Ok.... once again folks, I have to rant, and my rant concerns, again, the possibility that another fed-up teacher, this time of English, is about ready to pack it in.
This article was shared with me by Mr. M.D., and while the issue itself is, for the present, confined to the United States, I strongly suspect that it is simply a pilot program toward the "globalization" of education "standards" throughout the West, and for further dumbing down of the general population in the name of the latest billionaire-funded edubabble. I'm referring to the common core curriculum, and to the fact that yet another teacher is resigning, fed up with FedGov, Inc.'s latest nitwittery and interference in the classroom, and its attempts to reduce her, and all teachers, to mere "room monitors" responsible for spitting out "data" and making sure their students perform the appropriate Pavlovian responses on their computerized Skinner boxes and "scientific" multiple choice standardized tests (which, under common core, are adapted to each student along the way, based on their responses.... yes folks, it's that nutty!). The teacher in question is Elizabeth A. Natale, and her's her story:
In case you missed the core of her complaint against the rot at the core of the common core fraud, here they are:
"The Common Core standards require teachers to march lockstep in arming students with "21st-century skills." In English, emphasis on technology and nonfiction reading makes it more important for students to prepare an electronic presentation on how to make a paper airplane than to learn about moral dilemmas from Natalie Babbitt's beloved novel "Tuck Everlasting."
If you think she's exaggerating, she's not: literature - and all the critical, analytical, and synthetic thinking skills that it helps to mold in people - will be almost completely wiped out for more "functional" writing skills. But wait, it gets worse:
Like many dedicated teachers - and I have had the privilege to know a few - Mrs. Natale does as much for her students off the clock as she does on. Few people have any idea how much nonsense teachers must put up with: endless meetings and conferences accomplishing nothing(it's called "continuing education" and a host of other euphemisms), being talked to by representatives of the testing cartels as if they were all children themselves, performing "group activities" that belong in a kindergarten and not a room of adults, spending endless hours in classes of "method" and other pedagogical pabulum, when all they want to do is excite students with literature or music or biology or mathematics (you'll notice all these are real disciplines, and not the pseudo-discipline of "education")... the litany is long and mind-numbingly horrific.
"My most important contributions to students are not addressed by the Common Core, Smarter Balance and teacher evaluations. I come in early, work through lunch and stay late to help children who ask for assistance but clearly crave the attention of a caring adult. At intramurals, I voluntarily coach a ragtag team of volleyball players to ensure good sportsmanship. I "ooh" and "ah" over comments made by a student who finally raises his hand or earns a C on a test she insisted she would fail.
"Those moments mean the most to my students and me, but they are not valued by a system that focuses on preparing workers rather than thinkers, collecting data rather than teaching and treating teachers as less than professionals.
"Until this year, I was a highly regarded certified teacher. Now, I must prove myself with data that holds little meaning to me. I no longer have the luxury of teaching literature, with all of its life lessons, or teaching writing to students who long to be creative. My success is measured by my ability to bring 85 percent of struggling students to "mastery," without regard for those with advanced skills. Instead of fostering love of reading and writing, I am killing children's passions — committing "readicide," as Kelly Gallagher called it in his book of that title.
"Teaching is the most difficult — but most rewarding — work I have ever done. It is, however, art, not science." (Emphasis added)
But she puts her finger on a key problem with Common Core: the expansion of the crackpottery of standardized testing and its "scientific" claims, to a computerized "student adaptive" series of tests that will follow and "slot" them into a "preferred or indicated career goal"... one has only to close one's eyes and imagine the edubabble and psychoblither that will be used to justify it. And the real goal of all of this is clear; it is to rob people of the cardinal and salient positive features of western culture and its achievements in the arts and sciences; its real goal is to rob the broader culture of its memory and history, and hence, of its future; its real goal is to engineer people to live in the ever-present "now", and to inculcate the "future" only as yet another standardized bit of crackpottery, another "assessment" that they must endure; its real goal is to rob people of their creativity, their ability to analyze, critique, synthesize; it's real goal is to dehumanize them and rob them of their individuality and heritage.
So what is the solution?
I used to tell the my more capable college students, back in the days when I was a (starving adjunct) college professor, that the system is designed to be the galloping somersaulting mediocrity that it is, and that if they wanted education and not "schooling" or "job training", they would have to read on their own, while jumping through all the hoops of an increasingly super-silly-ous system. And that is the advice I give to any and all who will hear it: until such time as we can put an end once and for all to the addle-brained billionaire busybodies and their incessant interference in other people's lives and their education, to the fraudulent edubabble and interference of mediocre millionaires, the Rockefailure and Carnutty Foundations and their well-documented and long-term plans(dating back decades incidentally) to dumb down the population and "federalize" education and turn education into the bogus Wundtian-Pavlovian "outcome based" schooling that it has become, until the time that the blithering boobery of the Bushes and other politicians gets out of the fiasco of schooling our children and ruining our culture, until that time, each and every individual, each parent and each student, must, and will have to, educate themselves. You will have to explore Dante and Darwin, Finnegan's Wake and Feynmann, Shakespeare and Shostakovich, Bach and the Beatles, on your own. Until such time as the quackery and crackpottery of standardized testing and the cartels raking in billions for their hopelessly dubious tests are revealed for the frauds they are and the fraud they have perpetrated, and are permanently out of business, you're on your own.
The second solution: if a billionaire busybody, or anyone connected with the government, or a politician, tells you that the next latest greatest fad of the "doctors of education" will produce an academic paradise and remedy the problem of falling scores on those "scientific" standardized tests, don't believe them. After all, this is the same crowd that sold us the Warren Report, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that they never inhaled, that they bring hope and change, and a whole laundry list of other lies. Lying is their business; it's what they do best. It's their one and only talent.
The third solution: educate yourself in the history of standardized testing, for there's an abundant literature calling into question not only its methods but its assumptions. Collect sample questions from their tests, grill them on specifics when they show up (if they've got the guts) to explain themselves, and don't be fooled or hoodwinked into surrendering to all their "statistics" either, for bad questions - and there are numerous examples - lead to bad statistics, and therefore to the exact opposite of their claims to "scientific objectivity."
The argument will be made that this is all "opinion." No, it is not. It is reality. The great standardized testing-certification rigamarole of modern American edgycayshun now has a track record of mediocrity and deliberately designed failure that is decades old. It is time to call a spade a spade and admit that they designed this system to be a continuous failure and mediocrity, only so that they can make more money "fixing" it.
But a final thought in today's rant occurs:
Why would the blithering billionaire bushy busybodies be so busy dumbing the rest of us down? I suspect it's because, fundamentally, they themselves have all the colossal intellectual power of a head of GMO Clinton cabbage.
But they did well on their SATs.
In the meantime, keep plugging Mrs. Natale... we're for you.
See you on the flip side.