October 15, 2015, Chino Valley- We sat together, at the end of the day, and of the week. The kids and I agreed that there was too much varied content thrown onto one page of the textbook publisher’s worksheet on perimeters. We humans don’t, generally, speaking, absorb more than one mental skill at a time. I will make the necessary adjustment in the lessons, next week.
I knew it would not be long, before I felt like taking the pre-fabricated material, and, like the late Richard Mulligan, in “Teachers”, open the classroom window and toss the useless book out. I won’t go that far. The taxpayers’ sensibilities matter greatly, after all. One of the tenets of good teaching, however, is “monitor and adjust.” I am big on mastery, and will do whatever it takes to bring this about, for as many of the people with whom I work, as possible.
We, as a profession, are under a lot of pressure to provide ready answers to the question of “Why are our students falling behind, in the Great Global Rat Race?” I have a few, tentative answers to that, which will not make the Testing Industry, or its political sponsors, very happy. One, which I still remember, from having worked with Korean teachers of English, several years ago, is that many nations’ educational programs are focused on teaching one skill at a time. That used to be the case here, when I was in school.
Now, however, I see a tendency to throw many concepts and skills together, so as to “hurry up and catch up”, with a perceived Global Mass of superlearners. Grandma said “Haste makes waste”, and that is painfully obvious, looking in the faces of my still-trusting little ones. We have to go back and look hard at the most basic level of the skill expected of them- and, yes, they will get it, and extrapolate the rest, one piece at a time- in time for the Great April Acid Test, which the state, in its wisdom, has cast upon us.
The journey of a thousand miles still needs that single step.