There is much less disagreement here than meets the eye.
>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.
The only independence I mean to imply is the independence between practitioners (teachers and administrators) and theoreticians (the ed school ayatollahs). What a teacher can or cannot do in the face of mandates from her principal or superintendent is a wholly different matter.
In other words, if a district superintendent is persuaded by the ed school ayatollahs, in the matter of, say, phonics, then teachers will be bound by the mandates of their superintendent. I think the ed schools are enormously influential (read: "destructive"), but they do not have legal or bureaucratic authority.
>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?
No, no, no. There is nothing scientific about the work of the ed school ayatollahs. This was the point I just made to Bob,
The ed schools are not the least scientific; they are totally ideological.
>...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.
Ah, but now you are telling us something about yourself. I believe you have a scientific inclination (I have always thought so), and I am sure other teachers have, as well. But there are plenty of teachers who are as ideological, or honestly ignorant, as the ed school ayatollahs. We will not find salvation in individual teachers writing their own curricula. One could write a whole essay on just that point, alone. Actually, somebody already has,
>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.
It is a complex picture, and we are both right. There are plenty of both cases. I have reason to think there are even a few ed school professors who are aware of the stupidity and destructiveness of much of what comes out of the ed schools, and they even try to ameliorate some of that.
>It is unfortunate that we don't recruit more teaching >veterans into ed schools.
Ah, but now you touch up an essential question: what is a school of education? Once upon a time, "normal schools" were in the business of training teachers. Full stop. Now, they fancy themselves research institutions, and faculty are under pressure to produce original research.
Well, you can see the problem. It is one thing to produce original work if you are a molecular biologist or plasma physicist, fields in which each answer seems to generate ten more questions. It is quite another thing to produce original work if you are trying to figure out how to teach fractions to 10 yr olds. The problem is that fractions have not change since the Middle Ages, and ten yr olds have not change since "the year gimel".* There are just not that many open questions kicking around anymore---which is exactly the basis for Haim's Challenge, http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=6300122&tstart=0
Haim Shovel ready? What shovel ready? - -------------- * A Jewish expression referring to year three since the creation of the world. We are now in the year 5772 by the Hebrew calendar.