A terrible pall has been cast over American educators. The darkness of fear and extreme conservatism has taken hold. It restricts all students and teachers in straight jackets of conformity, forced repetition, judgments – everywhere, everyday. It robs them of personal dignity and smothers inspiration and imagination wherever they break out. It promotes the most deeply boring and destructive methodologies and uses them to carve lightless beings.
It prays to the God of the test, well one kind of test, and transfers money to the testmakers who argue that only tests whose results are reproducible are a reliable measure of academic progress. So they design the exams for ritual administration filled with clever but simplistic questions, designed to make one answer the right answer for rapid scoring and ‘objectively.’
And by timing the tests they honor those whose work-speed is fast enough, who can chose quickly from limited selections, like a consumer disservice menu veteran. All of this mirrors the business concept ‘productivity’ encouraging standardization and speed over dimension and nuance, reflection, individualization and interaction – one view to fit all perspectives – for to score well requires finishing each test in time.
And all are hassled, by the conformity and by the rush. Test after test; class after class. Summers for classes too (teachers and students). Longer years. Have to learn the system. Have to choose a high school, a major, a career. A plague has come to American Education and those who are engaged take labored breaths.
I call this website: Teachers’ Lantern. Its purpose is to remind its readers of what we have already discovered. We do not need to reinvent the wheel. We do need to understand how people learn, what differences we need to be aware of and interactional strategies that make a substantive difference in and out of the classroom. We must reclaim the nobility of teaching and of the process of learning.
The image of course is from Plato – holding up a lantern to better see what was written on the dark cave walls, or what was meant by the images there. It is as good a space to start as any. It is my hope that those who know there are better ways will now and again…maybe on Sunday night with the prospect of Monday looming…take a peek and see if they can find here something to inspire them to do things a bit differently, to conceive what they are doing dimensionally…with some wonder, some vibrancy added to the mix. I am encouraging you to subvert the entire process of tool and dye manufacture of human beings.
Think of it as the Joy of Learning reclaimed. Learn to teach again; teach to learn, again. And for those of you who are already doing it, move it up a notch, for you already know exactly what I mean.