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Topic: Teachers (Part 8-c of Open Letter)
Replies: 2   Last Post: Dec 17, 1995 1:09 PM

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Frank Allen

Posts: 17
Registered: 12/6/04
Teachers (Part 8-c of Open Letter)
Posted: Dec 14, 1995 10:35 AM
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(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.






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