0184: Punitive Silence: Baiting Students for Trouble
#education #punishment #strange #SOSchat
I’ve written a bit in the past, long past, about a disciplinary practice my school implements called “Silence”. Basically, students are deemed to be too loud or “unruly” in the halls, or tardy, or whatever, and administration implements a sort of punitive silence. And, while I don’t like it, and notice that it causes more problems in the classroom, I can understand the logic of it—usually. An undesired behavior occurs, so a consequence is given. Makes sense.
Today’s “silence” is a bit unusual. An announcement was made that we would be “going on ‘silence’ to teach our new seventh graders about how things work here…and if [they] don’t obey, they will be placed in Saturday School…”. This seems a little out of line to me. It’s kind of like a playground bully punching you in the nose for the Hell of it just so you’ll know what it feels like—a preventative ass whooping if you will.
I may be out of touch, or out of line, but this seems innocently dystopian (whatever that means).
0159: Punitive Silence: Quiet Halls and Raucous Classrooms
#education #SOSchat #discipline
Our students have been ‘on silence’ for the past week. ‘On Silence’ means students aren’t permitted to talk at all between classes. This is a punitive measure enforced when students are deemed too loud in the halls, are preparing for an upcoming test, if someone got into a fight the day before, an array of arbitrary reasons, and so forth. Such group contingencies, at least in our case, breed an atmosphere of resentment among the student population. Time between classes is a valuable time for minimal socialization between classes. They have no break during the day besides lunch. One lunch period is silent or kept under militaristic rule and the other is social. There’s little time to release the pressure for students outside of class. As one might figure, days when we are ‘on silence’ result in more unruly behavior in the classroom. But, this doesn’t seem to register with the decision makers. C’est la vie I suppose.
0160: The Enforcement of Punitive Silence (follow up)
polygonal-lasso answered: How in the world do you enforce silence? And I’ve never seen broad punishments do more than make most students, even “good” ones, resentful.
coloursinaflower answered: How is the silence enforced?
First, the silence in enforced randomly. Obviously, students are going to disobey this order. It’s beyond ridiculous. As students walk from class to class, teachers monitor, under the panoptic supervision of administration. Several of the ‘monitors’ echo the rule: “we’re on silence,” they yell. Sometimes administration walks around yelling the same thing. A cognizant colleague walks past me and says: “I’d say good morning, but we’re on silence.” I still haven’t gotten around to how the silence is enforced. I’ll continue. The mechanics of how it is enforced is actually quite brilliant, but this is only by accident or plum luck (unfortunately, I don’t work for a sinister master of thought control), and there is little connection to possible negative consequences of the ‘Silence’. As I’ve said, it is enforced randomly. Students who are caught talking are pulled out of the crowd and receive one of a few punishments. Some are disappeared to In School Suspension (ISS). Others are given Saturday school. And others still might fall victim to corporal punishment. Mechanically, many students comply publically out of
fear of the punishment. Other students rebel openly. Some prefer ISS to classes. Some have to come on Saturdays for “mandatory tutoring”. These students are required to come because of test scores. Most are old enough not to fear the paddle. It hurts, but they’re a little older. But, these students are outliers. Most fall in line to avoid the punishment, and let their steam out in the classroom.
This is detrimental to the learning environment. The classroom, for many, becomes an extension of the rigid hallway rules. Students are going to get their socialization in one way or another. To manufacture a learning environment teachers have a few choices. 1) They can implement the same sort of discipline in the classroom. Disruptors are removed and disciplined. 2) The teacher can completely surrender and accept chaos. Learning is
also minimal with this option. 3) Compromise is an option. With this are an array of innovative tools that can be employed to ensure an amicable learning environment.
I hope this answered some questions. Perhaps it stimulated some more. Do share good friends.
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.
0089: What does in mean to be a rebellious #teacher?
#education #revolution #occupy
Being a rebellious teacher requires one thing: a commitment to your students. And, that is where the language becomes tricky. We’re constantly reminded that we must be committed to our students. We must provide them a world class education at all costs, but by world class education they mean we must deliver high test scores. Countless phrases and sanctions bind us to the test. Documentaries, political speeches, reformers, parents, administrators, and many teachers, even a few students have bought into the lie that test scores indicate our level of commitment to our students. We have been bullied into harming our own students.
If we are committed to our students, then we must take on a different understanding of the word commitment. We must commit to building a critical consciousness among our students and colleagues. We must commit to deviating from the curriculum whenever possible to nurture our learners’ curiosity. We must commit to helping our students connect everything they learn within and outside of the curriculum. We must commit to throwing mindless test prep out the window for the sake of building critical thinkers. Simultaneously, we must engage in critical teaching of the prescribed curriculum in order to keep our jobs. However, this must never be what drives teaching. Teaching is an exchange between learners. All are learners and all are teachers. If students are engaged critically they can learn to beat the test; further, they can learn the reasons for the test and the harm it causes.
We can no longer call ourselves teachers if we give in to the temptation of just maintaining our jobs by delivering meaningless test scores. Our schools aren’t failing. Our children are being failed by a system that equates them with arbitrary numbers. Education should be humanizing. Teachers, stick to your instinct to really teach. Testing is not teaching. If you think it is, reevaluate your understanding of teaching. We’re all fighting for ourselves, our jobs, that’s understandable, but we have to make sure we are advocating for our students above all else. The next generation has a right to critical thought. They deserve the ability to question and reason and think. Help them. Be rebellious.
0082: 7th Grade Student reflections on participating in SOPA Blackout and Calling U.S. Reps
#BlackoutSOPA #Democracy #education
These are a few of the responses my students wrote regarding their participation in their democracy. Keep in mind they are in the seventh grade. Additionally, the school is nearly 100% free lunch, and we are at risk of being taken over by the state for test scores. Does testing assess this?
I felt surprised and excited at the same time. I felt those ways because asking someone to vote against SOPA and PIPA was the first time I been a part of helping. I was surprised because I had never associated with anyone from Washington D.C. before. I was excited because the next day they started changing their mind.
Yesterday, by calling the National Senate to vote against SOPA and PIPA, I felt like I did something extremely historical and important. I had this feeling because I felt that I did something that would’ve helped everyone later in life. By keeping this a law or enforcing it will lower our intelligence and cause a lot of problems later on in life. Being a part of this moment of history will be remembered. No free Internet is just like having a school with no children. Going against this, I know made history.
What I did yesterday was amazing. I did something that could change history. I told someone to vote against SOPA and PIPA. It’s a blackout. We called Washington DC and ask if they could go against SOPA and PIPA because we need the Internet for school and so we can do projects. And now they’re going to vote on it on January 24 2012
I felt so important asking them to vote against SOPA and PIPA. It made me feel good about myself of what I did. I was happy about calling the senators. That was the best thing I did that day. When I got home I wanted to call them again, I wanted to tell my whole family about it.
So yesterday we protested and I feel good because we helped someone. Most of the people I helped were my very own school mates. We need the Internet and its websites. We should vote against PIPA because it affect information and free rights to download things and post things so just vote against it for the sale of every child’s learning.
0081: SOPA Blackout, #Occupy, and #Anonymous Taught My Class the Value of #Democracy and Protest
#revolution #sschat #educ
We’ve been discussing social movements, protests, and democracy in my fine arts classes of all places. We’ve been learning songs from social movements, protest songs and all. Our learning has been aided by the occupy movement, anonymous, and the Blackouts against SOPA and PIPA. Yesterday, during the blackout my class and I called the representatives from our area, and asked via speaker phone that they vote to keep information free for everyone. The passage of this type of legislation would have a huge impact on us as a class. We rely heavily on the internet and our ability to pull from and add to it, not just in class, but in our daily lives. Today we discussed the impact of the blackout, and our class call. Several heard this morning that some senators were backing down from SOPA and PIPA. We confirmed this, but understand that this isn’t final. My learners were elated to have been a part of something so monumental. They wrote reflections. I’ll post those separately. I witnessed new students today. They were more human than yesterday. They were somehow older. Wiser. They were not children; rather, they were powerful citizens who had just discovered their voices. Is this how revolutionaries are born?
0075: Re: The US Third World, Its Children, and the Obligation of Educators
#teaching #poverty #literacy #revolution #occupy
I teach, like many of you, invisible children in an invisible neighborhood. They are, to many, the nameless, faceless children of the third world within these United States. They will grow up witnessing violence and drug use. They will be victims of violence. They will commit acts of violence. They will be victims of every sort of abuse imaginable. They will be unemployed and incarcerated. Many have been incarcerated many times already, some as young as ten years old. They are told that a good education is the way out of their situation, but they are served a steady, non-critical diet of tests and test preparations. They are passed from grade to grade without every fully becoming literate. They’re born into an unfair playing field that has a glass ceiling. Their schools are often filled with well-meaning, but overwhelmed teachers who fear for their jobs and are thereby tied to the test training program. The students who need critical thinking skills are taught to consume. They are taught to listen and not speak. They are taught that if they do speak no one will hear. They are taught that no one has time to listen because there is a test in the near future that is more important than their needs as human beings. The school system that has taken over the job of Parent neglects them emotionally and spiritually.
These offenses to humanity are evident to teachers and others who struggle within these environments. But to many, they are legends and ghosts. The learners in these schools are without voices to bear witness to the injustices they endure. Their voices are never developed by the people who are in the position to aid in their development. They are too busy following orders to nurture the curious minds at their feet.
The American Third World is silenced by the system that claims to give it a voice. Oppression is allowed by making oppression incomprehensible. Teachers must teach critically. They must turn their attention to helping learners come to an understanding of the systems economic, educational, political that perpetuate their oppression. It is our job as teachers to bear witness to the injustice before us, and give voices to the voiceless. It is not acceptable to simply “teach” according to plan. Teaching must be authentic and problem based. The curriculum provided is sufficient only to keep a segment of society starving and dependent.
Teaching is a revolutionary act. It transcends curriculum, test scores, and systems. Teachers bear witness. Readers do the same. Education is a tool for social mobility, but only when learning occurs— only when learning is critical.
Yours very truly,
0074: #Occupy and #Anonymous in the Classroom: To Censor is to Lie
@UnicornsImage #censorship #discourse #legion
I received a response to a Tweet I made regarding the importance of helping students understand the occupy movement. The response stated: “@educatedtodeath Teachers should TEACH our kids not BRAINWASH them! #ows DOES NOT belong in ANY curriculum!” I tweeted back that I agreed. The Occupy Movement does not belong in a standardized curriculum, but it should not be hidden from students.
This movement is the first time in many of our lives that we have seen or been a part of people, from We the People, standing up and fighting (peacefully) back against a systemic injustice. People are standing in solidarity exercising their constitutional rights, just as they have in other social movements throughout history. This should not, cannot be ignored by teachers. First, it’s an incredibly teachable moment. History is unfolding before us, and with us. We are included. But, more important than the educational teachable moment, we have people becoming powerful without all the typical means to power: money, guns, etc. The people of the Occupy Movement and Anonymous are acting civilly to represent the people. This is a truly democratic movement, standing against myriad injustices. Do we not teach to build critical thinkers? Is praxis not the goal of a critical education? Democracy runs on informed action of the people I believe. For that to occur, information must flow freely. It would be the greatest injustice to demonize or hide the action of the people from our children. They are the stakeholders in the future. They are we. And, we are legion.