A Promised Intelligence

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October 2, 2014 by baldaufbr

Despite having began the draft weeks early, I found myself without the time to complete it yet again until the last minute.  That being said, when the internet decides to die despite all attempts to resuscitate, who am I to argue more than once?  If you want to be dead, be dead!  See if I care.

You forget; I LIKE books.

Let’s begin, I think, with Kyle’s punishment.  Or better yet, let’s not.

There’s nothing quite like a Sunday morning coffee with the gentle patter of desert rain on the window to set the mood for opening a can of worms.  If you throw in the wafting scent of caramelizing onions with maple, I’d say I’ve really outdone myself.  The Orange Brown Sugar caramelized bananas are just in case there’s any question of my status as Waffle God.  The even lighting cast by the sun behind clouds is a stark contrast to the explosive release that is about to occur as I attempt to remain calm and intelligent in unraveling all of the disjointed malfunctions occurring in even the small facet I’ve entered of a kitchen with too many cooks, fingers in every pot, and a shop on every corner: education.

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Brilliant!

 

Policy–

Education policy was stuck in an early-20th century mindset for a very long time.  It promoted the ideals and skills kids needed to become a functional member of the mostly hardworking, middle-class workforce.  Though the mindset has doubtlessly shifted over the years, back https://desperateandunrehearsed.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1516&action=editand forth like everything else, we’re on the precipice of what will be the largest update to our policy in its history.  There are many people who despise the first big change and many who seek to defend it at every turn.

The Common Core Standards, quite simply, make people nervous.  They are perceived as a one-size-fits-all situation that leave no room for flexibility or non-traditional learning styles or they are regarded as a be-all-end-all for American education, and in many ways this is what they could become.  What people fail to consider is the role of the teacher and the agency of the public.

The standards writers will preach to the masses that the standards simply create a uniformity on what to teach, while leaving it completely open on the how.  This allows for states, districts, schools, and classrooms to set their own styles into motion to achieve the mastery of any given skill.  Again, take all official statements for what they are, but hope that enough of the truth slipped in that it’s mostly still there.

The implementation of the standards, when you get down to the dirty bits, is entirely on the teacher (though heavily reliant on the support of the school/district).  This is why 20-year veterans are upset about the standards: their tried and true methods are no longer fully applicable to the grade specifications, so they have to change.  New teachers don’t know any better, so there are little to no complaints beyond the initial stress of actually looking at the seemingly endless stream of coded scoped and sequenced skills that students are to master.  This alone is enough to stir up mild discontent among the ranks.

As I said, the standards make people nervous, even at the very use of the word ‘standard.’  However, it is perfectly within the teacher’s capability—as in situations like mine where it is of utmost necessity—to still create engaging lessons, have fun with learning, and equip students with the social and/or professional skills they need to succeed in life.  It takes effort and, I’ll admit, more time and resources than I am even close to being paid for, but it is possible.

What’s more is that people regard policy with a sense of permanence that it should not be afforded.  Education policy could stand to be reassessed and altered every 5-10 years (or more, but let’s face it, it’s government) to keep up with the ever-changing shifts in technology and skills that young people need to enter the workforce of tomorrow.  We cannot fall into another 100-year system that leaves us crippled at the end of our rope, dangling at the mercy of our history.

Funding–

The long and short of it is that we’re short on it.  Salaries are low, budgets are lower, and everybody knows it.  The problem that I see is the growing expectation—think very carefully about that word, expectation—that “we’re not in it for the money.”  The truth of that statement is undeniable for me, but the readiness at which an administration, a union, or the public can throw that in the face of a teacher is rather upsetting.  It would be best if nobody did anything “for the money” but the work (time AND effort) were valued anyway.

The thrusting of such a moral presumption to the forefront of an entire career provides the excuse the world needs to ascribe half the value it presupposes by its prideful high ground.  It is a popular notion that schools are operating more like business than schools.  I’d say it’s true, but a business so poorly funded and clearly understaffed would be sure to collapse in just about six months.

Measurable”–

The area where schools most resemble a business is in the search for measurable data.  Students are to be the input on the flowchart of your classroom, spitting out piece after piece of diagnostic, formative, and summative assessment to ensure that the machine is functioning properly according to the standards aligned planning.

All of this is terribly useful and proven effective, but it leaves little room for the parts of instruction that work on the now-foreign “people skills” that were sure to lead to success in whatever capacity you wished.  Now they hand you a computer, work you like a cog,  and wonder why you haven’t learned much.

http://stubbornthoughts.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/bored-clapping-hermione.gif?w=560

Now to the matter of punishment:

Kyle will provide a full review of a café menu (including the seasonal pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin spice chai, and pumpkin spice blended drink) from the point of view of a college age/20-something female.  Video optional.

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