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Re: Interesting Panel You're on George C.
At 1:22 PM -0400 15.05.03, George K Cunningham wrote:
The chances that you will drive to Washington to attend this meeting
might be pretty good. The chances of you getting into the meeting are
not. The meeting is by invitation only.
Then perhaps it is an invitation that I am holding--the one that
tells me to RSVP through appropriate channels by Monday. Perhaps I'll
see you there, sport. Or perhaps I'll change my mind and find more
important things to do back home than to go to rigged "symposia".
The security, due to Mrs.
Cheney's presence is incredible. Good luck. Otherwise, I would love to
have you in the audience.
Believe me, if Martha Schwartz can show up at one of these events, I
can--it's no big deal.
If you are not there, I hope there will be
someone else who will ask the hard questions.
Perhaps Jerry can make it--it would save me two 9-hour trips.
If you think that would bother me, you don't know me very well. Do
you think I would be sending messages to this list if I was afraid
someone might disagree with me. I appreciate your response and any
others. It is useful to have someone point out any obvious errors
before I display my ignorance to an even wider audience. I am on
other listserves who are likely to agree with
everything I say.
I prefer to have someone challenge me.
Hopefully, someone will.
Apparently, you are not familiar with the INTASC standards. Do a
google search, they are easy to find. There is no reference to academic
I also have been a student (not a teaching-credential student, but a
graduate student nonetheless) at three schools of education (one
physically housed my department even though the department was not a
part of the school). I am also married to a teacher, teach teachers,
work with teachers and work with those who teach teachers. If you
think any of these people and organizations give a rat's ass about
the INTASC standards, you are sadly mistaken. The issue in front of
ed schools is how to produce teachers who are 1) aware of the subject
matter they are supposed to teach and effective methods to convey
this subject matter to their students, 2) aware of the audience that
they are supposed to teach, including their psychological makeup,
apply this knowledge in selecting appropriate materials for their
students and use these selections to get the most from their students
3) aware of the affective variables involved in learning and how they
might be affected by different instructional practices, including
classroom demographics, special populations and their relations with
the rest of the student body, instructional feedback and how it
affects student conduct and performance, issues outside of school
that affect school performance, second-language issues 4) aware of
any other current research that might relate to their performance in
the classroom, including psychological and cognitive studies,
technology developments and research on how it may become relevant to
their particular field of expertise, general research on text and
narrative that might help teachers in all subjects convey information
to students, linguistic and sociological research, etc. Although
these are not necessarily in order, these are the main issues that
confront prospective teachers and, by extension, schools of
education. Some are likely to slack on (4)--research is a small part
of most teacher certification programs, but not all. The issue which
you demonize would fall under (3)--the affective variables, although
some of these bits are really superficially connected. What passes
for "multiculturalism" in your book may have more to do with how the
publishing business is conducted than with teacher education (this
usually falls under "sociology" in schools of ed). The same goes for
"self-esteem" (it usually shows up in developmental psych classes,
but almost never in subject-matter and methods courses). These may
well be something that is taught in administration and policy classes
(I know for a fact that this is the case), but this is far less a
part of teacher education than you or even INTASC try to make us
believe. Although these organizations may well be a part of formal
accreditation of schools of ed in 37 states, you know as well as I
that most schools pay only lip service to their "requirements". And
the same blindfold is applied when the communication goes in the
opposite direction--none of these organizations will try to shut down
schools of ed that are producing qualified teachers (even if not all
of their graduates may end up being deemed qualified by some group or
Plenty of vague talk about "learning."
I talk about "learning" all the time. I want to know how students
learn mathematics--since this happens to be the subject of interest
for me--and science, to a lesser extent, because my other interests
lie there and because the two are interrelated. I try to find out how
people "learn" from text, from verbal exchanges, from lectures, from
practice and from various forms of apprenticeship. I get information
from cognitive studies about the processes that are affected by
various aspects of instruction. One thing I do not do is look at the
standardized tests for guidance of any kind. There is a very simple
reason for this, and, I suspect, you can figure out what that is.
While they do not
use the term "self esteem," the document is full of the language of
self-esteem. For example: "The teacher respects students as
individuals with differing personal and family backgrounds and various
skills, talents, and interests." and "The teacher makes students feel
valued for their potential as people, and helps them learn to value each
other." This is the language of the whole document.
It's a wonderfully flowery language that says exactly nothing. Since
you yourself proclaim that these are not "academic achievement"
standards, how in the world do you propose these organizations
measure the success along these standards? And if they are simply
used as guidelines, you've just made my point above--the only
attention paid to this "language" is lip service. The actual academic
and other requirements all come from the states--as do the charges of
these organizations as well. Your beef is with state governments and
their departments of education, which these governments set up
without necessarily consulting these organizations.
This my whole point.
In other words, you point is as vague as the language you criticize.
These might be fine goals for perspective teachers.
My point is that this is not all they should be doing.
Really? Show me a teacher whose performance in the classroom
demonstrates the opposite of "The teacher respects students as
individuals with differing personal and family backgrounds and
various skills, talents, and interests." Then I'll show a person who
should not be teaching--there is a difference between training and
teaching. Training is an enterprise that does not need to consider
the differences among its audience. Teaching does. And if you think
otherwise, why stop at public schools? Why not go after the private
ones that operate on the same principles? I suspect you'd have a hard
time finding a lot of private schools that defy this description as
I would like to see schools of education go back to preparing
teachers to teach reading, math, science, etc.
Yes. Is this ALL that a teacher is suppose to do? Than why do we
bother having people in the classroom? Would it not be much easier to
simply tape lessons that have been found to be effective in some
schools and distribute them to all the other schools in the country?
Just think how much money could be saved if all those slobs were
fired. Or, better yet, take these same practices and implement them
in a computer program. Then put all the kids in front of computer
monitors and throw away the key.
The documents from these organizations that control or are
controlled by education schools are all about everything, but
Can you make up your mind--are they controlled by ed schools or do
they control them? Who is in charge? Or are you just annoyed that you
I don't think that the public, legislators, and governors believe
that the sort of goals articulated by INTASC represent
everything education schools should be doing.
If you don't believe it, you should attend some legislative sessions.
What about "civic education"? Any suggestions on that account? The
same people who oppose the alleged "self-esteem" and
"multiculturalism" in schools also want more "civic education". I
would love to know what that entails. Guess what--it's all affective
variables as well, just as vague and just as un-academic. They wonder
why schools don't talk about American heroes as much as they used
to--you know, the heroes like Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, Thomas
Watson and the rest of the Nazi sympathizers. They believe that we
should present history in the same one sided parade of only qualities
of the historical characters that the current majority of the
population would consider positive--for example, we should not
mention that Lord Amherst (for whom the college and town in
Massachusetts are named) was the first in recorded history to employ
biological warfare against the supposedly allied tribes. Of course,
that means that the decisions on what should and should not be
included in the textbooks is subjective, but please don't use the
word "relative" to describe what these people are demanding. I would
like to know--actually, I already know, I would only want you to
announce it to the world--where you stand on these issues. Since you
object to the "vague", "unacademic" parts of the curriculum such as
"self-esteem" and "multiculturalism", surely you must object at the
"civic education" and the "hero cult" that it entails.
If you read the documents from these four organizations you would see
that this is about all education schools are supposed to be doing. I
work in an education school and I can assure you that we adhere to that
Yes, yes... Of course... And ARE they doing so? How many of the
accredited schools--just come up with some estimate of the
percentage--follow these standards to the letter? Oh, and while you
are at it, I'd like to see some evidence how these goals interfere
with setting of academic standards. Simply saying that these goals
exists really does not do the job--I mean, just because people play
basketball, does not mean that baseball does not exist, does it?
Thanks, George. For once you are actually being honest.
"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"-G. W. Bush,
Florence, S.C., Jan. 11, 2000
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