Core Education

NEW YORK TEACHER: MORE MORE MORE TECHNOLOGY, BUT LESS REAL EDUCATION

Well, it's time for another of my periodic rants about the deplorable state of Amairikuhn edgykayshun and the corporate hacks and billionaire busybodies that want to ruin it even more. During a recent vidchat, one member of this website who is a teacher - as I recall, of high school English - we'll call her Ms. C.R., told me that at a recent "staff meeting"(that's a meeting of teachers with their "administrators", not a meeting of virus infections, though these days sometimes the distinction between staff infections and education administrators begins to blur), she was informed that no more than two errors per page of written homework could be corrected, lest the poor students experience "poor self esteem."

I kid you not!

The trouble is, I believed her, and that's the problem, because I've heard of such nitwittery from other teachers, and indeed experienced it personally during my own brief foray into trying to get "credentialed" so that I, man with a doctorate from the oldest unversity in the English-speaking world(an institution that, incidentally, has never been accredited as an acceptable academic institution by any major Amairikuhn accrediting agency), could teach in a public school. Yes, nevermind that I could probably present a reasonably good, perhaps even enjoyable, course of study to high school students in history, or philosophy, or maybe even music, or that I might be able to teach them some Greek or Latin, all this was of little or no interest to the Amairikuhn edgykayshunal establishment. What really mattered is that I have x number of "credit hours" suffering through a class of insufferable boredom and claptrap, and learn how to "reference" citations from published works using the "look and point" method of the MLA or AP "style manuals." I've heard from teachers in Australia, with masters' degrees from the University of Sydney in a similar plight. Degrees in a subject discipline do not count. You have to be "trained" in the latest "methodology". After a couple of weeks of this nonsense, which included "group exercises" which consisted of going to the local outdoor park and walking through the exercises with my fellow candidates doing "trust exercises" to acclimatize us to "group think" and the passive agressive socialization techniques of the "class facilitator", I had had enough. I quit. Certification is fraud, and based upon a fraudulent "pseudo-discipline' called education. It has little to do with actually handing down to a younger generation the essentials of English(or French or Italian or Spanish or German or what have you) literature, little to do with informed intelligent understanding of art, music, history, geography, mathematics, biology, physics. If you're lucky, you might be exposed to some of the former "soft disciplines" under the progressivist educational label of "social studies"(and yes, they're the ones who invented that catch all, precisely so they could get rid of history, geography, Latin, Greek, grammar, literature, music, art, &c). Now add to this the American infatuation with technology, wed it to the group think mentality of the teachers' colleges, and mix and stir with a good dollop of edubabble, and you get Common Core, and the calls for "more technology in the classroom" which is a call for "more government money in our corporate coffers." This article was shared by Mr. S.D., and its worth a read:

Teacher: Do You Want a Monsanto Education or an Artisanal Education?

Well, I for one do not want a Mon(ster)santo education. More technology, as the teacher complains, isn't anywhere close to an obvious or even reasonable solution to what's going on:

The entire thing of “technology in the classroom” is an invented need for an invented problem. The most astounding piece of evidence to this is the fact that, somehow, devoid of any technology save for pen, paper, book, art supplies, instruments, lab material, a library. etc, all of us born before 1990 had no technology to speak of and we (well alot of us, myself probably excluded) actually LEARNED. Shocking. We are evidence that technology in the classroom is a sham. However, that sham is only called out and destroyed if we attack its first principles and ideas.

But I respectfully submit that if one extends this teacher's logic, then the entire edifice of Amairikuhn edgykayshun collapses, for let's extend the principle even further back in time: the west got along quite well in the era before there ever was a pseudo-discipline in the universities called "education" granting "degrees" in "education" and giving us the Medusa of the Doctor of Education, with all of his or her nutty studies and statistics on the effectiveness of this or that latest "methodology." I submit that education was much better off without a requirement of "certification" by these departments of a pseudo-discipline, when people earned degrees in a subject discipline and were hired to teach on that basis, and their effectiveness was adjudged by the students they produced. And of course, this means also that education also once survived, and thrived, not only without "certification" but also without the computerized standardized test that has so entwined itself with Amairikuhn edgykayshun that it has become almost symbolic of it.

The real hint that all of this is true is suggested in the article itself:

Why are corporations pushing mass-produced lessons into public schools, but not into the elite schools attended by the children of the 1%? I recall a prediction by Forbes’ technology editor in the 1980s (sourced in my book “Reign of Error”) that in the future, the children of the poor will get computers and the children of the rich will get teachers.

What will result from the continuing corporatization and "edufication" of the American academy? Well, for those who cannot afford to escape it, the result will be a general population even dumber and more narcissistic than it is now. But I also suspect that here as elsewhere, the efforts of the Doctors of Edubbable and their corporate sponsors will also lead to a simple revolt of people "doing for themselves" what the schools will no longer do and which the corporations, government, and Doctors of Edubabble refuse to respect and to do, and for a lucky few, this will mean the hiring of real teachers to teach a real subject. And in that environment, the higher the number of hours spent in education classes or continuing education workshops, will not be a marketable skill. Knowing English literature and grammar, biology, history, geography, and the arts, and being able to teach them and instill a love of them, will.

And if you're a teacher, reading these words, and still clinging to the hope that all those education pedagogy courses really meant a thing, ask yourself this question: when was the last time your school, or school district, paid for you to go attend a conference related to your subject area itself? When was the last time you attended a conference of mathematicians, biologists, chemists, literary critics, playwrites, poets, authors, painters, musicians, composers? And when you answer that, then compare it with the answer to this question: when was the last time your district required you, without pay, to attend a "contuining education workshop" on the latest methodological or pedagogical fad, and to participate in silly childish group exercises led by a facilitator?

In the answer to those questions, lies the problem.

See you on the flip side...

17 thoughts on “NEW YORK TEACHER: MORE MORE MORE TECHNOLOGY, BUT LESS REAL EDUCATION”

  1. The education system is made for dumbing down and brainwashing , simple as that a great read about our education system is ( The Underground History of American Education) by John Taylor Gatto

  2. The following was in “Aviation Week & Space Technology”, Nov.23, p.54, “Point Break: Educational and Simulator Technologies are Blended for Training”:

    “…the previous generation of pilots and maintainers, who were much more skilled at ‘mental math’, solving basic time and distance or other problems with simple memorized formulas. ‘One thing every school around the world tells me, civilian or military, is that the math skills of the students are not nearly as good as they were a generation ago,’ says Colabastisto. ‘But, their systems skills are outstanding.’ He says the issues are the same on the civilian side. ‘Mental math is not a strength of this generation; but their ability to manipulate multiple systems simultaneously is really good. You have to teach in a different way.'”

    So, the ‘Calculator effect’ and the ‘Gameboy effect’ are molding the next generation into folks who do not know where they’re going, but can do so really spectacularly…

    1. Oh, and I briefly toyed with teaching high-school math. I figured a B.S. and M.S. in Aerospace Engineering with multiple years of advanced math classes would be enough. (Plus a M.A. in Psychology, to ‘figure out’ the students’ needs.) Nope. Years of ‘methodology training’ – as Joseph ran into – were needed. Better things to do with my life…

  3. Community College prof here; yes, that “computers for the poor” is spot on. My southern state has essentially turned the local CCs into high school Grade 13 with their generic “learning outcomes” and “course competencies” valued more than their actual discipline-specific knowledge. When the economy was “good,” the state cut CC funding because of…well, because they can; now that the state economy is “bad” they want to cut funding even further, because “the economy is bad!” The local campuses are responding by raising class sizes (even though more students in the classrooms means less time for individual student-teacher interaction, when the research indicates CC students do better when classes are smaller and there’s more time for interaction), cutting staff that directly help students, even cutting course requirements for some degrees — but no pink slips or cuts in salary for all our useless Deanlets and the President (who makes 20 times what I make, even though she rarely leaves her enormous office except for the annual graduation ceremony). The state’s community college system HQ is even making moves to take away local CC’s online courses and fold them into a “virtual campus” where the teachers are not degreed but instead are going to be the kinds of non-degreed para-professionals (selected by the system office, of course) described by Dr. Farrell.
    [I’m also hearing from extended family about unis changing degree requirements without recognizing the credits students earned under their original degree plans, requiring students to take *more* classes (generating more $$$ for these supposedly “non-profit” institutions!); and a family member who joined the state National Guard for college benefits, did their service, and are now being denied those benefits! So institutions are changing agreed-upon rules (aka engaging in fraud, essentially) and screwing their own students/soldiers, due to the rationale of “financial emergency.” Appalling!]

    1. Robert Barricklow

      When the bottom line is profit,
      Not education,
      nor health,
      nor justice,
      nor journalism,
      nor[……}.

      Then Society is ruled by markets,
      … not for the common good.

      [but they control the markets
      so what’s the real deal?]

  4. ” He looked upon us as sophisticated children, smart, but not wise.”

    Saxton T. Pope ( Said of Ishi )

  5. For the most part, I do not disagree with your general position on education.

    However, regarding this statement:

    “. . . and their effectiveness was adjudged by the students they produced . . .”

    you seem to be forgetting that in years gone by, in general, the caliber of the STUDENTS was very, very different than it is today. The further back you go, the more students came from, literally, some degree of an aristocratic background.

    There is only so much you can do with the raw material. I am no expert, but apparently there is a vast horde of American students who will never be educated, now matter how you try to do it, because it is literally not possible to educate them. I for one would never ever want to be a teacher in the public schools if I were to be evaluated on how well they turned out (as judged by test scores especially). 90% of a student’s success is determined by how much work THEY do, and many simply will not do ANY work at all on school work. To be judged by how much work someone else does (or does not) do is the very definition of injustice. No more needs to be said.

    Ever hear of “garbage in, garbage out”?

  6. In all this wailing at the wake for the demise of real education, are we not dancing around the central point of a system that was never perfect to begin with? Are we not forgetting that education was long ago made public and co-opted for a reason: enculturation, i.e., brainwashing? The new system will be used for the same purpose, except that now and in the future the parasite class does not want anyone to be able to think. This is obvious to anyone who tries to get a job with any big company, especially a ‘hi-tech’, bank, or whiz-kid company. Just the application questions are instructive. They all include gems like: “Would you ever contradict an expert?” Correct answer: No. They’re the expert. And “How do you deal with difficult people?” Correct answer: I love difficult people and would never dream of crossing them or standing up to them. It strikes me that TPTB are so inbred, ignorant, sociopathic (if not actually psychopathic), and practically autistic themselves that they must bring everyone to their level to maintain their illusion of control.

    1. Cassandane, I was with a small group of Americans who were eating dinner at a tiny hotel/hostel just north of the English border in Scotland. A waiter was having a good conversation with us. Then, a local bigwig dropped-in, and the waiter’s whole character changed. He went from good-natured and intelligent to a craven, cowering ‘cur’. Instantly. My friends and I looked at each other and our jaws literally dropped. We had never seen anything like it. Perhaps a thousand years of domination and ‘selection’ had produced this kind of ‘conditioning’. Brrr, and very unsettling…

  7. Robert Barricklow

    We all know what BS stands for.
    Know we know how it’s certified.
    BS is now even measured in degrees. There high-grade BS and a lower grade BS. But we all know when we walk into a Common Core room – we’ve stepped into it.

  8. The sad thing is that there are some real best practices in how to educate people which are bing lost in the shuffle. Some of the research done is actually useful and helpful in making learning easier for people.

    Unfortunately, gaining a degree of any kind in any field does not guarantee that a person can effectively pass on that knowledge to others. I have seen many examples in the last 2 decades of Phds who might be brilliant in their fields, but have not clue one how to help another person learn what they know.
    The fact that students are paying outrageous sums to listen to these folks is a crime.

    Education cannot make a good teacher any more than it can make a good listener or judge of human character. There are tools which can improve whatever skills you do have, but, as with musical talent, some just are better at it than others.

    I feel cheated that I did not get more of a “classical” education – I did study a foreign language (German), but should have been required to study an Asian and Latin-based language as well. I should also have been taught the “memory palace,” or method of loci skill of memorization, along with speed reading, good note taking, etc.

    I was fortunate enough to study math with some good teachers who fostered a strong sense of logic and argument (algebra can be good for that). However, the “Education University”-based textbooks were pathetic. I learned more from mass market books (specifically the British “Teach Yourself” series) than from the text books.

    My college calculus instructor told my class that we should expect up to 1/3 of the examples in the book to be incorrect. For what that book cost, that was totally insane.

  9. “that in the future, the children of the poor will get computers and the children of the rich will get teachers.”

    And they will steal from gifted minds that don’t conform, who usually don’t belong in the 1%..

  10. All the more reason to homeschool or group homeschool, don’t give these idiots your children’s mind and the future of humanity.

  11. American education always stunk but until recently we had fall back. Brick and mortar bookstores ,little shops that sold newspapers, magazines, comicbook racks and books racks. And even in English class for the proles you read good books even if they were abridged. Even commercial television on the weekends had programs talking about literature instead of political psycho-babel. Ignorance is strength is the current memes-mantra flavor of the.elites they now more than ever fear thinking by anybody. Pseudo-literate is their wet dream for everyone including themselves.

  12. I know you have written extensively about this, but where, in plain terms, is the “rot” coming from and what is wrong with the presumably numerous intelligent people in the bureaucracy who are going along with this?
    It would be interesting to know whether these “administrators” (this brings to mind the infamous novel “Philip Dru: Administrator”) would be pleased if the bank employee processing their own bank accounts made serious mistakes that cannot be corrected in order to preserve somebody’s “self-esteem”.

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