Girls Gone Wild Is Bad News

8 02 2007

Y’all see this yet? My hard copy was in the mailbox last night. I was reading it when the news of Anna Nicole Smith flashed on TV news.

If you read it online instead of from the newsstand, there’s an accompanying slide show or photo gallery feature, of scandalous girls through time — whatever they call it. Racy women through the ages?

Mentioning it now because it seems such an omnipresent part of “PUBLIC” education of our children and teens these days. It may not be compulsory but it sure can be compelling.

“The media can become a sort of sexual super-peer,” says the author of the article on same in the journal Pediatrics.

Culture. Power of Story. The strange scripts people live (and die) by . . .

Blow the Whole Damn Thing Up

8 02 2007

Book review excerpts by Richard Sorenson:

“It’s worth a chuckle or two, and at the very least, a scratch of the head!”

“Inside the Board Room: Reflections of a Former School Board Member” by Howard Good is an easy-to-read sequel to his first book, “Educated Guess: A School Board Member Reflects.” This hodge-podge compilation of philosophical essays, often in the form of cynical analyses about a series of educational topics, begins with the issue of school reform.

Good readily notes, probably to the dismay of many educational reformers, that school improvement has been nothing more than “one continuous cautionary tale about the futility of searching for quick fixes to complex problems” . . . what he does suggest is that “we blow the whole damn thing up and start over” (p. 9).

Such an assessment is based on his level of expertise which must have culminated, as he describes, “sometime during my second term on the school board [when] I had served long enough by then to finally realize the truth…that the system can’t be rehabilitated, only replaced” . . .

Bribery, Authority and Other Teacher Scripts

8 02 2007

The young “teacher” here is bad enough (not amusing, imo) but the comments in response –assuring her that bribery is what life’s all about — are downright Unthinking. Comment #5 agrees bribery is bad, so you should just reframe it as good, and then all go celebrate!

Is Alfie Kohn out of print or something??

February 6, 2007
Bribery: Confessions of a [Teach for America] middle school teacher

. . .So is it so bad that I bribe children? I had never been one for extrinsic rewards, believing that students must learn and appreciate the intrinsic value of education. But lately, as I’ve come to work with students with more severe negative behavior issues, I have found myself
adding bribery to my list of sins.
With Corey, I began bartering fruit for appropriate behaviors. With my English class, I’ve agreed to serve hot cocoa on Fridays if they work properly until the end of the week. And now, I find myself setting up a new mini math goal for our students that ultimately revolves around bribery.

. . . I needed to refocus our class. We need to raise these skills and scores. I was especially troubled because math problem solving skills are at the cornerstone of everyday life skills. These deficits are the primary reasons why my students are cheated out of their change at Wal-Mart and why they are afraid to order food at McDonald’s.

So what’s my strategy for solving this problem? Bribe ’em. . . .
We’ll spend an afternoon in town eating out on the school’s dime. Not too shabby. They bought into it. We’re revved up once again to practice word problems. Bribery works. (At least to a certain extent.)

But you know what? As guilty as I feel about bribing my students to do work they need to do to begin with, I still sleep just fine at night. Because little do they realize, menu ordering, restaurant budgeting and tip calculating are all part of life skills.
And life skills are really about being able to solve problems.

Thinking on a bit further — teaching skills are life skills, also about being able to solve problems. But in problems inside or outside school, there always will be known parameters, givens to which any acceptable solution must accommodate itself. Lying, cheating, stealing, force and compulsion, seduction and abuse, et cetera are outside those parameters.

So is bribery, in my opinion but more significantly, in THIS case. The teachers admit it right in the blog, that Teach for America says “no bribery” allowed in solving your teaching problems.

So what does this inexperienced, under-prepared “teacher” do, to help students “with severe negative behavior issues” or, those who she refers to in another of her polemics as “mentally challenged?”

Easy! She simply violates that parameter, along with violating her reported personal beliefs, all because it seems expedient at the time — and then she justifies it as being for the kids’ own good, as some sort of secret solution she’s so proud to have discovered (my, what personal quests she is enjoying before age 30, after Chinese cram schools, journalism and TFA! She’ll write a book about this, probably already has the contract signed.)

THAT is what she’s really modeling as life skill, not restaurant or employment math skills for mentally challenged Navajo kids raised on a reservation. (Will these kids ever be academic stars, journalists, authors, exceptional teachers?) It may work for her, get her through the year with something controversial to talk about, but what about kids whose lives, culture, needs and abilities needs bear little or no relationship to hers?

On two related notes: I feel myself getting cranky about all these overconfident, overschooled but under-equipped twenty-somethings, whose school success as an “achiever” makes them think they actually know all the answers to Life, with nothing left to learn from anyone. Maybe the real problem with education politics is coming from the kind of student mind School invariably puts on the top of the heap and sends into the world to teach, chair education committees, etc.? If there’s truth to this, then educating our own isn’t enough, to turn it around before our whole system collapses of its own hubris.

Second, a Columbia Teachers College paper by Professor Elizabeth Graue reveals that teens aspiring to enter teacher education already have developed school-typical negative attitudes about parent involvement, and are steeling themselves against having to cooperate with parents. I suggest that one can argue about whether young people belong in the classroom all those years as students, but once having been there, done that, this paper should put beyond argument that they do NOT belong in the classroom as teachers. Not without

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