KTM User Pages
zd29 Aug 2005 - 16:42
I am a 2nd career math teacher in my third year in the classroom. I finished the work for my Masters of Education in the spring. During the discussion with my advisor about my final portfolio he told me he expected multiple samples of evaluations which were "non-threatening and non-judgmental"! This is what is being taught to our new teachers today. I am 51-years-old and know better than to believe this nonsense. However, my resistance nearly kept me out of the classroom. My student teaching "mentor" told me more than once that I better shape up or that I would never teach a day. We ended the term with me repeating verbatim his 1st period Algebra 2 "lecture" to the other 4 classes. Unbelievably, he limited the amount of time he spoke to 5 minutes per period. The balance of the hour was spent on "collaborative" projects. I could go on, but my point has been made. As parents we can not give up the good fight. It is our duty to our children and to our communities.
I hope this commenter will tell us more. I'm struck by the fact that his or her professor was doing no lecturing at all, contrary to what most of us had assumed. (I know I had thought constructivism was being taught via direct instruction....) I have questions. What caused your 'mentor' to warn you about shaping up? And why did you have to repeat his algebra lecture? (Or do I misunderstand? Did you repeat his algebra lecture to algebra students? As part of student teaching?) Can I ask what your first career is? Educational background? Did you work in a math-related field??? I'm intensely curious! I agree with you about a duty to our communities. It's more than just our own kids. It's the country. This is why I'm never quite able to tell myself just to stop talking about it and focus on Christopher. I don't like what I see happening to some of the children I know (though certainly not all). I should probably add that in my own school district the problems aren't exactly about constructivism, discovery learning, & overall fuzziness. I guess my feeling about my own school is that we have the same American failings everyone else has. I think I would say there are three glaring weaknesses here in Irvington: curriculum, which just got much worse with the adoption of TRAILBLAZERS, of course; lack of transparency; and lack of formative assessment. Kids fall through the cracks, and by the time a parent figures it out a lot of time has been lost. I've been told, on the QT, that it is unofficial policy here to tell parents their children are doing better than they are, the better to keep parents at bay. I suspect there's a fair amount of truth to this view. What I know for a fact is that Christopher failed 2 out of 3 unit tests in 4th grade math and we never heard 'boo' from the school. No one mentioned it; no one brought it up. I was working so hard on my book that I missed the Unit 5 failure; if I'd missed the Unit 6 test, too, Christopher would have been in serious trouble. Back to main page.
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I would love to hear from more teachers who wish things were different. I know they're out there. Sometimes I think they're the quiet majority, swept up in decisions and politics that they can't control. -- CarolynJohnston - 28 Aug 2005
Hi, the initial post was from me. Today was my first visit to this site and I have just registered. You can count me as a sympathizer to the cause. Let me attempt to address all of your questions: (1) I spent 25 years as a financial derivatives trader - not to be confused with a broker. The business involves higher math. I studied with Myron Scholes at the University of Chicago to learn pricing theory - Scholes'work later won him a Nobel Prize. (2) My degree is in Economics, although I had 30+ hours of math (Calculus and beyond) as an undergrad with an additional 15 hours of graduate work in math to get into teaching. (3) My teacher-mentor warned me about spending more than a few minutes with the direct instruction part of the lesson because students found that type of math to be boring. He particularly chastised me about straying off topic when I would make connections or attempt to remediate the class in a pertinent area. (4) He finally quit allowing me to prepare the lesson, instead making me repeat his words exactly. If I strayed from his text he would ask, "Are you deaf or just plain stupid?" I know this sounds crazy, but the system in my state exists to expand the Department of Education at schools that award teaching degrees. My last discussion with my advisor (the one when he asked me for examples of non-threatening, non-judgmental tests and quizzes) ended when he told me I could not take any more math courses for the additional education requirement needed to step up a rank in pay. I was told I had enough math but needed more education classes to round out my schooling. If I did not enjoy math and teaching math so much I would have lost this battle. Instead, I play the game and teach the children as if they were my own. -- KtmGuest - 28 Aug 2005
Welcome to Ktm! You studied with Myron Scholes? Wow! I would really love to know what led you to make the jump from trading derivatives to teaching math. I imagine that Jaime Escalante had to put up with a lot of the same nonsense when he left engineering to teach. Thank you for your willingness to soldier on, in order to get to where you could begin to help kids. I am afraid I would not have been so committed. -- CarolynJohnston - 28 Aug 2005
"I'm struck by the fact that his or her professor was doing no lecturing at all, contrary to what most of us had assumed." The pervasive progressive/constructivist (P/C) ed cult glorifies non-instruction. One of the dirtiest words in the pre-collegiate ed world is "lecturing", meaning any form of direct or expository instruction to impart knowledge. It doesn't matter how interactive the expository instruction is. The dominant P/C cult simply bans instruction beyond a few minutes. I learned this first-hand during my teacher certification experience (for the middle grades). During observation in various schools I was struck by this non-instruction. I wanted to know how much the teachers I observed knew about, say, science or history. I was never able to find out because of this non-instruction. Time was spent with hands-on activities. Then later, during my clinical experience, I was constantly reprimanded, both by the cooperating teacher and the university supervisor, for "lecturing" (an attempt to impart some knowledge and make connections mixed in with questionas and answers (what could be more active than Q&A?). The university supervisors are the gatekeepers who make sure no candidate who violates the anti-intellectual dictates of the regnant P/C cult gets certified. My experience during student teaching was the most horrifying of all. I was told outright by my CT that no direct instruction was allowed. Not even questions were allowed since supposedly they are part of direct instruction. The resources that came with a textbook could not be used because, I was told, the school is a "creative" school and using resources is not "teaching". Everthing had to be games and hands-on activities done from scratch. This was enormously wasteful. The ban on instruction is rigidly enforced in NYC. See http://instructivist.blogspot.com/2005/08/rogues-and-rugs.html and here http://instructivist.blogspot.com/2005/02/teachers-not-allowed-to-teach.html This is the stuff for which taxpayers are dishing out hundreds of billions of dollars. -- CharlesH - 28 Aug 2005
Whoo! Another Chicago grad! Ever so slowly do we atone for our responsibility in creating Everyday Math... Anyway, I may soon be posting here far more regularly, as well. My employer is helping to establish a charter school in Chicago. I'm trying to learn more, but based on this mission statement, I fear the worst: We live in a time of great and constant change. With every passing year, the world becomes more interconnected as communication technology and the globalization of the world market brings people together. At the same time, the explosion connections and information makes the world more vast and complex. In such a world, we cannot simply teach students facts. We must teach them to be clear, critical and deliberate thinkers. Perspectives Charter School proves that public education works and works well! Our school is a unique charter school, open to all students living in the city of Chicago. We invite you to learn more… As I get more involved, I expect I'll be consulting KTM and Illinois Loop more often. If I can't affect the curriculum, maybe I can do something outside of it. -- IndependentGeorge - 29 Aug 2005