Now that Grant Wiggins here has convinced you that your school sucks, you can - surprise! - hire his consulting firm to come into your district and make it not suck! Perhaps you'd like to buy some of Grant's many books and/or curricular materials! How about an on-line course? Or perhaps combine work with play over the summer and stay in beautiful, historic Lambertville, NJ for one of Grant's workshops!
Of course, you can always buy one of the many textbooks Grant put out with the fine folks at Pearson Learning, the company that's probably making more money off of the testing and accountability scam than any other. But hey - like Grant, Pearson must be in this "for the kids," amiright? I mean, to imply otherwise is indulging in a "conspiracy theory"...
Can you tell I am getting damn sick and tired of the sanctimony of those who would beat down America's public schools and America's teaching corps with the lame argument that they don't have an ulterior motive, but "bad" teachers do?
In addition: given the crap teachers have to swallow daily from the non-teachers who now dominate education policy, the argument that "bad teaching" is the reason for "boring schools" is absurd:
Let’s look at student autonomy: I think that it is inarguable that 12th graders in almost every HS in America, public and private, have less intellectual and physical freedom in school than 4-year-old Montessori students. Secondary education in many places is more like a white-collar prison operating on a compliance mentality than a vital learning organization that plays to individual student passions and strengths, and the need to prepare kids for the freedom of college.Here's the problem with this argument: it's hard for students to be free when their teachers aren't. Thanks to top-down, standards-infused, test-based curricula, teachers can't afford to let their students indulge in their "individual passions"; if they do, they'll likely be out of a job. The zeal to hold "bad teachers" accountable has deprofessionalized education: teachers are now parrots, expected to adhere to programs sold by Pearson or ETS or Harcourt or any number of an army of consultants - like Wiggins - who parachute into schools, present their little "revelations" as if they were written on stone tablets on top of Mt. Sinai, then leave, making way for the next "big thing."
Every one of these folks has a schtick about how America is falling behind the rest of the world. Every one of these folks will, on cue, give an impassioned screed about how we must change our schools. Every one of these folks will tell you that it's a new world, and the old paradigms just don't work any more.
And every one of these folks will gladly take your district's check to sell you their latest fix for all the "problems" in our schools. Strange how their cure always seems to match up their diagnosis of your disease, isn't it?
Get your 21st Century schooling right here, folks!
UPDATE: Wiggins replies:
And so on. I case you hadn't guessed, that "cheap shot" is yours truly. I left this reply, but it's "awaiting moderation" as of now:
Let me get this straight, Grant:You write a post excoriating "bad teaching" - mostly on the basis of your personal anecdotes, which you give great weight to through argument by authority.You sanctimoniously question the motivations of those who take Diane's position by positioning yourself as morally superior: "And I’m in this for the kids, not the adults. Kids simply deserve better and no one lobbies primarily for their interests." Like we don't know who you're referring to here...But somehow, I am the one taking the "cheap shot"? Because I point out you have a business interest in promoting the idea that American schools and American teachers stink?Please. It's hardly a cheap shot to call out a cheap shot.The American teacher has been taking it on the chin for a good long time now. Yes, there are good teachers and bad teachers, like there are good and bad plumbers and lawyers and education consultants. There is a roughly normal distribution in quality for just about every human endeavor (at least in the way we humans reify it). Yet, as far as I have ever seen, there is no evidence that the OVERALL quality of teaching in this country is so poor that it is even close to being a major cause of the socio-economic inequity that plagues us, nor any evidence that teaching quality can be improved by the imposition of reformy policies.You urge Diane to choose her words more carefully. I'd suggest you turn that back on yourself. In case you hadn't noticed, Grant, we live in a world where the American teacher is getting beat down and beat down and beat down. Our compensation is being eroded, our workplace protections are being eviscerated, our work is devalued, we're being blamed for all sorts of problems we didn't create, and we are subjected to increasing interference from consultants and policy makers who are little more than educational tourists.Now you come along and pile on. Did you think folks like me, out there every day in the classroom trying our best against the inanities shoved down our throats, are simply going to bend over and meekly intone: "Please sir, may I have another?"I have no problem with efforts to improve the overall quality of teaching; in fact, I welcome them. Like every decent teacher, I have no problem with accountability; in fact, I have no problem with the PROPER use of data to ensure that accountability. I have no issues with you or Pearson or any other vendor making reasonable amounts of money as vendors in our school system. Maybe you have something valuable to contribute - great. Go for it.But please spare me and every other teacher the posturing and the self-righteousness. Please don't pretend your interests are less self-informed than anyone else's. It's embarrassing.
Thus endeth the rant.
UPDATE 2: OK, apparently not:
I take it you ignored all the data I presented. Look, it’s no fun being a teacher now. I know that. And if you know my work and read this blog you know I fight tirelessly on behalf of teachers. I spent 2 frustrating years working for NJDOE on standards clarification, for God’s sake. I have worked for decades to improve teacher work conditions related to planning. But I also have worked tirelessly on behalf of kids, so sometimes teachers get criticized. I am hardly one-sided. If you read all the tweets and comments in this entire blog, you are one of the few painting me in such an absurd way; most people seem to like my intellectual honesty (their word). So, your slash and burn approach to dealing with me may make you feel better but it won’t improve one kid’s life or help both of us improve our craft. Self-righteous? No. Just committed to the cause, like you. Read your words, in cold print, and ask yourself: is this how you wish to be remembered? I think not. PS: I’ll happily come to see you teach if you invite me.To which I replied:
You write a post where you say: “…most schools are not very effective.” You position yourself as in it “for the kids” as a way to imply all those “bad” teachers at those “bad” schools are not.
And yet I’m the one who’s “slashing and burning”? Come on – I didn’t come after you out of the blue, Grant. You deliberately chose your words to evoke a response. Well, now you’ve got it. When you go after the motivations of others, it’s more than fair game for you to get called on your own.
I reread my words all the time. You know what I read? A frustrated teacher who came into this profession only to see it being casually denigrated by folks who throw out irrelevant “evidence” as proof that what he sees every day – committed colleagues giving their best for deserving children – is in truth “not very effective.” Yes I did read the data you presented, and I wasn’t impressed – starting with your blithe dismissal of the Abbott reforms:
(FYI: It’s SFRA now, not Abbott) If I can find the time, I’ll address some of your other points in a later blog post. And I’ll even put away the snark.
You’re hardly the first person to tut-tut at my tone. But I’m hardly the only teacher out there feeling this way (if my hit counter or Daine’s book sales are any indication). Perhaps you should take a moment to ask yourself why that is. Perhaps you should consider that writing “…most schools are not very effective” is a piece of “slash and burn” rhetoric that will likely trigger a strong response from folks like me who are tired of taking it over and over again.
As to visiting my classroom: it is my place of work, not a circus, and I am not some trained seal. I assiduously keep my blogging and policy work separate from my most important job (aside from being a father). Pass.That's all I'll say on Grant's blog. But I do think his "evidence" is worth exploring, if only because his arguments are the same ones I hear over and over again, and most of them are nonsense. Stand by...