0125: Dear #Students, Take Back Your #Education
#SOSchat @DianeRavitch #occupyedu #revolution
What will it take for learners to take matters of testing into their own hands? Can it be done? Students subconsciously resist abusive testing practices through ‘means’ that have created the classroom management focus we have today. Resistance, conscious or subconscious, is not an option. The human spirit requires rebellion to counter oppression— always. But, what will it take to move this rebellion to the front of the mind? What will be the catalyst for a truly organized kids liberation? Voices from teachers and parents ring loudly against the constant onslaught of corporate reforms and ridiculous education practices. We talk and talk. We continue to teach, when and how we can. Students continue to struggle. The learners are beneath the heel of this entire debacle.
What would happen if, come test day, students didn’t show up at all? What if they all showed up with, say, a stomach bug and soiled all the testing materials with vomit? What if they broke their no. 2 pencils and walked out? What if learners all stood up and demanded to be taught? What if they halted all education until it became their education?
Children are being treated as pawns in this education nightmare. No one should be a victim of his/her education. No one.
Until some mass resistance by students PK-12 begins to end this crisis, there will be minimal change, a lot of rhetoric, and wasted education. We will stand beside you as you continue resisting in your souls and actions. But, we are adults, we grow more and more powerless, we divide into camps and fear for our jobs. We do not have the answer here. The time has come for the children’s liberation once again. Perhaps there is a Mother Jones among you, us, or they? Learners unite, and demand your education. It’s time to flip this pyramid on its point.
Please pass this along. Give it to students, teachers, parents. Education can no longer be denied and deformed.
0093: They were “taught” or “helped to learn”? Directing our #language to benefit our students
#education #revolution #occupyedu
Teaching is quickly being reduced to a process of depositing information in the minds of our students for the simple purpose of them regurgitation the info onto a bubble sheet. Good teaching = good test scores. Good test scores = caring teacher. A = B and B = FU. We’re in this terrible cycle of educational propaganda that tugs at the hearts, minds, and souls of teachers. We’re confused. The triangle has been called a circle so much we no longer know the difference. So, we must combat this by reworking our language.
Rather than teaching, we must assist learning. I “taught” them the quadratic formula can no longer suffice. It must be replaced with “I helped them to learn the quadratic formula and its applications”. This simple restructuring of a phrase is the difference in a paternalistic teaching practice, and helping a learner become critically aware. With the changing terms comes a change of mindset—a transformation. It requires, me, the teacher to view myself as an assistant, rather than a ruler. It forces humility. It requires a benevolent and democratic spirit to admit the small role of helping someone else learn. “I taught” is an exceptionally self-aggrandizing statement. “I taught” gives credit where credit should be shared.
I am asking you to join me in the challenging task of replacing paternalistic language with democratic language in the teaching practice. It will be a challenge, and a slew of failures. It’s necessary for me to teach with the intent of building a democratic critical consciousness among my students and myself. We must redefine teaching with our language. Our actions will change as our consciousness grows. We must reclaim teaching from the deformers and the testers. We must help our people.
0004: On the beauty of student resistance and teenage rebellion
I’ve noticed over the course of my teaching career that students, particularly teenagers, are reluctant to comply. Some outright refuse. In turn, teachers, myself included, get angry and come up with some punitive measure to force their compliance, or simply send them to the office with a referral. And, then we expect them to think for themselves. Is it so terrible that they don’t comply easily? Should we react so harshly to what is quite natural? I don’t think so.
I understand that for teaching to occur there must be order; but, what about learning? What about development as productive individuals. It seems that are efforts to contain this seemingly rebellious spirit of youth only function to either completely defeat the student and leave them paralyzed by simple decisions that require the smallest bit of independent thought, or they leave school criminalizes by the people who were supposed to educate them. So what else should or could be done? Their resistance should perhaps be redirected. Made productive. That rebellious spirit should be nurtured. It’s everything that is required in a democratic society. We currently educate for conformity and control. The paradigm must shift to allow for students to strive creatively and collaboratively to solve problems that are relevant to them and their community at first, and then move to problems that are further reaching. Rather than classrooms there should be think-tanks, field tests, and production. Freire called it problematicization of education. This immediately and directly opposes the banking model of education that leaves students passive. Anyone working for a real and tangible problem works harder and gains more.
Many college departments and medical schools are using models that involve problem-based and cooperative learning. Those forms are simply more effective means of instruction simply because it puts the power and responsibility in the hands of the students. The teachers are no longer educating; rather, they are facilitating and even participation in the group learning. There are movements trying to shift classroom teaching this way, but many teachers are reluctant.
The teachers I have worked with are usually uncomfortable relinquishing power to the students. My best moments as a teacher have been when I stood back from my prescribed authoritarian role and just let ‘em figure it out on their own. People crave choice and the opportunity to create. If we only consume then our spirits become bloated. Just as writing and publication should be the result of study and synthesized thought, so should the production of information and critical distribution of information. Students are bloated from consumption, or perhaps empty and numbed from the barrage of information that is never connected to them.
Again, I ask myself the question: is student rebellion so awful? It sure is irritating, but when they’re getting what they need they’re perfect. Somehow we have to consistently create those moments that allow our students true genius to exist and thrive.