(c) Teachers. The Standards recommend variations of the teaching process which, although used occasionally and under appropriate conditions in the past, are now over-emphasized. An example is the extensive utilization of cooperative learning groups. This is a tremendously time-consuming procedure. This recommendation emphasizes once again that the Standards' writer's attitude toward that precious commodity, learning time, is about the same as that of our Federal Government toward our tax money. Spend it lavishly and often not too wisely. Cooperative group learning is an "unfunded mandate" insofar as teacher time is concerned. Let us keep in mind that parents do not send their kids to school to learn from other kids. Moreover, cooperative group learning has a totally unacceptable corollary: group examinations where group performance affects or even determines the individual student's grade.
"Subject teacher time to a terrible drain,
With an assessment system that's hard to explain."
Indeed, many of the instructional procedures advocated by the Standards cannot be characterized as "teaching" in the accepted sense of the word. The dictionary definition depicts the teacher as a director, one who imparts knowledge, an instructor. Teaching suggests the personal relation of master and pupil. (One might proudly say, "I studied under Benoit Mandelbrot.") (Or at an earlier time: "Mr. Fount Warren, my geometry teacher in high school was great. He was a tough grader but he was fair. He really knew his subject and his enthusiasm for it was contagious. Like a great coach, he pushed us to ever higher levels of understanding. One day toward the end of the year a student asked respectfully, 'Mr. Warren, don't you get tired of teaching the same geometry year after year?' He thought for a moment and then replied somewhat as follows. "There are great classic theorems. Every time I present them I see something new. No, I never tire of them any more than a musician would tire of the great symphonies by Brahms, Beethoven or Bach." " I shall always be grateful to Mr. Warren for the indispensable help he gave me in organizing and focusing my ability to think and to communicate my thoughts to others."
On page 245 of the Standards we bid goodbye to the teacher as a "Directive Authority. "The procedures recommended in the Standards (without research justification) require such a drastic modification of the teacher's role that they can no longer be regarded as "teachers" in the accepted sense of the word, "facilitators of learning" perhaps but not "teachers". Much nearer "A guide on the side" than "A sage on the stage." One wonders if these bumper-sticker slogans really convey the "spirit" or is it the "vision" of the Standards. Or is someone suffering from a terminal case of the "cutesies". Well, two can play at that game. Consider the following deadly doggerel. One, two, three, four Old- time methods we ignore Old-time teaching we deplore We think its an awful bore We don't do it anymore.
Two, four, six, eight Since Standards ended all debate We're in a more enlightened state And students face a better fate To let them learn at their own rate Boy, how we facilitate.*
Set to music, this would make a highly appropriate theme song for the Standards-dominated "Council."
Well, it appears that we can no longer use "teachers" in our official designation.