Between teaching, mothering, housekeeping, illness, wonky weather, committee work, and a looming yearbook publication deadline, it's been difficult to regularly peruse my favorite education blogs, or check every interesting link on Twitter or Pinterest that comes along my feed. Over the past month, I've only participated in one edchat, my usual Saturday morning global PLC gift to myself.
Don't get me wrong, the classroom has been HOPPING, my Super Stars have been growing, exploring and learning, and the weather, while not my preferred temperature, has not been as inconvenient for us as it has been for many others. I have just twelve pages of the yearbook left to finish, and my personal goal has me completing the entire annual a week before the company's deadline. My home has remained relatively clean, and (~whisper voice~) other than one bout of food poisoning, big bad bugs haven't breached our threshold.
I've been able to tune into bits and pieces of education related conversations and topics though during this busy season, and I've caught myself wondering:
1) Pro/con arguments aside, how can the Common Core ever ~be~ common if the states that adopted it are now in various stages of its implementation or have begun working on repealing it? And how many publishing companies, knowing the supply and demand rules that always follow fads, mandates, and "needed reforms," are already poised to re-label and resell all of their "Common Core aligned" materials without the CC stickers on them when the pendulum (that never ceased to exist) predictably swings the other way? Publishers have been able to hit districts multiple times right in the wallet under the guise of providing current and much-needed materials thanks to the reforms of the last ten years. Budgetary collapses impact STUDENTS in every way, and I haven't met a curriculum publisher yet who feels sorry for its contribution to the misallocation of needed monies that once made possible appropriate teacher-student ratios and education and life-enhancing programs such as music, band, theater, home economics, art, or AcaDeca. Those who want to hold folks accountable for their child's school and learning experiences fall for the huckster jive as well, and go straight for the teacher ~instead~ of the reformers, their funding agents, and the publishing companies whose wares they hawk.
2) As a veteran instructor, when I hear a teacher (or three) from a single school sing the praises of newly discovered behavior tracking apps and classroom "management"/disciplinary tools, I think "Hmmm... must be a tough group of kids this year" or "Wow, that one must have hit the jackpot in diverse and clashing personalities, bless his/her heart. Thank goodness a helpful tool has been identified, put in place, and is having a positive effect." When I hear that an ~entire school~ is considering following a behavior management protocol that includes collecting data on each and every student in every classroom, the LAST THING I think is "Oh good, a tool that'll help manage these troublemakers." Instead, I become VERY suspicious that a program, schedule, curriculum, pacing guide, or even the general expectations of children are waaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy off base, especially if so many children demonstrate "misbehaviors" regularly. Recesses are taken away from students who haven't "earned them." Mastery of skills/content is expected earlier, and battery drill and kill "interventions" replace rich, repeated and varied exposure over time as acceptable pedagogical approaches. Teachers complain that students won't stay in their seats, and even worse, that THEY TALK TO ONE ANOTHER during activities or even (gasp!) DURING L-U-N-C-H!
Let me ask you this: When did children stop being children? When did they cease to NEED recess? When did they cease to NEED deep immersion and practice at their own pace to build layers of learning upon a sturdy foundation? When did children cease to obtain benefits from speaking, interacting, negotiating, questioning, or expressing themselves with adults and with one another? When did children's natural tendencies, developmental stages, and even quirks, make them deserving en masse of public shaming?
Answer: They didn't.
When did it become okay for parents, teachers, and administrators to believe the hooey sold to them, based on the premise that ~overnight~, children could be rebuilt, and have their very natures rewritten?
No child deserves to be looked at in disappointment and disgust, with parents, teachers, administrators, and society trying to figure out how best to efficiently and effectively erase, re-write and rebuild the incredible thinkers, doers, and learners that children already are into the automatons of the future. Children are inclined to do naturally what best suits their growth and development, it's we adults who become impatient with their timeline. It's we adults who want to speed things up, find a pill to make resistance to our will less strong, and find quick-fix tools that force children into immediate compliance any way we can, even if it means crushing their spirits and making them hate school.
So I have to wonder: Why can't we teach children, instead of inflicting ourselves upon them?