Saturday morning turn to TEACHERS.

Opposing the Common Core and the measurement topics that come out of the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning is fairly easy for me to do; I don't have anything to lose. I'm not a teacher. If I was, I would imagine I would try to make lemonade out of a situation that tells me: what you have been doing up to now isn't good enough; now you must do things a different way, regardless of what your instincts as a teacher are.

What I like the least about the move to the proficiency-based system is that the opinions of teachers are characterized this way: "Sure, there is some push-back but more and more we have teachers signing on and seeing that this is a good change to how we teach."

What's missing from that statement is any notion that a teacher might actually have legitimate problems with the way the measurement topics work, and with the structure of proficiency-based learning. The idea is to get them on board; not to listen to their concerns.

Teachers have been compromised since NCLB passed. Actually, before that; when the MLRs (Maine Learning Results) passed, even though that was a kinder/gentler interference in the classroom, that many teachers embraced. But since NCLB, the culture of schools has been, of necessity, changed from teaching and learning, to teaching that which is measurable to the detriment of all else (see Campbell's Law to find out why high-stakes test results are by definition corrupt, even before the tests have been delivered.)

We can't know how the profession of teaching might have changed if the corporate takeover had not started with the Nation at Risk, the paper produced in the early 80s that painted a very gloomy picture of public education and predicted doom if changes were not made), through to NCLB, RTTT, and now the Common Core; new tests, and teacher evaluations connected to those tests. My feeling is that there is a very good chance that the profession might have changed with the changing needs of children in a post-Internet world: more passion-driven, more interest-driven, more respectful of the learning needs of children. But the system has been corrupted now; teachers are at the bottom of the education industrial complex. 

And so, therefore, are children.


  1. I would say that you are mostly right on with this analysis, Lisa. The main thing I would adjust is that many of the practices encouraged in the new system go against not only the INSTINCTS of a teacher, but against plenty of rational, sensible REASONING.

    1. Yes. I was a bit too gentle in my wording. :)

    2. I am not downplaying the importance of instinct, but the proponents of these systems often characterize teachers' objections as gut reactions, irrational fear of change, when in fact their criticism of the system is based on years of expert observation and impartial analysis.

    3. Teachers deserve more than a pat on the head.