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San Clemente, CA, United States

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Big Fix

I've been reading too much this summer.  I'm about to blow.

I usually spend my summers reading trash fiction.  Stuff like Grisham, Ludlum, Petersen.   I like courtroom dramas, murder mysteries, and espionage.  I read trash during the summer because I try to restrict my reading during the school year to educational research.  I try to read ed. journals and stay on top of new trends and techniques.  (An aside here.... There is nothing new under the sun.  EVERY new fad I seen before with a different name)  But during the summer, I like to let my mind travel to the beaches of Fiji or the streets of Florence as I fantasize about a life different from my own.

This summer, I'm spending too much time at my computer reading about education.  More specifically, what is wrong with education and how to "fix it."  (Note to self:  Start penning the great American novel:  Schools aren't broken, America is broken.)  All I can think about as I read about the latest fad/trend/technique/modification/adaptation.... is for me, only 2 things really matter. 

What we teach and how we teach it.

The curriculum has to be correct.  It must be age appropriate, challenging, manageable, and scaffold in a logical manner.  We as a community must agree on what we are teaching and teachers need to hold students accountable for that material.   For this, I applaud the Standards movement.  But, I'm not the biggest fan of all the testing and the narrowing of the curriculum.   We must find a balance.  While I believe in Standards, the truth of the matter is that teachers have egos.  We want our students to test well and we are spending too much time prepping kids on test concepts at the cost of a broader curriculum.

Then, the curriculum needs to be taught, and taught well.  The most recent "educational fix" is the Reverse Classroom.  Instead of teachers teaching during the class period and students doing homework at home, (a radical concept I know), Reverse Classroom has students learning the material on their own at home and doing homework in class.  Really?  I understand the theory.  Students are taught to learn on their own and read the text.  Then in class, they get clarification on that which they don't understand.  Actually, it isn't bad....if I only had about 10 kids in class.  BUT WITH A CLASSROOM OF 40, It isn't practical to think I could get to every student, and I GUARANTEE, I'd be saying the same thing 38 times.  Teachers should teach.

Teachers must stand and deliver every minute of every class period. And to all of you teachers who take themselves too seriously, remember that personality, enthusiasm, passion and energy are as, if not more, important than content knowledge.   Know your stuff but try to make it bearable to sit in your classroom.  We are trying to teach, not lecture.  Lecture, but make sure that you are teaching. 


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