Sunday, March 17, 2013

keeping good teachers...

A Sloyd friend, Faith, sent this link to a collection of articles about teacher attrition. What does it take to be a good teacher, what aspects of the teaching life, add to the quality of that life and what adverse aspects lead to the critical problem that schools face regarding attrition? Certainly money is part of the equation, classroom conditions are another. Faith particularly recommends articles by Linda Darling-Hammond whom she regards as an expert in the field. Darling-Hammond, formerly a consultant for the 2008 Obama campaign spoke at a Save Our Schools March in Washington, DC as follows:
And while many politicians talk of international test score comparisons, they rarely talk about what high-performing countries like Finland, Singapore, and Canada actually do: They ensure that all children have housing, health care, and food security. They fund their schools equitably. They invest in the highest-quality preparation, mentoring and professional development for teachers and school leaders, completely at government expense. They organize their curriculum around problem-solving and critical thinking skills. And they test students rarely (in Finland, not at all) – and almost never with multiple-choice tests.
And yet, the Obama administration, shortly after election, adopted a school testing regimen as the centerpiece of school reform. Comenius had said,
"Boys ever delight in being occupied in something for the youthful blood does not allow them to be at rest. Now as this is very useful, it ought not to be restrained, but provision made that they may always have something to do. Let them be like ants, continually occupied in doing something, carrying, drawing, construction and transporting, provided always that whatever they do be done prudently. They ought to be assisted by showing them the forms of all things, even of playthings; for they cannot yet be occupied in real work, and we should play with them."
So, in that we might discover a bit of what the role of a good teacher might be... Not that of restraining kids at desks in adult driven tasks but rather, that of playing with kids, and directing their play. Where teachers are put in situations where they must restrain children in seats and at desks and make them learn that in which they have no self-interest, the school environment becomes oppressive for both teachers and kids. I say this with the understanding that learning is not a thing foreign to kids, but is instead, can become an overwhelming irrepressible inclination. Left to their own devices, all kids love learning. Put in oppressive school environments many children do not like being taught. And both students and teachers pay for that on the bottom line.

Put kids in wood shops, put tools in their hands and direct them in their use to make objects of useful beauty, and you will see kids loving to learn, and coincidentally, you will find teachers loving to teach.

Make, fix and create...

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