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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Book Report is from TEACHING AS A SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITY


A couple people have asked what book I am discussing here. I'll do better in future posts.
 
Also, it might serve me well to tell you I am doing everything from my iPhone. There are more typos, but I am wanting to make a commitment to mobile blogging and communication.
 
THE METHOD IS THE MESSAGE (chapter 2)
 
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Book Report - Part 4 - Pursuing Relevance


The analogy of doctors with teachers has always fallen short for me. Doctors receive training in diagnosis as well as treatment. Teachers receive next to no training in diagnosing student "problems." Teachers are told what "problems" students possess. Teachers may refer students to others who diagnose problems and then give teachers a checklist of individualized instructional strategies. Teachers may or may not know why they must follow the checklists or what the strategies are meant to do for the student. So the analogy is not complete and therefore not applicable in my opinion.
 
This is not to say that I can not, or do not, appreciate the point that is being made.
 
I have always wondered why someone who never visits my class, or any public school, has a clue as to wait children need to learn. Curriculum, in and of itself, is a concept of convenience rather than importance. What my kids should know is not necessarily what they need to know; at least at a prescribed age or grade level.
 
At this point in educational history, teachers have abdicated their rights to choose and create their own curriculum. The time has passed for this fight. "Reformers" talk about how teacher unions have too much political power. The only power thbones I have associated with are in their ability to save me 10% on my insurance needs. Those who claim the power of unions to save the jobs of poor teachers are out of touch. Good teachers lose their jobs with one accusation of a student claiming sexual misconduct, when infact the claim is made because the student failed a test.
 
For nearly 10 years I have said to teachers who attended my workshops, "Students learn what they want I know." I claim this as my own truth. The authors say "No one will learn anything he doesn't want to know."
 
Two things this chapter seeks to question - How do people come to know? and What is worth knowing?
 
Two good questions. Again, my questions are who should determine the answers to these question? Who is truly qualified to arrive at a conclusion?
 
Perhaps the most sound piece of advice... "The enthusiasm that community leaders display for an educational innovation is in inverse proportion to its significance to the learning process" (p. 57). Does this mean that when administrators, boards, and superintendents espouse a certain curriculum-methodology-program and claim it will benefit all students while at the same time dictate individualized- differentiated instruction that teachers should apply critical thinking and implement their "crap detector?"
 
 
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Friday, December 26, 2008

My. Vernon, IL. FILLING UP


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Eating at Steak & Shake in Padukah, KY


On our way to inlaws near Olney, IL. About 3 hours to go.
 
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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Book Report - Part 3 - Teaching as a Subversive Activity


Inquiry Method
 
Best thought - once we label a method, we can then dismiss it. That is an administrative tactic, as well as a political one. Teachers who believe the pendulum theory use this too. This theory states that all educational methods come and go and come again.
 
Creating a classroom without a syllabus. I agree with the premise, but I question the idea that students have the basic ability to question content. Perhaps this is because teachers did not accomplish this with the previous generation and their children fill our classrooms with even less ability to question authentically.
 
Again, my major complaint about these kinds of books... So far it is only the teacher who has to change. While I agree that children are naturally curious, there is still a requirement from the student to not choose being disruptive, and "play the game" we might try to implement.
 
There has to be cooperation as a prerequisite. Too many students know they can keep classes from progressing by being an annoyance. With little ability to correct this kind of behavior, because of ridding ourselves of punishing students, "engaging" approaches to presenting material is not enough. It is becoming more true that some people simply want to "watch the world burn." that is there purpose. That has become a reality in many of our schools and classrooms.
 
With that said, the suggestions, ideas, and approaches provided for he teacher are not only appropriate, they are required traits for any teacher I'm the 21st century.
 
NCLB has defintely put a great restriction on the ability for a teacher to "experiment" with the ideas contained herein. Shame on President Bush (his wife as a former teacher) and most of all Congress for passing this law. Please remember, Presidents can only introduce legislation in our country. Congress is responsible for making proposals actual laws. There have been numerous opportunities to repeal, change, or otherwise admit error, but that has not happened. Nor does it appear it will under Obama.
 
The authors are correct when they imply that bureaucracy seeks to maintain status quo - that is there job. So waiting on the government to change things is a bad approach. Thus the appeal of "subversive" In the title.
 
Since people claim that kids do not have to learn as much as in the past, I wonder if it would be possible to get the mandated material out of the way quickly, then approach the classroom as suggested I'm the book, then do a quick "teach to the test" review before the test is given.
 
Can inquiry method work in the classroom? Absolutely. The question the authors claim they will answer in future chapters is "HOW?" I look forward to their ideas.
 
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Merry Christmas from our home to yours


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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Book Report - Part 2


The medium is the message.
 
Most students try to guess what the teachers want them to say.
 
The preoccupation with getting trivia questions correct as a verification of learning.
 
When one learns to ask questions, then the education begins.
 
Questions -
 
Can I actually get students to the point where their questions from class become the test questions?
 
Is the method only possible once there is a fundamental base of knowledge in the mind of the student?
 
I liked the Vaccination Theory of education. The idea that once you take a class it is completed. Clever and still applicable in our approach to public education.
 
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Book Report - Part 1


Reading Teaching as a Subversive Activity. Chapter 1 thoughts.
 
The book was written in 1969. It is 40 years old. The fact that the information rings true today is a testament that the author's are correct in their assertion that schools, and teachers, are more focused on curriculum than they are on learning.
 
Three reasons why teaching should be subversive. I'm most attracted to the inference of "if not schools, then who?" Exponential change due to technology requires us to rethink what is important for students.
 
Questions - is it that we should abandon the classic learning in favor of teaching "survival skills" in the modern age? If not, then time becomes the issue once again.
 
I did like their opinion on the one-way delivery of information that infiltrated American society in the 1960s. In the words of John Mayer - "When you own the information, you can bend it all you want." That was the experience I remember in the 1970s. It was not a liberal vs. conservative media. It was media...even the Watergate reporting was a one way delivery.
 
This approach has led to the revisionist history we experience today. In the word of the authors, I'm not saying revisionist is "good" or "bad." I'm just saying it exists.
 
I'm looking forward to reading more. The method is the message has my attention now.
 
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Reading


I just received my copy of Teaching as a Subversive Activity.  I'll have about several days to read it. 

Since so many education bloggers have suggested the book as must reading, I'm intrigued.  Copyright 1969...either timeless or ironic (the cover states, "A no-holds-barred assault on outdated teaching methods...").  Could it be that the methods they discuss in 1969 are still valuable, viable, and relevant in the 21st century of Web 2.0/Cloud computing? 

I am looking forward to the read.  Truth is, most of the new stuff is drivelous.

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Semester Exams - Kids Love 'em


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If I Could Just Get Blogger To Communicate With My Host


I am using Posterous.com to email my blog entries. With Posterous's ability to broadcast to other services, I can send updates to Twitter and Blogger (and other places as well). But I can't get Blogger to publish to my host at professor-marvel.com/blog.

This problem seems to occur every December. In addition, my hosting service just upgraded the server on which my blog is hosted, so there may be an issue with that. Sometimes, I wonder if it is worth the effort.

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Posting From My Phone


Another trial post.
 
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Testing - Getting Annoyed

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Publishing Issues

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Note:Publications of professor-marvel.com or associated works (unless specifically labeled with another copyright notice) are licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
The views expressed here are my own and reflect only my opinion.
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No Blogging, Candy, and Ghandi

My last blog post was October 19.  There is a reason I did not post...and it really was difficult for me to resist.

Here's the story.

My 7th grade class studies India as part of our curriculum.  Ghandi is one of the historical figures we discuss.  I sometimes use quotes as a starter, and as Halloween approached I used the story of a mother who wanted her son to stop eating sugar. 

She took her son to his "idol," Ghandi, and asked Ghandi to tell her son to stop eating sugar; knowing that if it came from him, her son would surely quit.  Ghandi said, "Bring the child back in 2 weeks."  The mother was confused, but did as she was instructed.

Two weeks later the mother returned with her son, and Ghandi said to the boy, "Son, sugar is not good for you.  You should stop eating it."  The mother asked why Ghandi did not give this advice two weeks earlier.  Ghandi's response, "Two weeks ago, I still ate sugar."

Well, this story struck a chord with one of my classes.  I challenged them to try and give up something they liked for two weeks.  They challenged me in return.  They said, we'll not eat candy for two weeks (until Halloween) if you can give up something for two months.  I asked what I would have to give up; and the class voted on blogging at Professor Marvel. 

We all did it.  [I trust each student gave up candy until Halloween, though I might be naive, huh.]

Well, I'm back.  So, did anything big happen in since October 19 that's worth talking about?
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