Of course, i suspect my blessed Room5ians will chip in with their two cents worth [no connection intended, David Warlick], but this is a thought for teachers....
Is anyone else starting to think that their might be a massive [perhaps not intentional] charade going on? I'm kinda happy to take part in it too, to some extent, and I have/do. However, something has occurred to me...
It all started by me spending the last three years going to the cool educational conferences.
I felt privileged to attend. I loved it! I got paid to go away, meet cool people, get excited, and come back to school full of enthusiasm and feeling as though all those things you knew, but didn't know you knew, had been illuminated for you by "experts"- people who really know what's going on and are prepared to tell you. . . [get where I'm heading yet?]
I would then, of course, be brought back down to earth by the mundane requirements of school and the ever so important details of the attendance register, the before school, during school and after school meetings to discuss all the dreadfully important things that teachers need to dicsuss [like whether or not to arrange a bike shed monitor for after school, or how to come up with the five magic words that represent the values of the school, or to go over what was said at the previous meeting about how to reduce the amount of time spent in meetings, etc.]
Those conferences became the highlight of my year. No meaningless assessment tasks to satisfy administrators, no duty, lot's of socialising - you get the picture. At them, experts would fly in from abroad to tell us what they thought. Or locals who had heard it before somewhere else would repeat the same message in a different way, in smaller sessions. If you were a really on-to-it teacher, you would be able to rework other peoples' theories and present them to people who hadn't heard them before, thus joining the elite club of those who know...
Sadly, the poor people not chosen to attend would then be in the dark. We enlightened ones would find snippets from Youtube, Twitter, TED, and so forth. We'd chuck together a wiki, or reveal some new and incredibly helpful techno thingy that would revolutionise teaching and voila - suddently we appear to know more than them, so long as we quoted Prensky or some other luminary and had a good joke or cartoon to start with.
Once hooked on the dizzying rush of academic advancement, we would spend our days and nights meeting together, twittering in online hoardes, sharing these esoteric gems so that we would know more and be more effective and, most importantly, know more than everyone else, all the while, never coming up with anything original or in anyway actually meaningful to the day to day lives of school children, but ever so effective at making us appear clever, because plenty of others don't know what we're on about. [agreed, i'm not very good at it yet so i'm bitter] ;-)
But in all seriousness, I do wonder if most of us aren't just repeating the same buzzwords, just trying to keep up with the most current trend, or be amongst the first to know about the next fleetingly "important" thing, because it makes us feel good and seem as though we are initiates into some higher echelon of educators.
But who really thinks that reworking Blooms taxonomy makes any difference to a child's love of learning and ability to do so effectively. Conversely, who thinks being a good actor and story teller makes more of a difference to children's engagement? What about being flexible enough to actually findout whats childrens needs and intersts are then cater to them - that's why i think it's BS that class sizes don't make a difference. How can you cater to individual needs effectively when you've got 30 plus of the little blighters?
I think I really got suspicious when two more of these experts actually got paid tens of thousands of dollars to come to our school to teach us how to brainstorm so we could work out how to construct our perfect school... Yes, you read correctly. To make it real, we then had to form research groups that worked hard after school each week for a couple of years to work out how to do what it was we thought we wanted to do.
After much stress and unnecessary extra work, we discovered that
A. Most of us didn't know very much about anything and certainly didn't agree on what we did know, and
B. Our school needed to have values, like respect, passion, etc.
Nothing changed of course, except that the experts got to drink more expensive whiskey as they chortled all the way home and we got five words to stick on our walls.
You can imagine the rest. They had at least fifty other schools paying them for this brilliant scheme. They had mastered the art of the conference presentation and made it a more profitable beast by delivering it directly to the multitudes. I think the key was to start by telling us a few things we really wanted to hear - like, homework is pointless and marking everything is unrealistic - they had me there!
I think I want to do what they do.
Anyway, I don't mean to offend. It's just something I've been wondering about. And I certainly don't know what i'm talking about.