> Robert Hansen Posted: May 29, 2012 7:42 AM > > >Shouldn't teachers play more of a role in designing > >curricula than non teaching professors? > > I do not think this is a major issue. First, > st, there is fluidity between classroom teachers and > ed school ayatollahs; lots of ayatollahs start as > classroom teachers. Furthermore, there is a lot of > contact and collaboration between the two groups, and > at least a few classroom teachers do publish their > observations and experiences in trade journals and > even in what passes for peer reviewed journals. > > Second, one would hope that developments in > in pedagogy and curricula would be based on > scientific investigation. Classroom teachers are > rarely in a position to conduct research. It is > quite like the difference between medical researchers > and medical practitioners. > > Finally, the ed school ayatollahs cannot impose > ose their theories onto the classroom teachers. On > the one hand, the ayatollahs must convince the > teachers (or their principals or their district > superintendents) of the rightness of their theories, > and on the other hand teachers (there are heroes > among us) will ignore educational fatwas. >
Haim, I have to disagree with all of the above. Giving teachers more freedom and responsibility to design curriculum, and more time to collaborate with one another, would definitely have a positive effect. Teachers do not have the freedom or influence that you imply. As an example, I have had more than one seasoned teacher look around furtively then whisper to me, "I'm not supposed to teach phonics, but I do it anyway." Only those close to retirement, at least in my district, have the confidence to teach what they know to be effective, rather than what is handed down from on high.
And scientific inquiry seems to be the problem rather than the solution. How many hundreds of studies are there showing that Reading Recovery or Connected Math or Investigations, etc., are effective? All done by those with a vested interested, of course, but still presented to teachers and curriculum directors as proof positive. In teaching, experience through trial and error is a far better educator. If our teachers had the knowledge (and unfortunately most do not because of our ed schools) and the freedom to write curriculum, they would know immediately if something wasn't working and they could try a different approach. The depth of knowledge one gains from developing curriculum would also improve the quality of teaching.
I don't have the statistics to back me up, but I question whether many ed school ayatollahs start as teachers. In my experience, most of them have hardly set foot in a K-12 classroom, and therein lies the problem. I told the story here once of my son's 8th grade history teacher, one of the best I have ever come across, who had to sit through an inservice about how to teach middle schoolers despite 30 years experience doing just that. Our district had transitioned from a junior high model to a middle school model, and apparently this move fundamentally altered junior high 8th graders into middle school 8th graders, such that we needed an inservice. It was taught by a fresh-faced, recently graduated ed school ayatollah who, of course, having never spent time in a middle school as a teacher, knew everything there was to know about middle school.
It is unfortunate that we don't recruit more teaching veterans into ed schools.