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Why Do You Ask?

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

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Book Report - Part 5 - What's Worth Knowing

Chapter 5 of Teaching as a Subversive Activity
The authors obviously believe that what is worth knowing is subjective. Not saying this is necessarily a bad approach, but I can see possible malpractice in a teacher, or even a system, deciding what they will teach based on faulty assumptions of what the school demographic. Prejudice has been known to be a part of our history, and could easily be assumed in a classroom situation.
The authors argue for allowing students to ask questions to guide the curriculum. Yet there is a statement, "We can, after all, learn only in relation to what we already know." It seems to me there must therfore be room for a basic knowledge set in the curriculum on which students can build - a standardized curriculum of basic knowledge, so to speak.
Later in the chapter the authors state, "the only place one finds such "standards" is in a school system." Then, perhaps the best phrase in the book so far - standards of learning are distinct from standards for grading (which is what is usually meant by standards of any kind -- though today standards for assessment would be more current).
Alan Watts saying - THE UNIVERSE IS WIGGLY - is an outstanding phrase. The meaning is that when good questions are asked within a discipline, other disciplines are needed to answer the questions, thus blurring the lines among subject areas.
I have tried to find the right words for years as to why I do not think blanket standards are a good thing. I have said that students are not standard across the country, state, or even schools. We have made an incorrect assumption that all students are college-bound, yet many high schools no longer offer any diploma programs lower than college prep. I now have a better argument.
In the illustration of the dismayed admin whose staff had prepared a wonderful curriculum only to discover that the "wrong" kids showed up. "The trouble withbthe old education and its functionaries: it virtually insures an endless and increasing number of "wrong" students.
As I like to say, TEACHING IS AN ART, NOT A SCIENCE. Focusing on curriculum first is treating the teaching/learning process as a science rather than an art. Teachers must know their students better than their curriculum. Since most do not, the wrong students always show up. The students are said to be ill-prepared for their grade level. And because we continue to shovel curriculum into the closed mouths of our students we will continue to see more wrong students in the future.
Final takeaway - question asking and answer finding go hand in hand. This is when the text books, Internet, newspapers, and other information distribution sources are to be consulted.
Good chapter.
 From R. Murry

Posted via email from rrmurry's posterous


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