Saturday, December 26, 2009

#2 - Set the regulations for the classroom and be sure that the students follow them.

This is post 2 of series on How not to Teach.

In many modern classrooms it is very easy to forget why the class has come together.  The students are there to learn and the teacher is there to help them learn.  When the teacher becomes obsessed with the process of keeping order in the classroom, the students soon forget why they are in school at all.  The classroom becomes a prison.  In a classroom in which development of independent students is paramount, power is infinite because the emphasis is on empowerment of the student to learn.  It is true that order must be kept in the classroom, but not at the sacrifice of student confidence and faith in themselves..  Empowerment is taught through example,  opportunity and practice.

It is the job of teachers to set up an environment where the students feel a part of a community of learners.  Empowerment, group process and a sense of community must be learned and earned over a period of time by the entire class, including the teacher.  Teachers who see themselves embarking on a venture, in which cooperation is the key, will find that they are participating in a growing, changing, classroom community.  The key word here is community, in a community every one participates in the process of day to day living.  No amount of legislation, dictation or regulation will create a community of learners.  Only a good example and a humble teacher can do that.

This idea of sacrificing individual liberty and learning for the order of the classroom, and by extension the society, comes out of the middle ages when an education was received in monastery from monks.  The monks were into practicing austerity, sacrifice and simplicity.  They also recognized that religions tend to fragment with out a heavy dose of guilt and pain to keep everyone in the same line.  They organized there class rooms like churches with pews and pulpit.  These are all concepts that we don’t really need in the 21st century, but these puritan values remain present still in most classrooms.

This is #2 of 12 Ways to Turn a Teacher into a Prison Guard.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

#1 - Demonstrate your expertise in the classroom from day one and do not allow students to challenge you.

Teachers who are just beginning in the field most commonly follow this rule.  Whenever the students become emotionally involved in what is going on in the classroom, the teacher will step in to calm things down and prevent the class from escaping the teaches control and getting out of hand.  In this way, the teacher stops the learning process, taking control every time the class attempts to go beyond the guidance of the teacher.  No private space or independent development is allowed inside the expert’s schedule and classroom.

No learning is allowed to take place because any true knowledge gained would challenge the teacher’s ability to speak with authority.  The teacher speaks down to the student and is uninterested in what the student offers in the relationship between student and teacher.  The teacher, who is busy showing their expertise off to the students, may or may not notice an attempt by the class to be independent, let alone take the opportunity to facilitate it.  Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  It's important to see how being the all knowing teacher can be a very satisfying, if ineffective role, to play in the classroom.    

This is 1 of 12 ways to turn a teacher into a prison guard.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Intro to 12 ways to turn a Teacher into a Prison Guard.

This series will attempt to examine the 12 basic traditional rules of teaching that block a student’s learning process.  Currently these rules could easily describe the interaction of many classrooms in the U.S. and abroad.  Luckily, many teachers intuitively knew that the twelve rules did not facilitate the learning process.  Growing numbers of people understand that teaching is a process of facilitating empowerment of the student's individual learning process.

The Factory Model remains today the ideal classroom of our culture, despite over a hundred years of reform and progressive attempts to change the system.  The American vision of what a teacher does, is a day filled with drills, spelling tests, read along, sitting in straight rows, and homework.  This system of dealing with kids has evolved from a medieval model into the factory model classroom of the 19th century, a model that was developed and implemented with the management tools and philosophies of that century.  System of education designed to teach Americans a common culture and political apathy.  The current apathy and political listlessness isn’t responsible for a failure of the educational system; the political apathy of the American population is a direct result of that education system

Students and parents need to recognize themselves as consumers of a system of education.   Once a student see they have choices in the school setting with the help of their parent, they begin to take the political power to improve their education.  The public school system is forced to recognize parents who expect their inherent power to change the basic philosophy behind education.  Parents and children can move beyond the consumer choice and create their our own models and ideals for what education means

A revolution in education needs to happen in the United States today.  It is change of philosophy, not method that will rescue American education.  The politics of education is currently defined by a struggle over who will control our schools.   The politics of education can be about cooperating to unleash our youth’s ability to learn and change the world.

Just another update.

Tomorrow I will begin publishing my opus from college on the How to Not Teach or 12 ways to turn a teacher into a prison guard.  This article was written by me during my last semester of college in 1993  I will be updating it for clarity.  These post are actually far more radicle then anything else I have published here before - I wrote this post while researching whole language reading theory and practice and other radicle teaching methods.

I wrote this piece while I was doing a direct for college credit teaching sessions.  That's when I met with a teacher for an hour a week, did additional independent work and got a full college credit for a class.  If I had only known about this when I started college I would have done all or most of my class work this way. 

On another note my process on this blog had changed -
1) am editing my work with a much lighter heart.
2) Wow  I am editing my writing at all. Amazing
3) I have become very comfortable with sharing non main stream ideas about education.
4) Those ideas have defiantly developed.

I hope you enjoy this series...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Feeling an impact

I have been writing the dyslexic storytellers blog for the past two years for mostly my own sense of self recognition and self respect - perhaps a little bit of pure need for release of frustrations relating to dyslexia.  During that time I have had a view calls  from people who are parents of dyslexic children and that has been exciting.   Mostly because I care so much and secondly the assumption that the average American starts off with about the meaning of the words dyslexia, learning disabilities and schooling boggle my mind.

Recently I received two calls that have forced me to stop and examine my goals for this blog.  One is an invitation to attend the Diamonds in the Rough conference in Washington D.C. to be interviewed on some of the topics I have written about here on the blog.   The 2nd call is from the editor of one of the most commonly used special ed text books in university settings who shall remain nameless for the moment.   She had some questions - The point is this blog is having a bigger impact then I realized and so I am going to think about how I can refocus and redouble my work for the immediate future - I want to move beyond questioning the approach to dyslexia in modern society - I want to find a new approach - I want to move away from issues of integration of dyslexic students and examine how dyslexic students can live in modern society as themselves.

What does it mean to be dyslexic and not be limited by it?
What does it mean to grow up never feeling stupid or side lined?
How have people who are dyslexic found happiness in this world?

In faith that there are answers...

Eric Wolf