EDM 310 Class Blog

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How the Educational System Literally Failed Me

At a very young age, I wanted to be a teacher, not because I had a teacher who warmed my heart or anything Hallmark-y like that, but to the contrary.
I started off as a problem child. I picked on other kids, I refused to share, I intentionally colored outside of the lines, I threw my lunch at other kids, I stuck my gum under the desk, I tattled all the time (only most of it was untrue), I shoved crayons up my nose, and I liked to whine. I was probably the kid that makes their teacher drink a couple glasses of wine at the end of the day when he or she gets home. Yet, I had one teacher in first grade who saw in me a gift for language and story-telling and who decided to put my fibbing and off-task writing to good purpose. When sent to the Above and Beyond class rather than the principal's office, a problem child flourished with new, innovative, creative, and collaborative projects that made me feel nurtured and intellectual.
A savvy, seasoned teacher saw that a problem child was more than that, she was bored.
That was probably my best year in elementary school and I remember it still. My parents are still friends with Miss Savvy and she remembers my marked improvement to this day.
The next year, my parents decided to send me to private school.
There were no special classes for special cases, only interventions. I was treated like a problem child again, mostly for talking too much, and instead of seeing that I was bored, the teacher only saw my poor grades in math and sent me to the specialist.
All the other kids made fun of me and said that I spoke out all the time because I was dumb.
The specialist didn't care to know that I tested gifted far beyond anyone in my grade in language, all she could focus on was my deficiency in math, one that I have yet to get over.
For the next two years, I was shuffled around and treated like a special case. My parents were advised to hold me back a grade. My mom said that she was outraged. I had once been a gifted student at my old school and if I needed to be held back it was because I wasn't receiving the instruction I needed or deserved.
The next year, my mom became my teacher. I was home-schooled for the next four years. My mom missed her calling to be a teacher to lots of other deserving children, and instead made me her sole pupil and her legacy as a teacher. She was the best teacher I ever had because she encouraged me to keep my head up with math, gave me one-on-one instruction rather than being expected to keep up with 25 other kids. And the best part was that she gave me plenty of time for the things I was passionate about. If I wanted to spend 25 extra minutes reading about the fall of Rome, I could do that and then make up my other projects later. I wasn't on a schedule to keep up with other kids. If it hadn't been for those years, her instruction, one-on-one time with the things that I was passionate about, I might never have been a thinker, a scholar, a writer, a history buff, or an English major.
The question is, are we "failing" kids by not letting them uncover what they are good at? By keeping them locked into a schedule and held to the same page as a bunch of other kids who are all learning differently. I simply don't think our education system is able to treat kids as individual cases and many of them get lost in the system.

Friday, June 21, 2013

My thoughts on Common Core and ACCRS

I challenge and welcome all current and future teachers to converse with me about this! These are just some of my thoughts, concerns, and predictions for the Common Core State Standards Initiative and Alabama College and Career Ready Standards.
1). I am getting more than fed up with state and federal control in the realm of Education. In a society where, now, nothing is private and everything is public, it just feels like "Big Brother" grasping for more control. Yes, the standards are somewhat basic and allow a lot of room for discrepancy, but I feel the lack of faith in teachers and administrators as well as the need for control are insulting. When will the government officially just absolve itself in an area where it has proven itself ignorant with failed initiatives like "Race to the Top" and "No Child Left Behind"? You would be hard-pressed to find a sober acquaintance who would tell you that these initiatives were successful. Even those who have no vested interest in education don't believe that these two programs were successful. If you would like further enlightenment, please visit Race To Nowhere to read more about the movement and to watch the trailer about a film that chronicles the failure of the Race to the Top program and also the problems behind America's achievement culture.
2). As I mentioned, and as many teaching practitioners and those preparing for the field are aware, the standards are not very in-depth. They are basic, allow for some discrepancy, and can be met in ways that the teacher may see fit. My concern is simple. With human nature being what it is, some teachers will accept what work their students can accomplish to meet what is required of them. What's the harm in that? The harm is that we will never excel as a nation of learners, scholars, thinkers, and doers if we don't push. I am by no means calling anyone out at the moment, but why say, "Child A has completed the college and career ready standards already and it's only October, guess he's just going to be bored for the rest of the year because Children B-S haven't met those standards yet." Who's to say that those children who naturally excel or exceed some or all of the standards can't shoot for the standards belonging to the next grade? Whoa! Slow down. This might cause some confusion with this intricate little system we have going and if you move something around the whole thing could just collapse like a game of Jenga!
Don't think I'm a rebel when I ask, "Why can't my 8th grade class try to accomplish 9th grade standards?" What's the harm in trying? Even if half the class gets there and half the class doesn't, don't you think they will have learned something just from giving it a shot? My concern is that if we just accept what we think they can accomplish within the standards marked out for them, what's the use in being an honors student? "Sorry, Josie, you're reading on a sixth grade level and the rest of your class is still on third so you're gonna have to stop reading so good." Maybe reading so WELL is her comfort from being terrible at Math. Which brings me to my next point...
3). To me, the standards attempt to confine, categorize and label students who are uniquely different, have different needs and will not fit into a check box or be confined to a level of learning. As a teacher, I would refuse to see them that way because every one of them is going to learn at a different level at a different time. Which brings me to...
4) Teaching to the test becomes inevitable. "Miss Houlihan, you have received several awards for having such an incredibly awesome and stimulating blog for your students to learn and collaborate as opposed to sitting and staring at you all day and pretending they understand what you're talking about, but their test scores don't indicate that all 34 of them met the College and Career Ready Standards. I'm going to have to meet with you about this. Serious action needs to occur." First year teacher Miss Houlihan gets discouraged, gets married, and never teaches again, even though she was creative and her kids loved her for it.
CLEARLY, this is a fictional, worst-case scenario, but how are we not encouraging teachers to make sure their kids do well on tests that don't accurately measure the subtle nuances of each one of their "abilities".
5) There is no logical reason why information regarding students' religious preferences, family history, political affiliations, possible behavioral problems, etc. The great thing about humanity is the great potential for growth. Why should a history of parental abuse or neglect, behavioral problems at a young age, what party a student felt an affinity for in middle school then changed his or her mind in college....why should these things potentially be held against a student? For one can see no other alternative, no positive outcome for this stacking of the cards against students. Is their permission asked for this collecting of information? Their parents' permission? Is this not a breach of privacy? As a teacher, should it make a difference in my instruction whether a child lives with foster parents, two dads, or a "traditional family"? This seems more like the government snooping around in the lives of its unknowing citizens than an initiative that will directly benefit educational instruction or the quality of a student's educational experience.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Living Literature

My ultimate dream is to educate and inspire others. That being said, I don't intend to spend my days at the front of the classroom. That may be an initial start, but I would like to take this time to outline the dream that I have to bring learners to loving Literature through another route. After seeing this ted talk video, Once Upon A School by Dave Eggers , I have been unable to remove the idea from my brain and it just keeps taunting me not to give up. The little Yoda in me keeps me going, advising me "Do or do not, there is no try." I can't just try to achieve something like this; either I give up, or I give it my best effort or there is no use taking on such a task. Too many future readers and writers stand to benefit, not me, from what I hope to accomplish.
1)."Diversifying the Portfolio"
 My first sentiment stems from the fact that enrollment is down at my institution. I didn't have to think hard to ponder why. I think that it would prove highly beneficial if people took educating more seriously. Those of us who have hopes of teaching or feel led to educate have respect for the institution deep in our hearts, but there are those people who were at the back of the line when personalities were being handed out. They don't take teachers and school systems seriously, they act like it's a joke. How can someone's life work be a joke?
To gain respect, (and to gain enrollment) I think it would be a good strategy to "diversify our portfolio." That's what my miserly Grandpa says about just about everything under the sun. One must give more variety into what is being projected and presented in order to attract "buyers." With that in mind, we need to offer more programs at the higher education level that focus on education in different aspects.
I know Education majors are shaking their heads, thinking I am talking about adding more classes. What I mean is that we need a more diverse range of programs offered other than just a degree to teach or counsel. We need to prepare more students to work in areas that promote education or work behind the scenes. Think marketing, lobbying, creating after school centers, making curriculum, experimenting with alternative methods of educating, etc. Some of these already happen to be careers for people with degrees in education, but I think more focus in our society and in our higher institutions needs to be on more than just the classroom. Education needs to offer more diverse career options to attract more people than what it already does.  As those of you who have taken EDM310 or are familiar with the class have already heard us preach, the role of education in the 21st century is attempting (at least at the local and individual classroom level) to shift to incorporate technology and 21st century learners, so the institutions that will shape views of education and teaching should do the same. EDM310 should not be the only classroom or place in an institution of higher learning where this is the general theme.
826 ad reading pillage before plunder what a blunder in cool colors and fonts

How cool is this? Can you imagine how excited kids would be to learn if schools had marketing like this?

2. "Living Literature"
As a child, I was obsessed with museums. I loved grand architecture, artifacts, hands-on labs, exploration, full-scale models, stories printed on the walls with larger-than-life images, narrated tours, picnic lunches, and especially gift shops. I seemed to learn more in a few hours than in a whole month at school.
I used to wonder, "why can't the classroom be just like a museum?"
First of all, because months of effort, planning, and fundraising goes into opening and curating an
Second, the downside would be that the grandiose effect of the museum would become all-too-familiar and be lost on us.
Why can't we at least attempt to make the classroom somewhat like a museum? Why can't we treat childhood (and even adult or adolescent) exploration as though it were paramount?
One reason why I recently changed my major from Secondary Education/Language Arts to simply English is that I have, to a small degree, given up hope of what I may accomplish in the public school classroom. I simply care too much. I do not deal with disappointment or disillusionment without becoming emotional, and I would hate to see all of my hard work and dreams simply never be realized. It is my conviction that I may get more accomplished by getting more degrees, having a politician boyfriend who can lobby for education reform for me (which Zak will aptly do :D), and to try to write and drum up as much social change as the talent and passion of one very petite individual can accomplish.
"Living Literature" is a placeholder title for a happy place I dream of accomplishing. At this fictional land, children are learning and so are their parents and teachers, walls are lined with full-size examples of what they are learning, difficult concepts are demonstrated or acted out (especially for special needs students and younger students), students are involved in voting on which concepts of the curriculum or subject matter they are most interested in seeing more of displayed, and parents and community members are involved in the whole process.
I see and hear of so many students who don't love to read because it isn't taught. It isn't something you teach, it's something you experience. That's what we need to do. We need students to experience reading and writing like they did at 826 Valencia. The experience needs to be extraordinary and creative, just as reading is. It would be really cool to give the opportunity to have their work read by up-and-coming writers and to work alongside a publishing company like Dave Eggers'. These experiences need to start at a younger age because many children are not receiving the remediation they need by the time they get to high school. They may develop bad habits in writing and grammar, and have little faith in their writing skills. As I tell people all the time, anyone can be a great writer! It takes years of practice and experimentation. Why not start our students off with this practice and love of literacy early?

students and hands-on experiences at 826 Valencia

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lessons from a Silly man

I have many soap-boxes, but I tend not to step on them and speak. I tend to keep my mouth shut, silent but screaming in frustration on the inside. I decided today that I would step up and say something and then go back to my business. I will quote lessons I learned from the silliest man I know. And no, it's not Dr. Strange! It's a different Dr...Dr. Seuss.

"You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose!"
My First Order of Business: Apathy
The name of the blame game is half-assery. Doing something only partially well or at all just to say that it has been done, to receive your mark, to go on to the next thing. No actual thought or mental exercise has been performed. No accomplishment has been made. You simply followed the instructions and did what you were told. I have been guilty of this myself, we have all been guilty of this. But the consequences are disastrous. Yes, it's not as taxing. It's not as time consuming. But think about all the gears in your brain that are collecting dust? I have never met a person that I would ever classify as "incapable".  Dr. Seuss taught me that. We have the brains, we have the ability; we can choose which path we take. We can do more than is asked of us, more than is expected of us, more than is needed of us. We can impress, not others, but ourselves, with how well we exceed our duties and complete our chores. Every time I am tempted to only do things half-way, I confront this inclination with the remembrance that to do nothing, to do little, is always a choice. It may seem a small one, but if it becomes a habit, it can control your actions.

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple"
Another concern: Critical Thinking
What happens when we dwell in the land of Apathy too long? We lose not our ability, but our tendency , toward critical thinking. It's not as if we just forget how or we can't anymore, we become all too comfortable and familiar with taking the easy way out. Instead of being driven by curiosity and intellectual zealousness, we don't puzzle and we don't ponder- we just move along.
It's important to maintain a level of curiosity, to want to know the answers or to want to know the questions no matter what it takes. Even if it makes your brain hurt, what matters is that you don't just move past it.
"You'll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut"
As a Lab Assistant for EDM310, I have read a great deal of posts that do little more than summarize. What I challenge the students of EDM310 to do is to wear many different hats:
1. Be patient: Mull it over
"Think and wonder, wonder and think"
2. Be a pioneer: Ask the question,"Is there anything "new" I can bring to this?"
"It's opener, out there, in the wide, open air"
3. Be Curious George: If something interests you, go research it. Don't write about how technology facilitates research of facts and data and interesting things and forget to take advantage of them!
"The more things you read, the more things you'll know. The more that you know, the more places you'll go!"
4. Be different: Engage your creative side
"From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere"
5. Be a Writer: Think about things like irony, satire, sarcasm, context, humor, clarity, word choice, grammar...
6. Be a critic: Consider what you just watched or read, what your assignment is, and tell us how this can be improved.
7. Be bold: Write and complete your assignments to be remembered, not just to get it done!
"Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered!"
8. Be you: Personal experience and opinion is good!
"Be who you are and say what you mean, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind"

"Step with care and great tact, and remember, life's a great balancing act"
I don't think I'm being totally unrealistic. I don't think any of this is too much to ask. Dr. Seuss wrote his books for children, as well as adults. If you're going to be a teacher, you can't teach Dr. Seuss if you aren't willing to give his words of encouragement and inspiration a "go". To teach is to lead, and to lead is to set an example. Life is a balancing act, but the tact and care is in the details. The more we pay attention, the more we step carefully, the more we are on guard against apathy and make pre-emptive strikes, the greater the act. It's no longer bad juggling, it's a gravity-defying performance. You go from being a "clown" to an "artist".

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, it's not going to get better, it's not"
I hate writing with cliches. I hate appealing to the reader's conscience for an intended result. But I do believe that this is pretty important, so listen up. You probably know by now that as a teacher, you are going to be the only love and encouragement that some students see. You will be the one great example that brings them to the good side. Just imagine, if now, when what is placed before you is a plate to juggle and you drop it, what's gonna happen when you have three or four to juggle? Don't wait until you are a teacher to start setting an example, working hard, and being a thinker; any day is a good day to start. I know it's cliche to say that as a teacher, you are given the responsibility of making a difference, but it's true. Until you start caring an awful lot, nothing's going to change.
Caring leads to action, action causes reaction, chain reactions finally equal change.
To become even more trite and cliche, my grandma likes to correct me when I grumble and say that "caring is contagious, and so is whining".  I think she means that people react according to their environment. Don't be a part of the system of grumbling and whining that I sometimes fall into.

"Oh, the things you can find, if you don't stay behind!"
How does one ever expect to get ahead if you stay behind? Plan ahead. Make time. Don't procrastinate. Easy enough? Wrong. The thing I noticed about EDM310 when I took the class was that it is impossible for me to do my assignments on technology and not get caught up in it. It's a time warp. There's so much to click on and so many shiny things! Curiosity is great, but it was my worst enemy. My other classes fell behind because I got so excited about all the videos and Twitter and SMARTBoards and I couldn't get to a stopping point.
For those of you with the opposite problem, if you struggle with procrastination, I have found that I just have to lie to myself. I have to convince myself that I'm going to be entertained by doing my homework and find a way to stay engaged. If you believe that eventually you're going to find something riveting, it's a lot easier to press on than if you believe you're only going to want to jump off a building.

With all of this being said, I guess you can see that:
"You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who will decide where to go.."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Title IX: 40 Years Later, from a Nerd's Perspective

I'm taking on a topic I don't usually grace with my sparkling wit and cynicism. Sports.

But after reading an article in EdWeek I felt lead to add my opinion to something that Title IX; Presidents Richard M. Nixon, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Barack H. Obama; American Association of University Women; National Federation of State High School Associations; The U.S. Census;  the Education Department's office for civil rights; EdWeek; New York City-based Women's Sports Foundation; all deemed worthy of diving into. Whew. So I guess it's worth my time :D
So this is the breakdown of what's going on:

""We can safely say, of all the areas Title IX covers—and it's key to remember it's more than athletics—athletics is probably the place where we've seen the most visible strides," said Lisa Maatz, the director of public policy and government relations for the Washington-based American Association of University Women" (Toporek).
I can see where this would be accomplished because, although I am no athlete myself, I do have an appreciation for football, baseball, soccer, and organized activity; and have seen the way that they bring people together. Strangers become acquaintances, rivals, and teammates. Students are transformed into heroes and role models. As data included in the article and timeline suggest, sports builds character. As indicated, studies suggest that those involved in sports were less likely to engage in drugs or fall into teen pregnancy. Perhaps it is because of all the long hours practicing, the hard work involved in athletic achievement, the high expectations connected to athletes, and the mindset that this is all too much to lose. Giving students something to strive for, and also something to lose seems to anchor them, to keep them from straying onto paths that may destroy their dreams.
While there aren't that many athletes out there who are role models, they are examples to student athletes that a lot of pressure is upon those who excel. It is a lesson to guard your character; that many eyes will be on you if you are in any position, athletic or otherwise. It takes a long time to build a reputation, but it can be destroyed with one photo of you holding a bong, one failed steroid drug test, one night out on the town.  It may not seem fair, it may seem we forget that they are humans too; but it is still a lesson that sacrifices come with success. 
These lessons are learned in playing sports. Perhaps this is one reason why "a 2002 survey from the Opperheimer Funds and MassMutual Financial found that more than 80 percent of high-level women business executives reported having played sports in their K-12 days" (Toporek). These women experienced, instead of being told, what it means to work hard, to sacrifice, to prioritize, to work alongside others, and to overcome differences. 
I, on the other hand, happen to be the artsy type. I would rather read than work out. I was the kid who was always picked last. Who found organized sports challenging and also boring. Who knows the rules to Quidditch and yet can't follow Football. Who appreciates ballet over activities other people might find "exciting". Who has the hand-eye coordination of a wet noodle. 
I was forced by my parents only a few times to play sports because it would make me more "well-rounded." They knew the benefits and lessons I would learn from sports even if I wasn't particularly gifted and didn't enjoy them. 
I see the use in sports but I don't personally wish to be prevailed upon to participate. I'm an intellectual. When I saw this article, I thought, what a waste of time! Why are we so concerned with why girls aren't playing sports?...maybe we just aren't interested. 
But there's a reason for that. A few pieces of legislation, court cases, and studies can't reverse the many, many years of stigma placed on feminity and organized activity. I'm an old soul, you might say. In the literature I have always been drawn to, the women don't tackle, lift weights, hit line-drives (or even foul balls), kick goals, or shoot hoops. Only in the last few centuries have women even been allowed to have an opinion, an occupation, free speech, the right to vote, an independent income, important things like this. The women who fought for these things were seen as visionaries, and also as lunatics. 
But the women of literature, the ones we remember and read about, were concerned with female concerns such as marriage and family and sometimes adventure and education as long as it didn't stray too far from the carefully drawn lines of a capitalist, patriarchal society. But there were those few brave writers who pushed the boundaries bit by bit until people started to see women as more than wives and mothers, occasionally teachers or nurses. Women were once viewed in black and white terms: spinster or wife. Eventually it became acceptable to be a wife and mother who boasted accomplishments deeper than needlework or playing the pianoforte. They wanted more. 

In gaining some of the same rights that men had, they started to see themselves as more equals with men. Why couldn't they shoot guns or shoot hoops? This is not to say that they wanted to shoot like Annie Oakley or be better at predominantly male activities than men were, they just wanted to try, and without ridicule. Much like my first attempts at hitting a baseball in front of my star-athlete brother. 

The waves of the feminist movement made great strides for women in this country, but history still remains. Biology still remains.  Not all women are made for sports. The message has been for centuries that women are supposed to be beautiful and demure, not strong or athletic. This is part of the reason for the "gender discrimmination in sports" mentioned in the article. The "text" of today is the media. According to the article, The New York Times and its influence played a major part in Title IX getting passed. The media now features more campaigns of strong, confident women.  On the opposite hand, the media also projects images of women that are hard to live up to. It is my belief that once our society stops pushing ideals onto young girls that are hard to live up to and replaces them with ones that are more realistic, girls will want to play sports.  It will be popular to be an athlete, to be strong, to be muscular. It needs to be common practice that we embrace the fierceness and masculinity of athletics, and our femininity and girliness at the same time. No one should have to feel like they are forced to pick one or the other.  And we should be teaching them that there will always be nay-sayers, bullies, name-callers, and hypocrites, but you have to be strong enough not to listen to them. No one ever did anything with everyone's full approval. Your self-respect matters more.
 We shouldn't be so surprised to see Olympic athletes who also look like supermodels, by god, they have earned their killer bodies! We shouldn't expect pro athletes to look manly or unattractive.  It needs to be recognized that women survived through the ages outsmarting men, gaining strength, exuding confidence, gaining wisdom....as I say to many who doubt me because of my stature: "I am petite, but I am not weak!" Just because we were once deemed the "weaker sex" does not mean we are. I prefer the term "the fairer sex". Anything you can do, we look better doing it. 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you motivate young women. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Coal Mining

In the video, Learn to Change, Change to Learn , Education was ranked in 55th place by the United States Department of Commerce by its IT intensiveness. This is below coal mining. Coal mining?
.........Really? Really?
We don't even use coal that much anymore, from what I know. We use our brains much more, don't we? 
......Or do we? 
Maybe that's why Education gets ranked so low. Because we aren't using our brains to reason that not placing an importance on education is doing a disservice to our children's futures.  We can't keep sending them the message of "be all you can be" and "believe in your dreams" and other hoopla if all we tell them is to "get an education" and "work hard". What if "education" does not suit itself to their needs? They will, in turn, have as little respect for the institution as they feel it did for them. 
I think of all the people who devalue education, and knowledge, and then I think of all the people who are working and striving so hard to bring back that value.  For centuries, the idea was perpetuated that knowledge is categorized of the world, of the workplace, of books, etc. You receive the knowledge that suits your station in life- you learn a trade, you learn about the world or about people, or you learn about books and become an esoteric lunatic with crazy hair and wear clothes that look like pajamas or some combination of these. These are the stereotypes.

big wig politicians

esoteric professor with crazy hair and silk pajamas

They still exist.
Even though we don't need them anymore because we live in an age where information is cheap and easily obtained, portable, shareable, consumable. 
For example, in the British Modernist novel, "Howard's End" by E.M. Forster, the young character of Leonard Bast strives so diligently and hopes so fervently to acquire knowledge, to be an "accomplished" gentleman of the world to little avail. His poverty did not allow him the time or resources to read as much or as often as the young ladies with unlimited means or leisure time.  Only now, if Leonard Bast was alive today, he would have little problem overcoming his station in life with his clever wit, resourcefulness, and his determination to be knowledgeable. This digital age facilitates learning and acquisition of concepts like no other has previously.

So, with all of this going on today, why do we still not value education? Why do we not open our eyes and see that learning doesn't have to be just a concept anymore? (That learning is not the Holy Grail, but it is a quest). 
Why do we still say that "those who can't do, teach?" when it is so obvious that imparting knowledge is one of the most difficult professions? Why are we losing respect for our educators? 
One answer is that, if information is cheap, the level of value placed on it goes down. It's like "the law of supply and demand".  Or, as I think it should be referred to in this case, "the law of complacency".  We don't value what we have easy access to.  Also, we don't give teachers much thought because we don't give knowledge much thought. People who don't know better assume things like: "It shouldn't be that hard to stand in front of a board and talk to a bunch of kids and then give them a quiz". *Cue collective eye-roll*
I then think of students who want to be a teacher when they grow up. I believe that to want to be a teacher shows an insight that knowledge is valuable, that information is not cheap (no matter it's monetary cost), and that instruction has to include leadership of these two, modeling of appropriate skills when using technology, and an understanding that you can tell students something fifteen times but they might not get it until they can see it, touch it, or experiment with it.
 It also doesn't help that the media (from local news to national news and social media from Facebook to blogs)  puts teachers on blast for deplorable things without acknowledgement to all of the revolutionary, insightful, useful, and compassionate things that they do.
This is one downside to our age.
We are in an age of "info-tainment". We want to be entertained; we don't want to hear about good things because "good" isn't any fun. It's a scandal that draws readers, consumers, and viewers. What is forgotten is that this has consequences and one consequence is that bashing destroys credibility. The credibility of not just one rotten teacher in particular, or a few burnt-out ones, but all teachers in general. 

Why is coal mining placed above education? Coal is heat. Mining for coal turns a profit. Education is not profitable. In fact, it's more of a drain than it is profitable.  
Most students look back on their years in school or they arrive at school in the morning, and would prefer all day slaving away in a mine to being at school. An education is supposed to be the expansion of the mind, the acquiring of new ideas, the synthesis of new ideas with old ones; but a typical day in a school will exhibit more brain-dead-seeming students than thriving, excited ones. 
coal mining children
The institution of education will turn a profit when it develops an environment that highlights students strengths while improving weaknesses; allows for the use of creative and unique ideas/projects; and implements information not as "downloadable" but as collaborative, interactive, and shareable. Our education system needs to stop sending the message that only what is in a student's textbook, on the SMARTBoard, in the lesson plan, or on the test is what's useful. There is endless information to be discovered if only a person wants to know it and looks for it. 
Without students, there is no school.  But without school, there are still students.  The school comes to the student through the use of multimedia, technology, the internet, and electronic devices.  The student does not have to be at school to learn. 
Our education system will only continue to improve the more everyone (and I am including myself in this) is aware of what is happening. I'm not calling our society a totally capitalist one, but it is driven by industry. If education, like many other industries, does not adapt its goals, products, market place, business strategies and practices, transport of goods, marketing image, and last but not least, its workers, then the consumer will not be interested.  Just like they were shopping for tooth paste, consumers (students) don't really have a choice whether to buy or not to buy, but they might obtain it in a different way according to their wants and needs.  Everyone has to brush their teeth just as everyone has to go to school. (Refusing to brush your teeth isn't illegal, but it should be.)
kid with bubble that says that everyone knows learning must be serious and difficult and you must remain seated at all times with no fun allowed

What I'm saying is, the fault lies not squarely on "society" for education being so low on their radar. It's because of the messages they have been given, the experiences they have had, that caused this. If education were to take itself seriously in a different way, it would yield better results.  If teachers, administrators, super-intendents, legislators, curriculum-makers, publishers, were to approach their "industry" in a more up-to-date frame of mind and with more consideration to their "consumer", you would not even have to be reading this.  You, the consumer/student would know that you are valuable. You would know that your loyalty to the brand is valuable. You would know that the "product" was designed with you in mind, and that your own future was what you and others (i.e.:those who led you to invest in the first place) invested in.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Just a little inspiration...

I just wanted to tell you guys a few things.
First, find a way to SOMEHOW enjoy your assignments. They are meaningful if you let them be. They will have an impact on you if you let them. They are designed that way. But first you have to find a way to enjoy it. Even if it makes you grit your teeth and curse, there is still something in it to inspire you. Whether it is the simple fact that you got through it and did your best, there is a lesson in everything.

Second, after reading some of your blog posts, I feel like I have gotten to know you. Every time you see things clearer or find validation for the career you have chosen, the ice around my heart melts a little more (haha). Each time you find something to get excited about, your reader (me) gets excited too.

Third, I would just like to point out that the C4T are important (not to overstate or over-simplify the questionably obvious). Be sure to find a way to connect them with the ideas you already have of yourself and for yourself about the type of teacher that you want to become. I hope that a lot of you are connecting yourselves to the C4T assignment. Hopefully, you will find this as an outlet and will keep blogging about your adventures in teaching (or student teaching). Please keep me as a contact on Twitter and Tweet me in the event that you do so. I would love to read what you have to say and keep up with you :) I am sure others will too.

I hope that you are making the most of this journey in EDM310. I see that some of you are really getting into some of your posts and I hope you do not get discouraged. We are always here to help and to encourage in the lab! Tweet me or find me in the lab and I would be glad to help proofread, give a short grammar/writing lecture, or just talk you through your "brick wall".
I am involved in a project as part of my parents' church where all members of the congregation have been asked to perform small acts of kindness wherever their talents lie. Mine happen to be in assisting, talking, encouraging, and also in Writing and English. I have also endeavored to become a more
selfless person and a better friend to others. Helping you, helps me grow.