Friday, October 03, 2008

Bad Teachers, Part 5 of ∞ : Ask Not For Whom The Scripted Teaching Bell Tolls...

I have almost no details, just that I ran across two of our best math teachers late yesterday frantically waving a slick folder from some outfit called "American Schools" (or something...all I know is the logo was quite American, quite Red, White & Blue, and quite corporate), and saying something about district mandated scripted math instruction.

I didn't learn much detail in the ten seconds I heard the two teachers wailing about this development, but I'm pretty sure I did learn this: good teaching is being killed because of bad teaching.

Just as No Child Left Behind has disregarded high-achieving students in order to focus all energy and funding on the academically weak, scripted teaching is all about discouraging the creative work of good teachers while trying to crudely prop up the bad. It is like performing brain surgery with a rusty shovel. It is exactly like death.

There are a ton of scary phrases and acronyms in public school education, but I can think of none that compare with the death knell finality of "scripted teaching". You might as well just drop a one-page memo in every teacher's mailbox that reads in 92 pt. Comic Sans:

GOOD TEACHERS! THANKS FOR YOUR YEARS OF SERVICE, NOW PLEASE FIND ANOTHER LINE OF WORK

Done the "American Schools" way, of course, scripted teaching also means the privatization of K-12 public schools by Blackwater-type firms whose sole purpose is to maximize profits while meeting meaningless academic criteria developed by their lobbyist and paid-off legislators. It means vouchers without the vouchers, cookie-cutter intellectual banality and a firm kick in the butt out the door to any student/parent who values accelerated learning.

Put more simply, it's an intellectual death sentence. I was in the hall outside my classroom late yesterday hearing that something had died. That something almost already dead had finally been killed.

As I learn more about the cause of death and the results of the autopsy, I'll pass them on. Meanwhile, Happy Friday everyone!

P.S.: I realize (and have heard from several folks) that this "year in the life of a teacher" theme has become quite morose over the last few weeks. Well, maybe I'm a depressive personality, but honestly I think we've caught my school, school district, profession, country, world in a particularly downer period here. Maybe things will pick up, but for now it's nothing but solid bleak stretching out well past the horizon. Sorry.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great title to this post. I was once a huge Hemingway fan and couldn't get enough of his world-view, until I got enough. We have a wonderful city, a beautiful backdrop and amazing climate. I realize not everyone's life is as nice as mine, but I do feel blessed to have the circumstances I do. I admit teaching is not as fun as it once was, but I wonder if that's not me growing old. Anyway, the point here is that life is never perfect, but it is beautiful. I can get over the gloom in a matter of a day or two. Try using 6.5 of your 400 hours of banked sick-leave and go check out Tent Rocks. Pray that someday, those with the power do the same and maybe things will get better.

Amber in Albuquerque said...

Don't be sorry. It's your blog, it's your voice. You're opening the door to conversations that may have actual results. I said on another similar blog a while back that nothing ever dies in the wonderful world of web and you never know when someone with some actual clout is going to do the google-fu and come across some of our information and brilliant ideas.

I don't know what "scripted teaching" is, but from the context it is scary indeed. Hope you know that there are lots of parents who are on your side.

Gerald said...

Hey anonymous, I like the tent rocks idea. The first time I was there was with a middle school class field trip.
Don't let "America's (No) Choice" (I didn't choose it, just to let them know) get you too down. Even if the schools go to hell, there will always be a need for people to do something to protect our wilderness. It is needed by all. It where my soul goes, and where countless others go to get away from the confines of the city, it's sprawl, crazy drivers and puppet bureaucracies.