kitchen table math, the sequel: The Latest Silver Bullet

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Latest Silver Bullet

Read this after pouring yourself a stiff drink!

Get set to compose your very own autoethnography and be sure to discuss America as an oppressive hellhole: racist, sexist and homophobic.

Are they putting something in all those Minnesota lakes???

20 comments:

Paul B said...

Here is a link to a word doc that describes the program.

Here's a

web version

Have to go throw up now. Cheers!

SwitchedOnMom said...

This kind of stuff is everywhere. Google Seattle and Courageous Conversations. Check out this conference, where my school system had two speakers: http://www.summitforcourageousconversation.com/

The session with language that gave me real pause:

Rigor or Rigor Mortis: Reframing the White Construct of “Rigor” to Give All Students Access to Challenging Material that Embraces Multiple Perspectives and Experiences

Take the challenge to reach all students by addressing institutional racism disguised as “rigor” in the classroom. Discuss perspectives through the use of film, experiential activities, and Courageous Conversation about race to deconstruct the whiteness of “rigor,” which has re-segregated
schools. Develop systemic steps to dismantle this white “construct” in
your schools or school districts.
Presenter: Patricia Coggins, social studies specialist, Loudoun County Public Schools, Ashburn.VA

"Rigor" is a "white construct" to be dismantled? In favor of....?

Cranberry said...

The article's worth reading to the end. One of the task group's recommendations:

""Requir[e] training/workshop for all supervisors. Perhaps a training session disguised as a thank you/recognition ceremony/reception at the beginning of the year?"

When teacher training requires a "disguise," you know something sinister is going on."


The items of belief the teachers would be required to swear allegiance to have nothing to do with teaching. They do encapsulate a certain world view. If it were based on a religion, it would be illegal. As it's a system of belief not tied to a religion, it's not illegal, I suppose, but very worrying. I hope the supervisors possess elementary common sense.

Crimson Wife said...

Do I think there is still a certain amount of racism, sexism, and classism in the U.S. today? Sadly, yes. Does that mean I repudiate "the American Dream"? Absolutely not!

As a society, we need to do a better job ensuring that individuals can compete on a level playing field. The problem isn't with the American Dream itself, but rather that we haven't yet given everyone an equal shot at it.

RazzyHENZ said...

It's not just Minnesota! I'm going through a teacher licensing program right now in Utah and last summer I took the required Multicultural Education class.

The whole time I kept picturing communist China as they spoke of 're-educating'. It did all seem to be strongly socialistic. Our main paper was on the topic of 'Whiteness Theory' which in a nutshell states that everyone with white skin is advantaged, whether they know it or not, and everyone with colored skin is disadvantaged.

The authors of the book were also against gifted education or any sort of tracking at all, since minorities tend to be poorly represented in these 'special','enriched', and 'elite' classes.

They were very pro group, collaborative learning and spoke quite a bit of having 'rich and deep learning experiences'. All in all it was a very painful class to suffer through.

Paul B said...

I saw an interesting sequence of pictures the other day. It seems a crocodile had made a run at a baby hippo. Its mom wasn't thrilled, of course, and in a panic, the croc found itself on top of the hippo herd, running for his life. He didn't make it. The last picture had him in the very large mouth of a pissed off hippo.

Did the crocodile fail due to a tilted playing field, or did he make a really bad decision? He was a top of the line predator with every advantage. I think we too easily confuse the slope of the field and the score of the game.

Sure there are places where the field is tilted but if you want to be an athlete you don't whine about the field you try harder than the next guy. In our zeal to level the field we've made failure impossible and guaranteed a generation of kids who leap on our fuzzy expectations as a way to give up.

I see it every day. Kids who will run full tilt and leap in the air like a gazelle to catch a football give up five minutes into a quiz. Why?

It's easy to understand. The football is competition. We're wired for it. We thrive on it. In our 'leveled' educational playing fields we've reduced everything to mush and the kids know it.

In my city kids are clearly given equal shots but most of them aren't pulling the trigger and nonsense like these reeducation themes would be laughable.

SteveH said...

"The authors of the book were also against gifted education or any sort of tracking at all, since minorities tend to be poorly represented in these 'special','enriched', and 'elite' classes."

Why would they not try to make sure that minorities are properly represented in these classes? Have they asked minority parents and kids what they want? With friends like this, who need enemies?

rocky said...

With friends like this, who need enemies?

You've just nailed it. They don't believe in these kids; in fact, they believe these kids are indeed inferior. They've settled for pulling everyone down to the same low level.

deconstruct the whiteness of “rigor,”

If rigor was so white, why did the Arabs keep Euclid's Elements alive for hundreds of years while it was forgotten in the West? It is because rigor is a mental equalizer. It welcomes logical doubt and attempts to prove proposition after proposition from definitions, postulates and reasoning. It does not demonstrate "my truth" or "your truth", but "the truth" that must logically follow the axioms it was built on. Rigor is the scourge of postmodernism!

Paul B said...

Replace 'rigor' with 'mastery' and voila, we're back to square one. Cultural awareness is code for constructivism. Insensitivity is code for adjusting grades.

It's all a great language hijack on the slide to mediocrity and mush.

I had a student finish a test early and it is my practice to go over tests when they get turned in to look for sloppy mistakes. I found a few and handed the paper back requesting him to check his work. His comment to me was, "Ah gee Mr B, why do you always have to have things perfect?"

He's been trained in mush! He's been trained to accept 'close'. He's been trained to strive for the middle way. Get it done, not get it right.

Allison said...

--Why would they not try to make sure that minorities are properly represented in these classes? Have they asked minority parents and kids what they want? With friends like this, who need enemies?

Steve,

What does it mean for "minorities" to be "properly" represented in these classes?

If 4% of the student body are say, Hmong, then 4% of the G&T should be too?

In Saint Paul, they "properly" represent the minorities by having lower cutoffs on the IQ test for those minorities than they do for the white kids. The test is given in Kindergarten.

do you think these kids do equally well?

re: what minority parents want: in Saint Paul, I've been told explicitly that the black kids didn't like being labelled gifted and talented, and did worse at the magnet schools than if they were mainstreamed.

The schools claim the social issues trump academic ones.

It's nice for everyone to believe that everyone has the same potential, but it's not true. The schools won't confront that lie head on, so they have to dance around it with their various diversity issues. But pretending on this board that the achievement gap is an instructional artifact is also not true.

Everyone can be taught a reasonable minimum set of skills, and some can be far above that minimum is a vastly different proposition than that the achievement gap can be erased.

SteveH said...

"If 4% of the student body are say, Hmong, then 4% of the G&T should be too?"

I guess that's my point. Their response to the issue it not to fix it, but to decide that it's not important.


" in Saint Paul, I've been told explicitly that the black kids didn't like being labelled gifted and talented, and did worse at the magnet schools than if they were mainstreamed."

Why is that so? My son doesn't like being labelled as gifted and talented. That comment just raises many more questions. It doesn't answer any.


"But pretending on this board that the achievement gap is an instructional artifact is also not true."

Why not? parents help create this gap because of their help at home. If one assumes that there are no genetic differences, then what could be the cause?

I would say that the focus should not be the achievement gap, but individual educational opportunity and quality teaching and curricula. The gap will take care of itself.

Perhaps the problem is how one defines the gap. There is a big difference between the gap between any two kids, the gap between two different races or economic groups, and the gap between good and bad teaching and curricula.


This goes back to my original comment. They are confusing two types of gaps. Improved teaching should increase the gap between the best and the worst performing kids, but it should also shift the whole curve significantly higher. That is the more important gap.

Lets say that you could draw a surface function that shows educational performance based on IQ along one axis and quality teaching (incl. curriculum) on the other. In the IQ direction, there will always be a slope of a certain angle. As you improve teaching, My guess is that this slope (gap) would increase, but the height of the surface would get much higher. Many schools just want to flatten the curve. They don't care about the height. If you define the goals of education in very fuzzy terms, then all you are left with is flattening the curve.

Paul B said...

When I stumbled upon this bullet my impression was that it concerned indoctrination during ed school and qualification for graduating. It seems I was naive. It also is intended as a screening process to ensure that entrants to the school have the 'correct' headset to get in.

This is an unconstitutional discrimination based upon thought. Read about it here.

I'm thinking I wouldn't get in.

Paul B said...

Allison:

I think there's a reluctance to acknowledge differences that derives from the PC culture. The premise is that all people are born with equal ability. So if you acknowledge differences then you are ipso facto racist.

Of course this completely ignores the obvious reality of acquired differences, i.e. no matter how we are born, differences happen. Some collection of circumstance can deliver you to middle school as an illiterate, independent of race or genetics.

Our fear of being labeled with prejudice prevents us from dealing with reality and creates the very thing we don't want to talk about.

SteveH said...

"It also is intended as a screening process to ensure that entrants to the school have the 'correct' headset to get in."

They do this in social work at some of our nearby colleges. One student made a big stink when his college department basically told him to find another field. They didn't like the publicity. I think they weed out students more discreetly now.

VickyS said...

For more educational insanity from my fair state of Minnesota, check out the freshman hazing experience in one suburban Minneapolis high school.

And to think Minnesota was once the hotbed of real school reform, as the birthplace for PSEO (post-secondary education option), open enrollment, and charter schools.

Paul B said...

Curious isn't it, how they chose to focus on the horror of being chased instead of the joy of being released or the risks that people took to help slaves?

If you want to do real history then here are some suggestions...

* The joy and sacrifice of discovery by Columbus instead of a focus on his (from a current perspective) failings.

* The courage and creativity it took to settle this nation instead of the disease that was spread to native populations.

* The incredible bravery it took to win WWII instead of the singular act of horror induced by atomic bombs.

Teaching anything with an attached agenda is not teaching. It's indoctrination.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Vicky's post on Minnesota's real school reform, the open enrollment and PSEO programs are great options. A number of my kids' contemporaries used open enrollment to meet their particular needs and my son and many others used PSEO for the same reason. PSEO allows qualified high schoolers to attend local colleges, paid by the local school district. Instead of a weak high school foreign language program, he had 3 excellent college semesters.

Liz Ditz said...

I thought you might be interested in reading a counterpoint:

PZ Myers on the "Katherine Kersten: At U, future teachers may be reeducated"

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/11/the_university_of_minnesota_ha.php

…the report says nothing of the kind. You can read it yourself, if you want, although you probably don't — it's written in lumbering, repetitive, earnest Academese, which is a dialect of Bureaucratese, and it isn't pretty. I get this stuff in my mailbox and it makes me want to claw my eyes out, so it took some masochistic discipline to dig into it voluntarily, but Kersten misrepresents the thing from top to bottom.

There is a grain of truth to what she says: the report does say that we need more emphasis on recognizing and appreciating diversity, and that we need more equitable representation of American culture in the teacher workforce. It does not say that America is an "oppressive hellhole"; that's her own weird interpretation. She should have looked deeper. Doesn't the fact that we're training teachers at all imply that America must be a pit of ignorance and stupidity that needs correcting?

Paul B said...

Although it may be true that Kersten has engaged in a bit of hyperbole to summarize the document, my read of Myers (the whole post, not just the above block quote) says she was the more reserved of the two.

Meyers engages in a barrage of invective, name calling, and whitewash that is not apparent in the quote.

I've read the paper. Yes, it doesn't ever say that America is a hellhole. Yet it makes no attempt to disguise its assumptions of racism and classism to be found associated with every white face. Meyers invocation of "wingnut" to describe the opposite opinion, smacks of hysteria born of ignorance (his own).

I work in a distressed school system. One year I had 1 white student. I can tell you first hand that the color of my kids skin is way down on the list of important things. It's below; what they had for breakfast, how their meds are kicking in, whether or not they can see, what gang they're in, who's getting abused at home, who's afraid to go home, their hormone level, how many schools they've attended, and any number of other factors that get in the way of learning.

It's not cultural awareness that you need. It's situational awareness that will make you successful as a teacher and that has zilch to do with racism.

Meyers is a prof on said campus and I'm guessing it has zero gangs and way more than one white kid. They all should get out more.

Until they do, I'd say their reeducation camp is indeed a silver bullet.

Paul B said...

Here is a letter to the university president from FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education).

Actually it's a fisking. Who knew?