Education from long ago... - Granite Grok

Education from long ago…

Saw this over at Core Knowledge – the snippets below give one a flair for what the guest poster, a newly retired teacher of 36 years, has to say about the state of today’s education:

…The teaching profession in 2009 is populated with young teachers too inexperienced to know anything different, established teachers too in debt to risk job security, and endangered traditional teachers too rare and too ostracized to be taken seriously. Administrators and union officials entrenched in John Dewey progressive dogma salivate over anticipated government grants using your tax money. Meanwhile parents and traditionalists within the system are ignored and castigated.

…They’re public relations experts keeping parents happy but out of touch. I’d call their obfuscation a national swindle. “Child-centered” certainly passes a hoodwinked public’s apple-pie test. “Outcome-based” assures everyone of attainable goals. “Pathways” pacify parents concerned about directionless kids. “Constructivist” no doubt betokens a solid “back to basics” foundation.

…Thoroughly discredited ever since, progressive ed. has reinvented itself every generation with new “edu-speak” jargon.  Just ask any veteran teacher old enough to have survived the cycles.

These specious catch phrases reflect the views of well-intentioned but wrong-headed utopians who invariably thought socialism would save the world. Their adherents still reside in ivory-tower academia, bad mouthing America and willfully ignoring the horrific lessons of the Soviet Union, Communist China, and Cuba. Worst of all, these education Ph.D.’s are teaching our teachers and have been since the ‘60s.

…Schools don’t promote independent thinking anymore. Even math problem solving routinely becomes a group project. Ninth graders, supposedly algebra ready, still cannot add, subtract, multiply or divide on paper. At 58, I managed simple math in my head before my students figured out which calculator keys to push. They thought I was a math whiz. The difference is 45 years ago I learned my times tables. Memorizing anything nowadays “ist verboten!” in progressive ed. America—has been for decades.

…Today’s facilitators (edu-speak for teacher) think their job is merely helping kids learn on their own during group “discovery” sessions. In English, my chosen field, I was the only teacher in my department who failed to embrace the facilitator approach. Today’s facilitators have no clue about the expertise a traditional English teacher was expected to display “back in the day.”  (Aside: Good thing my current M.D. memorized the location of my appendix. Glad he didn’t have to operate by the “discovery” method.)

…Of my 28 colleagues in the English dept. only one other geezer and I know what a direct object is. My grammar diagnostic test routinely given to 7th graders in the 70s proved way too tough for my current high school TEACHER colleagues.

…With group work practically universal, cheating is rampant and registers little social stigma among students. Street-wise “players” within groups dump responsibility on the smart ones, hoping to slide by with the least effort possible. No longer does a high school diploma guarantee even basic subject expertise. Students are, however, well rehearsed in co-operative activities with their peers, and they do feel good about themselves.

Staggering…I have heard from a few teachers about similar observations.  The only way to take the schools back to what worked before is to mount races for the School Boards and put everything (check registers, budgets, curriculum, teaching methodologies) on the web.  Heck, start putting web cams in the schools with mics – after all, we are paying for these government schools – it is time to bring back an old vocab word – "accountability".

First step?  Start asking your School Board about your kids’ District’s results on standardized tests…