0174: #Teaching, a noble profession? In a noble field?
#education #SOSchat #occupyedu
A friend of mine and I were discussing an assessment class he is taking to complete his teacher certification. He said, “It feels like an homage to standardized testing, and everyone’s buying it—even the professor.” We’ve had numerous discussions along this line throughout his teacher education training. A topic that resurfaces time and again is the propaganda that is shared, spewed, and reiterated from some of his should be mentors. Other professors are a little more straight forward. “It’s like they’re pumping us up to go into battle,” he mentioned, “they tell us what we’re doing is noble, but I don’t know if I agree.”
His crisis is valid. We are members of a profession that is called noble by those within, without, and above; and then demonized by those same people. But, above all we’re taught, pumped up, to believe what we’re doing is noble, especially if we’re following the rules, keeping quiet, and maintaining the status quo.
So is it a noble profession? Is education a noble field? I’d like to think so, I’ve given a nice hunk of my life to it. What are we to make of what we’re taught to think? How do we tease the good from the bad? I’ll do my best to do some personal teasing, what I don’t do, or do wrong, you can work on.
The field of education is not in and of itself noble. The system itself is quite corrupt and at least highly dysfunctional. It works for some, and leaves quite a few more with scraps and in the cold. Could the Wobbly adage “An injury to one is an injury to all” be applicable to inequitable system? It most certainly could and should. Our system and its mechanisms are inviting attitude that would oppose this line of thinking. “My school functions well”, “My students have good scores.”,”I’m a good teacher.” might function as rationale to demonize or at least disregard the experience of another teacher as bad, ill-informed, or dysfunctional. Perhaps this is why the field is not noble. There is no merit in supporting one’s neighbor. As if the notion of “neighbor” were permitted in many of these testing factories. How many of us have experienced teacher isolation simply because we were to busy.
If the field, as is, is not noble, then what is to be gleaned from this trash heap? Some schools, districts, teachers, and students thrive. Others struggle to stay afloat, but they give it their all. There is no accounting for the myriad reasons why some students do better than others, though there is ample research to say why. We know that some teachers are more effective than others, at times, and at other times are just as useless as the worst of us—at least that’s how we might feel if we’re honest. So where is the nobility?
It’s in the people, of course. It’s in our willingness to fight, though not always on a unified front, for our students. It’s in the ability to see beyond one’s own classroom, no matter how difficult, and support and understand a struggling colleague (near or far). It’s in our ability to do what we know is best, because we are professionals and we have critical minds, despite what we are told is best. This system is failing because the best interest of the stakeholders is not guaranteed by its biggest investors.
Our power is in our refusal to be pawns, and our refusal to swallow the pill. What’s best for profits is not what’s best for kids. We are noble when we teach critically. We are noble when we stand for the learners in our care. We are strong together.
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.