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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 know.

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 other).

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.

That's "prospective".

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 well.

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 academic achievement.

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 are not?

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