As a retired teacher, my experience was in Manhattan elementary schools in the NYC school system. This was a challenging teaching environment since the children ranged from the economically advantaged to the very economically disadvantaged. I taught in East Harlem and later in P.S. 9 on West End Avenue/84th St., two extremes.
We teachers were not indoctrinated in, and certainly didn't teach, the "whole method" system of reading. Most of us went to the City Colleges--City College, Hunter College, Brooklyn, Queens-- and learned teaching methods, materials, and philosophy. Most of my peers had a Masters degree in Education.
We could not qualify to teach in the NYC school system merely by sending for a certificate to show that we went to college. We had to be licensed by NYC, thoroughly tested in knowledge in every area of teaching before going into the classroom. This included a speech test. Any student teacher with an accent, speech impediment or related problem, especially with s, t, d, r, or l, was to be helped by a speech pathologist. FREE! I remember going to Professor Davidson, a leading speech therapist and being drilled with the poem "Jenny Kissed Me" on many 8AM mornings.
The NYC Board of Education issued curriculum bulletins for every grade and in every subject area. These bulletins were uniform for all the boroughs and indicated what was to be taught. I never experienced any teacher who thought they or the students were being stifled. On the contrary, we teachers were as creative as was necessary to do our jobs. I, being a budding artist then, always found creative ways to engage the students in learning.
We were required to make lesson plans for approval. Our lesson plan book was collected every week by our assistant principal. Each lesson had to have a stated goal, a provision for review and reinforcement, procedures or methods, and a conclusion. It wasn't fun making lesson plans, but it made us more efficient, focused, and better teachers.
Why should anyone need "Field Tested" curricula if teachers are properly trained and supervised?
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
A quick explanation of that last observation: the writer of this account was responding to my assertion that Irvington should adopt only field-tested curricula.
I read her narrative & marvel. She is talking about the public schools of Goldin & Katz's America:
At the dawn of the twentieth century the United States became the richest nation in the world. Its people had a higher average standard of living than those in Britain, the previous leader. America was poised to ascend further. The gap between it and other front-runners would widen and the standard of living of its residents would cotinue to grow, even when its doors were open to the world's poor. American economic supremacy would be maintained to the end of the century, and beyond. In economic terms, the twentieth century fully merits the title "The American Century."That was then.
The twentieth century could also be titled the "Human Capital Century." By the end of the twentieth century all nations, even the poorest, provided elementary schooling and beyond to most of their citizens. At the start of the century and even by its midpoint many nations, including relatively rich ones, educated only those who could personally afford to attend school. The United States was different. Its educational system had always been less elite than those of European countries. By 900, if not before, it had begun to educate its masses at the secondary level not just in primary schools, at which it had remarkable success in the nineteenth century.
That the twentieth century was both the American Century and the Human Capital Century is no historical accident. Economic growth in the more modern period requires educated workers, managers, entrepreneurs, and citizens. Modern technologies must be invented, innovated, put in place, and maintained. They must have capable workers at the helm. Rapid technological advance, measured in various ways, has characterized the twentieth century. Because the American people were the most educated in the world, they were in the best position to invent, be entrepreneurial, and produce goods and services using advanced techologies.
The Race Between Education and Technology
by Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz
Two Tales of the Twentieth Century: A Summary
The history of inequality during the twentieth century is a tale in two parts. The first was punctuated by episodes of declining inequality, some quite sudden and rapid. Stable or slowly rising inequality marked other parts of the period. On the whole, the first three-quarters of the century were years of greatly diminished inequality and lowered returns to education. Americans grew together as economic growth was shared throughout the income distribution during much of the period.
Everything came to a halt in the 1970s.
by Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz
Are teachers today required to include "provisions for reinforcement and review" in their lesson plans? (Come to think of it, what is the status of lesson plans nowadays, anyway?)
My own school district appears to be almost exclusively concerned with understanding. Not just understanding: Enduring Understanding. Enduring Understanding and Essential Questions. It's in the Plan.*
Actual learning, in the sense of content making it into a child's long-term memory, is assumed.
When, lo and behold, a child fails to recall on tests the material he has "understood" in class, that is a problem for parents to fix.
That's not the way it was when American schools were great.
Steve Levitt summarizes The Race in 2 sentences
The anemic response of skill investment to skill premium growth
The declining American high school graduation rate: Evidence, sources, and consequences
Pushy parents raise more successful kids
The Race Between Education and Technology book review
The Race Between Ed & Tech: excerpt & TOC & SAT scores & public loss of confidence in the schools
The Race Between Ed & Tech: the Great Compression
the Great Compression, part 2
ED in '08: America's schools
comments on Knowledge Schools
the stick kids from mud island
educated workers and technology diffusion
declining value of college degree
Goldin, Katz and fans
best article thus far: Chronicle of Higher Education on The Race
Tyler Cowan on The Race (NY Times)
happiness inequality down...
an example of lagging technology diffusion in the U.S.
the Times reviews The Race, finally
IQ, college, and 2008 election
Bloomington High School & "path dependency"
the election debate that should have been
the golden age: a NYC teacher remembers
the White House cites Goldin & Katz
* the newly approved 21-page Strategic Plan, the one that includes 21st century skills but does not include college preparation