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reflections of an ever-evolving educator

Saturday, March 12, 2005

pointing fingers

Once again, I spent the morning in an in-service, this time one on curriculum mapping. The presenter was funny and engaging, and the concept of curriculum mapping seems like a really good one and a direction that education should definitely be heading in.


I can't help getting more than a little bit annoyed with the current trend in teacher in-services. What I'm seeing is this tendency to emphasize differentiating instruction, and the acknowledgement that we as teachers should also receive differentiated instruction, all while the presenters choose NOT TO DO SO. Yesterday we sat for a solid two hours in an auditorium crammed to overflowing with teachers and listened. That's it. She talked. And talked. And talked. We nodded. Took notes. Occasionally chuckled. That's differentiation?

The other trend I've noticed is far more insidious. Presenters begin by claiming that they have been in our shoes. They then begin to subtly attack our strategies and teaching tactics, and they get away with it by claiming that they themselves have been guilty of the same transgressions. Slowly, the presentations build the case that everything we teachers and schools are doing is wrong--short-sighted, hopelessly outdated and old-fashioned, designed for teacher convenience instead of student learning, etc. The presenters push this agenda skillfully, by cracking jokes we relate to, by empathizing and claiming to understand, by starting sentences with things like "I understand that..." Problem is, those sentences always include the word "but."

My question is, why is it necessary to tear us down in order to enlighten us? Why not just share these new strategies, made possible largely due to advances in technology, without trying to hammer and blame all the poor teachers who have been muddling along to the best of their ability for all those years that the technology wasn't available? Is it really necessary to point fingers in order to shed light? Why not start off with some positives, begin by saying "I know you've been doing the best that you can with the resources you've had available. But wouldn't it be cool if you could...? Wouldn't it make things even more effective if you could...?" Just an idea.


At 11:56 AM, Blogger Lectrice said...

You're right, of course, and often (not always) training teachers is a refuge for those who left the classroom to avoid the very issues they now advise upon.

However, I'd ask you to hold that sense of dissatisfied scrutiny, and ask yourself how much of that is going through your pupils' minds as they listen to you teaching?

I know that dull, worthless in service training has taught me one thing - possibly THE most incredibly useful thing I've ever learnt as an educator. That is: it's actually more interesting to mess around than to sit there and listen to nonsense that you don't want to hear.

Put that principle into your lesson planning, and boom-shakka-lakka (sorry, long day): you've cracked it forever.

At 12:02 AM, Blogger Polski3 said...

Great Post ! VERY well said.


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