Friday, April 29, 2011

On Facebook

Decided to do a pilot run of a Facebook component to this blog so feel free to add me as a FB friend. My FB "name" is tres edu the one w/the pic of the Lincoln Memorial

Social Studies

Upon watching Glenn Beck, I got to thinking about "Social Studies". I took Social Studies in school as a child. I have (still do...) refused to ever call it anything but History.
I think of how it was taught to me and for the most part, my teachers read the textbook verbatim and we defined vocabulary and took an open book test. Bo-ring! We also for whatever reason never finished the textbook, lucky to get up to WWII in class- WWI and WWI and all in-between were often smooshed into one week of speed-reading.

Anyways, to quote Ravitch, I wish to delve into social studies really quickly. No commentary, just the quote as it speaks for itself.
The CRSE, a branch of the Committee of Ten, had a chairman, also chairman of the Committee on Social Studies, Thomas Jesse Jones. Jones believed (and here comes the verbatim chunk of info from Ravitch....)
"Jones was one of the first to coin the term " social studies". This new filed was formed by the intersection of two congenial ideas; one was social efficiency, or teaching students the skills and attitudes necessary to fit into social order; the other was ' the new history," whose advocates believed that the content of history in the schools should be selected on the basis of "the pupil's own immediate interest" and "general social significance". Proponents of social studies believed that pupils could not possibly be interested in history unless it was directly related to the present."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Making Education "right"

As I research education I find things out and have to double-guess and reflect on everything I learned and have done/do to think, is it what is best? Some books and articles chastise differentiated learning which I thought was peachy-keen until I realized its intent (social efficiency). I liked child centered learning and still admittedly do, but do not think it should be 100% child centered where they play with barbies for 4 years and get credit, but can't count to ten.

So what is the perfect education in my mind? (And surely it will change as I discover more things...)

1. An "elitist", "private school" level of education- similar "rigor" and advancement. Students will rise to expectations as long as this kind of school has support to get them there.

2. No stereotyping or labeling or what have you. I mean yes teachers should know who is special ed, ELL, but that's it...meaning don't project things on them like "you're special ed so you're on the vocational pathway and you're GATE so let's push college on you". No. Let them in high school pick their path, but give them all the tools and knowledge available to the "elites". They can choose to use it or lose it.

3. Remove special interest groups, think tanks, etc. Let parents, teachers, students dictate what's what in their own school.

4. Free enrollment. Duh, school is free I know that. I mean, you can enroll in whatever school you want, not bound by your address.

5. Real learning. Get the rote skills polished, perfected, and out of the way by grade 3 or 4. (Teach the basics to the wee little ones in fun ways, but cut the crap that takes away from learning at such a pertinent time.) Like the "open schools" or "The Met" in RI, really put learning in the student's hands. Let them go off in some educational direction that is their fancy and encourage, support, guide,and help them when needed. I would have loved to take a history course on despotism, genocide, and astro-archeology. Learn obscure languages. Travel and write about it, making my own "National Geographic". Mentor children in need. Etc etc. But I was stuck in boring classes doing the same thing as everyone else. My husband attended private school and did a photo journalism piece on free speech and coup d'etat in South America for example....much more "real" than a "powerpoint summarizing chapter 5". Get kids out in the "world" as well through job shadowing and the like.

My brain is now spinning with too many ideas and I'm losing my train of thought so there are more than 5 things I'd do t make education "right". But that's all for now.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Video I Made About Education

fooling around with the xtranormal website, I made this in a jiffy....

Some Videos...

oo busy to blog and do research and the like so here's some videos to tithe you over...


Where to educate?

People are already asking me, where will you send your son to school or will you homeschool? My son is just a few months old, mind you. I know it somewhat depends on where I live. And I'd like to homeschool but I will have to be working to that. I'm thinking private school if I find one I like. Not public school at all, but I feel bad about that. I think public school teachers are great, I'm not against them but against the system they're held hostage to.
But who knows...only time will tell.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

(a non-related tangent)

Okay so admittedly this post is a stretch to relate to education. But it has to do with me getting to work, and the fact I work at an environmentally focused school. (Yes, I drive a hummer, if you saw my commute in winter you'd know why.)

And when testing hell is over...I have 3 weeks of CSTs, then AP, then CAHSEE to round off 5 weeks of this...I will be back to my regular, education focused blogging self. mentions that lovely idea of a mileage tax for driving for which I am totally against.
Here's the ridiculousness of the environmental movement in regards to driving..

"drive less or be taxed" Like I choose to drive almost 100 miles a day? I can't move to near where I work because well a) I own my home and in this economy it won't sell and if it does I will probably owe more than it sells for, so I stay put b) education jobs are not stable so I could move near work and then, being an at will employee, lose my job and then what?

"bike to work" last year there was an electronic marquee, you know, the ones on the freeway that report abducted children and road conditions...well it was promoting bike or take public transport to work week and I about died laughing. So I researched it... to bike to work (I'd need a decent, pricey mountain bike), it would take 4 hours to get to work and would include riding on a rubicon black diamond jeep trail, and then through a cattle ranch (private property).

Ok so how 'bout I walk to work, the greenies promote that. That would take me only ten hours, walkng the same path as biking.

Since that is not an option let's take public transportation to work. I would have to leave home by about 4:45 to walk 2 miles (up and down in the mountains) to the bus stop. It would be pitch black and there aren't any street lights and hopefully a bear or mountain lion would not snack on me. Arriving at the bus stop un eaten, I'd take the bus down to central station. I would wait there until night time to take a train. OR... I can leave home and walk two miles, leaving at about 1:30pm on let's say..Sunday. Get to the station at 3:30, and wait until 8:00pm for the train. Take the train and arrive at 9:10pm. Then I spend the night near the station as no busses are available and take the 6:30am bus, switching buses four times to arrive across the street from work at 7:37am. Or I could skip spending the night and wander on foot through gang ridden neighborhoods and desolate stretches of desert to arrive at work at 12:45am (sleeping in the parking lot or my classroom?) and hopefully on my walk, the seasonal river would not be flowing or I'd go for a wet cold night wade through a river in the dark.

Ok so that is not an option so I'll stick to my commute and pray for cheaper gas, no commuter tax, etc.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I usually don't post regarding news but this caught my attention. I don't get it...if this mother were of the religious sect that denies medication, would SWAT/CPS have intervened? And dare I ask but if she were a different race would they have not intervened? Perhaps there's even more to this story but based on what I read, I kind of side with the mom...although I'm suspicious of the firing of a gun, but then again if someone came to take my child away I don't even know what my reaction would be but I doubt it would be cordial.

Cost of Education

In about 1948, the average cost per year for K-12 education was $80 which with inflation would be the equivalent of about $716 today. This statistic (1948) is from "Mathematics We Use Book One" (1948). In 2006 it was $9,683 (NCES statistic).

So here are some images depicting salary and spending per pupil. The two blue graphs/bar chart are using data from NCES (except for the 1948 stat, cited above). Of course salary averages are not as good of indicators as beginning salary due to step. column , and the variances of education and age of teachers...but beginning salary data was incomplete. The red and blue line graph is from which cites their source.

Make with the data as you will. I wonder where is the money going when it is not salary? Health care, perhaps but also more expensive textbooks, testing, and social services the school offers perhaps. However, you will see the College Entrance SAT scores have been slowly declining over time so all these fancy tests and textbooks and social services do not seem to be effective in my opinion....but a deeper statistical analysis would have to be done to know for sure. I'm not advocating less money towards schools or teachers, just that the money we're spending is not working. We need to keep money in schools, yes, but we need to fix the broken system first and foremost.


memorization charts on the left and socially applicable/useful math on the right.

introduction mentioning social significance
the books

Apologies to the ill arrangement of photos (blogger and I don't get along when it comes to arranging photos the way I want) and the blurriness (old camera as my good one is charging)

In a previous post I'd quoted Iserbyt on, "

“Modern Math.” At one point I objected

because there was too much memory work, and math is reasoning; not memory. Dr.

Ziegler turned to me and said, “Nelson, wake up! That is what we want... a math that

the pupils cannot apply to life situations when they get out of school!” That math was

not introduced until much later, as those present thought it was too radical a change.

A milder course by Dr. Breckner was substituted but it was also worthless, as far as

understanding math was concerned. The radical change was introduced in 1952. It was

the one we are using now. So, if pupils come out of high school now, not knowing any

math, don’t blame them"
Well...I found a California State Series Textbook, Mathematics We Use, Book Two, by Brueckner and Grossnickle written in 1948, (same Bruckner as Iserbyt mentions? No clue...). The textbook says as you can see, "the modern mathematics program recognizes two major phases of the subject; namely, the mathematical phase and the social phase....the purpose of the social phase is to help the pupil understand and utilize effectively the quantitative procedures that he will need daily in the social order of which he is part. The basis of instruction throughout this series of textbooks is 1) the number system 2)its social significance.....Also; numerous activities are suggested which require pupils to investigate social applications of mathematics in their own communities....The presentation of both mathematics and social applications of a topic represents a scientific and psychological approach to the study of mathematics.

This is before the de-mathification of 1952 but seems to be a pre-cursor, a melding of real, applicable math, monotonous memory drills, and the social efficiency model preparing students for set roles in life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Random Quotes on Education Worth Viewing II

From Charlotte Iserbyt's Deliberate Dumbing Down of America...

The term response is used for any reaction made by him—a new thought, a feeling

of interest, a bodily act, any mental or bodily condition resulting from the stimulus.

The aim of the teacher is to produce desirable and prevent undesirable changes in human

beings by producing and preventing certain responses. The means at the disposal of the

teacher are the stimuli which can be brought to bear upon the pupil—the teacher’s words,

gestures, and appearance, the condition and appliances of the school room, the books

to be used and objects to be seen, and so on through a long list of the things and events

which the teacher can control.

Since the beginning of Western civilization, the school curriculum was centered

around the development of academic skills, the intellectual faculties, and high literacy.

Dewey wanted to change all of that. Why? Because high literacy produced that abominable form of independent intelligence which was basically, as Dewey believed, anti-social.

In our dream, we have limitless resources,

and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hand. The present

educational conventions fade from our minds; and, unhampered by tradition, we work our

own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk. We shall not try to make these

people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or of science.We are

not to raise up from among them authors, orators, poets, or men of letters. We shall not

search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians. Nor will we cherish even the humbler

ambition to raise up from among them lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen,

of whom we now have ample supply.

If there are those who think we are to jump immediately into a new world order,

actuated by complete understanding and brotherly love, they are doomed to disappointment.

If we are ever to approach that time, it will be after patient and persistent effort of long

duration. The present international situation of mistrust and fear can only be corrected by

a formula of equal status, continuously applied, to every phase of international contacts,

until the cobwebs of the old order are brushed out of the minds of the people of all lands.

This means that the world must await a long process of education and a building up

of public conscience and an international morality, or, in other words, until there is a

world-wide sentiment which will back up the modern conception of a world community.

Chairman of

the Educational Committee of the Council on Foreign Relations, to ask me to attend...

my talk on the teaching of functional physics in high school, and the fact that I was a

member of a group known as the Progressive Educators of America, which was nothing

but a Communist front. I thought the word “progressive” meant progress for better

schools. Eleven of those attending the meeting were leaders in education. Drs. John

Dewey and Edward Thorndike, from Columbia University, were there, and the others


were of equal rank. I checked later and found that ALL were paid members of the

Communist Party of Russia.

We spent one hour and

forty-five minutes discussing the so-called “Modern Math.” At one point I objected

because there was too much memory work, and math is reasoning; not memory. Dr.

Ziegler turned to me and said, “Nelson, wake up! That is what we want... a math that

the pupils cannot apply to life situations when they get out of school!”


in 1932 for the purpose of changing the Goals for American Education. In 1944 the EPC

The Troubling Thirties : c. 1932

20 prepared a volume of extreme importance entitled Education for All American Youth. This

highly promoted document told, in fictional format and as though it were a fait accompli,

how the “Planners” would solve all the problems; not just of youth, but of two imaginary

communities—a village and a city—through involving citizens in cooperation for the goals

of the planners. The following goals are laid out in this book:

• federal programs for health, education and welfare combined in one giant bureau

• Head Start programs

• getting pre-school children into the system

• teacher participation in curriculum decisions

• federal funds without federal control

• youth services through a “poverty program”

• removal of local control of political and educational matters “without seeming

to do so”

• sex education

…For good or for ill, we must cease training people for what they are going to do, and

point out instead what they should do. It will probably fall to our generation to resurrect the

word “ought” to its rightful status in the affairs of men—for what else are values if not areas

of experience with an imperious push or pull emanating from them?

There are some purists who will be frightened by the indoctrination which must

inevitably follow if this recommendation is effective.... Such an objection is silly, for

since indoctrination of attitudes occurs anyhow, our sole concern must be to ensure

that the right ones are established....

How any one with the least pretensions to higher education can fail to be thrilled by

the ultimate prospects of a single world government, the abolition of war and poverty, the

enhancement of beauty in daily life, and the enlightened practice of eugenics and euthenics,

is a riddle which can be explained only by a blind, exclusive regard for the immediately

practicable.... What nobler and more enlightened aim for education in this century can

possibly be proposed than that it enlists the enthusiasms of youth for the attainment of

more rational forms of group living.

Summing up: the populist state will have to put general scholastic instruction into a

shortened form, including the very essentials. Outside of that, opportunity must be offered

for thorough, specialized scholarly training. It is enough if the individual person is given a

store of general knowledge in broad outline, receiving a thorough detailed and specialized

training only in the field which will be his in later life.... The shortening of the schedule and

of the number of classes thus attained would be used for the benefit of the development of

the body, the character, of will and resolution

Skinner’s novel, Walden Two, recommended—amongst

other radical things—that “children be reared by the state, to be trained from birth to demonstrate

only desirable characteristics and behavior.”

Random Quotes on Education Worth Viewing

Some random quotes from books that I will at some point write about....and cite at that point.

(near the end of the 19th cent...) everywhere the goals were few and simple: children learned not only the basics of reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic but also the basics of good behavior. Principals and teachers considered character and intelligence to be of equal value and neither was possible without "disciplining the will" which required prompt, unquestioning obedience to the teacher and the school.

The McGuffey readers contained excerpts from...Shakespeare, Hawthorn, Dickens. (these readers were popular around the end of the 19th century in public elementary children in elementary schools today read such things? They hardly do even in high school.)

Charles W Eliot insisted that more and better schools and common standards were needed.

William Torrey Harris explained that the right kind of moral education could not be obtained from private tutors, because only in public schools did pupils learn the discplined behavior necessary for life in a civilized community......(he also thought that...) a system which proposes to let the individual work out his education entriely by himself is the greatest possible mistake.

They pressed the schools to cast aside outmoded assumptions, one of which was the idea that the academic curriculum was appropriate for all children. Progressive educators argued that the bookish curriculum blocked social progress and it was unfitted for the hordes of immigrant children.

Th goal of many reformers was not to to make the academic curriculum accessible to more students but to devise a practical curriculum for those who would soon be in the workforce, especially the students who were poor, foreign born, and non-white.

Immigrant children...lacked the intellect for academic studies...they were suited for manual labor and industrial occupations where they would serve society best.

(These quotes are all from Diane Ravitch's Left Back)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Educational Leaders Unmasked: James Russell, Admittance ot the Dumbing Down of Education

James Earl Russell (who studied and obtained his Phd in where else but Prussia)studied under Wundt (of which I hope to delve in to at some point...) and visited many schools in Prussia and other parts of Europe. He very muchly favored the training of teachers in Prussia, as well as the way the Prussians prepared their students for their role in society. He was a professor and dean of Teachers College around the turn of the century (1800s to 1900s). He taught there for about 30 years; his ideas had to have some influence on future educators. The Teachers College as you recall featured John Dewey and Edward Thorndike (another I will delve in to at some point..) to name a few. The Teachers College was likened as the"Intellectual crossroads of the Progressive Movement". Under Russell, enrollment surged from just under 200 students to over 5,000 in twenty years.

Russell has a quote which I found quite shocking; it to me signaled the admittance of a system that created and promoted (and still promotes) the "achievement gap". I won't even give my usual commentary to the quote as it speaks volumes itself, and I have so much to say about it that I''m just going to keep mum and let the quote speak to you. Here goes,
" How can a nation endure that deliberately seeks to rouse ambitions and aspirations in the oncoming generations which in the nature of events cannot possibly be fulfilled? If the chief object of the government be to promote civic order and social stability, how can we justify our practice in schooling the masses in precisely the same manner as do those who are to be our leaders?" (I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.) has some info on Russell. The quote is from Left Back by Diane Ravitch but the quote is Russell's, from a piece he wrote in 1929.

College For Everyone: No. College Bound Education, Yes.

In 1973, only 28% of jobs in America required some form of college education. By 2018, 63% of jobs in America will require some form of college education. Many of our low skill jobs have been outsourced due to cheap labor; Americans need to be “worth” their pay which is why many highly skilled jobs remain in our country and require degrees.

I know some people just aren’t “college material” and so I am quite annoyed when schools push “everyone to college”. I’m also weary of the P-16 or P-20 (Preschool to “grade” 16 or 20..meaning college) because that means even more government control of education for even longer.

However, why can’t we offer a rigorous, college bound level secondary school for ALL students regardless of their future? Isn’t NOT offering this robbing them of the ability of, and the access to, great knowledge?

Do we just “dumb down” the curriculum for the non-college bound kids? (I feel we do).

Just because they are not college-bound does not mean they are dumb or deserve less.

My own father barely finished high school and never went to college but he is one of the most intelligent people I know; he can speed read and is a walking encyclopedia for everything related to plants, animals, and Native American tribes…so much so that he will write the editor of a book or magazine if they have an incorrect fact! However, my dad barely squeaked by in school and never was challenged and I can only imagine where he’d had gone in life if he had a “college bound” education.

I want to see our schools offer a private-elite-school-level of education to ALL. While social efficiency folks would scoff at this, claiming it is a waste, is empowerment through knowledge, the joy of learning, the understanding of the world or at least the offer of these things, ever a waste? How can they have the audacity to think this a waste? An education as I propose would have high expectations (with support to get there), include real life lessons, innovative and creative collaborative projects and reports, some self-guided learning….the list goes on.

But here’s the problem; it will never happen because historically, our education system has not been set up this way and so a belief that it should not be as I propose has become institutionalized. Diane Ravitch wrote, in Left Back, “progressive educators considered it a misguided elitist effort to impose a college preparatory curriculum on everyone…[ignoring] individual differences and social needs.” (Individual differences and social need sounds like a politically correct way of saying the dummies and unfit, those who will go nowhere in life…and socially, we need some dummies as not everyone can be a hoity toity intellectual elitist, nay nay….)

Every educator should be livid. Last time I checked, teachers teach to enlighten, empower, and encourage the best of our students. I know I certainly did not become a teacher to pick and choose who I’d give the best education to.

In reference back to the quote from Ravitch, call me naïve, an elitist, what you will, but as an educator I want the best for every child, and I am in the classroom to awaken them all to the endless joy of learning and no one is going to stop me, even though I must battle the system at every step.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Woop That Test! (CAHSEE Exit Exam)

While I am against standardized testing, it is part of life now-a-days and it is part of my job. So upon trying to find Youtube videos relating to testing I found a cool music video by Locke II Charter High students in Los Angeles-a historically underperforming, violent school (one of my professors worked there and was shot at TWICE) was turned into a charter and is turning things around. I thought the video was well made and creative so I give Locke II Charter a high-five for the video. They have others on Youtube too.

It's State Testing Week So....

As I finish up state testing at one school site and begin another...

Educational Leaders Unmasked: Dewey Part II

Dewey once wrote, "The individualistic man is a victim of an unnamed form of insanity and only the collectivist man is sane."
And how might this notion affect education? I think back to my favorite influences (sarcasm here) of Prussian education and social efficiency; social efficiency educators [were] made up of an acceptance of a collective
society and a belief that an individual should be devoted to a specialized task
in society.” (see my Social Efficiency part III post) This notion is very Dewey-esque and is arguably still a practice in education.
Wikipedia states, “Dewey goes on to acknowledge that education and schooling are instrumental in creating social change and reform. He notes that “education is a regulation of the process of coming to share in the social consciousness; and that the adjustment of individual activity on the basis of this social consciousness is the only sure method of social reconstruction” (1897) )”
I take this to mean that teachers are regulators, who must “adjust” students to fit their societal mold, as the key part in “social consciousness” (that sounds so hunky-dory and reminds me of my liberal arts education in college…social consciousness was nearly de rigueur in conversation and coursework). Does this sound like the role of a teacher to you? Perhaps it does but it is not my idea of a great teacher or desirable education. I think of teachers as “facilitators” who help mold students, yes, but not to their cog and wheel place in society but rather as a mentor, encouraging the student’s passions and interests, not societies pre-set passions assigned to them.
Learning by doing- Here’s where I favor Dewey. He was against a rigidly structured curriculum and felt that children learn best by doing, that is by experimenting, theorizing, playing with their learning. Too often we see classes heavy on lecture and/or scripted curriculum which study after study shows is not the most effective method. Think back to a lesson a teacher taught you, way back in elementary. Was it scripted curriculum, or learning by doing? I recall my favorite lesson was in 6th grade World History. After studying ancient civilizations, we worked in groups to create our own civilization, our own artifacts and Rosetta Stone which we sprinkled in dirt outside the school grounds. The next week each group went and did an “archeological dig” and pieced together the other group’s civilization. I think Dewey would support such a lesson.
The school must be made into a social center capable of participating in the daily life of the community . . . and make up in part to the child for the decay of dogmatic and fixed methods of social discipline and for the loss of reverence and the influence of authority.”

"that to put the child in possession of his fullest talents,
education should be active rather than passive
; that to prepare the child for a democratic
society, the school should be social rather than individualist'
“Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper
social order and the securing of the right social growth. In this way the teacher is always the
prophet of the true God and the usherer in of the true kingdom of heaven.”
(just a creepy quote there...)
"the plea for the predominance of learning to read in early
school life because of the great importance attaching to literature seems to be a perversion." This echoes the Prussian idea of having education to educate the public just so much that they feel satiated. The people become more educated than they would be without completion of their compulsory schooling, and they are likely more desirable as a work force. However, they learn just enough but not enough to start to question the status quo. Reading well enough to function in life was what the Prussians encouraged; they feared a learned man that was a proficient reader because they were a threat to the “system”. Let the top 2-10% elitists, from their private education, rule and make decisions because they’re the experts and the common man is not and should be happy with his status. If this idea exists today in our schools (the supposed dumbing down of our schools would support such a theory) then it is time to put a stop to it. Man deserves to “be all that he can be” and deserves an elite education. Knowledge is power and frees us from the shackles of dependency, feudalism, and oppression. Reading is a great vehicle for change; many studies show that ones “level” of vocabulary is a great determinant in their success in life, and reading is a great exposure to, as I call them in the classroom, 50 cent words. If we don’t teach the importance of great literature to our children, our future generations, if we only teach them certain sight words that are in a blanched condenses and altered version of literary classics, then we are supporting “the man keeping us down”. Social stratification will continue to rear its ugly head.
founded the Progressive Education Association which promoted the seven principles to improve elementary education (of which I can only find five); 1) Child centered; education should be active rather than passive. (I must agree).2) Children should learn the contents of the activities of the children formed their own direct experience. (I somewhat agree…such an idea can go to far as is outlined in Diane Ravitch’s Language Police.) 3) "the process of teaching the course is to develop habits of mind". (Yes, we need critical thinking but do we as teachers encourage habits of the mind, or decide what those habits should be?) 4) . Dilute the authority of the conscious view of teacher. (I do like teachers as facilitators especially in the later years i.e. high school when students have a foundational knowledge. However, it seems teachers have lost authority but it has not gone to the students but rather the bureaucrats. 5) The concept of school spirit. Progressive educators believe that students should be encouraged to cooperate with the school. (I believe students should have pride in their school; however, should they blindly cooperate and idolize the school?)
Socialism- many argue that Dewey promoted socialism; you decide in his quote here; "I do not see how any honest educational reformer in western countries can deny that the greatest practical obstacle in the way of introducing into schools that connection with social life which he regards as desirable is the great part played by personal competition and desire for private profit in our economic life. This fact almost makes it necessary that in important respects school activities should be protected from social contacts and connections, instead of being organized to create them. The Russian educational situation is enough to convert one to the idea that only in a society based upon the cooperative principle can the ideals of educational reformers be adequately carried into operation."
From (and it is a valid source; I’ve seen it backed up by research but the author says it more succinctly than I);
“Under the pretext of improving teaching methods, they changed what was taught to the American children. What did Dewey believe? In his writing and teaching, Dewey rejected fixed moral laws and eternal truths and principles. He adopted pragmatic, relativistic concepts as his guiding philosophy. Denying God, he held to the Marxist concept, that man is without a soul or free will. Man is a biological organism completely molded by his environment. Dewey believed that because man’s environment is constantly changing, man also changes constantly. Therefore, Dewey concluded, teaching children any of the absolutes of morals, government or ethics was a waste of time. On this moral philosophy, amoral philosophy, he developed his teaching formula, commonly labeled Progressive Education. Dewey published a thing called My Pedagogic Creed in 1897, and in it he saw the destruction – listen to this – the destruction of the child’s individualistic traits as the primary goal of education.” The idea of ethics verses morals, and that morals are fixed but outdated or wrong, is replaced with ethics which can change by the situation at hand. This in my opinion deteriorates one’s own moral fortitude. If morals must be taught in school (I argue against it; this is the role of the family) then shouldn’t we teach moral fortitude and not arbitrary, situational ethics? Of course Dewey stated morals and ethics should both not be taught in schools and I do agree; however some ethics and morals must be part of schools or else you’d have chaos- for example, we as teachers must reiterate what we hope is taught at home; i.e. share with others, get along with others, respect your elders, respect yourself and others…
Phrenology- Dewey believed in phrenology (as did Horace Mann) which was a pseudo-science of psychology that measured the skull. More precisely, the dimensions of one’s head and the bumps on the skull were measured and often used to promote racial superiority.
A good source that summed things up much better than I did and is well worth a visit if you want to read something that reflects my perspective:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Common Core Standards

For once, a not too lengthy post from me, something never thought possible. Maybe.

Farkbot. My state has adopted the Common Core Standards. I like the idea of national standards in that when you compare states, you have something to compare. However, I am against it as it is Federalism; less state control. And certain supporters (want a list? ) are those with something to gain through...

"accountability" ( tests = more $) being: Achieve, ACT, The College Board (they invented the SAT), Datametrics, Datawise, (Good old) ETS, Intel Assess, Iowa Testing Program, Scantron.

and curriculum; (to re-publish books with new standards it costs $$!) American Reading Company with a board member who was the Sr. V.P. of Mc Graw Hill (major textbooks), Cambium Learning (President and VP both used to be a high-end managers at Houghton Mifflin), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Mc Graw Hill, Pearson, Scholastic/

And the creepies,
Alliance for Excellent Education's President yearns for pseudo-social efficiency with him "ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared for college, careers, and to be contributing members of society."

If we have common core standards, and the textbook and testing companies designed them, did they design them with true learning in mind, or just textbook regurgitation and rote-learning testing in mind?

First Day On the Job

I received a phone call on August 3rd saying, “we’re (such and such) district that you interviewed with, would you be interested in a position?” I said yes, when does it start, what grade…the usual questions. Well, come to find out, school started August 7th. Excited, I immediately jumped in the car to go to my new school and see my new classroom. I drove a long hour drive and drove in the school parking lot and looked around, realizing the parking lot was deserted. I wiggled the gate and got into the school grounds and found a janitor who said, “no, no one is here, come back Tuesday when school starts. Remember, Monday is a staff meeting.” I walked back to my car and began to cry. How would I prep for my first day of school when there was no time to do it? I didn’t even know where my classroom was!

On Monday afternoon, I was handed my keys and went to my classroom, Room 42. The floor was sticky and dirty (the janitor said, oops, forgot to clean and polish it over the summer, too late now) and rather empty. All that was in the classroom was literally two large but different sized round desks, an empty teacher desk, and a whiteboard. No pencil or books or anything. I inquired about supplies….how would I write “welcome to room 42” without markers? How would I teach without books? I was told “oh, you go to the supply closet. But it is only open on Wednesdays but not this Wednesday since they’re busy cataloging the supply”. Great. I was to start the year off, without a pencil, pen, book, or sheet of paper for over a week. And what about chairs? Were the students to sit on the floor? I was directed to a dusty corner behind the portables to the desk graveyard where I found dusty desks and chairs covered in black widow webs. I donned some gloves and went to find some one to help me lug them to my room but to no avail, so I pushed each and every desk and chair for 35 students, across the blacktop in 100-degree heat.

I don’t recall my first day of school. In fact, I don’t recall anything up until Halloween and that’s mostly because I have a photo of it. I honestly have no recollection of those first few months.

Now I don’t proclaim to be the world’s best teacher, especially not my first year. I was not Erin Gruwell from Freedom Writers of Joe Clark from Lean on Me. I admit I ad my faults and messed up, but who doesn’t in their first year? But this school had it out for me, I swear, and only later were my suspicions confirmed.

Friday, April 1, 2011

My Education

I remember school was always a battle for me. In first grade, my teacher luckily realized my potential and let me go to the 5th grade classroom for reading material, and I still remember to this day her saying “oh baloney” whenever I would say, “I can’t”. That infuriated me at the time but I’m glad she pushed me. However, I was still stuck in a classroom that wasn’t “at my level” and so I got bored and was often sent into the hallway for disrupting.

Third grade rolls around and I loved my teacher, Mrs. C. So why did I hate school? I remember feigning illness one day, spelling test day because I’d ace the tests without even studying. Therefore I figured I’d stay home as what was the point of going to school? Meanwhile, the school was considering me for skipping 4th grade because I had stellar grades and test scores. After my first “illness” I found staying at home was much more productive. I watched the news and debated current events with my dad, wrote my own conclusions to books I’d read,went for nature hikes and them written poetry inspired from my journey. Wednesdays became a habit, followed by Tuesdays and…you get the point. All in all, I missed 63 days of school. Any more than 10 and you’re supposed to attend an attendance meeting, more than 30 and you’re retained. But see my mom was a teacher in the district so I think they didn’t want to “rock the boat” and let my 63 absences slide by…that is until my mom went in to inquire about my skipping ahead and explained that she should know, with absences like these, I as to be retained in 3rd. Quite an argument ensued, and continued at home because she had no clue I’d been absent that much because my dad and I had not just been lying to the school but her as well. I ended up progressing to 4th grade because my mom let the district know that with straight A’s and top 95th percentile test scores, from a child who barely attended, I had better not be retained.

Fourth grade was no better. I started the year with a teacher I loved but she only taught for a few weeks because her husband died. We were left with roving substitutes, a new one every day for months. Finally we landed a permanent teacher but she was off her rocker. I was out ill with bronchitis and returned and she literally yelled at me in front of the class for at least 5 minutes on how I had 14 missing assignment and would not pass. I came home in tears and my mom put me on independent study. Just like in 3rd grade, these days home were marvelous! I’d finish my week’s work on Monday and then go have my own kind of fun. I read the entire Audubon encyclopedia. I created a “wild edibles” pamphlet. I used a dremmel tool to carve petroglyphs into the rocks in our yard. I wrote a poem that won a district award, beating out high school students. But my mom was worried my socialization was suffering (I was painfully shy) and enrolled me back in school for 5th grade. Oh, and that 4th grade teacher was a vengeful lady. 15 years later, I was subbing in a classroom and hers was next door and while I still thought of her as a “mean teacher” I thought, let bygones be bygones, I’m an adult now, I should go say hello. She remembered me but not like the next teacher I’m about to mention. She instead said “Aah…I remember you, yes. You were a good writer but they wanted to retain you because your printing was so atrocious, no one could read it. Then you went on independent study so they were unable to retain you. Yes. I remember you for your bad printing, and hope it has improved”. Oh my, I was livid, as you can imagine.

5th was better, but I really don’t remember much of it at all. I remember my teacher, Mrs. B, was a great person and that’s all I recall. But she is still a great person, as I run into her at the grocery store every few years and she always says “I remember you, of course! Are you still reading and writing like mad?” I hope some day I can be a Mrs. Britain for my students as it is very meaningful when as an adult, your 5th grade teacher still remembers you!

6th grade was downhill again. My teacher played favorites and I was anything but. She did not like that I corrected her when she pronounced “Australopithecus” incorrectly, or that I told her to just give me the Harriet the Spy end of book quiz and project before we read it since I’d read it five times already. She despised me and made it show by giving me terrible grades. She wasn’t going to fail me, probably because my mom worked in the district, but I did pass that year with straight C- grades (D’s were considered failure).

Middle school on is kind of a blur due to many teachers, hormones, lack of sleep. Many years later, I had to do student teaching in my home district and the wife of my middle school science teacher Mr P, was supposed to have me as her student teacher but I was switched to another teacher. Well Mrs. P was livid that I'd been placed elsewhere, even though she was critical of me- she said "I remember you...well my husband does. You had illegible writing". This was TEN YEARS later! (And you may sense a trend here with my illegible penmanship. It has improved. I was "behind" in hand-eye coordination and thus penmanship because of vision in one eye that is so bad it is unmeasurable.)

I do remember coming home my freshman year crying almost every day. I hated high school and how I felt like just a number, how it was even more boring that middle school and how I just wanted to quit. I also begged my mom to lie about my age and claim I was 16 so I could go to her continuation school because maybe things were better there. I suffered through my freshman year and luckily found drama as a hobby to keep me grounded. The drama club still, excuse my French, pissed me off- the popular kids got the roles and the less popular kids like me became extras or set designers. Regardless, it was a place to be creative so that is the only thing that kept me from dropping out. Well that and my art and photography classes. I delved into those courses like mad, taking beginning and advanced art and photo twice each.

Still disenfranchised by school, I decided my junior year to take an AP English course. I had been hesitant because I never liked the “AP clique” of students and preferred the “white trash” kids as at least they were “real”. I did enroll and liked the level the class was at and how I was challenged. However, it was the only AP class I took even though I’m sure I could have taken many more. I did not like the snobbery of the AP kids and also just didn’t like the class. Wait, you might say, you just said you liked the class, so let me explain. I had hated school since 1st grade and so by 11th, I really hated it, Even though the drama club kept me in school, I still dreaded school, dreaded the monotony and the in-personalization of it all. Here I had a slough of AP courses which could offer what I wanted, and I wanted nothing to do with it. Sure I read some good books in AP English and found the discussions provoking but such a learned atmosphere did not appeal to me.I think that it was because I’d become so despondent in regards to school that even a good thing seemed bad. Kind of like when a child is told they’re dumb enough times that they believe it, I had found school so very trite so many times that I believed it.

I recall being pressured to go to college and that it would be "different". I received college pamphlets from all over but only looked near home. Even though I hated my home town, where I'd lived my entire life, taking the risk of going to college, which I certainly would hate, seemed a safer bet close to home. I applied to two universities and accepted both offers and ended up deciding I'd take a leap of faith and go to the private University. I have to say that it turned my life around. Sure, I went to parties and goofed off but I was also finally in an academic atmosphere where I actually wanted to learn. Little quiet me actually spoke up in class. I'd join random intellectual 2am conversations in the hallway. I took "pointless" classes like Classical Guitar, War and Myth in German Literature, Dream Theory, Non Western Music and Culture, Yoga, Scene Production, and my very own class all to myself- Ethnography, Indian Immigrants. I finally had command of my learning so instead of being stuck in some boring Algebra I class, I could pursue my random interests. And with a small class size of generally under 20, I got to know my peers and professors which made the experience more...I don't know, just, better. I felt finally recognized for my talents, whatever they may be. I was somewhere where being smart and weird was cool.

I recall as a child out right refusing to become a teacher when I grew up. I hated school so how could I ever work there? But I do recall often saying to myself, “If I were a teacher I wouldn’t….(or) I would…..instead”. I just felt I knew what schools and teachers should do and yet I never saw them do it. I had no clue there was a pecking order of hierarchy, red tape, and the like holding them back, but that is still no excuse.

In college I had to perform community service and found a position at a Native American pre-school. I was not so eager to work there since it resembled school, but knew community service was “good for me” and necessary to graduate. After my first day, I was hooked. I loved trying to explain the ways of the world to toddlers, and just ate up their “aha” moments and wonderment. Maybe education was for me after all...

Pink Slips

"Beware the Ides of March" said Shakespeare many centuries ago, and it should be a slogan for public education in California. March 15th, Shakespeare's/Rome's Ides of March day, is wearisome in California. Thousands of teachers receive "pink slips" (mine has never been pink...) saying basically that due to budget uncertainties, they may not have a job next year.

A quick tangent on budgeting...The budget if I recall correctly (as it is not my forte) has cycles of knowledge and disbursement...the state gives some inclination of funding in January, then April, then July...April calls an end to ADA ($ for attendance) and these periods may also be pay periods. (Sorry...I should really be more knowledgeable). I think by May 15 districts must "pencil" in the budget for the following school year, but they don't actually know what funding they will receive until July 1. And funding is based on the previous school year. Example, if a school of 300 students submits their budget in May of 2011, they find out their actual budget July 1st of 2011, and then when school rolls around in late summer of 2011, if the enrollment swells to 350, their funding is based on last school year's 300 students.
Therefore with all this budget confusion, schools make a not-so-conservative chopping block list in March and then refine it in May, based solely on speculations.

Back on topic here...
Those most often pink slipped, whether it be the Russian Roulette invitation in March or the Russian Roulette final rounds in May, are the newest teachers and staff (people often forget that teacher's aides, administration, etc get cut, too). If you're not tenured, it's quite likely you'll make the first rounds; and if it is particularly a bad year financially even a newly tenured staff person can enter the first rounds. This means teachers that most likely are struggling to support a family (since your first years of teaching have lower salary than your more "senior" years on the job) and more likely are paying off student debt, are most likely at risk. What a way to value the new teaching stock!

Them May rolls around and usually most pink slips are rescinded but there's often some kind of final rounds of certain death. Once this occurs, your likelihood of getting another job lessens because you only "lasted" at a school for a few years which looks suspicious. Once you reach my magical number of two of these experiences, no one wants to hire you; they never seen to think "oh, pink slips" but rather "oh, bad teacher".

I have fallen victim to these practices twice; both times I lost the second round of roulette.

I remember waking on March 15 with mixed emotions and biting at the bit until the Principal would call me in the office. Both times, I got the pink slip. I kept telling myself, so many people receive these and so few are let go so who cares? But there was always that nagging voice saying, what if? This made the two months between March and May utter hell...I had to content with the spring fever of my students, state testing, and job insecurity. I'd second guess my every action and, I was tired and yawned in front of the Principal, will she think that means I'm bored by my job? ADHD Annie is off her rocker today and refuses to finish her spelling test- will this cause me to be fired?
May 15 rolls around and I wake up in a foul mood. I keep telling myself, it will be ok it will be ok. But both times, it wasn't. I remember when I received the bad news I did my best not to cry, and went into the restroom and bawled my eyes out. I did not want to be the center of attention or object of pity. I had a job to finish, and this would not get in my way. (I did witness other staff being let go, that had a f%#k it attitude and barely did their job after May 15 but not me). I put on a game face and battled through the rest of the year. I refused both times to tell anyone I was not going to return the following year. See, teaching is a job but it is also a life style. The students, your co-workers, are your extended family. If you remove sleep, night school, errands, it seems you're at school more than home, and see your students more than your own family. So imagine being ostracized from your own family! Your home! You become a destitute, nomadic, Pink Slip refugee. It is heart breaking.
I remember that both times, I did not tell my students the bad news - that they would never see me again- until the very end of the last day of school. Therefore, the last day of school was bittersweet. I'd take photos of my class (before delivering my news), smiles abound as they got all jazzed up about summer...I preserved these happy memories on paper because that's how I want to remember my students. I do recall one of the years, the students went to promotion, meaning the next school year they would attend middle school, so for them it was bitter sweet too, as they were leaving their school of six years.
Upon delivering my bad news, my students were always so shocked. They said I was a good teacher and didn't deserve this and how they would never see me again and how sad it was. I got hugs and tears and thank yous.

Once my students left for summer, I'd stay after and pack up my classroom which is a hard thing to do. It is sad to tear everything down, knowing you'd never hear child chatter in that class again, never witness another "aha moment" inside those walls, never proudly display a student's work again, never post a "welcome to my class" sign and great eager but frightened children as they entered your class for the first time... everything you pack away carries a memory that may never be replicated. And you are filled with emotion- obvious sadness, but some joy for the good things that did happen inside those walls (kind of like an Irish wake, celebrating life!) and then some anger too, and misunderstandings, negative emotions all bundled up , that you didn't let out at school because you couldn't, and now they'd been shoved aside so long that now that you can let them out, it seems futile, but the anger still resides. You're gone, what is done is done. You've been a victim of circumstance. They'd better regret letting you go. Will they remember me, will a part of me always be in these walls, in the story of the school, the memory of the children, or will that all go away as fast as I do?

Shutting off the lights and locking the door for the last time is an unforgettable moment, almost indescribable. I slooowly shut the door, unwilling to fully let it go, let reality set in. But as soon as the lock clicks, I can't get out of there fast enough.

Education Leaders Unmasked: Part I Do We Like Dewey

Do we like Dewey or Do we not? Are we doing like Dewey?

I think John Dewey is one of, if not the most, prominent influence on education; it seems every bit of research on education mentions his name. I am now trying to formulate my opinion on him, as he was both a positive and negative influence on education... but all we seem to hear about is the positive.

So here goes, my attempt at either an un-biased post, or at least one that explores the good and bad of Dewey, in my attempt to find out, do I like Dewey or do I not?

Attended University of Chicago.

There are certain universities such as Columbia, U of Chicago, Stanford, that really seem to pump out a lot of people who had a great impact on education. A Professor of note at U of Chicago was John Franklin Bobbitt, and students of note were of course Dewey, and Jay Olshansky (current President of the American Eugenic Society), and President Obama (his Race to the Top will have a profound, albeit so far unknown, effect on education). I’m not bashing U of Chicago or saying either U of Chicago or Dewey are “bad”..I am just mentioning connections.

Charles Darwin had a great influence in Dewey's life works

Dewey was inspired by Darwin and wrote, “The Influence of Darwinism on Philosophy”.

Founded University of Chicago Lab Schools

One of if not the most prestigious private school, it is where the elitists send their children. Therefore I must wonder, why did Dewey create a prestigious private school and not a public school? Did he feel it may be a waste to develop “the whole child” if that child wasn’t a wealthy elite? If he studied Darwin (which he did) and took Darwinism to heart, then creating a great school, but just for the “top” children -survival of the fittest- would certainly make sense. (Notable alumsquery? See,)and good luck getting in- tuition hovers above $20,000 a year.

Studied with G Stanley Hall

Hall coined the term and idea of adolescence. Hall had no sympathy for the poor, the sick, feeble-minded or disabled. A firm believer in racial eugenics, selective breeding and forced sterilization, he believed that any charity toward the weak or "defective" simply interfered with the movement of natural selection toward the development of a super-race.

President American Psychological Association

My question- can psychology be used to manipulate or control children? Does it have its place in education?

Professor at Columbia’s Teachers College

You can visit some of my Prussian posts and Teacher College posts to get the history behind these schools. Yes, schools should prepare students to become teachers. But should they all originate from Prussia and follow Prussian models of education? I think not.

Member American Federation of Teachers

The second largest teacher union in the USA, this appointment certainly had influence upon educational policy since the unions have a huge influence on schools