Daily Archives: April 21, 2014

teaching rant

Pardon me while I fulminate .


I post pictures  in this blog of odds and ends of these and more pictures of those  . I’m wondering if I  am, therefore , a  visual learner ? Is that one of the learning modalities  ? I should have paid more attention in education jargon class . Let’s see . Visual learner . Audio learner .  Metro -cognitive . Paradigm shift . No, no ……meta-cognitive  !


Joe , who teaches now , again , after his retirement , mentioned Bloom’s Taxonomy recently  . Bloom’s ?   The mention was embedded within a piece of Joe’s  poetry , I think . Maybe . Bloom , as in Bloom’s Day ?   Joe is a big James Joyce aficionado and the Bloom mention may well have been a reference to Joyce . I had a copy of Bloom’s taxonomy for several years , not the Ulysses Bloom , outlined on yellow paper . It was a useful reference tool in my teaching . Now…….ask me what “taxonomy” means .  Taxonomy . Rubric . Rigor .  Well , I missed those basic education Jargon classes ; heard the terms but never paid much attention . The administration was always , in recent years , seeming to ” roll out ” some program or other . The term “roll out” was , as others , stolen from the corporate world and used in the halls  of the school district and then  assigned to  the school sites to be , often inaccurately , used . They’d be mouthed around for a few years until , I suppose , the lovers of that particular sample jargon retired , or the corporate world’s  jargon  too , had moved on .


Just an aside here : Education is big business . Of course it is . But teaching is another universe altogether , a horse of a different color , about as non-corporate as you can get . My opinion . An opinion shared by most teachers , I think , but an unknown perspective  in the realm of school district offices  rife with its hobnobbers with money men and governments , with career-ladder headhunters and lobbyists , textbook companies , real estate developers and , and , and investment brokers ; an opinion  forgotten or ignored or horribly misunderstood by school principals who take the ivory tower’s orders .


    I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework .——-Lily Tomlin


The superintendent in some nearby school district was in the news again today . He’s suspended now , with pay , while the FBI investigates how it happened that he was higher paid than the superintendents of L.A. , New York , or Chicago schools  , even though this guy’s  school district has only a few thousand students , a couple of high schools . The district paid his life insurance , too , the newspaper said today . Two policies , actually . They had paid him a one-time lump sum to buy credits to bump his state retirement up . His previously reported  salary was about $ 700,000 per year . With the insurance it’s up a notch .  What was his cell phone allowance per year paid by the District ? And he needs his housing allowance , of course. And the car .

Test scores didn’t go up at all , though .  Teacher salaries didn’t go up at all , though . Only by chance did it all come out suddenly in the news . Caused a big stink .  So he had good negotiating skills !

It’s not like he made up his own salary , as did Mr Rizzo in the City of Bell  , who manipulated the city budget so that he was secretly paying himself a fortune .The city council , and others  , shared in the corruption . City councilmen and women who were getting $100,000 a year for committee membership on non-existing or never-meeting committees claimed innocence and ignorance ; they said that they had not noticed anything off .  Ignorance was bliss for them for a few years . Now it’s jail time , though .  Rizzo was sentenced a couple of days ago . The woman administrator who did his dirty paper-work  got twelve years , too , I think .  She’ll be out in six, no doubt , however . But still .


Did you hear about the Santa Monica teacher who wrestled the student to the ground a couple of weeks ago in his classroom ? There were cell phone videos of it , of course , and they immediately hit the net .  The Santa Monica-Malibu School District Superintendent immediately issued a statement proclaiming the teacher’s action  ” totally inappropriate ” and she immediately suspended the teacher . Of course she would . She later explained that her initial assessment may have been flawed but that it was  , nevertheless, ” routine District policy “. Of course it was . Routine District policy is to immediately blame the teacher .

This one backfired on the superintendent , though . A former student of the teacher started an internet petition to reinstate the well-respected teacher . The petition quickly received support from 150,000 people .  Meanwhile the 18  year-old student involved was arrested for possession of marijuana and possession of a box-cutter on campus and assault on a public employee . The superintendent backed down in the face of perceived public outrage . The teacher’s suspension was lifted today .
dr strange comic


My point is , in giving a sketchy outline of this story , that these big-wig school people live in a non-teacher world , co-opting corporation jargon and methods and  ambitions , perhaps ,  but not comprehending that teaching is an inter- personal , individual , human thing .  Classrooms can’t be effectively run like assembly lines , rolling out this or that program but ignoring the human intricacies of classroom interaction , ignoring all the several complex factors involved in learning .  The art of teaching has been undervalued and almost quashed . A teacher’s art .

Meanwhile , the big boys and girls do the best they can , padding their  own nests  along the way . Anybody would . Wouldn’t they ? The cookie jar is wide open , after all ,  in our currently  selfie culture . Nothing wrong with that . Eh ? As long as you don’t get caught .   Whatever bad publicity that comes out in the news the school districts will  bend to  . This or that .  Even , sometimes , they’ll toss the routine Teacher-Is -Always-Wrong policy out . Stranger things have happened ; but not often .


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