kitchen table math, the sequel: dialogue of the deaf

Friday, May 1, 2009

dialogue of the deaf

Here's Robert Pondiscio:

[O]ne of my frustrations is the silence of the “reform community” on curriculum, as if what children learn doesn’t matter. Too often, those of us who support a rigorous curriculum feel as if we’re talking to ourselves.

“Teacher quality is the most important thing!”

“Sure, it’s important that kids have great teachers. But don’t you think curriculum matters?”

“Of course, as long as it’s taught by a great teacher! Preferably in a charter school!”

“OK, but what about the curriculum?”

“Oh, that’s very important. Did I mention teacher quality?”

“Yes, you did.”

“Well good, because that’s the most important thing. And we should have merit pay, to align the teacher’s interest with the students’, just like we align executive and shareholder interests in business.”

You know it might help improve teacher quality if we had a national curriculum. Then teachers could focus on differentiating instruction and honing their craft. They could focus on how to teach instead of what to teach.”

“Now you’re getting it. You agree that teacher quality is the most important thing!”

“Well, that’s not really what I was saying…”

“The problem is we have too many teachers who really should be looking for other jobs. And they’re being protected by people who are more concerned with protecting adults than what’s best for children.”

“Be that as it may, you know there are lots of good reasons to support a national curriculum. Student mobility, for example. And background knowledge is fundamental to reading comprehension. You care about boosting reading test scores, right?

“Absolutely. And that can’t happen unless there’s a high quality teacher in every classroom.”

You’re not listening to a single word I’ve said are you? I’m trying to talk about curriculum, and you’re only talking about charters, and unions and firing bad teachers.”

“Fire bad teachers? I couldn’t agree more! Teacher quality is the most important thing!”

“Never mind.”

I sympathize.

Yes, yes: the crying need for Good Teachers.

Good teachers teaching what, exactly?

Actually, I would go so far as to say I would prefer bad teachers if the subject being "taught" is 21st century skills.


Anonymous said...

Good Teachers = Classroom Management

What does that mean?

SteveH said...

And the latest I got on another blog...

Curriculum doesn't matter when teachers don't have time for planning and collaboration, but this is an extra that requires more money, not something that should come first no matter what.

My guess is that if they got the planning and collaboration time and money, they would still say that curriculum doesn't matter because now they are collaborating.

Then there is the issue of seniority-based teacher bumping when there is a reduction in force. I think the record in our schools was a chain reaction of 5 teachers bumped into different grades. Goodbye planning and collaboration.

Anonymous said...

On the ground...

We had the swine flu training today by the school nurse. After she left her sanitizer and box of tissues, my charges made faux masks of the tissue and forced pieces of tissue up their nose. Every touch of a ruler and captured spitball required copious hand washing and sanitizing. Several students went sick on me at the same time. Funny how that works.

I had to quell a near riot over why they didn't close school if they were all going to die anyway.

Nuanced discussions of curricular alignments and teacher quality don't seem so important to me (at least not today).