The DavidScully Post CONTENTS


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Teacher-Centered Classroom OR Student-Centered Classroom?

This is a false choice,

I love to read Diane Ravitch's books. Very informative and insightful. I think it was in her "Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms" that she published at the end of the century, where she discussed at some length the absurd feud in the area of "teaching reading" between the two approaches, "whole word" and "phonics." Now, it really doesn't take more than common sense and a little bit of thought to realize, as Ravitch concluded, that BOTH approaches are necessary. Letters have sounds, and letter combinations have sounds. Given an unfamiliar word, one can make the sounds of the letters and of the letter combinations (like "th" and "ch" etc.) to make the sound of the word. But it doesn't always work. Many words don't sound the way they're spelled. A quick look on google and I came up with "enough" and "though" and "trough." They are pronounced "E nuff" and "owe, with a th sound in front," and "tr OFF." People can read these words correctly only because they recognize the whole word. That's my homespun explanation of it, quickly. As far as phonics, I mean, any kindergartener can read "antidisestablishmentarianism" just by sounding out the phonics. We all know that. Anyway, I was surprised as Ravitch went on and on in her book about how this "battle" between whole word and phonics went on and on and on. ********* So, there's this other education battle that they teach you about. It's the Teacher-Centered vs. the Student-Centered classroom. For a teacher-centered classroom, picture a priest or sister in black robes with a switch or stick in his/her hand and terrified, obedient students sitting quiet and straight, translating latin all day from a textbook. At least they're learning SOMETHING! Mostly, they're learning to not misbehave, training good recruits for the military. For a student-centered classroom, picture a fat white boy or girl with unisex tendencies, not wearing sox, eating junk food, lounging on a couch with a book, any book, with an eye-rolling condescension for conservative politicians and authorities, and a peer-level familiarity with their teacher who is also dressed in a sweatshirt and shorts, and also out of shape. They do what they want all day, and have very high self-esteem. Sometimes, it's called project-based learning/ They never sit at desks, and often go outdoors and sit on the grass. Mostly, they're learning to be lawyers and protesters. That's teacher-centered compared to student-centered. I have a better idea. I call it

The Subject Centered Classroom

In the Subject Centered Classroom, the focus is on the subject, the topic. In a math or science or history class, for example, the focus would be on math, science, or history ... and so on. I am credentialed to teach Math, Science and Social Studies in 2 states. I apply for jobs that say "MATH teacher" or "SCIENCE teacher" or, (you guessed it) "SOCIAL STUDIES teacher," yet when I interview, they never ask about teaching those subjects. It's all about pedagogical nonsense and classroom management. "What's your philosophy of education?" they ask in the interview. I don't know. Read my website. Come to your own conclusions. I just wanna teach Math, or Science, or History. Let me try to get to the point quickly (with a little jab at the sickness of our educators/administrators). I have been asked, more than once WHY I want to teach, and asked in a context that seemed to imply that I did it for sexual lust. How offensive is that? AND, if me, then what about them? Why did THEY decide to be teachers/administrators. After all, at gallup high school in gallup nm (where principal stevie wartgo came from), it was the principal who fooled everybody for over a decade while he bonked high school boys. Every teacher does it because they need the salary, especially the useless superintendents who collect up to $750,000 just for quitting. When I have to apply for a truck driving job, they never ask me what my philosophy of trucking is, they just want to know if I can drive a truck.

Here's WHY I decided to get into education.

First of all, I NEVER WANTED TO BE A TEACHER. It was never a career choice that I considered. Mostly, it was the violent boys and disrespectful chaos, but also the mocking, hot girls that frightened me away. But, at age 33, I found myself unemployed and living a short walk from a community college, and we rented out a room or two to students, some of them foreign students, and so, even though I already had a B.A. from UC Davis, I took classes there, joined the International Club, and then settled into taking math and science classes. I was very strong in math and physics when in high school and I felt that my history degree from Davis wasn't useful, and that we lived in a technological/scientific world, and that learning more math and science would be good. I only took math/electronics/chemistry classes 1984-1985, and I taught in the "Math Lab" all year. Also, I saw news articles about the "critical shortage" of math and science teachers (there always was and still is that shortage), and I thought "BINGO!" "I can make a living and continue to learn math and science by being a math and science teacher." Now, I did enjoy the professional interaction with community college students in the Math Lab, some of whom were adults of various ages. I GOT INTO TEACHING BECAUSE I NEEDED A JOB AND BECAUSE I WAS ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT THE SUBJECTS. THAT'S WHY. I DID end up doing a lot of subbing of all ages, but that wasn't by choice. That was because they sanctioned me, blacklisted me, and didn't hire me to teach physics and math to juniors and seniors in high school, like they should have. So, that's background, and I don't want to get diverted. The subject here is "The Subject Oriented Classroom." ********* To get a credential, you have to show competency in the Subject, either by majoring in it in college, or by testing. Since I got my degree in history, I did it by testing. So there I was, enthusiastic about the subjects, but needing a credential. Let me tell you the schools of education and the credentialing programs are nonsense. They're highly political, and they weed out people for political reasons. That's what happened to me. Also, the major problems in schools is behavior. Liberal philosophies are extremely kind to the disruptive student and, hence, classrooms are chaotic with a lot of peer pressure from strong boys and gangs and hot girls. It's Hollywood Teen Movie Drama, but without the high-priced talent. Schools of Education cannot, and do not, turn people with a subject-matter degree and subject-matter enthusiasm into experts in classroom management and experts in dealing with other troublesome teachers, troublesome parents, and troublesome administrators, hyper-extreme office politics, in other words. The purpose of schools of education is to create a layer of bureaucracy, a huge, expensive layer of bureaucracy, that does nothng useful for children, but makes it hard to become a credentialed teacher, and adds to the myth of the "professionalism" of teaching. Pay attention to the following. The chaos in the classroom is caused by the liberal philosophies, practices and laws created by educators. Now, pay attention to the following clever twist of logic. The teachers then complain about how hard teaching is because there is chaos in the classrooms (which they blame on society, inequity, poverty, injustice). Actually, they've created the chaos with liberal laws. Because of this chaos in the classrooms (which they've created), they claim that they need extra training, so they create more classes at the college and the teachers put in the hours sitting in class and declare that they're more highly trained "professionals" now because they're more expert, and more indispensible experts in dealing with the classroom chaos caused by inequity and injustice. So, they create the chaos. They are responsible for the chaos, and then they manage to get paid more by taking classes (sitting in a seat for a while) to "deal" with the chaos they are responsible for. Of course, there's no accountability anywhere in the process because they judge themselves. If your peers and administrators and schools of education, as the case may be, LIKE YOU and your politics, if they LIKE YOU, you get good evals, regardless of your qualities as a teacher. Another thing they do is blame class size.

Here's The Solution The teacher as performer, not as classroom manager.

When I was in 8th grade, we went on several class trips, including The United Nations, the 1964 World's Fair, Bear Mountain, and The Lincoln Center For The Performing Arts. Lincoln Center had world class conductors like Leonard Bernstein. When we went to Lincoln Center we were read the riot act by our chaperones, The Sisters of Charity, and by a Lincoln Center employee. BE QUIET AND STAY QUIET OR YOU ARE OUT! PERIOD. The conductor and the orchestra did not manage our behavior. THEY PERFORMED. Other people managed our behavior. OK, so classrooms should be the same way. This has been a long buildup, but a short example will make the point. Don't worry about class size. Mix classes and even levels. Heck, teach the whole school at once. You get a teacher, or a few teachers, who prepare the presentation and the activities. They are subject matter competent and enthusiasts. Then you have other adults in the classroom managing the students. They are parents and other known people from the community or neighborhood, the same people who manage the kids for no pay when there are community activities at the local park or community center. They know the kids and the kids know them. So, let's stop pretending that somebody takes a few nonsense education classes and suddenly becomes TA DA! A TEACHER! or, really, an expert at doing everything at once, managing a zoo of kids and a zoo of teachers and a zoo of administrators and a zoo of parents. If you want a math teacher, hire a math teacher. I could teach 100 kids at a time, or a thousand. I just need community adults and college students to attend to their behavior while I teach. Too easy, huh? But, New Mexico, if you like the honor of being 50th state in the U.S., don't change anything. Very Respectfully, David Scully Subject-Oriented Teacher who is good with kids, but who is not God. ******* ******* ******* ******* ******* *******