The phrase “Check your privilege” has been used ubiquitously to suggest that there are some who are given everything, while the rest of society must languish in squalor. It is primarily used by social justice adherents to suggest that one’s race, socioeconomic status while being raised, religion, and sexual preference dictate the kind of life one enjoys. Recently, on social media, a story emerged of a teacher teaching this principle to his students. The truthfulness of the story is irrelevant here.
Teacher Fired for Bible in Classroom
Marine Gets Banned for Complaining About Pro-Islam Lesson
The two links above are just a sampling of issues popping up in schools all over the US regarding religion. The theme seems similar across all the stories: It’s okay to teach and advocate for religion, as long as it’s Islam, not Christianity. I’m not going to rant about separation of church and state (that phrase does not exist in the US constitution). What does bother us here at Mirused is seeing such an asymmetrical balance. The United States were founded on certain specific principles. Among them was that of acceptance of varying and different beliefs. We have no problem if a school wants to focus a short unit on a religion in a social studies class. However, it must be balanced.
“How’d you know I was texting?”
“No one looks down at their glowing lap and smiles unless they’re either texting or suffering from some really strange effects from exposure to radiation.”
If you’re a teacher, odds are you've experienced this phenomenon we like to call Texting Subtle Syndrome (TSS). When everyone was on a Nokia, I had kids who could keep their hands in their pockets and text by the feel of the buttons and counting the number of times they hit each one. Now we live in a world of smart phones, which ironically results in less intelligent and subtle ways for students to text in class.
When the TV rolled into class on the mobile cart, we knew it was going to be a special day. When we got to write on the overhead projector, we were secretly superior to our classmates. Now if a teacher uses those, he or she gets laughed out of the room, and not just by students.
Technology is progressing at an ever increasing rate. Most classrooms have digital projectors in them. Most students (in secondary levels, anyway) have some sort of personal device. Unfortunately, many teachers are not only NOT keeping up with it, but some are even actively resisting the use of technology in their classes.
Results from SAGE testing are pouring in with students (3rd through 12th grade) in some districts shown to score around 28%. As if scores this low weren't troubling enough, individuals overseeing this testing are assuring us that the tests aren't measuring content mastery, but career and college readiness.
First question: if the content is not preparing students for college and eventual careers, what exactly is its purpose? (Not to mention the fact that the current job market will be vastly different when they graduate and may include job categories that don’t even exist yet.)
Second question: since when is it appropriate to see if a third grader is “career ready”? I was under the impression that child labor laws had been enacted.
There is a great dichotomy in education. Throughout educational psychology and pedagogy, teachers are taught the importance of differentiation. From Gardner to Piaget to Elkind, educational experts have a long history of recognizing differentiated intellects. People learn in different ways, in different time lengths, and we even have different intelligences. Standardized testing and other standardized forms of education fly in the face of everything educators know about the way students learn and express knowledge.
Common core is by no means happily accepted by all educators. In fact, quite to the contrary, it is a hotly contested issue that has parents and educators up in arms. It seems like a week hardly goes by that we don’t see a news post about how ridiculous common core math is. Instead of simply adding 2 + 2, students seem to be forced to go through a needlessly complex series of steps that appear to introduce them to calculus. When did it become unacceptable for a 5 year old to use his fingers to count? The kid is 5. If he was 15 and using his fingers we might have cause to worry, but 5?
1. Plan on getting your Masters and PhD, maybe twice.
Not only do advanced degrees move you up on the pay scale, but in virtually every school district, continuing education is required. There are tons of conventions and conferences that offer credits for attendance. Not only can these help with your continuing education, but they can often provide you with new tools to improve your teaching skills and classroom environment.
All through school we learned about how great Christopher Columbus was. We learn about the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, but like with any subject, certain things are left out that our adolescent minds are not prepared to receive. Because how do you tell a group of 8-year-olds that the man who effectively discovered a continent by accident was a mass murdering psychopath? We don’t. We lie, cover up, and talk about anything except for this one brutal fact. We help our children remember how great Columbus was with a rhyme:
Education in America has remained relatively unchanged for hundreds of years. Sure we have new facts, history and information to dispense to our students, but the method used to dispense that information has stayed the same since the days of the one room school house. We supply our students with the material, lecture at them, and provide an assessment to prove they "learned" the material. And if that didn't work, we gave them another lecture and another assessment. What changes we have seen in education over these many years has really been more of the same. High stakes testing, common core, and educational technology have all been added to our repertoire, but they have not improved our failing system. In some cases, they have made things much worse.