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Monday, October 11, 2010

Teach, with Tony Danza

Here is a great new reality TV show about our Public Education System.

1 comment:

  1. What is the underlying premise of PUBLIC EDUCATION?

    I complement the producers and Mr. D. on exposing the problems.

    First, thanks for giving people a real look at the situation and the various complex problems inside our public schools. Mr. D. is going on the journey that every new teacher travels, and he will likely have many of the new teacher dilemmas. Documenting that process, honestly, is the first step in assessing and will lead to creating solutions.

    Second, the reviews so far suggest that the formative experiences of our youth simply stay with us throughout life. If you are a 'gifted' kid your peers perceive you as arrogant, and then blame you for a lack of humility. While if you have a 'learning disability' then you get special resources and extra time, leaving your peers wondering why they don't get these competitive advantages.

    I wonder if the whole concept of education isn't broken. We give people 'grades' that make them compete with each other, then provide either handicaps or challenges depending upon their "abilities". Perhaps if we put kids in these classes in a cooperative situation, where their success or failure depends upon their collective work, they would teach each-other and fill in the gaps that the 'teacher' can't see.

    I'm not saying that we should coddle kids, or that they shouldn't compete, there are lessons to be learned there, too. But if 'Monte' worked with 'Page' and the other girls, then Monte would be challenged, and the others would gain insight from his 'advanced' perspective. The teacher would then be free to facilitate and coach, which is all they can ever really do anyway.

    I suggest Tony Danza look into Gardner's Multiple-Intelligences, and begin the year with an assessment of reading ability and student buy-in of the underlying values and goals of the class, even a learning contract, to respect the student's commitment to their education, and see if there are 'real' learning disabilities.

    Imagine a student, who is 'gifted' in one or two areas, yet 'learning disabled' in others. What would a teacher do? They would be boring the student one moment and 'teaching too fast' the next. You can not adapt to that, just as you can not adapt to every individual kid in the class. This is the price we pay for the efficiency of group education. The problem is not the method of education, it is the paradoxical expectation that all students succeed while they compete.

    Bring the students into the game, make sure they know that they are responsible for their own education, not just the teachers. Same with parents. Explain, with honesty, what we know about teen-age reality, that they are more concerned with peer perceptions than with learning algebra, and that they must work together, for the hour, like a family, and cooperate. That they only succeed in the end if they all pass the course.

    The goal of public education is not to make 'Monte' get into Harvard, so that he can be rich. It's to make sure no kids are left behind, so that we can all be rich.