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:
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...