Monday, August 25, 2008

Helping or Hindering Potential Teachers?

More thoughts from George K. Cunningham from EdNews.

An Interview with George K. Cunningham: Helping or Hindering Potential Teachers? Michael F. Shaughnessy
Senior Columnist
Eastern New Mexico University

1. George, over the past few years, teacher training has changed from teacher centered to learner centered. Some people indicate that it is more important for the student to be "multiculturally aware and ethnically sensitive" rather than proficient in math or science. Where do you stand and how did this shift come about?

Actually, this is not a recent change, but a problem that has plagued education schools for a long time. David Larrabee has an interesting explanation for the ineffectiveness of education schools. He attributes their problems to the fact that education schools are late comers to the university and college communities. Teacher training started out in normal schools, which were little more than community colleges. When teacher training programs became part of universities, they were looked down upon by the university community. As a result education school professors had, and in many cases still have, an inferiority complex. They realized that if they devoted their efforts to training prospective teachers in the concrete skills needed to make teachers effective in the classroom; they would be written off by fellow professors as mere technicians. This is why they welcomed the abstract ideas of John Dewey. It is also why the conceptual frameworks, which are submitted for NCATE accreditation, are so replete with abstract and abstruse concepts. For example, nearly every conceptual framework rhapsodizes about the importance of teachers being reflective and being critical thinkers. This is intended to show that the training of prospective teachers requires far more that instruction in concrete teaching skills.It also means that prospective teachers never learn some of the most important skills they will need when they become teachers.

2. There seems to be a gross " disconnect " between the " profs " who are training teachers and what parents, principals and the public wants. How did this come about?


6. Now, let's define some terms. What do you understand the words "critical pedagogy" to mean. Please give us your definition, rather than having our readership "construct" an understanding of the term themselves.

I learned new information about "critical pedagogy."
Critical pedagogy is a favorite topic of a small but influential group of educators in education schools. The lack of wider dissemination is the result of its elitist and obscure tenets. Critical pedagogy literature tends to be nearly unreadable. The authors of articles on this topic write in ways that make it extremely difficult to understand. They seem to believe that if the reader can't understand it, they are likely to conclude that the writing is brilliant rather than nonsensical. This is usually the wrong conclusion.


Anonymous said...

Gross oversimplification - most TEP profs I know have classroom teaching experience for one. I did an internship for one school year at a title I school with a mentor in addition to student teaching. You have theory and methods courses - an administrator's credential includes a lengthy practicum and teachers do all sorts of mentoring. There are plenty of retired teachers and administrators at National University working evenings or during retirement. Its more complex and Edweek might try to blame JD. but if colleges didn't do a good job preparing students, districts would go somewhere else for student teachers. Education is a big field - go after textbook writers - how much practical experience have they really got. Are they trying to pin blame on people or poor textbooks. Curriculum writers should reexamine how they evaluate curriculum and be honest, even when its terrible.

dan dempsey said...

You make some good points.
I have not heard anyone at the UW complaining about the defective math texts being published. It seems that the UW and others are prime supporters of the NSF sponsored insanity of the last decade plus.

Where do all the politically correct math coaches, ESD math specialists, and program directors get the foundation for their actions and decisions?

OSPI and the NSF and the Universities but once again none of these rely on the intelligent application of relevant data to improve anything.

Ask a recent graduate of a math teacher program about Singapore Math or PISA results. Odds are they will have no idea what your are talking about.

Many of the universities are prime offenders of perpetuating these defective math curricula.

UW and IMP is a prime example.

Anonymous said...

That was my experience, but it was a bit more informal, meaning that this practice has been going on for many years. You have a prof running some grant involving curriculum who needs classrooms and enthusiastic teachers. So you have a partnership with a school district and in return for placing new teachers, the district gets a supply of supervised and pliable new teachers. In my case, I got a triple dose of training, far more than was necessary to do my job well. Its been calculated that if teachers were being paid for an 8hr day, they work for an average of 379 days per year.

New teachers should not be used to evaluate curriculum. The evaluation should be controlled. Reading level should be taken into account. If the expectation is that all students should take algebra in the eighth grade, then the results should be positive for all groups of students. If other countries teach math this way, then so can the US.

Anonymous said...

Freire heavily endorses students’ ability to think critically about their education situation; this way of thinking allows them to "recognize connections between their individual problems and experiences and the social contexts in which they are embedded."

Naturally, this philosophy would be at odds with oppressors' rhetoric.

Dehumanization, although a concrete historical fact, is not a given destiny but the result of an unjust order that engenders violence in the oppressors, which in turn dehumanizes the oppressed"


I can't imagine anything more natural from a fascist government than propagandists attacking a world renowned authority on education.

Attacking ideas because you can't understand them recalls Himmler and Nazi Germany? Shall we start burning books? I'm no longer surprised.

Anonymous said...

Here's a quote from Cunningham in the article:

"Teachers are taught in their education schools that academic achievement is not important."
(an absurd assumption)

and ...

"end up teaching in schools where they quickly find out that the most important thing they have to do is ensure their students have high performance on the state's accountability tests."
(another absurdity)

Empty rhetoric, Edweek is filling up editorial space. This author presumes teachers can significantly control how well students perform on tests, when in reality they have little control.

It is a banking model of education. I can't think of an example that is more fascist and Freire is spot on when he first described the phenomena more than 50 years ago.

The best thing about analyzing propaganda is its authors are not too bright. They are attempting to explain why their predictions and misspent studies are failing to mesh with current reality.

Bergeson has been off the hook because OSPI filed a waiver with the DOE. Washington is still out of compliance because they have not concocted a method of measuring their program of improvement. It involves far more than publishing AYP. The greatest mistake Bergeson has made is failing to inform the public what must be done, because doing so would show Washington's schools are even bigger failures when compared to what other states have been doing...proving absolute oppression.

Anonymous said...

A teacher at a charter school (alt ed) just got evaluated with multiple stress disorders.

The administrators did their best to drum out this teacher with low evaluations and it went to court and resulted in the teacher getting a permanent stress related disability based on his psyche evaluation. He was crackers, but its food for thought.