Teacher Thoughts

Monday, April 13, 2009

My brain is full of teacher things.

This is what happens when I am immersed in this reading and research. I revert back to teacher brain, which is not a bad thing - but it means that I am thinking, thinking, thinking - all the time, trying to integrate what I know, what I have seen, what I feel - and all the bits and pieces that don't fit anywhere else. It is why I know that Academia and Research are right for me, this constant whirring in my brain.

Here are random things that have emerged as this flood gate is barely controlled.

I hate lining up. I hate asking children to line up. What an asinine policy. I stopped asking kids to "get in line" about 12 years ago, because really - what was the point? All it did was cause fights between kids as to who was standing where and wasted my time as I waited for people to get into line. As long as we all got to where we were going safely, what the hell difference did it make what formation we took? Every time I see an adult yell at kids to get into a line - or yell at them that they are waiting for a better line, or a quieter line....It makes me want to smack the adult. This isn't how kids respect you - by asking them to do stupid, pointless shit that we all know is stupid and pointless.

Emily had a parent teacher conference last week. She had told Terrance and I that she has remained on her 3's multiplication tables for months because she hasn't gotten 100% three weeks in a row. What? What kind of policy is this?

Terrance is in "charge" of Emily's math homework , and we all know that she knows her multiplication tables. She can write you out her entire thought process and problem solving. She is, however, not FAST at this. She freezes up when she thinks she is under pressure. She sometimes needs manipulatives to help her work through her problem using her tactile senses. It is just who she is.


There we were. Sitting across from the Math teacher. Who was explaining that she wants the kids to be able to simply recite their math facts, so she gives them these timed tests. Which Em sucks at. So I finally asked "What is the pedagogical reason for these tests", to which she finally admitted that there wasn't one. Its just the way that math had been taught before she was there and she adopted the same methods.

Oh My Fucking Head. All this stress, all this worry - for nothing. Who gives a rats ass if my kid needs additional time to finish a test - or needs to write the problem DOWN on paper? This kind of ridiculous repetition of teaching methods that make no sense makes me CRAZY. The idea that we have to prepare kids for some future by inflicting them with pressurized testing is absurd. An educational mentor once said to me "We don't prepare for famine by starving ourselves, Dawn" in countering the argument that we needed to "prepare" our kindergartners for something other than the process oriented curriculum that we fostered at the center.

As we left the meeting and walked to the car, I leaned in and said "It doesn't matter - she's doing fine" to Terrance. He agreed. But really? Do we really need to do this to kids? To parents?

As I once answered a student teacher is a class when he wondered if a little embarrassment might not be good for a child - make them WANT to do better in front of their peers:

"Nobody performs better when they feel unsafe. If we know that children learn best in environments where they can trust the adults, have stable routines and expectations - why would we EVER do anything to a child which would teach them that the adult CAN'T be trusted?

3 Baleful Regards:

Anonymous said...

Well said.

Public Artist said...

Apart from geography and timing, I could have had that teacher. When I was 10, my teacher made students redo the same math assignments over and over again until it was perfect. There was never any explanation, just orders to redo. He told my parents that I was anti-social and would never amount to anything. Fortunately, my mother knew better. The two of you would probably get along academically as she refers to Vygosky (sp?) and Piaget as her buddies. I went on to find math my favourite subject in highschool. The truth is, I still can't recite my math facts, but I can work things out and I was very good at understanding what I needed to do to solve complex problems which was far more important when armed with a puzzle and a calculator. I was exceedingly proud of myself for having the highest mark in math of any of my peers my senior year (although its the only mark I can remember being important to me). Now I'm doing a PhD in politics and never use math (by choice). But I take great satisfaction in knowing that he was wrong and my mother was right.

I hope Emily gets to have the same sense of satisfaction in a few years, and realizes how great her mother is.

Jaelithe said...

Will you go back in time with me and be my teacher? Like, all of them?

Except for Mrs. Huck, in the third grade. She was cool.

 
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