Wednesday, December 05, 2007

What Teachers Need (According to David)

Sitting in an outpatient surgery clinic waiting room awaiting my love to come out of her anaesthetic swooze after some fairly minor surgery, I'm online with the practice's lobby-only wi-fi connection. How civilized!

Catching up on my Netvibes I popped into David Warlick's 2cents worth blog to note his reflections about recent conversations at the myriad conferences that make up his professional life. His bulleted shortlist of the things he repeatedly tells teachers and administrators that teachers need in order for our educational institutions to pull their virtual heads out of their virtual back rooms (hey, pretty nicely paraphrased!) deserves a reprint here, so here it goes--

"I tell them that teachers need:

  • Time to plan, collaborate, research, assess and adapt, build, and innovate (I tell them 3 to 4 hours a day — everyday).

  • Classrooms that are equipped for learning in an abundant information environment, rather than an information-scarce environment (This means wifi, a laptop in every teacher and learner’s hand, one or more projectors in each classroom, and access to the emerging technologies that channel contemporary literacy).

  • Permission to safely innovate and facility to engage in professional conversations about the changes needed for relevant education."

So, taking these items one at a time, how do we provide teachers with these necessaries? Well, I know for a fact that the most innovative teachers I know either get up early or stay up late in order to plan, collaborate, etc., and what--is that just a requirement of the profession? Remember we're talking about a profession universally undercompensated and often disrespected ("those who can't, teach") and currently manacled by massive government oversight and bureaucratic control. I simply don't think anything short of revolution will accomplish the meeting of mindsets from the myriad groups of human beings who have legitimate claim to a stake in the outcomes. Fly up the Freak Flag!

Secondly, where are the funds and the programmatic consensus to allot those funds going to come from? It may well be that a Democratic White House is a hope for steps toward this Warlickian Requirement (I am not a Democrat, by the way, nor a Republican), but who might doubt that most of the first years of any such administration will be spent working to undo the damage 8 years of Republican war-mongering has already (not to mention the further damage that might occur over the next 411 days, 10 hours--see the Bush Timer website to see how many are left when you are reading this)?

Lastly--and knowing David I'm certain this isn't really a completed list: he'll come up with more in future musings--who's going to grant those permissions in the current atmosphere of "accountability" measured by standardized test scores aligned to an agrarian educational system tied (even in some of the best private schools) to "sage on the stage" teaching methods?

I sigh. There's my rant. I don't often do that (I'm well aware that I'm criticizing without offering solutions) but David's reflections needled me into it. It's his fault: Go read the post that started all this. Cheerio...

Image Citation:TWM, “Clocks Go Back.” Twm™’s Photostream. 29 Oct 2006. 4 Dec 2007 http://flickr.com/photos/twmlabs/282089123/ via David Warlick's 2CentsWorth blog, http://davidwarlick.com/2cents/.

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