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Topic: 'The Hard Part' of Teaching
Replies: 2   Last Post: Jul 8, 2014 5:41 PM

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kirby urner

Posts: 3,690
Registered: 11/29/05
Re: 'The Hard Part' of Teaching
Posted: Jul 8, 2014 10:21 AM
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On Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 2:54 AM, Richard Strausz <> wrote:

> Most posters to Math Teach aren't classroom teachers. I thought they might
> get something from 'The Hard Part' which was posted on Huffington Post by
> Peter Greene.

Well written.

I've been a high school classroom teacher, and in terms of grading papers
taking time, I continue to teach on-line in a "grading" capacity although
we don't dispense letter grades in our protocol. [1] My teaching comes in
the feedback I give on projects and quizzes (the things that I grade).
Sometimes my feedback includes URLs -- not so easily shared by paper and

When one reads this Huffington Post article as a student, the message is:
I the teacher will never have enough time *for you*. As a student, I get
used to that. I see my over-worked teacher in the front of the room and do
not begrudge that he still doesn't know my name in the blur of faces he has
to confront every day. He will never have time to really get to know me.

The relationship is not collegial but it is at least institutional
(structured). If it's a "good school" we're on the same team whereas in a
"bad school" there's an inter-generational authority struggle making
"behavior" the main theme (very little about actually learning in a crummy
"school" beyond how to fit in and keep your head down, if you know what's
good for ya).

Then, as a student, I think of my study space at home. I'm one of the
fortunate in having a safe place with good bandwidth. Here at school, I
have to jostle to get on a computer (not counting the smartphone) and we're
not encouraged to watch 'Secret Lives of Machines' on Youtube, in any

I actually learn a lot more when at home some days, though that's an
unstructured environment when it comes to learning and who wants to just
study more when released from the "real" school?

In the old days, according to our stories, the rich and privileged, such as
princes and princesses, got private tutors. Public school is for the rank
and file being prepped from (a) factory jobs (b) military service (c)
government bureaucracy. At least that's the old model. The 1% have their
own academies while the 99% get herded into quaint / obsolete buildings and
made to toe some line their government has drawn for them to toe.

Interesting system, didn't prove sustainable.[3]

"Where are school reformy folks in this metaphor?" We get some answers to
this rhetorical question, but the cast of players should include a shifting
tax base and more tax payers that would like more support and write-offs
for "keeping junior at home" and/or enrolling junior in alternative

Those players include the circling vulture voucherists (if they think
religious institutions should get the tax money), but what if the
alternative programs are secular, also run by the public, for the public?
What if "we the people" decide to experiment with other models, including
more mentor-based apprenticeships? That could get interesting. Stay tuned.





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